The High Cost Of Living In Lagos

The High Cost Of Living In Lagos – Lagos is a city situated along the coastal zone of Southwestern Nigeria. Known as Africa’s most populous city, Lagos is home to over 21 million people. In Lagos, it will not be out of place for you to meet people from every other country in the city of Lagos as expats flow into Lagos every year and they make a good part of the city’s population.

High cost of living in Lagos NigeriaConsidered to be a city of great opportunities, Lagos attracts Nigerian youths and indeed people from all over the world looking for better opportunities. More and more people move into Lagos yearly, but some other people look at Lagos as a brutal city with no chances of survival for them and their family.

However, the truth is, whatever side of the fence you are sitting on, it is imperative that you research about Lagos before deciding if you are going to move to the economic headquarters of Africa or not.

One of the most important indexes for people all over the world looking to switch cities is that they look at the cost of living in the new cities that they are looking to move to, and in some instances, they benchmark it against the cost of living in their current locations.

It is when you know the cost of living in the new city that you will know if you have a chance of surviving in the said city or not. Knowing the cost of living also helps you make adequate preparations before moving.

According to renowned economic website Investopedia, there are some of the indicators for calculating the cost of living of any city:

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Cost of living indicators include expenditures such as

  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Shelter
  • Energy
  • Clothing
  • Healthcare
  • Childcare

Now let’s take a look at each of these items concerning the cost of living in Lagos.



The high prices of food commodity are not exclusive to Lagos as food, though an essential commodity, is not readily available to the average Nigerian. Nigerians generally eat rice, beans, yam, potatoes and “swallow” which could be a pounded version of yam, potatoes or cassava(popularly known as Garri). What makes the cost of food astronomical in Lagos compared to other cities is not far fetched-The high rise population.

In a city where a high populace struggles to contend with the available food in the market, survival for food becomes a battle of the wealthiest.  Food items become readily available to those who have the financial capacity to purchase it. Another factor that makes the cost of feeding on the high side in Lagos is the fact that the city is surrounded by water.

A vast area of the city contains the Lagoon and sea (Atlantic ocean). Though this encourages fishing, it affects other facets of agriculture as there is less land space for the growth of staple food. As a result, most of the food consumed by the inhabitants of the city are brought from other parts of the country leading to an increase in their cost compared to how much they are sold in other Nigerian cities.

Furthermore, Lagos as a cosmopolitan city serves as headquarter to almost all the business organisations, financial institutions, companies and modern industries. White-collar jobs are prevalent and the average Lagosian would rather work in any of the aforementioned than indulge in agriculture.

Farming is regarded as a job for the villagers and not for city dwellers. Fast food ventures such as Coldstone, KFC, Chinese restaurants etc keep springing up on a daily. The cost rate of food in these places is much more expensive making it one of the reasons that the cost of feeding in Lagos is high.



Traffic congestion in the city of Lagos is one of the goriest experiences of Lagos residents. It is so terrible that many workers leave home as early as 5:00 a.m. or sometimes, earlier with the sole purpose of beating the traffic and arrive at work on time.

The morning and evening rush hours of Lagos is better left imagined than experienced. Despite boasting of some of the most developed roads in Nigeria, one won’t be wrong to say the transit populace of the city exceeds the road space available.

To worsen matters, roadside trading activities, dilapidated roads, illegal vehicle parking, Military checkpoints, bad or inexistent traffic lights/signals, bad drainage facilities, the menace of community touts (agberos) who pester commercial drivers for money, faulty vehicles etc aggravate the already unpleasant transportation state.

According to a traffic survey, a worker commuting in the city of Lagos spends on an average 3 hours 55 minutes each day to and from work, the highest of any African city.

The overdependence on road transportation is also responsible for this as other transportation sectors that are meant to alleviate the bulky patronage on-road transportation such as railway and water transportation are either in poor states, badly managed or non-existent.

On this premise, it is to be considered quite understandable why the cost of transportation is high. The incessant traffic jams lead to more fuel consumption by both private and public transport commuters.  Passengers pay more per kilometre in Lagos in comparison with other Nigerian cities.

There are also instances where people patronise motorbike taxis (Okadas) which travel faster on traffic-congested areas but charge exorbitant fees.  Though the government has put in place the Bus Rapid Transport System (BRT) and undergone road maintenance/construction projects and other measures in easing transportation, much still needs to be done and Lagosians will continue to groan over the uncomfortable yet expensive transportation system the city offers.



