Nairobi ' s neighborhoods have been influenced by the colonial-era segregation of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when living space was divided into European, Asian, and African areas. In general, western Nairobi was reserved for Europeans and wealthy Asians. The east was for Africans and poor Asians.

One of Nairobi ' s largest neighborhoods is Eastleigh. It was originally an Asian and African area, but since independence, it has become a large, overcrowded, primarily African residential estate. Across Juja road from Eastleigh is Mathare, a large slum. On the west side of town are former white-only areas that now house the wealthy from all of Nairobi ' s ethnic groups. Karen, Langata, Lavington, and Westlands are some of Nairobi ' s posh residential addresses. These neighborhoods are home to high-quality schools, mini-shopping malls, and restaurants. There are a number of housing estates, like South C and Buru Buru, that have been built to accommodate the city ' s growing middle class.

Ngong Hills, situated west of Nairobi, along with Limuru to the north were sites where many white settlers set up farms and built their houses in early colonial days.