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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.
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.
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.
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.