A growing body of actionable data now allows owners of short-term rentals in Kenya to remove the guesswork from their investment decisions. Thanks to platforms like AirDNA. AirDNA draws data from over 10 million properties across 120,000 global markets. The world leader in short-term rental intelligence, powered by Vrbo and Airbnb data, AirDNA currently boasts data from over 22,000 short-term rentals in Kenya.

The Metrics

AirDNA uses its Market Score metric to compare a specific market’s performance against the top 2,000 Airbnb markets globally. The score relies on the following five key metrics.

Investability
The investability score compares the cost of homes in an area to the average short-term rental income of full-time rental properties.

Rental Demand
AirDNA calculates the rental demand score by using annual occupancy and listing growth rates to show the relative travel demand in a market.

Revenue Growth
The revenue growth score answers the question of whether vacation rental listings in a location earned more this month than they did in the same month last year. Properties that received bookings in both periods determine this score by examining the change in year-over-year RevPAR.

Seasonality
The seasonality score shows the percentage difference between the past year’s minimum and maximum monthly average revenue. It looks at how much travel demand in this market differs between peak and low seasons.

Regulation
The regulation score looks at host and property behaviour to identify signs of regulation and regulation enforcement. It measures the ability of the host to run a short-term rental business without getting into legal trouble. Despite the county-specific limitations, savvy investors still find opportunities despite regulations.

AirDNA uses the Market Score to evaluate the performance of a market against the top Airbnb cities in the world. These markets have a large number of listings and extensive historical data. They update the score each month, which makes it a reliable indicator of any changes in the market. With that background out of the way, let us see the top ten places to set up short-term rentals in Kenya in 2024 in order of lucrativeness.

1. Machakos

Surprisingly, Machakos County leads the way with a Market Score of 84. Although its listing rate has dropped by 2%, the county maintains a healthy 1,304 listings. The average daily rate has increased by 5% to KES 7,200 per night, and the occupancy rate is 24%. Those booking accommodation in the county prefer reserving entire homes (77%) for a one-night stay.

Surprisingly, Machakos County provides the best investment opportunity with a Market Score of 84. Although its listing rate has dropped by 2%, the county maintains a healthy 1,304 listings.

2. Lamu

Lamu County has a Market Score similar to Machakos, with 261 listings. The average daily rate has grown by 3% in the past year to an impressive KES 32,400 per night. The occupancy rate is 46%. While most people prefer privacy and book entire homes (51%), others don’t mind private rooms in houses (49%). The preferred length of stay is one night.

Lamu County has a Market Score similar to Machakos, with 261 listings. The average daily rate has grown by 3% in the past year to an impressive KES 32,400 per night, making it one of the high value locations to set up short-term rentals in Kenya

3. Nairobi

Nairobi ranks third in terms of its Market Score, which is similar to the first two positions. The city has 13,263 listings, and its average daily rate has only grown by 1% in the last year, reaching KES 8,400 per night. Nairobi’s occupancy rate has increased by 30% to 35% since we last analysed this market. Bookers mostly prefer reserving entire homes (82%) for a one-night stay.

Nairobi ranks third in terms of its Market Score, which is similar to the first two positions.

4. Kajiado

Interestingly, Kajiado, the home of the renowned Maasai Mara National Reserve, has a lower Market Score than the other three. Despite having 898 listings, a 2% decrease from last year, the average daily rate in Kajiado has increased by 7% to KES 18,200 per night. The occupancy rate increased by 30% last year to 29%. Notably, most people prefer booking entire homes (74%) for a one-night stay in Kajiado.

Interestingly, Kajiado, the home of the renowned Maasai Mara National Park, has a lower Market Score than the other three.

5. Kwale

Kwale’s Market Score of 83 earns it a place in this list. Like Lamu, Kwale’s occupancy rate sits up there among the top destinations where you can earn very high average daily rates. At KES 22,000 per night, this tourist location enjoys an occupancy rate of 43% for its more than 1,600 listings. Bookers here prefer entire homes (78%) for a one-night stay.

Kwale's Market Score of 83 earns it a place in this list. Like Lamu, Kwale's occupancy rate sits up there among the top destinations where you can earn very high average daily rates.

6. Kilifi

Kilifi, an equally famous tourist town, has a Market Score of 82 and 2,775 listings, a 10% increase from last year. Although the average daily rate has decreased by 6%, you can still earn around KES 19,600 per night for short-term rentals. Furthermore, the occupancy rate is promising at 37%. Most people prefer to book entire homes (74%) for a one-night stay.

Kilifi, an equally famous tourist town, has a Market Score of 82 and 2,775 listings, a 10% increase from last year.

7. Kiambu

If you are familiar with Kiambu County, you will know that it is known for its rich agricultural heritage. However, in recent times, it has also become a popular spot for short-term rentals in Kenya. Kiambu has a Market Score of 80 and currently has 2,199 listings. This number represents a 9% increase from the previous year. The average daily rate for these rentals has also increased by 8%, now at KES 7,200 per night. Although the occupancy rate is low (23%), it has steadily grown by 19% over the past year. It’s worth noting that most people prefer to book entire homes (80%) for a single night.

If you are familiar with Kiambu County, you will know that it is known for its rich agricultural heritage. However, in recent times, it has also become a popular spot for short-term rentals in Kenya.

8. Nyeri

Nyeri County provides the eighth next investment opportunity for short-rentals in kenya with a Market Score of 78. The county presents a great investment opportunity with a marked growth of 30% last year in its 355 listings. The average daily rate has increased by 21% to KES 20,000 per night, but the occupancy rate has decreased by 17% to 22%. Those booking accommodation in the county prefer reserving entire homes (70%) for a one-night stay.

Nyeri County provides the eighth next investment opportunity for short-rentals in kenya with a Market Score of 78.

9. Mombasa

The coastal town of Mombasa has made it to our list of top ten destinations for investing in short-term rentals in Kenya. The county boasts a Market Score of 78 with over 3,000 listings, an increase of 10% in the past year. However, the average daily rate has decreased 7% to KES 10,200 per night. On the bright side, the occupancy rate has increased by 29% to 35%. Like all other locations, most bookers go for entire homes (83%) and reserve them for a night.

The coastal town of Mombasa has made it to our list of top ten destinations for investing in short-term rentals in Kenya.

10. Busia

While nearly all critical investment metrics for Busia work against it, the town has registered a 16% growth in listings in the past year. That growth has contributed to its Market Score of 73. Bookers in this town go for entire homes (74%), which they reserve for a night.

While nearly all critical investment metrics for Busia work against it, the town has registered a 16% growth in listings in the past year.

Prospective investors considering short-term rentals in Kenya can access a wealth of actionable data thanks to comprehensive insights from large pools of listings. The Market Score by AirDNA, which considers critical metrics such as investability, rental demand, revenue growth, seasonality, and regulation, provides a strategic lens for decision-making. In this article, I have highlighted each location’s unique characteristics.

From Lamu’s impressive average daily rate to Nairobi’s growing occupancy rate, all offer diverse investment opportunities. Besides providing a market snapshot, such data also captures evolving market conditions through regularly updated indicators. This up-to-dateness will enable informed and savvy investments in Kenya’s dynamic short-term rental landscape.