When most people speak about Nigeria (or moving to Nigeria), they probably have Lagos in mind. This comes as no surprise, as Lagos offers some of the most diverse and metropolitan living conditions of any city in the region.
The state was once the nation’s capital and remains the economic powerhouse of the country. There’s a lot in the city. A lot of people, a lot of business opportunities, a lot of places to see and things to do, a lot of reasons to stay, as well as its fair share of problems.
If you’re thinking of moving to and living in Lagos, this guide will help you know what to expect from the most popular city in Nigeria. What are some of its benefits, and what are some of the issues? This article will cover all of that. But first, a couple of facts about the area.
The second-largest city in Africa
With a population of just under 15 million people in Lagos, only Kinshasa has a higher population than this city in Africa.
The city is however more densely populated than Kinshasa, or pretty much anywhere else for that matter. Only three cities have more people per square mile than Lagos according to USA Today. It’s in one of the smallest states by landmass in the country.
Lagos has one of the highest GDPs of any region in Africa and is a rapidly growing city. All of these features translate into some pretty interesting living conditions in the area, and we’ll go over them one after the other.
There’s another feature of Lagos that qualifies as a benefit in and of itself, so we’ll start with that.
Pros of living in Lagos
· International Ports
Lagos boasts both an airport and a seaport that provide an access point to the rest of the world for both people and cargo. The seaport in particular has been one of the major reasons for the economic growth of the city by making international trade easy.
Small businesses within the city also benefit immensely from the easy access they have to raw materials from suppliers outside the country, as well as new markets to which they can sell their products.
The city regularly welcomes thousands of people into the country through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, one of the busiest on the continent. This would be a very important feature if you’re frequently on the move.
· Trade and commerce
As mentioned earlier, the population of the city is about 15 million. That’s 15 million prospective customers within an urban area that you could drive across in one afternoon (without traffic). This creates a perfect condition for many businesses, big and small, to grow and thrive.
There is also a very wide range of economic classes living in Lagos, so there’s a market for almost anything; whether you’re selling popcorn or private jets.
Almost everyone in the country knows this. Some even go as far as to say: “If it’s not on sale in Lagos, you won’t find it in the country”. As such, Lagos is also a shoppers’ paradise. Most brands hoping to enter the country start their business in Lagos.
· A diverse society
With all the businesses that are now native to Lagos; both local and international, the city has become a melting pot of various cultures and nationalities and also possesses the greatest variety of socio-economic classes in the country.
If you wanted to experience the entire country in one place, Lagos would be where to go. Almost all the languages in the country are represented in Lagos. However, English is the default language in the city, so communication will never be an issue.
Foreign nationals would feel right at home in Lagos. There is already a large number of expatriates in the city, drawn by the city’s economic opportunities. Many businesses have been built around catering to tourists and people from other countries, providing them with many of the comforts of home.
· Job opportunities
Most government agencies and major corporations operating in Nigeria have their headquarters located in Lagos. More money changes hands in Lagos daily than in any other place in the country. Almost every sector of the nation’s economy is featured within the city.
In summary, Lagos gives you the best chance at gainful employment. Regardless of your field of work, the pinnacle of your industry within the country will most likely be located in Lagos. So if you’re hoping to rise to the very top, you’d want to keep that in mind.
· High-quality Education
Lagos is popular among those looking to secure a spot in some of the best learning institutions in the entire country. From basic education to secondary school, you’ll find both public and private schools that provide students with a comprehensive learning experience.
However, international schools seem to be the most popular option among foreign nationals when deciding where their children go to study. Parents in Lagos have no shortage of options in this regard. The American International School of Lagos and the British International School are just two of them.
Concerning universities, two of the institutions within the Lagos Metro area are currently among the top 5 institutions for higher learning in the country. Covenant University Ota and the University of Lagos rank 2nd and 5th respectively according to Webometrics.
· Best Night-Out in the country
You won’t find it anywhere else. Lagos is a 24-hour city; In some places, it’s just as vibrant and energetic at night as it is during the day (maybe even more).
Are you a party freak? The most popular nightclubs in the country are in Lagos. Club Quilox on Victoria Island is probably the most exclusive(and most expensive) of them all. The Escape Nightclub and Cubana Pablo are worthy mentions.
For those that enjoy a more relaxed night out (in a bar or lounge for instance), there are many options to choose from. Sailors lounge in Lekki has great beer, and as the name suggests; good seafood.
· A Popular Coastline
The beaches in Lagos are some of the biggest tourist attractions in the state, and probably in the country. They’ve also had a major impact on the culture of the city so much so that they have become synonymous with tourism and relaxation in the state.
Even if you’re just visiting, try to make out time to visit.
Cons of living in Lagos
· High cost of living
Living in Lagos is cheaper than in New York or London, but is more expensive than any other place in Nigeria, or anywhere nearby for that matter. The cost is relative. However, it is significant enough to be mentioned.
As is common of similar densely populated areas, accommodation is scarcely sufficient, and the rent prices are evidence of that. Getting a place to stay for a month may go from $700 to over $4000 depending on the kind of accommodation and its location.
Other living necessities in the city are also more expensive than in other parts of the country although the rent accounts for most of the difference in living costs.
· Wealth Gap
There’s an evident difference between the extremes of the economic classes, and they all live within the same small area. The ultra-wealthy in their Bentleys and Lamborghinis share the same roads as those who can only afford the bus.
This could prove to be an unsettling experience for those who are migrating from societies that appear more egalitarian.
The infrastructure in Lagos isn’t terrible, although bad parts of roads in some areas contribute to the congestion. Primarily, the population density is so high that extreme traffic is expected.
If you’re hoping to get anywhere in the city by a certain deadline, you HAVE TO factor in the hours you could spend in gridlock to get to where you’re headed.
The all-too-common reports of kidnappings, muggings, car-jackings, and other forms of violent crime in Nigeria are a reason to be wary. Foreign nationals stand out and are usually perceived as wealthy. As such, they tend to be targets of such heinous acts.
If you’re thinking of living in Lagos, it would be helpful to seek advice from a trustworthy source; an employer, or embassy for instance, with regards to staying safe.
· Unreliable Utilities
Power outages are common in the country and Lagos state is no exception. There’s no part of Lagos that is immune to this issue regardless of how affluent it is. Power generators and inverters are standard for every household that can afford them.
There’s hardly a potable water supply, and most within the city make do with individual boreholes. You’ll likely need to make such arrangements as well.
Your best healthcare options in the country are most likely in Lagos but are still below global standards. In certain unfortunate scenarios, patients may need to seek care outside the country. You might want to consider this when making insurance arrangements.
Lagos is a vibrant, diverse, rich, hectic, and interesting city that has many upsides for people hoping to expand their business or move up in their careers. It isn’t without its challenges, however. But I’m sure that now you know what to expect if you make the move.