Sunday, January 25, 2009

Life in Nigeria - No Complaints!

On a recent post I was asked for advice by a family who is considering moving here. They essentially asked what the pros and cons are of life here. I was a reluctant to post based on a recent negative comment I got on the blog, but what I post is just my opinion based on my limited experiences over the past two years. Prior to coming to Nigeria I had traveled to few other countries so I can only compare my experiences here to what my life has been like growing up in the US.

As you know from my blog I do not have any children but I do know many folks who live here and do. There is a good American International School that goes through grade 11 and a British Junior School and High School. The kids take part in many sporting activities; just like at home... soccer (no American football), baseball/softball, etc. The kids (and parents) have the opportunity to interact with kids (and parents) from around the world, an opportunity anyone would benefit from.

The positives of life in Lagos - Nigerians are very family oriented and most people are very friendly. You get to learn about a new culture and travel to places you might not travel if you did not live here. A safari is a MUST do and I highly recommend that the families get out to see Nigeria, it is an amazing country. Go to the Nigerian Field Society website and check out the trips and talks section. They do run kid-friendly trips. The weather here is good, it does not get too hot though it can be humid (not as hot and humid as summer in Houston) nor does it get too cold (coldest in Lagos is this time of year and the temperature drops to about 65 degrees Fahrenheit).

The negatives of life in Lagos - Based on my experience or discussions with expats, many things that should be easy to take care of seem to take lots of effort and follow through. Some people (maintenance, for example) won't respond to you until you ask over and over again. I must say that I have had similar problems in the US with cable TV or telephone companies. The infrastructure needs work but with so many people living in Lagos I can see how it can be very difficult to manage. Most apartment complexes that I have been in (not many) have constant or intermittent plumbing problems and dehumidifiers run 24/7. To have power all the time (which many Nigerians do not have), generators are needed therefore there is always the hum of generators running… and horn honking. The traffic and the driving style here is challenging and to me there seems to be no order to it. I do not drive much as I am not aggressive enough and we have a driver to take us to work and back (most expats do for security reasons). The only other issue is access to the goods you are used to though you can get most things here, at a cost. I ran out of cereal so I need to shop for a $10 box of cereal today!

I struggled with posting this as I really have nothing to complain about. Unfortunately many expats who come here focus too much on the negatives and not enough on the positives. I think I tend to focus on the positives!

I hope this helps!


9ja's OT said...

Thank you for focusing on the Good part of that great country. many Expats don't focus on the good side rather they focus on the bad side, and portray that to the world. every country has it's bad side but most try to cover it up, just a pity Nigeria does not have the infrastructure to cover theirs up. great blog by the way, it makes me feel home sick everytime i see pictures or hear you talk of landmark events and things like "horn honking" i miss playing a song with my car's


natty said...

I was helping someone could help me. I am considering a position in Lagos from a repiutable genuine Nigerian company.I worked in Warri in 2003. But was employed by a multi national so my salary was paid offshore. I am concerned on how best to repatriate my salary offshore. I have a family to support in New Zealand & am concerned about the fact that Western Union does not allow outgoing transfers., Is this really the case. Does anyone have any suggestions or advice? :) Thank you in advance

natty said...

Sorry my previous email should have read hoping not helping :) !!!

Lisa said...

Natty - Sorry but I have no advice. Maybe other folks checking out my blog will respond. Sorry.

9ja's OT said...

natty, you can have an international account with CITIBANK, the offer free transfers, that is if they have a branch in your country.

natty said...

Thank you both for your responses. So as an expat in Nigeria I will be able to open a citibank account in Lagos & transfer money when I want ? That is a relief I was concerned. I heard stories that getting money out of Nigeria was almost impossible unless you were paying a mortgage offshore & could provide sufficient paperwork to verify it. All I want to do is to be able to send money freely to New Zealand whenever I choose. Hopefully citibank in Lagos can assist? Once again thank you for your advice.

P.S Lisa your blog is great ! :)

gbenro said...

In my opinion, the best thing is to be honest. You don't have to concentrate on one and and ignore to talk about about another even if it's right under your nose. I think it's a duty that we owe ourselves to make things better. I wonder how things can be better if we only wanna talk about the good things. My fear is, if we continue to do this, soon negative aspects will gradually eat up into the positive part and soon, we will have nothing good to talk about in this country. I am a reporter who strives day and night to report the good as well as the bad. I would be a very poor reporter if I should blind my eyes to the positive side. I would also be a poor one if I should blind my eyes to the bad things that are happening. I particularly found Lisa's story about lack of public toilets (bathrooms)in Nigeria. There is only one question I wish to ask everyone reading this: are there good public toilets in Nigeria? Maybe if there were, we would not be having adults defecating in the open in this country.
I am a Nigerian, and I love this country more than I can ever imagine possible. The fact is I wake up each morning, wishing that this great country could be better. This is because I know that we can do better than this, we can live better than we do-a happier life, and we can be more open and honest.
There are very brilliant people in this country. There are lots of positive things in this country, just as there are lots of negative things. I hear people say that every country has its bad sides. This is a fact. But they are never things they sit, fold their arms and do nothing about. They are not embezzlements, misappropriations and negligence of duty that the citizens get to hear about in the papers each morning. They are not things that continue to go unchecked, as if nothing has happened. There is corruption everywhere, but the question is:what happens to those who get caught? do they just continue to walk the streets after stealing millions of dollars, while someone who stole something worth 450 naira(3 dollars) lavishes in police custody. I do not think that there is any other country in the world where so much is embezzled and nobody pays for it. Please if anyone knows of such a country, I am open to learn.

