Cost of Living in Nigeria
Underestimating the shocking high cost of living in Nigeria is one of the worst relocation mistakes you can make.
Expats with little knowledge of this West African country may be quick to assume life in Lagos or Abuja is provincial and therefore affordable. In actuality, Nigeria’s two largest urban centres ranked as two of the most expensive destinations in the world; Lagos and Abuja placed 39 and 64 respectively out of 214 destinations evaluated in the 2012 Mercer Cost of Living Survey.
Rural areas and smaller urban centres in Nigeria levy a far less expensive lease on life, but the majority of expats are concentrated in these two aforementioned locales, if not in one of the oil-rich and isolated southern Niger Delta states.
Many may wonder how an African country often reprimanded for its high levels of poverty, crime and corruption can beat out global powerhouses like Berlin and Barcelona in cost of living calculations. The answers lie in the oil boom of the 1970s, which allowed economic expansion and population growth to explode and mushroom.
As a result, private investment in luxuries and amenities catering for businesses and foreigners skyrocketed and prices followed.
Still, for 90 percent of the Nigerian population, the cost of living is around USD 1 per day. Expats in Nigeria, however, will need considerably more than that to enjoy the standard of living they expect - and that employers go out of their way to cater for - despite the deteriorating infrastructure. As a result, in Nigeria there remains a glaring absence of a middle class. The rich are filthy rich and the poor are dismally, irrevocably poor.
By some expat estimates, those moving to Nigeria and supporting a family of four will need to earn from USD 200,000 per annum and upward. A bachelor with less financial obligations can get by on around USD 60,000.
Cost of housing in Nigeria
The cost of accommodation in Nigeria is indiscriminately high; though, in most cases hiring employers will not only find and secure housing, they will also foot the bill.
In fact, many foreign companies have purchased or sub-let large quantities of housing in areas that have become known as expat enclaves, and are thus easily prepared to make the necessary home arrangements.
That said, if you’re not one of the lucky assignees who has had accommodation tucked neatly into your employment package, realise that you’ll need an adequately inflated salary or a sizeable allowance to cover associated costs.
In Abuja, a one-bedroom bungalow in the city centre can cost as much as NGN 3,000,000 (around USD 20,000). Not to mention, some contracts require that you pay costs up front for leases that span two, or even three years.
Additionally, due to Nigeria’s peaking crime rates and devastatingly unreliable electricity supply, expats will also need to prepare to account for security costs and extra facility (generator) costs.
Cost of transport in Nigeria
Much like accommodation, the cost of driving and getting around in Nigeria can also levy some unexpected fees. Most expats prefer to hire a driver to negotiate the treacherous traffic and legendary gridlock that besieges roadways that are far below standard. Thus, this individual’s monthly salary must be tacked onto the normal costs you associate with transport (car payments, petrol and car insurance).
Again, for the most part though, hiring companies bear the burden of this expense. If such a stipulation is not brought up in your contract, do your best to try to negotiate for one.
Taking public transport in Nigeria is not an option; the ramshackle buses and improvisational motorbikes that exist to get people from point A to point B are often not roadworthy and are incredibly risky.
Cost of education in Nigeria
For those moving to Nigeria with kids, which is not recommended, the cost of sending them to a private international school (the local institutions will not be an option for expats) is also high, in some cases rivalling the cost of fees associated for universities.
Tuition can range from USD 12,000 to USD 22,000 per annum, excluding application fees and extras.
Cost of living in Nigeria chart (prices in Nigerian Naira and based on Lagos, 2013)
Food and drink
|Milk (1 litre)||437 NGN|
|Rice (1kg)||1,084 NGN|
|Loaf of white bread||283 NGN|
|Eggs (dozen)||524 NGN|
|Apples (1kg)||1,100 NGN|
|Potatoes (1kg)||420 NGN|
|Chicken (skinless breasts)||1,730 NGN|
|Mineral water (1.5 litre)||157 NGN|
|Bottle of wine||1,900 NGN|
|Beer (500ml local)||300 NGN|
|Basic utilities per month (electricity, gas, water)||22,500 NGN|
|One minute call on mobile phone (pre-paid)||27 NGN|
|Internet (monthly average plan)||14,960 NGN|
Fitness and entertainment
|Gym membership (per month)||22,600 NGN|
|Cinema ticket||1,572 NGN|