If moving to a new city takes a village, moving to Lagos takes a whole continent.
It is not for the faint of heart.
Consider this a survivor’s first-hand tale accompanied by scars on my pockets – scars that say, “I survived”. *insert dramatic sound effect*
Okay, maybe I’m being a little extra, lol. In the coming paragraphs, I’d be narrating my experience moving to Lagos at 22 with emphasis on how much my bank account had to give up for this cause. This experience may not be the same for everyone, but parts of it would come in handy if you’re thinking of moving to Lagos anytime soon, especially as a young adult.
The journey begins
The process started for me in January 2021 when I received an offer letter to join the Growth team at Cowrywise. Lights on. Air conditioner chilling. Lying in the luxurious 16 sq.m bedroom of my parents’ Port-Harcourt mansion. I opened the mail in excitement, and midway through, it dawned on me that those would be the last few days of enjoying luxury for free. The rumored perils of adulthood were lurking.
I would need to start paying for the lights, the air conditioner, everything. I would have to move to Lagos, get my own apartment, and guess what… Start paying for the roof over my head. With my own money! Wild.
And so it began…
The search. Or “house hunting” as the grown humans call it.
I started looking passively on some websites, got in touch with a few agents, and set inspection dates. I moved to Lagos a week before my appointed resumption date. Only one week. Silly me.
I don’t know the magic I thought would happen, but I expected that all the listings I had e-seen on the sites would cross their legs and wait for me to get to Lagos. In case you’re wondering, that did not happen. When I arrived, I started from scratch. I spent about N100,000 throughout the 8 – 10 days I was actively house hunting, mostly on transportation. Although I had not known enough to make a budget of this amount, it was not shocking. Do you know what was shocking?
On the first day I was out for inspection, I booked a ride and met the agent at the agreed location. After he had just told me about the inspection fee of N5,000 I was supposed to pay for “registration”, he turned around and said, “Okay, let’s go”. I looked around for the car we were going with, and there was none. Not a single car in sight. So I asked, “Let’s go how?”
My luxurious Port-Harcourt soul was not ready for his reply.
Fifteen minutes later, as I alighted from the bike we had used to get to the property, still displeased, I noticed the agent and two bike riders were staring at me. I was paying?! For us both?! Wow. As I write this, I still vividly remember how I felt at that moment.
Out of the 100,000 NGN I spent during the house-hunting process, more than half was spent on transportation.
I found an apartment. Yayyy!
After what seemed like an exhausting tour of Lagos for about 10 days with over 8 agents, I found an apartment I liked and could see myself living in. At this point, I was no longer as choosy, because I had seen the worst. From an apartment with stairs to the toilet to one where an overfed rat was walking. It’s bad enough that there was a rat, and it was overfed, but do you realize the audacity a rat has to be walking instead of running? I was over it.
I made payment in about 2 days of inspection. The average yearly rent of all the apartments I saw was about N650,000. Apart from the yearly rent I paid, I spent an additional 50% on agency, agreement, utilities, and caution deposit. These weren’t the most exciting things to pay for, but I had housing support from Cowrywise which was really helpful, so I pulled through.
Shopping for my apartment
I had to wait 30+ days before I could move in, but this gave me time to plan for the expenses I was going to make. Once I was able to move in, it was time to start shopping for furniture, electronics, and house decor. I withdrew the money I had kept aside in my Stash for the shopping, and I thought I was ready. In typical content creator fashion, I vlogged the process on my Instagram stories for my audience with helpful information – places I was shopping, my choice of items, etc.
After the first two trips to the outlet stores where I was shopping, the money I withdrew was all gone. I had spent almost half a million naira and was only able to get four electronics – a generator, air conditioner, fridge, and microwave. It may seem like a lot when you think about it, but when you see just four items in an empty house, and you know how much has just left your account, it calls for sober reflection: What really is the value of our dear currency? Anyway, that’s a story for another day.
I was slowly running out of cash, but many things were still left unticked on my shopping list. It was then I realized the vlogs I had been sharing on my Instagram had gathered a lot of traction. The demand for information was high. My enterprising Igbo instincts kicked in, and I went ahead to monetize the experience. I compiled all the information as a pdf guide and put it up for pre-order.
The e-book, “This Road Leads Home” contained my shopping list, the prices I had negotiated, and contact details of the vendors I had shopped from. Within 24 hours, sales from pre-order were well into 6 figures. The rest of my expenses were covered.
I also received cash gifts from my family and friends. They ensured that adulthood expenses were not the death of me. At the end of the entire process, I had spent slightly above a million naira putting my place together, even though my budget was less. In between all the “savings or current?” questions, and debit alerts, I reminisced on the days when I had different problems. A time when my biggest problem was that I needed glue for a project and I had only remembered to tell my mum by 9 p.m the night before it was due. How time flies.
I can heave a sigh of relief, with gladness of heart, that this experience is over now, but I have come to terms with the fact that as we grow, we get higher quality problems. This whole experience of moving to Lagos is one of the ways life has reminded me of this, and I give thanks for the ability to undertake this project.
I’m documenting every step of the journey for a video series on my YouTube channel. Words only cannot do justice to this story, so there’ll be videos. I’m optimistic about this adult life while acknowledging the reality of crooked roads. Fingers crossed that people don’t lie when they say, “Crooked roads lead to beautiful destinations.”
Don’t let this article only end up in your bookmarks if you found it helpful. I’m sure you know someone that needs this information, so please share it with them – especially if they’re moving to Lagos. Or you could just share it on your social media platforms so it can reach even more people.
Are you moving to a new place? Or have you had a similar experience? Please share your lessons in the comments section, you never know who needs to hear your story.