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Moving to Lagos

Lagos lies in southwest Nigeria on the coastline looking out into the Gulf of Guinea and consists of the mainland and several islands divided by the Lagos Lagoon and its creeks.

A West African hub for financial and economic activity, the city is also home to Nigeria’s famous film industry, Nollywood. As bustling and exciting as Lagos can be for new arrivals, living in Lagos carries both challenges and opportunities.

Many expats moving to Lagos have a less-than-flattering idea of life in this burgeoning Nigerian city. Lagos has been considered as one of the world’s least 'liveable' cities, largely in terms of political and social stability, safety and access to quality healthcare. The city is fraught with overpopulation, deteriorating infrastructure and sweeping unemployment rates. Traffic and pollution problems are also ever present, and severe crime rates certainly should not be looked upon lightly.

Nonetheless, Nigeria’s financial and economic capital has sizeable American, Indian, Filipino and Lebanese communities, and expats continue to move here. So, if life is so bad in this mushrooming urban centre, why do foreigners continue to uproot and relocate to Lagos? The answer is simple – money. Lagos is a city driven by the promise of wealth and work opportunities.

Lagos is the business hub of West Africa, and it claims some of the region’s largest and most impressive banks, ports and markets. Multinational companies, many of them mining the oil-rich Niger Delta, have made Lagos their regional headquarters. Massive corporations are continuously looking to lure foreigners to the city with lucrative expat packages.

It follows that expats offered a job in Lagos should expect not only a significant salary that more than makes up for Nigeria’s hard-to-ignore hardship ranking, but also a handful of accompanying perks. If a company does not outright insist on financing accommodation, health insurance, a driver and car, flights home and education, expats should make sure to negotiate allowances or an appropriately inflated salary that covers these costs.

Though it may be surprising to many, the cost of living a typical expat life in Lagos is sky high and inequality is rife. While a significant proportion of locals live in slums, the wealthy embrace life in glamorous mansions and large modern houses in affluent neighbourhoods and areas such as Ikoyi and Victoria Island. Private hospitals offer a decent standard of care and expats moving to Lagos with families should note the many international schools, but this comes with a hefty price tag.

Living in Lagos is not necessarily the nightmare it’s chalked up to be. Many expats take solace in the tight-knit, though slightly insular, communities they form within their carefully secured compounds and places of work. But there are also so many opportunities to socialise outside of these spaces given the host of social clubs, buzzing nightlife and cosmopolitan city lifestyle.

For a break from the hustle and bustle, Lagos has something for single expats as well as families. Visit the ecotourism project of Lekki Conservation Centre for some nature. The National Museum Lagos gives a window into the country’s history and culture. For something fun, there are upscale beach resorts and trendy restaurants and cocktail bars, or expats can watch a dance performance or attend an international concert at the National Arts Theatre.

Despite the inconveniences of power and water supply problems and adjusting to the culture shock of life in a bustling, congested African city, many expats report that life in Lagos is vibrant, colourful and fruitful.

Pros and Cons of Moving to Lagos

A move to the Nigeria will surely be a unique experience for expats, particularly those moving to Lagos. Nigeria's largest city, Lagos boasts a variety of fantastic beach resorts, upmarket boutiques and a lively nightlife. That said, Lagos, as with any big bustling city, has plenty of negatives to go with its positives.

We list a few pros and cons below to help prepare expats for their relocation to Lagos.


Lifestyle in Lagos

+ PRO: Diverse options for eating out

Lagos is a melting pot of cultures with Western, Asian and African influences. The city's food and eateries are equally diverse, with a broad selection of international and local dishes to feast on. 

+ PRO: Friendly locals

Cultural identity is important to Nigerians, and people from Lagos are happy to welcome foreigners and share information, while having a positive energy about themselves. This is true even for those who live in poverty but remain passionate about their work and creativity.

+ PRO: Vibey atmosphere

With a friendly culture comes a love for going out, dancing and having a good time. Lagos is also at the heart of Nigeria’s film-making industry, also referred to as Nollywood. All these factors culminate to produce an exciting lifestyle and environment to keep expats and locals entertained.

+ PRO: Cheap shopping and clothes

Although costs in modern malls are expensive, clothes can be made by local tailors at a much lower rate. Not only is this cheaper, but expats can have unique creations tailored just for them out of the material of their choice. Nigerians are fashionable people and expats can fit right in with locally-designed clothing.

