Moving to Lagos

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It is more than likely that expats moving to Lagos have a less than flattering idea of life in this burgeoning Nigerian city.

A series of scathing superlatives have cast the city in a permanent shadow, including BusinessWeek’s 2009 appointment of Lagos as the “Worst City in the World” and the 2013 Economist Intelligence Unit’s evaluation of the city as among the four worst destinations for expats, coming 137th out of 140 cities surveyed. Cities were scored on factors such as political and social stability, crime rates and access to quality healthcare.
normal street scene for an expat living in lagosNigeria’s financial and economic capital is fraught with overpopulation, deteriorating infrastructure and sweeping unemployment rates. Not to mention, traffic, sanitation and pollution problems are ever-present, and severe crime rates certainly should not be looked upon lightly. 
Nonetheless, more and more expats are moving to Lagos, and the American, Indian, Filipino and Lebanese communities are sizeable, and growing. So, if life is so bad in this mushrooming urban centre, why do foreigners continue to uproot and relocate to Lagos?
Enter the levelling factor – money. Lagos, even at its basest level, is driven by the promise of wealth. 
Lagos is the business hub of West Africa, and it claims the region’s largest and most impressive banks, ports and markets. Furthermore, multinationals and massive corporations, many of them mining the oil-rich Niger Delta, have set up shop, and are continuously looking to lure foreigners to the city with lucrative expat packages; Halliburton, Hewlett-Packard and IBM are among the global giants that have established offices in Lagos.
It follows that expats offered a job in Lagos should expect not only a sizeable salary that more than makes up for Nigeria’s hard-to-ignore hardship ranking, but also a handful of accompanying perks. If a company does not outright insist on financing accommodation, health insurance, a driver and car, flights home and education, expats should make sure to negotiate allowances or an appropriately inflated salary that covers these costs. 
market for foreigners (indians and americans) in LagosThough it may be surprising to many, the cost of living a typical expat life in Lagos is sky-high. While nearly 75 percent of locals live in slums, the large houses on Ikoyi and Victoria Island that act as home to foreigners, the imported Western-style groceries and the access to private hospitals and schools of a Western standard come with a hefty price tag.
Needless to say, living in Lagos is not necessarily the nightmare it’s chalked up to be. Expats often find themselves able to afford far more luxuries than in their home country, and many take solace in the tight-knit, though slightly insular, communities they form within their carefully secured compounds, places of work and via networks and social clubs.
Despite the inconveniences of constant power and water supply problems, working in a world where bribery and corruption are still commonplace, and adjusting to the culture shock of life in a bustling, congested African city, overall, many expats report that life in Lagos is vibrant, colourful and, among all else, fruitful.
Thus, if preparing in advance, and if practicing patience for the better part of the initial settling-in period, chances are a posting in Lagos will be far less excruciating than ever imagined. 

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