Lagos, Nigeria Report of what it's like to live there - 08/29/20
Personal Experiences from Lagos, Nigeria
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No. I've also lived in other cities in Africa, Asia, and South America.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
The East Coast of the US. Delta direct (12 hours) or else transit through Europe. It's a long trip for sure, and easy direct get aways are not really prevalent.
3. How long have you lived here?
Over a year.
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Most expats live on one of two islands, Victoria or Ikoyi. Pretty much most of your existence is going to be on these islands. There is also a large gated community called Banana Island that is more secluded. Most people live in apartment complexes that are gated, have community rooms, gyms and swimming pools. I think most families live in roughly four bedroom apartments.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
You can get just about anything. A much wider variety of goods than I have seen in other postings, but you pay for it as everything is imported. For example, it's easy to get ethnic Indian and Asian ingredients. Everything for the most part is equal or more expensive than the US.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Cleaning supplies, olive oil, and some ethnic items.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Many good restaurant options available, including Thai, Indian, Lebanese, Sushi, etc. a fair amount of takeout and delivery. Some fast food, like Cold Stone Creamery, Dominoes, KFC. No Starbucks.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Very few insects from my experience. I have far more at my home in the US.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Through the consulate.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Stewards cost about US $250 per month for fulltime. Many nannys and drivers available. Good cooks a little harder to find, but you might do better with those from Benin or other French colonized countries. Stewards may be male or female, and there are some advantages to hiring a male.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Decent gyms available, including in apartment complexes. Expats can join the American GQ which also has a good gym, tennis, basketball and a pool.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
I don't use credit cards, just local debit card and cash.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Yes, widely available, there are millions of churches here in all denominations. Style will be a little different of course.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
English is widely spoken.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Basically close to impossible.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
I don't use public transportation. Some people use Uber effectively.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
One with good clearance that you don't mind getting dinged up.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
We were able to get it hooked up quickly, and can usually get a fast response when something goes wrong. We pay about $60 for decent service. It works well most of the time, though occasionally it flickers.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Sim cards are cheap, just bring an unlocked phone.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
There are lots of volunteer opportuntiies available with a wide variety of orphanages and non-profit organizations.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Events are formal, work is business casual.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
It's a high crime city, but we have never had a problem because we take reasonable precautions. I walk on the streets, but only when alot of people are around in day light. I stick to the islands that expats live on.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Malaria and some people have issues with allergies or atshma during the dust season.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
It's not great but really only becomes an issue during Harmatan the dust season. Then it can be unpleasant for a month or so and you'll want to only be indoors.
4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
Lagos is surprisingly overcast, I was not expecting that given how hot it is. So people with SAD may need to make sure they have a well-lit apartment and find opportunities to spend time outdoors.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
It's pretty much hot all the time, with varying levels of moisture, but with AC inside everywhere, it's not that bad. You can go out in the mornings and evenings.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
AISL is excellent and we have been very happy with them, at elementary, middle and high school levels. They pay their teachers well so there is a lot of stability and quality, the leadership is strong, the community of kids is nice. Might be a little small for some older more outgoing kids, but there are many clubs, sports and activities and the kids mix up socially among the grades.
2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
Yes, readily available and reasonably-priced.
3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Most activities and sports are through the school, but kids can hire teachers and coaches for swimming, tennis, soccer, music, etc.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Pretty large. Morale is good in my experience. There are clubs where people can meet each other, plus school.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Good for all really.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Would be ok I think, though for sure the local culture is homophobic. But in most circles in which expats mingle I doubt it would be a problem.
5. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
I tend to stay in the expat bubble, but have colleagues that have mixed very effectively with locals.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Not to my knowledge.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
School has been great, kids have been happy, we are saving a lot of money, don't feel the pressure to "see" everything and travel all the time like we would at many other posts, which converts to a lot of relaxed free time to hang out with the family and community members.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
I'm not the best resource for this, but many others do find things to do.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
You can buy lots of handicrafts, furniture, textiles, art, endless tablecloths and bags.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Expats who come here tend to be laid back but adventurous, and I enjoy the community. It's a bustling city and the local culture and energy is interesting.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
It is not nearly as bad as it's reputation; almost everyone I know here does fine and many extend their stay.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
I would be less worried about it, but would not necessarily return again because there are so many other places to enjoy. I would certainly recommend it if people have a good reason for coming, i.e., job opportunity.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
High expectations and rigid attitudes, winter clothing.
4. But don't forget your:
Positive attitude, favorite clothing you would like to make copies of with cool local fabrics, outfits representing your culture if you have kids in school for international day.