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Lagos is a vibrant city and expats first arriving will most likely have their senses overwhelmed by the chaos, noise and traffic. The lifestyle in Lagos is fast paced and, as one of the fastest growing cities in Africa, hustle and bustle abound.
There are both pros and cons to moving here. Lagos has been rated one of the world's 'least liveable' cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Survey, looking at factors including access to healthcare, crime rates and political and social stability. Beggars are also common and street children can often pester foreigners on the assumption that they are wealthy.
Despite the chaos and poverty, Nigerians are friendly people, and Lagosians are no exception. Nigerians have pride in their cultural identity and are usually eager to share information about their country and people. Although most Lagosians live in poverty and occupy the city’s slum areas, there is still a thirst for life, and energy and creativity ensure that locals do what they must to survive.
It’s no surprise that expats moving to Lagos will contend with challenges and may consider the relocation a hardship posting. Nevertheless, after getting over the initial culture shock, there is more to the city than overcrowding, power cuts and traffic jams, with plenty to explore and experience.
Shopping in Lagos
Shopping in Lagos is a colourful affair; whether it involves markets, malls or boutique stores. Modern shopping malls can be found across the city and are full of local and international fashion brands. Fashion in Nigeria is a unique mix of African and Western styles, and it’s common for expats to have clothing made by tailors.
The Ikeja City Mall, one of Nigeria’s largest malls, is located on the Lagos mainland, while other shopping areas close to expat neighbourhoods include the Kingsway Mall, Festival Mall and The Palms Shopping Mall. There are also many markets across the city, where bargaining is essential. Most seasoned hagglers will agree that starting at a third of the asking price and settling at half is the best approach.
Eating out in Lagos
Lagos is a cosmopolitan city and a melting pot of African, Asian and Western cultures. This is evident in the cuisine on offer in Lagos, where there are plenty of modern and upscale restaurants serving both local and international dishes. Indian, Chinese, Lebanese and West African restaurants are largely concentrated in the more affluent areas of the city, and food vendors line the streets of the commercial districts. The traditional staples are a variety of green vegetables, rice dishes, such as jollof rice, and stews eaten with processed cassava or yam flour.
Nightlife and entertainment in Lagos
Art, entertainment and music form an integral part of Lagos culture and the city has a thriving nightlife. Lagos is famous throughout West Africa for its music scene – there are dozens of nightclubs and live music venues across the city. Western music, hip hop and traditional African bands are popular forms of entertainment.
Lagos is the heart of Nigeria’s film industry, often referred to as 'Nollywood'. It’s the largest film industry in Africa, and most major studios are located in Lagos.
Foreigners moving to Lagos may take a while to get used to living in such a large African city, and many will find themselves living in insular expat communities behind high walls and security gates, far removed from the reality of life in Lagos. But for those eager to explore and leave the bubble, Lagos offers a true taste of African lifestyle and culture, and expats should take advantage to experience all that this vibrant city has to offer.
Sports and outdoor activities
This rapidly-expanding metropolis is home to a wide range of sports – expats interested in tennis, swimming, football or basketball will find a place for them in Lagos. Lagos Country Club is a great place to swim and play squash, table tennis and football, or simply relax with friends, while both Ikoyi and Ikeja have popular golf clubs.
Lagos is full of hidden gems owing to it's coastal and island geography. Landmark Beach is great for leisure, as is Tarkwa Bay Beach, which is only accessibly by boat and offers opportunities for water sports and swimming. For some greenery, expats can stroll around Freedom Park and appreciate some of the social events frequently hosted in the park.
Despite the rapid urbanisation experienced in Lagos, there are efforts to preserve areas of wetlands and natural habitats; one such effort is the Lekki Conservation Centre, near Lekki Lagoon. As an ecotourism project, the centre features a scenic canopy walkway and visitors can enjoy nature walks, birdwatching and picnics.
►For an overview of the different expat-friendly neighbourhoods in Lagos, see Areas and Suburbs in Lagos
"We were able to join a few clubs and organisations that are similar to country clubs in the States; they are great places to meet (or meet up with) friends. Also, going to the beach is a fun/big activity here in Lagos. So, you can find things to do; you just have to seek it out." Get more tips on things to do in Lagos in our interview with Keli.
"The best places to stay in Lagos are Victoria Island and Ikoyi, as most of the entertainment options (restaurants, malls, cinemas) are located there." Read more on lifestyle and living in Lagos in our interview with Indian expat Anvaya.
Are you an expat living in Lagos?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Lagos. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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