Areas and suburbs 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 a collection of islands that are separated by creeks and the Lagos Lagoon. 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 in Ikoyi, Apapa and Ikeja.
Most Lagos residents live on the mainland of Lagos, which consists of the main districts of Ebute-Meta, Mushin, Surulere, Agege, Oshodi, Yaba and Ikeja.
Ikeja is the capital of Lagos State and is the most exclusive residential area 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 a number of high-ranking Nigerian officials and their families. Large residential properties can be found here, with accommodation typically in the form of detached houses, bungalows or semi-detached duplexes.
Over the years Ikeja has also 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 fairly secure, largely owing to the presence of the Police College and the Ikeja Military Cantonment.
Ikeja also offers 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 brand shops.
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. It is also home to the city's financial district and the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Shopping malls, clubs and supermarkets also litter the streets.
The western side of the island is the wealthy commercial side, while the poorer eastern side of the island hosts the main markets and poorer residential areas.
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.
Victoria Island (sometimes referred to as VI) is located to the west of Lagos Island. It is a residential as well as commercial area. There are many shopping centres, restaurants and offices here, and luxury apartments abound.
The island was once completely surrounded by water, but the colonial government began filling in the eastern swamps to reduce mosquito breeding areas, creating a land bridge between Victoria Island and the Lekki Peninsula. Successive governments expanded the development, culminating in the construction of a highway connecting Victoria Island to Epe.
This 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 business people 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 also good hospitals on Victoria Island and most of the international schools in Lagos are also located here – yet another drawcard for expats.
Ikoyi is located to the east of Lagos Island and is connected to it by a landfill. It’s a quiet and peaceful cosmopolitan residential area and is home to the most established expat community in Lagos.
Once a middle-class neighbourhood, Ikoyi is now the most affluent area of Lagos. It has many high-rise apartment buildings, five-star hotels, and one of Africa’s largest golf courses. Extravagant mansions built during the colonial era stand next to modern luxury condos and apartments.
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 is home to good schools, golf courses and country clubs, making it an attractive location for foreigners living in Lagos.
Ikoyi also has a range of luxury shops, pharmacies and supermarkets, many of them concentrated on Awolowo Road. The commercial section is found in the southwest of Ikoyi. The Kingsway and Dolphin shopping centres are also located in 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.
Located to the west of Lagos Island is the important 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, due to the fact that it is Nigeria’s main seaport, security is high.