gbenro said...

Lisa, i got a mail from Kevin King. Thanks.

Renwaa said...

Hi, Lisa: I stumbled onto your blog like I'm sure so many others do--because of a possibility to move to Lagos. My family (husband, sons 5yrs & 2.5yrs) are currently living in Mumbai, India. We've done the expat thing before coming from Panama, now India and now may face Lagos. I have my reservations, not so much for my husband and I, but what to do with the kids. Mumbai is a very "inside" oriented place with hardly any outdoor activities for kids. I know you and your husband don't have children, but do you have friends who do that would be willing to provide some information on the simple day-to-day stuff for families with small children? I just don't think I could bear keeping the kids inside for yet another posting.

Your travel stories are great too and give lots of ideas. My husband's office would be on Victoria Island. It's only the kid stuff that has me putting the brakes on--even in this climate of job cuts. Any information you could provide would be sincerely appreciated. Thank you

Silvia said...

Thank you for your blog. My name is Silvia and I ran across it some time ago when I started thinking about moving to Lagos. It really helped me get an idea of what Lagos is all about.

My partner and I are moving to Lagos in around 3 months from Houston, TX and I'm looking for all the information I can get, like what things I should/should not take with me.

I know it's going to be challenging but I'm looking forward to our new life in Lagos.
Any info would be greatly appreciated!

Duke said...


I am considering an exec role in Lagos and I to am an American...I have only lived in Europe outside the US but I have travelled all over the world. My biggest concerns I guess are costs and safety...three questions...How safe is it??? How much would a really nice three bedroom apt cost in the better areas, and how much would a driver/guard cost full time that was licensed to be armed for safety..any idea?

Appreciate any inputs...very good info here...all the best.


KAjayi-Bembe said...

First of all thank you for showing the nicer side of Nigeria as many expats dont. Your blogs are very informative and it is nice to see your opinion. I have been to Lagos 3 times now and I will be moving there in April with my daughter, my husband is Nigerian and is currently in Nigeria. I am very excited about the move for the reasons you have mentioned but I am doing searches on the internet on things to do as I have found that a bit of a challenge when I have been previously. I will continue to read your blog with the hope that I will be setting my own up one day soon.

Thank you

Kimberley Ajayi-Bembe

Renwaa said...

Hi, again! Looks like there's other people besides me searching for information on Lagos. I wrote to the American school asking them if they have a willing contact to give me details plus enrollment info. I started your blog from "Day 1" and have really enjoyed your progression through an interesting place like Lagos. Look forward to reading more about your adventure and maybe even one day getting to meet you should Lagos become a reality. After piecing through other sites, the general consensus is that it is doable, but security will be an everyday thought. It was in Central America when we were there too (armed high-jackings, break-ins), but we still really enjoyed our life in Panama.

We're committed to Lagos so it's up to the company now if they want to send us!

I guess one big question remains on the easy stuff: Are you allowed to ship food in your container? We could bring $1k food into India and that was great. I'd load up on lots of spices. Who knew we'd become Indian food addicts?

Thanks, Lisa ;-)

Pukpup said...

I just got an offer to go to Lagos for a few years. We are used to "exciting places", but because of stories around Lagos, were wondering, it is really worth it? Can you really make it a living? We also have an offer to go to Nairobi. May be less Salary in Nairobi, but perhaps slightly more safer, etc..
Would like to get in touch with people living in Lagos (via email), we have to make up our minds in max 2 weeks time, thanks, Hank

Pukpup said...

Thanks for responding!!

Lisa said...

I am getting ready ot travel for the holiday but in will respond when I can. I work for a large company and they provide secure housing. If I worked for a smaller company and had to get my own housing... I might not feel as safe. Safety incidents are not common or at least I don't hear about them. Robberies of vehicles stuck in go-slows are the most common of the incidents and I do know of individuals who have been involved and they were not injured (because they provided money or ran). Occasionally we hear stories of people getting shot but they are usually in a place they should not be. We are very happy here and feel safe. Do you have kids?