+ PRO: English is widely spoken

Surprisingly, over 500 languages are spoken in Nigeria, with Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba being main national languages. Despite this immense diversity present in one country, English is the official language, which eases doing business and general aspects of life for many expats.

- CON: Culture shock

There is glaring inequality in Lagos, with the richest of the rich seemingly worlds away from the majority of the population living in informal settlements and slums. While expats are likely to stay in gated communities, this puts them in a bubble and separates them from reality. They may experience some internal turmoil and guilt when they realise the extent of the wealth gap and their own privilege in the country, but changing this is not within expats’ control and need not create feelings of culpability.


Working in Lagos

+ PRO: Attractive salaries and work packages

While negative media on crime and life in Nigeria could influence foreigners' thinking, major companies in Lagos still manage to lure expats with glamourous contracts and lucrative salaries. Although Lagos is not Nigeria’s capital, it is the business hub of West Africa and, as such, salaries are high. Additional perks for expats working in Lagos may include accommodation expenses, children’s tuition fees, health insurance, a car and driver, and flights home.

- CON: High cost of living

Despite major inequality with a large proportion of the city’s population living in poverty, the cost of living in Lagos is on the pricey side. Costs are further pushed up by a need for health insurance, private healthcare and high international school fees.


Accommodation in Lagos

+ PRO: Stress-free accommodation arrangements

As part of lucrative expat packages, employers often arrange accommodation and may go as far as covering the costs of this. Otherwise, relocation companies can also ease the house search. Often, accommodation is in gated complexes and communities with glamourous amenities that include WiFi, gyms, tennis courts and swimming pools.

- CON: Problematic electricity and water supply

Unfortunately, power cuts occur quite often in Lagos regardless of the area expats live in, and this is something they will have to adjust to. Generators and power inverters are a necessity both for doing business and maintaining one’s household. On top of this, despite the city being surrounded by water, access to clean water is low, especially in informal areas. Expats often rely on boreholes for their water supply


Healthcare in Lagos

- CON: Be prepared to look abroad

While private facilities in Lagos provide a decent level of healthcare, serious medical procedures and treatment may require air evacuation abroad, to South Africa, for instance. Expats should ensure that their medical insurance covers this.


Weather in Lagos

+ PRO: Year-round warm weather

Temperatures across Nigeria are consistently warm because of its tropical climate and geographic location close to the equator, and make for pleasant conditions year round, perfect for lazing on the beach or exploring nature reserves. 

- CON: Flood risk

Not only is Lagos along the coast and affected by rising sea levels, but its long rainy season also brings many days of heavy rainfall, which could lead to flooding.


Safety in Lagos

+ PRO: Robust security in complexes

Given massive inequality and social issues, crime is undeniably an issue in Lagos. However, the complexes and compounds that expats tend to stay in will usually have armed guards, security cameras and access control. This 24-hour security helps to make expats feel safe in their homes.

- CON: Violent crime across Nigeria

There are frequent reports of kidnappings, muggings, car-jackings and armed robberies in Nigeria. Expats may stand out as foreign nationals and their perceived associated wealth may make them targets for muggings, so it's best to always be vigilant. Expats should heed advice from their employers, hosts and embassies regarding safety especially at night around the city and if they plan on travelling outside of Lagos.


Getting around in Lagos

+ PRO: Several options for getting around

Lagos is home to popular yellow minibuses called danfo as well as a Bus Rapid Transit system. For those living or working on one of the islands – or wanting an escape to the sheltered Tarkwa Bay Beach, ferry and boat transport are developing and a great way to dodge traffic.

- CON: Nightmarish traffic

For expats averse to traffic, driving in Lagos will not be fun. Alongside overpopulation and increased car ownership, there are many cars on the road, poor road infrastructure and undeveloped public transport. Traffic can often come to a standstill during rush hour, and we'd recommend expats find accommodation near their workplace. Another option is to hire a personal driver – sometimes companies offer this as part of a lucrative relocation contract.


Education in Lagos

+ PRO: High-quality international school education

International schools are perfect for expats with children who wish to continue their home curriculum and meet other expat and local children and their families. Modern technology and facilities allow for the best educational experience while extra-curricular activities can develop students’ skills and interests.

- CON: Expensive fees

As is the case worldwide, international schools typically come with a hefty pricetag and stiff competition for places. Expat parents must be willing to put aside a sizeable amount of their salaries for their child’s education, though it's also worthwhile trying to negotiate this expense with their employer as part of their relocation package.

