The cost of living in Abuja is deceptively high. Although cheaper than Lagos, the city is more expensive than other African giants such as Johannesburg and Nairobi, as can be seen in Abuja's ranking in Mercer's 2020 Cost of Living Survey, which placed the city as the 68th most expensive out of 209 cities. This often comes as a shock to expats, especially those who were intending to save, rather than spend, money in Nigeria.

Foreigners moving to Nigeria should realise that this is a developing country with a vast gulf between rich and poor. While many of its citizens live in poverty, a select few experience a very different lifestyle, utilising their wealth to fund international business ventures, unlimited shopping sprees and private education. Nigeria’s well-to-do are not just millionaires, they are billionaires. And naturally, this has a skewing effect on the country’s economy.


Cost of accommodation in Abuja

The cost of accommodation in Abuja if often priced well beyond the average professional’s wages. The majority of rental contracts are only available on a two-year lease – with most landlords demanding rent in an annual lump sum, rather than in monthly instalments.

While this can seem outrageous and unattainable, fortunately, for many expat workers, housing will be provided as part of their relocation package. Often the accommodation will also include a security guard and a housekeeper. Expats who have only been allocated an accommodation allowance should make sure the amount promised is enough to secure appropriate housing in Abuja, as well as additional expenses, including generators and general repairs.


Cost of transport in Abuja

If moving to Nigeria for work and employed by a large company, expats are quite likely to be offered the transport services of a driver as part of their package.

Although this may sound excessive, it is necessary, especially to get anywhere on time and unharmed. Abuja’s roads are among the best in Nigeria – rickshaws and motorcycles (okadas) are partially banned, traffic wardens are plentiful and the government has taken care to cover most of the potholes. Despite this, the main roads are chaotic, congested and a hazard to the inexperienced foreign driver.


Cost of schooling in Abuja

Public schools are not really an option for expats living in Abuja, given the lower standards of facilities. So, most expats send their children to an international school in Abuja or a boarding school back home. Within the city, among the most sought-after schools for private education are the Lead British and the American International School. The alumni of both schools mainly consist of the sons and daughters of Nigeria’s leaders, as well as a good proportion of overseas students, such as from the US and the UK. Fees at these schools can reach exorbitant levels. Expats should ensure that their salary package makes provision for this.


Cost of shopping in Abuja

Groceries

The cost of Western food items in Nigeria is significantly inflated. Expats can expect to pay a decent chunk more for many standard Western groceries, such as cornflakes and chocolate. That said, local produce is cheap. Nigeria has an excellent climate, so an array of fruits and vegetables are available all year round. Wuse Market in Abuja is the best place to go food shopping.

Clothes

As is the case with food, prices for Western clothes are high. Expats who want value for money should either select the material and have clothes made by a local tailor, or buy second hand from any of the clothes dealers in Abuja. For those who want to splurge, several modern malls have emerged in the city where expats can find numerous international fashion brands. 


Cost of living in Abuja chart

Prices may vary across Abuja, depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in August 2020.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

NGN 450,000

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

NGN 700,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

NGN 250,000

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

NGN 500,000

Shopping and groceries

Milk (1 litre)

NGN 615

Chicken breasts (1kg)

NGN 3,170

Dozen Eggs

NGN 535

Loaf of white bread 

NGN 360

Rice (1kg)

NGN 885

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

NGN 500

Transport

City centre public transport

NGN 450

Taxi rate per km

NGN 185

Petrol (per litre)

NGN 153

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

NGN 1,600

Coca-Cola (330ml)   

NGN 200

Cappuccino

NGN 715

Local beer (500ml)

NGN 385

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two

NGN 8,000

Utilities

Mobile call rate (one minute)

NGN 22

Internet (per month)

NGN 5,500

Basic utilities (per month for standard household)

NGN 21,000

Expat Health Insurance

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