Underestimating the high cost of living in Nigeria is one of the worst relocation mistakes an expat can make. Expats with little knowledge of this West African country may be quick to assume life in Lagos or Abuja is relatively affordable. In actuality, Nigeria’s two largest urban centres are ranked as two of the most expensive cities in Africa. Lagos ranks 19th out of 209 cities in Mercer's 2021 Cost of Living Survey – making it more expensive than London.

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.

Many may wonder how an African country often reprimanded for its high levels of poverty, crime and corruption can beat out global powerhouses such as Berlin and Barcelona in the cost of living calculations. The answers lie in oil reserves, which have 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.


Cost of accommodation in Nigeria

The cost of accommodation in Nigeria is undeniably high. In most cases, hiring companies will not only find and secure housing for their expatriate staff, but they will also foot the bill. In fact, many foreign companies have purchased or sub-let housing in areas that have become known as expat enclaves, and so are well-furnished and easily prepared to make the necessary home arrangements. This can be a life-saver as, otherwise, expats may face having to pay several months to a year upfront in terms of rent.

Additionally, due to Nigeria’s high crime rates and unreliable electricity supply, expats will also need to prepare to account for security costs and extra facility (generator) costs.

Generators

The power supply in Nigeria is inconsistent and unreliable. There may be times when the power supply goes off completely. Consequently, many expats and locals invest in a generator. These convenient power supplies can be one of the biggest drains on one’s finances. They are incredibly costly to buy, install and run as they will need to be refuelled regularly and checked consistently to ensure they are safe.


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 besiege roadways that are far below standard. This individual’s monthly salary must be tacked onto the normal costs associated with transport (car payments, petrol and car insurance). Nevertheless, employers will often subsidise these costs.

Taking public transport in Nigeria is not a highly-recommended option. The ramshackle buses and improvisational motorbike taxis (okadas) are often unroadworthy and risky.


Cost of education in Nigeria

With local schools not being an option for expats, those moving to Nigeria with children need to factor the cost of private schooling into their budgets as well. Tuition fees for private international schools are incredibly high. Most of these schools’ fees will also not cover things such as uniforms, textbooks, school trips or even end-of-year external exams. It is worth negotiating an allowance for school fees in an expat employment contract.


Cost of living in Nigeria chart 

Prices may vary across Nigeria, depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Lagos in May 2022.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

NGN 250,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

NGN 80,000

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

NGN 45,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

NGN 30,000

Shopping and groceries

Milk (1 litre)

NGN 1,400

Chicken breast (1kg)

NGN 2,000

Dozen eggs

NGN 790

Loaf of white bread 

NGN 510

Rice (1kg)

NGN 1,140

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

NGN 400

Transport

City-centre public transport

NGN 300

Taxi rate per km

NGN 725

Petrol (per litre)

NGN 165

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

NGN 2,500

Coca-Cola (330ml)   

NGN 150

Cappuccino

NGN 1,000

Local beer (500ml)

NGN 400

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

NGN 15,000

Utilities

Mobile call rate (per minute)

NGN 20

Internet (per month)

NGN 20,000

Basic utilities (per month for standard household)

NGN 11,000

Expat Health Insurance

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