Cost of Living in Lagos

Expats moving to Nigeria are often shocked when they find out how high the country's cost of living is. The most expensive city in Nigeria is Lagos, and Mercer’s 2020 Cost of Living Survey ranks the city 18th out of 209 cities, which makes its cost of living comparable to London and Moscow.

Fortunately, foreigners working in the city often insist on and are afforded an employment contract that finances accommodation, health insurance, a driver and car, and education. If these points aren’t covered, then an appropriately inflated salary should be negotiated. 


Cost of accommodation in Lagos

Accommodation in Lagos has not kept up with the city’s rapid development. Demand is high and accommodation can be hard to come by and extremely expensive. There are only a handful of suburbs in Lagos that offer expats a reasonable quality of life in terms of accommodation, amenities and convenience. Most expats living in Lagos reside on Victoria Island, and in Ikoyi, Apapa and Ikeja. 

The majority of rental contracts are only available on a two-year lease. It's also not uncommon for the landlord to require the total amount be paid upfront, rather than in monthly instalments. Luckily, housing is usually provided as part of most expat workers’ relocation packages. 

Expats who have only been allocated an accommodation allowance should make sure the amount promised is enough to secure appropriate housing in Lagos.


Cost of transport in Lagos

Transport in Lagos is relatively affordable. The most common forms of public transport in Lagos include taxis, buses and motorbike taxis. Sadly, despite improvements over the years, most forms of public transport are still quite unsafe or unreliable due to poorly-maintained vehicles and reckless drivers.

Most expats would rather opt to have their own car, often with a personal driver. This is usually also offered as part of their employment package.


Cost of schooling in Lagos

With public schooling not being up to the standards most foreigners are used to, expat children usually attend international schools in Lagos.

Expats should be fully aware that education in international schools comes at a high price. Expats moving to Lagos with children must stipulate subsidies and allowances for education when negotiating their employment contract. 


Cost of shopping in Lagos

As is the case in most developing countries, the cost for Western food and clothes is much more expensive in Lagos than one would be used to. Western groceries and clothing are often overpriced. 

Expats will find that shopping locally is much cheaper than shopping in one of the modern malls that have emerged in recent years. The price for local produce is fairly cheap at the local markets in Lagos. Buying material and having clothes made by a local tailor will also make buying clothing more budget-friendly.


Cost of living in Lagos chart

Prices may vary across Nigeria, depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Lagos in January 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

NGN 400,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

NGN 80,000

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

NGN 150,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

NGN 40,000

Shopping and groceries

Milk (1 litre)

NGN 1,000

Chicken breast (1kg)

NGN 1,750

Dozen eggs

NGN 550

Loaf of white bread 

NGN 410

Rice (1kg)

NGN 940

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

NGN 400

Transport

City-centre public transport

NGN 200

Taxi rate per km

NGN 500

Petrol (per litre)

NGN 145

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

NGN 2,200

Coca-Cola (330ml)   

NGN 125

Cappuccino

NGN 950

Local beer (500ml)

NGN 300

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

NGN 15,000

Utilities

Mobile call rate (per minute)

NGN 20

Internet (per month)

NGN 16,000

Basic utilities (per month for standard household)

NGN 11,000

Accommodation in Lagos

Lagos has been named among the most expensive cities in the world to live in and the prices of rental properties reflect this. Lagos is a city of contrasts where the ultra-rich can afford lavish mansions but the average Nigerian lives in low-quality housing. Securing accommodation that balances both affordability and quality may involve an extensive search.

Ownership of property in Nigeria is highly regulated by the government and it’s rare for foreigners living there to buy. Most expats live in rented apartments or houses in Lagos with the hiring company financing and securing accommodation as well as handling all leasing logistics.


Types of accommodation in Lagos

It’s not unusual for expats who arrive to work in Lagos to initially stay in a hotel, before being transferred to their permanent accommodation at a later stage. Those staying in Nigeria short term are often housed in hotels for the duration of their stay.

Typical types of accommodation in Lagos are apartments, duplexes, terraced housing, townhouses and bungalows, mainly nestled in gated complexes.

Those living in compounds often find themselves in insular expat communities, far removed from the reality of life in Lagos. Company compounds, apartment blocks and established private and gated housing complexes for expats are concentrated in a few key areas in Lagos, including Victoria Island and Ikoyi. Most international schools are also located within these areas. 

Fully-furnished, semi-furnished and completely unfurnished housing is available in Lagos, and for those that want to bring furniture over from abroad, shipping and removals can be considered. 

