So We Moved to Kenya, Now What?!

This secret was almost as hard to keep from you as our pregnancy, mainly because it required a lot of planning and moving parts, but we’ve officially moved to Nairobi, Kenya! 

I know there are quite a number of people who are new in these streets, so here’s a quick breakdown of how we got here!

How Nairobi Even Became a Thought In My Mind

2008 – I meet a guy in the first few weeks of my freshman year at Harvard University. He runs against me as the freshman rep of the Harvard African Student’s Association, and beats me. I’m salty and decide to be more involved in Black student organizations (vs African orgs), but he’s friendly and I’m friendly, so we say hi whenever we see each other, and grab dinner as friends a few times over the years. 

2011 – In a huge and surprising plot twist, guy and I start dating. It happens suddenly and unexpectedly, prompted by dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant and a realization that we both can’t stop laughing & smiling.

2013 – After dating long distance for a year after graduation, I decide to visit the guy’s home country of Kenya, where he grew up and lived through high school. My Nigerian parents completely lose it and threaten to disown me, but I recently reclaimed my full name (I went by Ije for all of my life until that point) and it’s meaning (Safe Journey), and am feeling adventurous, so I go anyway, and am blown away by how friendly people are and how beautiful the country is, especially when compared to Nigeria. 

2015 – Guy and I get really serious and get engaged! As we talk about our life plans, guy shares that he eventually wants to move back to Africa and make an impact there. I still have a few years left before I finish my PhD, and can’t think that far ahead in the future, but it’s not a dealbreaker because back to my name – I’m adventurous by nature. We visit Kenya again for Christmas, this time with a focus on meeting extended family and visiting the village (shags).

2017 – Guy and I get married! Super fun times. We also bring my parents to Kenya for the first time, and they have a blast. 

2018-2019 – I visit Nairobi twice in a span of six months (bringing my visit count to 5), and become independent – I’m having lunch with friends, taking Ubers to get my hair done, and do a few really bomb photoshoots.

Why We Moved to Nairobi

Which brings us to 2019! I get pregnant after a long time trying, and I finish my PhD (again, after a long time trying!). With a couple of push factors and a couple of pull factors in mind, we make plans (and more impressively – execute said plans) to move to Kenya! Here are four reasons why we moved, and why we moved this summer:

So Now What?! 

The short answer is girl, I don’t know!! If I’ve learned anything this year with our pregnancy journey and my miraculous sprint to the finish PhD completion, it’s that God will make a way when there seems to be no way! So I’m having faith that he’ll help me figure out what I’m supposed to be doing with my life, because honestly truly, I haven’t the slightest idea. 

Academically, I’m planning on revising my dissertation into a book manuscript, and will be working on that as much as I can before the baby comes, with the goal of connecting with publishers next spring during the conference cycle. I lightly investigated teaching options here in Kenya, but my research project was so specifically American based (the social and cultural history of asthma in African Americans, with a focus on how medical and institutional racism created and exacerbated the asthma epidemic), I’m having a hard time figuring out how to translate the work into an African context. Furthermore, history of public health isn’t exactly a burgeoning field on the continent, which is still contending with infectious disease outbreaks and high infant and maternal mortality and morbidity. Lastly, academia doesn’t pay as well as you think it would, even in America (which was part of the reason I leveled my blog up to 6 figures), so being a professor in Kenya definitely isn’t gonna allow me to maintain my standard of living (and sis’ lifestyle ain’t cheap!). Plus, there’s a work visa to figure out, which I’ve heard is really difficult to come by in Kenya, so I’m here on a tourist visa off and on until April, when I am eligible for a dependent visa (you have to be married for 3 years to get one).

Professionally, I’ll still continue to blog and work with brands. Since I’m basically starting a new life, there are lots of opportunities around home/home decor content, as well as baby/motherhood content, so I definitely have enough things to share. And beauty & fashion content works anywhere in the world. Full disclosure: I do have an agent, so she helps me negotiate all my campaigns, which gives me time to do the million other things I have to and want to do. We’re figuring out how to get products to me quickly, cost-effectively, and without them disappearing, but otherwise the beauty of the digital age is that I can work from anywhere! I am a hustler by nature (shoutout to my Naija people!) so I’ve already started thinking about a few other business ideas in case influencing doesn’t work or I get tired of it, particularly around travel, consulting, digital media, and even starting a product line. You’ll have to stay tuned to see how everything pans out, because I can’t even tell you what’s gonna happen since I’m winging it!

As for the baby, we haven’t yet decided whether we’ll have it here in Kenya or come back to the United States. Since neither of us have US health insurance anymore (Jonathan left his job, and my insurance was through school), we’ll have to get private insurance which is pricy. So far my pregnancy has been low risk and drama free, so I’m comfortable either way, and it will likley come down to financial and immigration reasons however we decide.

P.S. It’s even more exciting that we decided to move back to Africa during the year of the return. As I said in the YT video (go back and watch it if you skipped over it!), I never really envisioned moving back to Africa, even though I was born in Nigeria. However, I do think exciting things are happening here and I feel like the timing was right, so this should be a super fun adventure! No idea how long we’ll stay (at least two years), but for now, I’m going to enjoy the ride!

