Underestimating the high cost of living in Nigeria is one of the worst relocation mistakes an expat can make. Expats with little knowledge of this West African country may be quick to assume life in Lagos or Abuja is relatively affordable. In actuality, Nigeria’s two largest urban centres are ranked as two of the most expensive cities in Africa. Lagos ranks 55th out of 227 cities in Mercer's 2022 Cost of Living Survey – making it more expensive than Sydney.

Rural areas and smaller urban centres in Nigeria levy a far less expensive lease on life, but the majority of expats are concentrated in these two aforementioned locales.

Many may wonder how an African country often reprimanded for its high levels of poverty, crime and corruption can beat out global powerhouses such as Hamburg and Barcelona in the cost of living calculations. The answers lie in oil reserves, which have allowed economic expansion and population growth to explode and mushroom. As a result, private investment in luxuries and amenities catering for businesses and foreigners skyrocketed, and prices followed.


Cost of accommodation in Nigeria

The cost of accommodation in Nigeria is undeniably high. In most cases, hiring companies will not only find and secure housing for their expatriate staff, but they will also foot the bill. In fact, many foreign companies have purchased or sub-let housing in areas that have become known as expat enclaves, and so are well-furnished and easily prepared to make the necessary home arrangements. This can be a life-saver as, otherwise, expats may face having to pay several months to a year upfront in terms of rent.

Additionally, due to Nigeria’s high crime rates and unreliable electricity supply, expats will also need to prepare to account for security costs and extra facility (generator) costs.

Generators

The power supply in Nigeria is inconsistent and unreliable. There may be times when the power supply goes off completely. Consequently, many expats and locals invest in a generator. These convenient power supplies can be one of the biggest drains on one’s finances. They are incredibly costly to buy, install and run as they will need to be refuelled regularly and checked consistently to ensure they are safe.


Cost of transport in Nigeria

Much like accommodation, the cost of driving and getting around in Nigeria can also levy some unexpected fees. Most expats prefer to hire a driver to negotiate the treacherous traffic and legendary gridlock that besiege roadways that are far below standard. This individual’s monthly salary must be tacked onto the normal costs associated with transport (car payments, petrol and car insurance). Nevertheless, employers will often subsidise these costs.

Taking public transport in Nigeria is not a highly-recommended option. The ramshackle buses and improvisational motorbike taxis (okadas) are often unroadworthy and risky.


Cost of education in Nigeria

With local schools not being an option for expats, those moving to Nigeria with children need to factor the cost of private schooling into their budgets as well. Tuition fees for private international schools are incredibly high. Most of these schools’ fees will also not cover things such as uniforms, textbooks, school trips or even end-of-year external exams. It is worth negotiating an allowance for school fees in an expat employment contract.


Cost of living in Nigeria chart 

Prices may vary across Nigeria, depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Lagos in January 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

NGN 2,300,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

NGN 1,100,000

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

NGN 700,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

NGN 340,000

Food and drink

Dozen eggs

NGN 1,200

Milk (1 litre)

NGN 1,200

Rice (1kg)

NGN 1,260

Loaf of white bread

NGN 620

Chicken breasts (1kg)

NGN 4,400

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

NGN 520

Eating out

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

NGN 20,000

Big Mac meal

NGN 7,800

Coca-Cola (330ml)

NGN 182

Cappuccino

NGN 1,530

Bottle of beer (local)

NGN 840

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

NGN 18

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

NGN 12,000

Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

NGN 41,000

Transportation

Taxi rate/km

NGN 1,000

City-centre public transport fare

NGN 400

Gasoline (per litre)

NGN 168