Cost of Living in Kampala

Cost of Living

Cost of living in Kampala – hmm! Just wondering where to start! I have had several requests for information on the monthly costs, so I decided to publish a few pages outlining the possible expenses one could incur.

Again just to make it clear, this is not another of the many published briefs on international living that want you to believe how wonderfully cheap it is to live here in Kampala. Yes! It’s definitely a lot cheaper than living in London in many ways but is it always cheap?

… And using Kampala as the bench mark – perhaps not! A lot of what you will read here is not cast in stone. Keep in mind the global economic downturn with the ever fructuating prices. This should give you an insight.

Having said that, lets get down to the details of this cost of living;


There is a wide range – you will get anything and just about every thing. Remember, ‘how do you want to live?’ and ‘how much can you afford?’

Let’s take for example; many average Ugandans living in Kampala live in one bedroom apartments with a reception area/living room with bathroom inside – a small kitchen/store outside. The toilet is some times outside especially if it’s the pit latrine, with electricity but with sometimes no running water. Using jerry cans one will get/buy the water from a communal tap to use for the cooking, laundry, washing-up, bathing and more.

Such a place would be in what I would call an upscale slum in one of the suburbs of Kampala and will go for anywhere between $40 to $100 per calendar month – cheap, not so! … Yes! It might come cheap but the down side is that it might not be the safest place to live let alone giving you the sort of comfort you want.

You will find much bigger and safer places from say; 2 bedroom apartments/flats with 2 bathrooms/ toilets, a living room, hot water in the bathroom, kitchen, garage (would be a bonus), compound/garden, located in a nice neighborhood with a good view. Such would go for; between $150 and $300 (that is excluding bills) or even more depending on where you find…

… To 3 bedrooms plus apartments/flats/houses/bungalows in a nice neighborhood, safe with breath taking views – which could have the view of the lake, garage, good compound/garden, in a clean modern environment. Here you are looking at anything more than $500 – depending on where and what you find, the rent could be much more with all the contemporary facilities that come with it …

And just to note that in all this, you are looking at unfurnished properties. Furnished properties would go for more. The trend is; more and more landlords now require a payment of 6 months rent upfront with a month rent deposit. The utility bills will very much depend on your usage and are usually not included in the rent.

As you consider the cost of living in Kampala, finding the right house can be hectic. You will have to use the services of a house broker at a fee but if you are staying longer or making a permanent move to Uganda, you might want to consider the great offers the Ugandan real estate has. They will have houses to let with much more variety and quality and houses for sale too.

Renting self-catering accommodation is by far the most cost-effective option. Live like a local when you travel – so they say … One website I would recommend for such accommodation is the

You might want the services of a maid/nanny say; twice a week for a month. This will cost you in the region of $50 to $100. Look around – there are some groups with professionally well trained maids/nannies that will do a good job.

Car Maintenance and Fuel

Again considering that the cost of living in Kampala has fluctuated through the economic down turn, Uganda’s recovery hasn’t been the fastest but more brilliant than had been anticipated.

I wouldn’t know how much driving around you intend to do but let’s just drop a figure here to start with and to help us with the math.

Let’s take $150 per month for both car maintenance and fuel? Hmm! Lets see how it works out;

Say you spend about $50 on maintenance/service, that leaves you with $100 for gas, at about $1.4 per litre of premium (4.5 litres for a gallon), that is about $6.04 per gallon.

Now, if your car is the kind that gives you 30 miles per gallon, $100 will give you about 17 gallons which works out at about 510 miles per months, which then gives you about 128 miles a week.

That is very much possible – it could even be very much on the higher side if you only use the car for commuting to work, but…there you are!

…And don’t forget to take out your car insurance.

And then of course there are things I will entirely leave to your discretion. Yes, they are very vital and you could probably not leave with out them but they could considerably increase your cost of living…

…Things like: how much you spend on clothing, the internet/phone bill, going to the gym every evening, wine at dinner, swimming, dancing lessons, if you enjoy steak twice a week, if you have got a pet and more…

With health care, there quite a few facilities that offer international health care and which could be quite expensive too. Shop around; you could look at spending about $20 – $25 a month, which is about $240 – $300 a year or more … It entirely will depend on what sort of cover you go for.

You will find it certainly not as expensive as living any where say; in north America but again not as cheap as anyone would like you to believe. The thing is; you won’t be disappointed once you set up your home and experience the true cost of living in Kampala.

It is very possible to put caps on your expenses. You could spend quite less if you are willing to live within something that is not luxurious but again good enough to enjoy yourself.

More to the cost of living in Kampala, Click here to see costs related to Food, Dining out and Entertainment.


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