Getting a house in Lagos is very cumbersome, to say the least. The practice in Lagos is that one cannot often get a house in Lagos by oneself. So, you will have to go through an agent to get a house, and more suspect is the fact that you’d have to pay an agreement fee to you landlord or landlady; an agreement that in most cases, you’d never get to see or sign!

Apart from the agreement fee, you would be charged an agent’s fee, a “damages” fee and an agent’s form fee. When you put these extra charges together, you will pay anywhere between 50,000-200, 000 Naira more than what you should ordinarily pay for the house.

Asides the extra charges for the houses, houses in Lagos are ordinarily more expensive than in other Nigerian cities. For example, in the southern city of Benin-City and even the neighbouring Abeokuta, one can get a self-contained apartment for 70,00 Naira.

But in Lagos, you have to part with as much 150,00-200,000 for the same kind apartment; that is more than double what you will pay in some Nigerian cities. And more jaw-breaking is that in the highbrow areas of Lagos you will have to cough out between 500,000 to 750,000 for a single self-contained apartment!

As a matter of fact, rent is one of the major downsides of living in Lagos. In recent times, to curb expenses, more and more Lagosians have been moving to the suburbs of Lagos even opting to live in neighbouring states and continuing to work in Lagos. However, the downside to this arrangement is the transport system which we have addressed in the previous subtopic.



The condition of energy in Lagos is a living oxymoron. While some parts of Lagos have seen a gradual increase in power availability in recent years, some areas are still suffering from the chronic epileptic power supply. This has led to many people opting to patronize generators suppliers leading to increased pollution in the environment.  With the incessant lack of electricity and the high cost of electricity and fuel, some houses go for months with no power.  This is a huge drawback, especially for a city lofty aspirations.

Owing to the energy situation in Lagos, a few companies have relocated to new communities where they perceive that the energy and indeed power situation is better than what Lagos has to offer. And on the long run, this means lesser jobs for Lagosians, increased poverty and a lower standard of living.



Lagos, being the commercial headquarter of Nigeria is doing a little bit better than other Nigerian cities in this regard. Being the commercial hub of the country has its benefit. At least in Lagos, you will not have to break the bank in order to get a presentable piece of clothing but this does not mean that clothing in Lagos is the cheapest in the world. As a matter of fact, more and more Lagosians are opting to wear second-hand clothes popularly referred to as “Okirika” Or ‘Bend-down-select”.

The widespread poverty in the country has made good clothing a thing of luxury as opposed to it being a thing of necessity.



Healthcare in Lagos is a little bit more available than in other states. However, the cost of healthcare is unbelievably high!

The government hospitals are  a little bit more affordable than private hospitals. but a visit to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospitals or the General Hospital in Gbagada will tell you why Nigerians are opting for Private hospitals. The queues are long, doctors and nurses are scarce and health professionals treat sick people as if it is somehow a taboo to fall sick.

So due to these harsh conditions in the more affordable government hospitals, people have no choice than to go to the much more costly private hospitals where they are guaranteed more respect and healthcare availability. This makes the cost of healthcare in Lagos more costly than they should.

Also, the rise in the cost of duties and importation systems have made drugs in the whole country more costly than it should be. Add this cost implication to the expenses on healthcare and you will see that Lagosians pay more for healthcare than they normally should.

However, the introductions of the primary health centres in recent years have served as a palliative to many Lagosians especially pregnant woman. This is because these primary health care centres are normally located in the local communities thereby providing more access to healthcare. However, the primary health care centres do not operate with a lot of qualified doctors. Therefore meaning that you will still be referred back to the general hospital for serious cases.



Childcare in Lagos is grossly expensive. This is in part because most people in Lagos are working people, therefore, making it harder for families to drop off children at their relatives’ house and also due to the fact there are fewer childcare centres than the city will ordinarily need. As a city of over 21 million, Lagos needs as many childcare centres as possible.

However, you will find that most parents have to rely on nursery schools and kindergartens as childcare centres.

Also with the introduction of the Montessori system of education in the private schools in Lagos, parents now have the option of another childcare. However, these childcare centres are priced way out of the average Lagos family’s affordability and most families usually resort to the mother staying at home until the children are weaned and can take care of themselves.

Other families normally go the route of hiring a maid that can help look after the children when the parents are not around. But that too is an expensive option for families that are living from hand to mouth.

Lagos is a wonderful city to move to. Especially as a young Nigerian looking for opportunities. However, when moving to Lagos, you must research extensively.

And you must also be prepared for the higher cost of living to where you are coming. But the fact remains that there are people who are still living a good life in the city. So the trick is to plan well, try as much as possible not to be wasteful and work hard.


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