Lagos, Nigeria Report of what it's like to live there - 05/14/08
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?
I've also lived in Germany and Ireland.
2. How long have you lived here?
3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:
There is a new direct flight from Atlanta, 12 hours, everyone is happy! DC, to Germany, Lagos-18 hours.
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
I am a Diplomat.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Homes located throughout Victoria Island, Iokyi Island, can take up to an hour to get to Consulate. It's about a ten mile ride.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Household help is very inexpensive, about US$150 a month for full time help. Cost of living here is outrageous. Everything from house cleaners, to the price of cheese is extrememly high and this summer will be higher due to shortages.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Soft toilet paper, cleaning products, chocolate chips, baking goods. I would also ensure that all my dryer sheets are not packed with my food because the majority of my food arrived spoiled due to the packers.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There are no American/European chains. Indian, thai, pizza, Lebonese restaurants. Delievery is avaliable if you live in certain areas.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
We have a pouch that is slow and unpredictable. I order medicine months in advance, just so they arrive. We are all internet shopping addicts! When someone from work is going home, they usually offer to take mail. I've never shipped something from here.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Abundant, cheap, don't hire a Nigerian. Hire someone from Benin, or Ghana.
3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
NO. Tell anyone you're coming here and the first thing they say is, oh yeah, my mom/sister/cousin/best friend, all got ripped off by some Nigerian scam. This is the home of the pyramid scheme.
4. What English-language religious services are available locally?
There are churches everywhere, I don't know anyone who goes to church due to transporation and the fear of robbery.
5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
TV for us is all AFN, which is ok. You can buy a satelite for mostly British shows, sports. No English papers, or magazines. Occasionally, you can find magazines at the grocery stores, but they are about US$20 each.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
None, everyone speaks English.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
The lack of paved roads, ramps for wheelchairs, not a modern city with accesible and safe ammenties.
1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?
Left, but in Lagos and in the parts of Nigeria I've visited, chaos reigns. There are motorcycles everywhere, cars in 12 different lanes when there's only 2, complete madness. It's extremely dangerous and like nothing you've ever experienced.
2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
No public transportation. Motorcycles are avaliable for rides, but no one I know would DREAM on getting one for the fear of never being seen or heard from again.
3. 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?
I suggest an SUV, the rainy season can be very hard on cars. Car labor is extremely cheap and decent. Carjackings are quite common. NEVER drive at night on the Lekki.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Use the internet at work for everything. Nothing is safe at home. The internet is avaliable but is HORRIBLE.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Buy one when you first arrive, MTN, or GLO, the most popular. After I started working, I used that cell for all calls.
3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?
From work on the IVG line, or your cell.
1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
There is a German vet who comes around, but she is never on time and may show up a week later for an appointment at your home. A friend took her dog to the vet and she did not like it and neither did the dog. I have my two dogs here and everything has been fine.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
I think they're some jobs. I have friends who work for American owned companies here.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Work is business casual, I tend to dress very casual, sun dresses and sandals. A meeting you would dress up in heels and a suit. Men wear khakis and polos, cargo pants, suits for dresser events. A lot of people have national costumes/dresses made for when they attend national dinners.
Health & Safety:
1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?
Unhealthy-Dust, smoke, smog.
2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Lagos has one of the highest crime rates in the world. Home invasions, car jackings, petty theft all issues we deal with daily.
3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Threat of malaria, typhoid, I've never been so sick in my life than in the last year here in Nigeria. I was medivac'd due to an issue that they could not resolve here at post. There are two hospital here, but I would not go there for anything. I would not even think about coming here if you have any health issues.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
It's about 80 degrees all year round. Rainy season starts in April till August. August-March it's the harmatan.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Everyone sends their children to the American International School. One friend sent her daughter to the Children's International School and her daughter would just refuse to go, she hated it.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
I do not know.
3. 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?
I would not recommend bringing children to post due to the crime.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Really big because of all the oil people, I'd say several hundred. Everyone usually stays with the people they work with due to the distance and time it takes to get to peoples homes/events.
2. Morale among expats:
It's like a roller coaster. One week we're all happy and going to parties, dancing at the clubs, the next week we're all thinking of ways to leave post. Again, Lagos, like everywhere is that you get what you put into the community. I love it here and then some days I want to go home to mama.
3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
There are some local clubs and restaurants, but again, they can be robbed at any second and sometimes are. I tend to go to house parties, and smaller events where I feel safe with the people I know. There are several balls throughout the year in the different communities, and those are a blast!
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
I think it is a great post for couples and singles, lots of parties, beach trips, book clubs, tennis lessons. It's all about what you make it.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Nigerians frown upon open affection, but friends who are gay don't seem to have any issues.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Nigerians are very prejudice toward other Nigerians who are not from their tribe. Being a White women in this country is like being in the 1800's. Nigerian men don't want to talk to you directly, no manners, no respect.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
House parties, swimming, private dance classes, tennis, dinner parties, beach trips, trips to Benin.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Africian goods such as paintings, masks, baskets, jewerly.
9. Can you save money?
I guess, once you pay off the loan you took out to get here. You can if you make an effort, but the local economy is a killer on your wallet.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
If your only picture of Africa is the animals, safaris and lush mountains, then go to Kenya because NONE of that exsists in Nigeria. Negative comments, a bad attitude, the idea that because you are American and things don't work this way at home, LOL! Wake up this is a third world country, with third world problems.
3. But don't forget your:
Games, liquor, grits, TV, books, Charlie's Soap, all the yummy American food you love.