Safety is an important consideration when deciding where to live in Lagos. Many complexes have 24-hour security, which may include guards, security cameras and access control into and out of the complex. On-site amenities, including wireless internet, satellite television, gyms, tennis courts and swimming pools are also common.


Finding accommodation in Lagos

Expats are likely to have their accommodation in Lagos arranged through their employer, and in some cases, companies own properties specifically for expat employees.

For those who are not having their accommodation arranged and paid for by their employer, it’s best to work with a real estate agent or relocation specialist who will assist in the house-hunting process. Online property portals such as Private Property Nigeria and Nigeria Property Centre also give a good idea of the real estate market in Lagos.

When searching for a home, it’s best to look for areas close to one's office or, if living in Lagos with children, close to their school. Traffic can be nightmarish and Lagos residents can expect to spend hours commuting to and from work each day. Most expats hire a personal driver to navigate the traffic; this is often paid for by their employer.


Renting accommodation in Lagos

Don’t be fooled into overlooking the high cost of living in Lagos when considering renting in the city. We recommend that expat tenants thoroughly read and understand their rental contracts, how and when to pay rent, and how to communicate with their landlord.

Leases

Landlords often demand a two- to three-year lease be signed. Tenancy agreements for variable periods may also be arranged, including monthly, quarterly and half-yearly. These rental periods may suit expats better but are less common to find.

Leases should stipulate all the necessary terms and conditions of renting, including notice periods, termination dates, deposits, utilities and rental increases. Generally, rent increments are established yearly, though this may depend on the agreed contract.

Deposits

Landlords in Lagos are known to charge not only high deposits but also require several months up to a full year of rent to be paid as a lump sum, rather than monthly. Many landlords will stand their ground with this demand, and prospective tenants must either comply and pay upfront or continue their house hunt.

Utilities

Tenants generally bear the costs for utilities as well as internal repairs on the property. Landlords are responsible for external and infrastructural repairs, but rarely much else.

On top of electricity costs, tenants will also need to consider generator costs to compensate for the unreliable electricity supply in Lagos.

Areas and suburbs in Lagos

The best places to live in Lagos

Expats moving to Lagos will find themselves in a crowded, chaotic and noisy metropolis that is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa. Lagos is made up of the mainland and a collection of islands that are separated by creeks and the Lagos Lagoon, which flows out into the Gulf of Guinea. Bridges connect the islands to the Lagos mainland and smaller sections of some creeks have been sand-filled and built over.

There are only a handful of areas and suburbs in Lagos that offer expats a reasonable quality of life in terms of accommodation, amenities and convenience. Most expats living in Lagos reside on Victoria Island and Lagos Island, while more affordable areas can be found on the mainland.


Lagos mainland

Yaba

Most Lagos residents live on the mainland of Lagos, which consists of several districts, including Ebute Metta, Mushin, Surulere, Agege, Oshodi, Yaba and Ikeja.

Ikeja

Ikeja is the capital of Lagos State and is one of the most exclusive residential areas on the Lagos mainland. Ikeja was once a well-planned and quiet residential suburb, initially built during the colonial period to house the upper classes. The Government Reserved Area (GRA) of Ikeja, in particular, is still home to several high-ranking Nigerian officials and their families.

Large residential properties can be found here, with accommodation typically in the form of detached houses, bungalows and semi-detached duplexes – perfect for expat families. 

Over the years Ikeja has developed into a prime commercial and industrial area, with some houses being turned into office complexes. It is also home to Nigeria’s main airport, Murtala Muhammed International Airport. Most roads in Ikeja are paved and the neighbourhood is seen as secure, largely owing to the presence of the Police College and the Ikeja Military Cantonment.

Ikeja boasts many entertainment options, including nightclubs, restaurants and bars, the Lagos Country Club and many fancy international hotels. The Ikeja City Mall, one of Nigeria’s newest and largest malls, is also located in the district and hosts many international brands.

Apapa

Located to the west of Lagos Island is the port area of Apapa. This area offers cheaper accommodation than the other more popular expat areas of Lagos. Apapa has large, old colonial houses and some modern apartment blocks. The area is popular with local professionals and, as Nigeria’s main seaport, security is high.

Surulere

The neighbourhood of Surulere is perfectly suited for young working professionals and social butterflies on a budget but with a preference for liveliness. From its classy cocktail bars and clubs to traditional street food stalls, Surulere buzzes with activity. Home to Nigeria’s National Arts Theatre which holds dance performances, international concerts and renowned plays. Surulere is well connected to all essential amenities and has a great social scene, so its distinguishing factor from island living is the lower rent available in small apartments.