E said...

thank you for all the information. We are thinking to move to Lagos because of work my husband. We have 2 kids (1 & 4)I am sure we will love the country, enjoy meeting new people and the weather. The only thing is: IS IT SAFE?? Everybody I tell is worring that we go! E

Lisa said...

I think it is safe. I have never felt unsafe.

You have to be smart, just like you are in your home country / town. Avoid the bad areas and stick to the safe areas.

Many expats avoid travelling at night. Others stay out partying all night. In the 3+ years I have been here, I have heard of very few incidents, and those I have heard of are where the individual was in a place they were warned not to go.

Hope this helps.

Prasad said...

There is nothing to worry about life in lagos, only you need to be in your own limits, especially during evening times you need to be careful be cautious about moving to home from office. It depends on your fate, its there everywhere in the world not only Lagos. You can spend nice time with your family here, but be careful with mosquitoes. There are some good shopping malls in Victoria where you can spend lot of time with your family or alone, cinema theatres are there most of them are multiplex theatres with new projection technology, SHOP RITE is one good shopping mall in victoria Island. You have nice discotheques in VI & all you need to do is be careful when you socializing. Always keep your car in good condition when you are going out. Be careful with LASTMA people they will screw the happiness every where. There are some good locations in lagos where you can stay, like ILUPEJU/ IKOYI/IKEJA/EGBEYIMI/TOWN PLANNING/ANTHONY VILLAGE. Most of the expats stay there only. Everything is damn expensive right from water bottle to your groceries. There is one Indian BAZAAR at ILUPEJU its very good and big for buying your monthly groceries, vegetables always demand premium rates, you will get yummy apples / spinach & grapes...but cost around 600 naira 10 apples. Dont ask me about NEPA means Never expect power please try to fill your diesel tank almost to the full and keep your Generators 100% maintained. You have a nice Indian school for kids at ILUPEJU i.e ILS the standards are CBSE & school starts from 7:30am in the morning.

Everything is good here, depends on your company, dont join in some LALA companies where they will screw your happiness completely. Lot of work pressure and you will go mad with their policies and procedures. they will treat u as defintely a beginer irrespective of your several years exp u put up.

Better join in a good offer & mostly a good company. There are many companies who offer more pakage but here the things are not like as in India. I said you will go madddddddddddddd.

So dude......please post me your reply soon.

All the best

Juniper said...

Your blog is awesome!Well done. I need advice on how and where I can get OFW Filipino nannies here in Lagos.Any ideas please?

Juniper Creche

Juniper said...

Help!!Anyone have any idea where to recruit OFW Filipino nannies in Lagos?

Juniper Creche

Jane said...

Thanks for all the info, I've enjoyed reading your blog. My husband is potentially accepting a transfer with IBM for 2yrs. I'm South African (my husband is Scottish) what areas are best to live in? We have a 2yr old and 5yr old so will need to look at schools aswell. Is there an expat community in Lagos? I'm wondering what I'll do all day everyday whilst hubby is at work and kids are at school.
Thanks, Jane (Johannesburg, SA)

Juniper said...

Hello Kimberly, I hope you are settling in at Ikoyi Nursery School. I used to teach there with the other ladies( Goofy Class).I just want to suggest Ikoyi Nursery and St Saviours School Ikoyi to the lady who wrote last. Take care!

Vikas said...

Hi I got a Job offer in Pharma Co. giving me 30000 USD /year and all Local expenses ( 1000 USD per mth) + Acco+ Car+Driver
Pl. advice

angelia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
angelia said...

Hey Guys

I'm going to Lagos next month. i need to know all are at less some of the pros and cons. the pictures i looked at on the internet it looks like a beautiful place.I know ain't no place perfect not even the states, we have problems to but i always wanted to visit the Motherland..

Angelia in Mississippi

Paccino said...

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Call me on this number and book yours for your own benefit and interest

Paccino said...

If you are in Lagos and in need of the past question contact me and book your own copy cos i will be coming to Lagos very soon and i will only be coming with the number of copies booked so if you are in Lagos or you know someone who stays in Lagos and needs the past question you can do the person a favor by informing him/her to contact me and book a copy before its too late. The past question is only obtainable from the school @ Kaduna only so its very expensive that`s why i will advice you to buy the complete N.D.A past question compendium which goes for #6,500 don`t see the price as too much, rather look at what you will gain when you go through it thoroughly because %80 of the question set on the day of exam is gotten from the past question so you see you will be doing yourself a great favor if you buy the past question.
Call me on this number and book yours for your own benefit and interest

Olubayo Uzoma said...

Hello all,

I am an American married to a Nigerian living in Nigeria. I have been here for almost three years. Boy do I miss home. Until recently I never met any other American here. I work at a school and an American not living in UK visited my school. He now informed my of the expat (which I was not familiar with prior). Just sometime feel like no one understand or relates to me.