P.P.S. I did get a question on IG about whether my decision to move was an act of submission, as wives as called to submit to their husbands in the Bible. I think that deserves an entire commentary on that verse and my thoughts on it, but no, this decision had nothing to do with submission. I married a man who I respect, so when he brings up ideas, whether it’s what movie to watch or where we should live, I listen eagerly. Then we discuss and weigh the pros and cons, together as a team. I would NOT have moved to Kenya if any ounce of me thought it wasn’t a good idea, regardless if that was what Jonathan wanted. Hope that makes sense!

As always, feel free to drop any questions you might have below, and my DMs are always open!

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  1. WOW! I am so happy for you! Been following your YT channel for YEARS. When you mentioned your blog was making 6 figures omo I screamed like an Nigerian auntie! Please share links to tip you have on blogging. Well done. I have not visited Kenya but my sister has she LOVED IT she was there for like 3-4 months. Wishing you all the best 😀

  2. Congratulations to you both. In my opinion you are a beacon and inspiration to many of your peers. Much success in your journey and God’s continued blessings for your family. Hopefully your blog will become more widespread and help others to answer the YEAR OF THE RETURN call.

  3. That’s a really nice story and wish your dreams will true. My wife and Moved from China to Kenya 3 years ago and I can stay it has been a good decision. Am from the Republic of Benin and she is from Italy. One may ask why taking such a decision! That’s a long story and not the very point of this comment.
    Your story is lesson to each individual hesitating to move to a country which is not their origin. The guiding point is very simple : LOVE. This love is above anything.
    Meanwhile my question to you is: you’ve said that at the very begining you didn’t want to. Why?

  4. You guys are super cute. I’m so happy for you and I know you’ll adjust well. You look so genuine and friendly so making friends will be a breeze. I plan on possibly coming back to Kenya when my daughter starts high school. I’ll definitely follow you for any updates.

  5. As a Kenyan, I can assure you never regret your decision. You only need to talk to a few Nigerians and by far other foreigners including career diplomats who retired and made Kenya a home, you will make it there. You have the requisite thinking skills and Nairobi provides you with a chance to exploit many organizations including UN and international NGOs in ways that will put your talent into work. Glad you made that bold decision.

  6. Just thread carefully. Watch out for fair-weather slay queens. They’re not in short supply. Guard with your might. Those who ignore this warning end up at the bed of sorrow. I lived there for close to 10yrs!!

  7. For weeks I kept checking back and forth trying to figure out where you and Jonathan were going. To say the least, I am so happy and excited for you. I’m an active reader and will be making a cross country move and am inspired by this journey! You always seem to make things happen, the way the LORDT is set up – in his faith you’ll be alright.

  8. Wow, this is truly a blessing to me I n so many ways. I’m extremely happy for you and your husband. I cannot wait to see more as you grow with the move.

  9. Ijeoma – true to your name for sure! I’m constantly amazed, but never surprised by your ability to make bold moves within what feels like a wink of an eye. The fact that you were willing to relocate while pregnant and with so many positive things going on in America is incredibly inspiring and motivating. I’m a spontaneous yet calculated planner, so this post made me think about what my life would look like if I took even bigger steps in faith. I’ve already seen the wonders that come from embracing little faith, but what if I took bigger steps?!?! I loved this post and I’m looking forward to seeing where this chapter of your life takes you! Heading over to YT now!

  10. First of all Congratulations. This is big move and it must have been scary however, I do believe that things happen for a reason. So enjoy the season and the rest shall take care of itself. Welcome to Nairobi. ☺

  11. You know how much I love you, Ijeoma!!! For some reason, I’m almost teary reading this because it just screams “I TRUST GOD.” You’ll have an amazing time, doors will open in places that you haven’t even looked! God’s got you like 500%.

  12. Congrats on the move!! That is quite a transition but you will handle like the boss that you are. Just keep trusting God and fulfill his purpose.

  13. OMG so happy for both of you! Gosh even tho I saw some pics of your engagement & wedding, the video was just breathtaking!! I teared up! So beautiful!!

  14. I believe that you have covered all bases on this topic. I remember that you said that you were going to move back but I didn’t expect that you would now. I do believe that it’s a great idea especially for the baby. I know in Kenya he/she is among their heritage not the hatred, prejudiced and racism exemplified in the US daily. I know that God will continue to bless you and Jonathan with revenue to sustain your living. When are you coming back??? Overall, I am happy for you. ❤

  15. You are so brave moving away from your family to an African country, I wish you guys the very best while you are in Kenya. Go girl !!!!!!!

  16. Wow ijeoma, really love your blog. Am not the reading type, but whew!! I finished reading this, was loving it. You have given me hope to move back to African(Nigeria). Me and hubby been going back and forth about it, because I don’t want to. Now I really have to put that into consideration. I wish you happiness, joy, peace and love, also congrats with the baby. We can’t wait to see him or her. Keep up the good work.