Yaba

For a trendy vibe, we suggest checking out Yaba. Afrobeats, a musical genre which originates from this West African region, pulses throughout Yaba’s vibrant clubs and bars, and upscale restaurants are also dotted around the neighbourhood. Students and young working professionals are drawn to Yaba thanks to its potential with the start-up tech sector and its closeness to the University of Lagos and Yaba College of Technology.


Island living in Lagos

VI

Lagos Island

Lagos Island is the main commercial and administrative area of Lagos. It is the oldest part of the city and is connected to the mainland by three large bridges: Eko Bridge, Carter Bridge and the Third Mainland Bridge. 

The central business district of Lagos is located on Lagos Island and the area is home to the offices of many multinational corporations. Lagos Island is the city's financial district, and shopping malls, clubs and supermarkets litter the streets. The western side of the island is the wealthy commercial side, while the eastern side is poorer and less developed but hosts the main markets.

Lagos Island is overcrowded, and traffic congestion remains a constant problem. Attempts have been made in recent years to ease congestion by building new roads out over the lagoon. While many homeowners have a car, boat transport is a common and quick way of getting around between the islands and the mainland.

Ikoyi

Ikoyi is in the east of Lagos Island. It’s a quiet and peaceful cosmopolitan residential area, particularly during the week, while over the weekend, its buzzing nightlife is embraced.

Ikoyi is home to some of Nigeria’s wealthiest residents and the most established expat community in Lagos. It has many high-rise apartment buildings, five-star hotels and one of Nigeria’s most popular golf courses. Large residences built during the colonial era stand next to modern luxury condos and apartments and extravagant mansions. Banana Island, one of the area’s most affluent neighbourhoods, has been referred to as a ‘billionaire’s paradise’.

Many multinational corporations in the oil and gas industry rent or own property in Ikoyi for their expat staff. The area is also popular with the diplomatic community. Ikoyi affords closeness to good schools, golf courses and country clubs, making it an attractive location for foreigners living in Lagos.

Ikoyi has a range of luxury shops, pharmacies, supermarkets and shopping centres, including Kingsway Mall, many of them concentrated on Awolowo Road. The commercial section is found in the southwest of Ikoyi.

Although utility provision is sometimes better in Ikoyi than the rest of the city, poor road infrastructure and shortages in electricity and water supply are fairly common.

Victoria Island

Victoria Island (sometimes referred to as VI) is located to the west of Lagos Island. The island, once surrounded by water, has transformed over the decades, having built a land bridge connecting Victoria Island and the Lekki Peninsula as well as the highway connecting Victoria Island to Epe.

It is a residential as well as commercial area. There are many shopping centres, restaurants and offices here, and luxury apartments abound. VI is one of the most affluent areas of Lagos and has some of the most expensive real estate in Nigeria. Residents of Victoria Island include wealthy Nigerian businesspeople and management professionals, and many of the city’s expatriates.

Once a peaceful and quiet part of Lagos, Victoria Island is now an important centre of banking and commerce in Nigeria, and many Nigerian and international corporations have their headquarters on the island. This redevelopment has left the island congested and traffic a constant problem.

Victoria Island is also a diplomatic centre of Nigeria, with numerous foreign embassies and consulates located in the area. There are good hospitals on Victoria Island and most of the international schools in Lagos are located here – yet another drawcard for expats.

For some much-needed relaxation, the sheltered Tarkwa Bay Beach is a short boat trip away, offering leisure activities and water sports.

Lekki

Lekki lies west on Victoria Island and is adjoined to the areas of Ikoyi and Epe. Wealthy residents are homeowners or tenants living in modern houses and apartments, while certain neighbourhoods hold affordable accommodation.

Younger residents are drawn to Lekki for its trendy clubs and upscale restaurants and bars offering a great nightlife atmosphere. Families equally enjoy the safety and proximity to international schools.

Healthcare in Lagos

The standard of healthcare in Nigeria, unfortunately, is not up to international standards, and Lagos is no exception. Public healthcare facilities in Lagos are underfunded, understaffed and underequipped. Although private healthcare facilities offer a better standard of care, the quality of facilities varies.

Expats requiring serious medical treatment are likely to require air evacuation to a country with better facilities. As such, comprehensive medical insurance, which makes provisions for international medical evacuation, is advised for all expats living in Lagos.

Below is a list of the more popular private hospitals in Lagos for expats.


