- Download our Moving to Lagos Guide (PDF)
Expats moving to Lagos are often shocked when they discover how expensive life here can be – the cost of living in Lagos is particularly high. The capital was ranked 47th out of 227 cities in Mercer’s 2023 Cost of Living Survey.
Fortunately, foreigners working in the city often insist on and are afforded an employment contract that finances accommodation, health insurance, a driver and car, and education. If these points aren’t covered, an appropriately inflated salary should be negotiated.
Cost of accommodation in Lagos
Accommodation in Lagos has not kept up with the city’s rapid development. Demand is high, and accommodation can be hard to come by and excessive in price. Only a handful of suburbs in Lagos offer expats a reasonable quality of life in terms of accommodation, amenities and convenience. Most expats living in Lagos reside on Victoria Island and in Ikoyi, Apapa and Ikeja.
The majority of rental contracts are only available on a two-year lease. It’s also not uncommon for the landlord to require the total amount to be paid upfront rather than in monthly instalments. Luckily, housing is usually provided as part of most expat workers’ relocation packages.
Expats who have only been allocated an accommodation allowance should make sure the amount promised is enough to secure appropriate housing in Lagos.
Cost of transport in Lagos
Transport in Lagos is relatively affordable. The most common forms of public transport in Lagos include taxis, buses and motorbike taxis. Despite improvements over the years, most public transport modes remain unsafe or unreliable due to poorly maintained vehicles and reckless drivers.
Most expats would instead opt to have their own car, often with a personal driver. This is usually also offered as part of their relocation package. If not, expats will need to account for the driver's salary, petrol and car maintenance fees.
Cost of groceries in Lagos
As is the case in most developing countries, the cost of Western food and clothes is much pricier in Lagos than one may be used to. Western grocery and clothing brands are often overpriced.
Expats will find that shopping locally is much cheaper than shopping in one of the modern malls that have emerged in recent years. Reasonable prices for local produce can be found at the markets in Lagos. Buying materials to have clothes made by a local tailor will also make buying clothing more budget-friendly.
Cost of entertainment and eating out in Lagos
Entertainment and dining out in Lagos can cater for various tastes and budgets. The city boasts a vibrant nightlife with myriad restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. However, expats might find the cost of a night out comparable to one in many North American or Western European cities. High-end restaurants and venues often charge premium prices for their services, reflecting the city’s cosmopolitan allure and the affluence of its patrons.
On the other hand, there are many local eateries and street food vendors offering delicious Nigerian cuisine at much more affordable prices. Similarly, local events, markets, and outdoor activities provide cost-effective entertainment options. The diversity in entertainment and dining out reflects the broader socio-economic spectrum of Lagos, and expats can find options that suit their budgetary constraints while also exploring the city’s rich cultural offerings.
Cost of education in Lagos
With public schooling not being up to the standards most foreigners are used to, expat children usually attend international schools in Lagos.
Expats should be fully aware that education at international schools is pricey but excellent and the curricula on offer are often globally recognised. Expats moving to Lagos with children should stipulate subsidies and allowances for education when negotiating their employment contract.
Cost of healthcare in Lagos
Healthcare in Lagos presents a mixed picture. On one hand, public healthcare facilities in Lagos are more affordable but may lack the equipment and the standard of care that expats expect.
On the other hand, there are several private healthcare facilities that offer high-quality medical services, but at a cost that can be considerably higher than what expats might be accustomed to. These facilities often have medical staff trained abroad and have the equipment to provide a wide range of medical services. The high cost of operation for these facilities often translates to high medical bills for patients.
Many expats opt for private healthcare insurance plans that can cover medical treatments at private facilities. Expats should have a comprehensive health insurance plan to cover potential medical costs and to ensure access to the best available healthcare services in the city. Some expat employment contracts include health insurance coverage, which can significantly alleviate the healthcare cost burden.
Cost of living in Lagos chart
Prices may vary across Nigeria, depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Lagos in October 2023.
|Accommodation (monthly rent)
|Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|Food and drink
|Milk (1 litre)
|Loaf of white bread
|Chicken breasts (1kg)
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant
|Big Mac Meal
|Bottle of beer (local)
|Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)
|Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)
|Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)
|City-centre public transport fare
|Gasoline (per litre)
What do expats say about the cost of living in Lagos?
"Life in Lagos is expensive. If a company isn't helping with your relocation and paying for your housing etc, it would be hard to relocate here." Read more in this interview with Keli.
►See Banking, Money and Taxes in Nigeria for all you need to know about managing your finances in this African country.
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.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance.
Medical insurance specifically designed for expats. With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider.
International Movers. Get Quotes. Compare Prices.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.