Living in Kampala: Not as Cheap as You Think!

If you want to enjoy a similar lifestyle to your home country in Uganda, you might be surprised by how much it costs.

Dec 3, 2023 - 22:59
Living in Kampala: Not as Cheap as You Think!
cost of living in kampala

Many people assume that Africa is a cheap place to live, but that’s not always the case. If you want to enjoy a similar lifestyle to your home country in Uganda, you might be surprised by how much it costs. Here are some of the main expenses you need to consider when living in Kampala:


You can find a wide range of housing options in Kampala, from slum rooms to luxury mansions. The price depends on the location, the size, and the furnishing of the house. The most expensive areas are Naguru, Kololo, Nakasero, Muyenga, Munyonyo, and Bunga, where a furnished apartment can cost over $1,000 per month. The more affordable areas are Ntinda, Bukoto, Makindye, and Kansanga, where a furnished apartment can start at $600 per month. If you want to save money, you can look for a roommate in Facebook groups or in our Kampala forum.


Cooking at home is cheaper than eating out, but you need to know where to shop for groceries. The big supermarkets like Nakumatt, Uchumi, and Shoprite have a lot of imported products, but they are also more expensive. You can find cheaper prices at smaller roadside supermarkets or open-air markets like Nakasero. If you want to eat out, you can find a variety of restaurants that offer international cuisine. A nice meal for two at a fine restaurant can cost around $40, while a meal at a cafe can cost under $10. You can also save money by bringing your own water bottle and splitting meals with friends.


Kampala has a vibrant nightlife scene that is affordable by international standards. Most clubs and bars do not charge an entrance fee, and those that do rarely charge more than $5. Beers are usually under $3, and mixed drinks are between $3 and $5. Some of the top clubs, like Ange Noir and Club Silk, have VIP areas that charge more, while some of the popular expat hangouts, like Cayenne, charge around $5. You can have a fun night out without breaking the bank!


Getting around Kampala can be expensive because of the high price of fuel. You have several options for transportation, depending on your budget and preference. Boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) are the fastest and cheapest way to get around, but they are also risky. A typical ride costs less than $2. Matatus (shared taxi vans) are safer and cheaper, but they are also confusing and crowded. A typical ride costs less than $1. If you have your own car, you can drive around, but you have to deal with traffic jams and parking. If you want to hire a private taxi, you can expect to pay around $8 to $10 for a trip across town. If you want to rent a car, you have to pay around $100 per day.

Phone and Internet

MTN is the biggest phone and internet provider in Uganda, but it is not the cheapest. You need to do your research on the best rates and promotions for calling and data. Calling locally and internationally from Uganda is expensive, especially if you use a smartphone. A typical phone bill for a heavy user can be around $180 per month, while a typical bill for a light user can be under $30 per month. Local calls are usually less than $0.08 per minute, while international calls vary depending on the country. SMS is usually around $0.05 for local and $0.15 for international. The best way to save money on phone and internet is to use apps like Skype and Whatsapp, which allow you to make free calls and messages over the internet. You also need to choose the best internet package for your needs. The most common way to connect to the internet is by using a dongle, or 3G modem, which costs around $35 for 3GB of data per month. MTN and Airtel are the best mobile data providers. You can also use pay-by-the-day internet packages, which cost as little as $0.20 for 20MB per day.

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