Private hospitals in Lagos

Lagoon Hospital Apapa

Website: www.lagoonhospitals.com
Address: 8 Marine Road, Apapa

Paelon Memorial Hospital

Website: www.paelonmemorial.com
Address: 1221 Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island

Reddington Hospital

Website: www.reddingtonhospital.com
Address: 12 Idowu Martins St, Victoria Island

St Nicholas Hospital

Website: www.saintnicholashospital.com
Address: 57 Campbell Street, Lagos Island

Education and Schools in Lagos

Expats with children moving to Lagos will have a lot to think about regarding education and schools. Most parents in Lagos who can afford it send their children to private international schools in Lagos, of which there are a number to choose from. The majority of these schools follow the British, American or International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum.


Public schools in Lagos

Public schools across the country battle with underfunded infrastructure and limited resources; this is no different in Lagos. On paper, the education system appears well rounded, teaching a range of subjects at primary and secondary levels, with opportunities for vocational training. In reality, though, standards are poor; families who can afford private education prefer to send their children to these fee-paying schools. Private schools in Lagos largely consist of schools following an international curriculum.


International schools in Lagos

The quality of education at international schools in Lagos tends to be high. Many of these schools are also equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and offer a healthy choice of extra-curricular activities.

Expats living in Lagos should be aware that education at international schools comes at a high price. We highly recommend that expats working in Lagos negotiate tuition allowances in their employment contract. Admission to the best schools in Lagos is competitive as space is limited. It's best to start application processes as early as possible, and we also suggest asking the employing organisation if they are affiliated with any international schools.

Some companies also provide transport to and from particular schools for the children of their employees; an important perk considering the traffic and congestion that parents would have to personally contend with if driving their children to and from school every day. Expats should enquire within their company about this before enrolling.


Nurseries in Lagos

Expats moving to Lagos with infants will discover many daycare centres and crèches as well as preschools. Finding the best-suited kindergarten in Lagos will likely depend on the area in which it is located and how far it is from one's home as traffic can be chaotic. There are many nurseries in Victoria Island and Lagos Island, areas where expats are likely to find themselves living.


Special needs education in Lagos

Despite a push for integrating special needs education with typical classrooms, most schooling opportunities for students with disabilities and disorders are limited to separate schools. Greater awareness is being raised for inclusive education, and some international schools in Lagos provide extra support, such as counselling and assistant teachers. However, the standard and extent of these services will vary and not all schools have the same capacity to provide for a full spectrum of needs. We recommend that parents contact the schools directly.


Homeschooling in Lagos

Homeschooling in Lagos is possible, though the laws and policies guiding it are minimal. Most local and expat parents choose traditional schooling, but homeschooling comes with its own benefits. International schools come with exorbitant fees while, with homeschooling, parents can have full choice over the curriculum and style of teaching. 

Many international schools offer a homeschool programme or distance learning element, and this is an additional option and source of useful materials.


Tutors in Lagos

Children needing extra classes can find tutors through private tutoring companies in Lagos or through online portals such as TeacherOn. Networking can also benefit parents to connect with other families and teachers for advice on tutoring options.

International Schools in Lagos

Most expats will opt to send their children to international private schools in Lagos, of which there are a number to choose from. As a major city in Nigeria, schools in Lagos offer myriad curricula and languages for expats children to gain a well-rounded education, including English, American, French, Dutch and international programmes of study.

The standard of education in these schools is high, but so are the tuition fees. Expats working in Nigeria should try and negotiate an allowance for this as part of their employment package.

Below is a list of some of the most popular international schools in Lagos.


International schools in Lagos

American International School Lagos

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American and International Baccalaureate (IB)
Ages: 3 to 18
Websitewww.aislagos.org

Avi-Cenna International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE
Ages: 2 to 16
Website: www.avi-cenna.com

British International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE and A Levels
Ages: 11 to 18
Website: www.bisnigeria.org

Children’s International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, IGCSE
Ages: 2.5 to 16
Website: www.cislagos.org

Grange School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE
Ages: 4 to 16
Website: www.grangeschool.com

Lagos Preparatory School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, IGCSE
Ages: 1.5 to 16
Website: www.lagosprepikoyi.com.ng

Lekki British School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE and A Levels
Ages: 1.5 to 18
Website: www.lekkibritishschool.org

Lycée Français Louis Pasteur

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: French
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.lflp-lagos.com

Netherlands International School Lagos

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Dutch, English National Curriculum and International Primary Curriculum
Ages: 2.5 to 12
Website: www.nislagos.org

St Saviour’s School Ikoyi

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum and International Primary Curriculum
Ages: 4 to 11
Website: www.stsavioursschikoyi.org

Lifestyle in Lagos

Lagos is a vibrant city and expats first arriving will most likely have their senses overwhelmed by the chaos, noise and traffic. The lifestyle in Lagos is fast paced and, as one of the fastest growing cities in Africa, hustle and bustle abound.

There are both pros and cons to moving here. Lagos has been rated one of the world's 'least liveable' cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Survey, looking at factors including access to healthcare, crime rates and political and social stability. Beggars are also common and street children can often pester foreigners on the assumption that they are wealthy.

Despite the chaos and poverty, Nigerians are friendly people, and Lagosians are no exception. Nigerians have pride in their cultural identity and are usually eager to share information about their country and people. Although most Lagosians live in poverty and occupy the city’s slum areas, there is still a thirst for life, and energy and creativity ensure that locals do what they must to survive.

It’s no surprise that expats moving to Lagos will contend with challenges and may consider the relocation a hardship posting. Nevertheless, after getting over the initial culture shock, there is more to the city than overcrowding, power cuts and traffic jams, with plenty to explore and experience.


Shopping in Lagos

Shopping in Lagos is a colourful affair; whether it involves markets, malls or boutique stores. Modern shopping malls can be found across the city and are full of local and international fashion brands. Fashion in Nigeria is a unique mix of African and Western styles, and it’s common for expats to have clothing made by tailors.

The Ikeja City Mall, one of Nigeria’s largest malls, is located on the Lagos mainland, while other shopping areas close to expat neighbourhoods include the Kingsway Mall, Festival Mall and The Palms Shopping Mall. There are also many markets across the city, where bargaining is essential. Most seasoned hagglers will agree that starting at a third of the asking price and settling at half is the best approach.


Eating out in Lagos

Lagos is a cosmopolitan city and a melting pot of African, Asian and Western cultures. This is evident in the cuisine on offer in Lagos, where there are plenty of modern and upscale restaurants serving both local and international dishes. Indian, Chinese, Lebanese and West African restaurants are largely concentrated in the more affluent areas of the city, and food vendors line the streets of the commercial districts. The traditional staples are a variety of green vegetables, rice dishes, such as jollof rice, and stews eaten with processed cassava or yam flour.


Nightlife and entertainment in Lagos

Art, entertainment and music form an integral part of Lagos culture and the city has a thriving nightlife. Lagos is famous throughout West Africa for its music scene – there are dozens of nightclubs and live music venues across the city. Western music, hip hop and traditional African bands are popular forms of entertainment.

Lagos is the heart of Nigeria’s film industry, often referred to as 'Nollywood'. It’s the largest film industry in Africa, and most major studios are located in Lagos.

Foreigners moving to Lagos may take a while to get used to living in such a large African city, and many will find themselves living in insular expat communities behind high walls and security gates, far removed from the reality of life in Lagos. But for those eager to explore and leave the bubble, Lagos offers a true taste of African lifestyle and culture, and expats should take advantage to experience all that this vibrant city has to offer.


Sports and outdoor activities

This rapidly-expanding metropolis is home to a wide range of sports – expats interested in tennis, swimming, football or basketball will find a place for them in Lagos. Lagos Country Club is a great place to swim and play squash, table tennis and football, or simply relax with friends, while both Ikoyi and Ikeja have popular golf clubs.

Lagos is full of hidden gems owing to it's coastal and island geography. Landmark Beach is great for leisure, as is Tarkwa Bay Beach, which is only accessibly by boat and offers opportunities for water sports and swimming. For some greenery, expats can stroll around Freedom Park and appreciate some of the social events frequently hosted in the park.

Despite the rapid urbanisation experienced in Lagos, there are efforts to preserve areas of wetlands and natural habitats; one such effort is the Lekki Conservation Centre, near Lekki Lagoon. As an ecotourism project, the centre features a scenic canopy walkway and visitors can enjoy nature walks, birdwatching and picnics.

Getting Around in Lagos

The growing population and rapid development of Lagos have placed a strain on the city’s public transport system, and traffic congestion and pollution add to the chaos of this massive city.

The most common forms of public transport in Lagos include taxis, buses and motorbike taxis, known locally as okadas. While these modes of transport are an option and add to the buzzing atmosphere of Lagos, drivers can be reckless. So, most expats don’t use public transport in Lagos, rather opting to have their own car, often with a personal driver.


Driving in Lagos

Getting around by car is the most feasible option for expats, though this doesn't necessarily mean driving themselves.

Expats can drive for the first three months of their stay in Lagos with their national licence (or up to a year with an international driver's licence). Thereafter, they will need to apply for a Nigerian driving licence to continue driving.

Lagos roads are chaotic and congested, and while expats could drive, many prefer to employ professionals to drive them around. Expats working in Lagos may have the fortune of their company providing them with a car and a driver. This is generally the safest and most convenient option for getting around as the driver can navigate the city easily and is familiar with the local environment and road conditions.

Traffic congestion is a massive problem in Lagos, and despite improvements to public transport and road networks to try and ease this, it can still take hours to travel just a few kilometres. Expats should plan their journey well in advance and ensure they give themselves plenty of time to get to their destination – even if it's just to drop the children off at school.


Public transport in Lagos

Public transport in this Nigerian metropolis could surprise a new arrival. Infrastructure improvements for public transport in Lagos have been slow and plans to develop the Lagos Rail Mass Transit urban rail network has experienced many delays. Nevertheless, some forms of public transport are perfectly adequate.

Buses

Numerous types of buses are in operation in Lagos, including danfo minibuses and a Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT).

Danfo buses are yellow minibuses that travel set routes around the Lagos mainland and on the islands. These buses are often overcrowded and drivers can be reckless. Due to safety concerns, the local government has attempted to restrict or ban danfo on Lagos streets, but they remain one of the most popular modes of transport.

The Lagos BRT is a modern bus network that has replaced some of the older molue buses and somewhat eased traffic congestion in Lagos. BRT vehicles, painted red or blue, operate on segregated or priority lanes between the mainland and the islands of Lagos. Travelling on the BRT can be a frustrating experience as long queues are common at BRT stations and the buses are overcrowded, particularly during rush hour. Still, with a little patience, the Lagos BRT effectively gets passengers from A to B.

Ferries

Despite the abundance of waterways in Lagos, ferries are not as popular as road transport to get around the city – this does, however, mean that heavy road traffic can easily be avoided by taking water transport.

There are regular ferry routes between Lagos Island, Victoria Island and the mainland. Lagos residents and expats can get on a boat or ferry from the Five Cowries Terminal, a jetty with modern facilities and a waterfront bar. Private boats also operate some passenger services on the lagoon and some creeks. The local government has been working to promote and invest in water transport in Lagos to ease road congestion by building several jetties.


Taxis in Lagos

Multiple taxi companies operate in Lagos; these are either metered or have fixed fares. Expats should negotiate the fare before entering the taxi, or make sure that the meter is working. It is possible to hail a cab from the street, although a safer option is to phone and order one ahead of time. Ride-hailing applications, such as Uber, are a common, user-friendly way of getting around in Lagos.

Okadas

Okadas are motorbike taxis that can carry one passenger, although it’s not unusual to see several squashed on with the driver at one time. They are generally cheaper than regular taxis and are one of the fastest ways of getting around Lagos. Travelling on an okada can be a hair-raising experience as they weave through the congested roads at high speeds, often ignoring the rules of the road.

Kekes

Kekes are three-wheeled vehicles that operate in Nigerian cities and provide an alternative means of getting around. Also known as auto rickshaws, many local commuters travel by keke daily.

Note that both kekes and okadas have faced restrictions in city-centre areas in Lagos and on major roads. This has been met with much resistance in recent years, with drivers protesting these regulations and commuters being left to use the buses.


Cycling in Lagos

Though bicycles were once a common sighting on the roads in Nigeria, motorised transport has, for the most part, made cycling difficult and unsafe. Lagos does not have extensive cycling lanes and the busy traffic and resulting air pollution mean poor conditions for cyclists. That said, Lagos does host regular cycling events and competitions, and expats can find cycling groups through social media platforms. There have also been pushes from these cycling groups in Lagos to create more space for cyclists on the roads.


Walking in Lagos

Many residents in Lagos get around by walking, particularly if they just have to go a short distance, but this is not to say the city is walkable. Sidewalks and pavements are not all well maintained, while crossing a road comes with its own dangers, such as vehicles that won't simply stop to let someone pass.

Sadly, the city does not particularly accommodate for pedestrians, especially by comparison with other global cities. Some new arrivals may be nervous to walk at all and prefer to travel by car, while others may enjoy strolling around areas in Lagos Island or Victoria Island. For expats that do wish to walk around the city, we recommend not walking alone at night and being vigilant at all times.