Young, “Rich” and making it – in Lagos

September 15, 2015

I have a love hate relationship with this city (Lagos) as many people know. There have been times where I worked myself up into heartache, longing for this city and there have been times where I couldn’t get out any faster. That’s Lagos for you though, one minute sucking you in, and the next spitting you out without so much as a backward glance.

A couple of days ago on twitter, two guys were having a conversation about the cost of living in Lagos for young people (Hey Victor and Koye :)), and I felt like screaming my additions. I have lived here continuously (we are not counting that time I moved for 8months OK?!?) for about 4 years, as an adult, and boy oh boy, it’s a lot.

I feel like I need to write a whole separate post on that but now I really just want to share some tips on making it work out here. Lagos is expensive and exhausting but it’s doable if you’re committed and smart. So here you go.

  1. Home vs Work – Where you live matters a lot in Lagos, It could be the difference between having dinner every night or becoming bestos with gala and la casera. Cost is a big factor in this, but sometimes, all the money one saves living farther isn’t worth it. Traffic, transportation and distance are important factors to weigh against cost when it comes to where you live so choose wisely.
  2. Home as a Haven – Related to point 1, after calculating how much time will be spent at home, invest in your home- You might have a tiny one bedroom, live at home with your parents or share a flat with your friends- but wherever it is, put a little effort into making a comfortable and relaxing place for you. Consider paint colours, music and scents. Lagos is stressful so make sure you have a serene place to crash at night.
  3. Still on this Home matter –Host Host Host– spending quality time with your people is key and entertaining at home is a great way to do it.A Potluck/BYOB situation works out great because you aren’t spending too much or cooking and it will definitely be a more comfortable space. You can be the dj etc It’s cost effective and you get to hang with your people for a few hours.
  4. Counting coins: Lagos is fun, and there’s lots to do which usually has to do with food aka money- So balancing eating out with cheaper activities is important. Not every time drinks, sometimes freedom park.  Outdoor free music events like Afropolitan vibes, poetry reading and open mic thursdays at Bogobiri are all great ways to have fun and not break the bank. I’m not an advocate of wedding crashing but um… whatever floats your boat.
  5. Dance: Whenever you get a chance to, get your boogie on! At a wedding (you crashed), church praise worship, at home. It’s a great stress reliever, good exercise.
  6. Transportation: If you have a car yaaay, it makes life a little bearable in this crazy city but can also be a source of frustration, so sometimes, ditch the car- I once took keke napep to work for a week and loved it, all that breeze! I also carpooled with my friends from work for almost an entire year- we took turns driving (by turns, I mean I drove like twice) It eased the stress of driving, saved us money and was a fun way to get around. If you don’t have a car, consider carpooling sometimes, or switching up your regular choice.
  7. Make. Your. Own. Lunch. #nuffsaid
  8. Hobbies: Studies have shown that exercising your creative side helps deal with stress. Find something you enjoy doing and get into it. A lot of hobbies incorporate some level of physical activity which makes them a double whammy for releasing endorphins. You need it, take it from a serial hobbyist.
  9. TIME OUT!: Lagos is one hectic mf. If it’s not spending over 9hrs on the job, it’s sitting in traffic, or the endless number of weddings/birthdays/bridal or baby showers/book launches/meetups etc etc. Not everytime turn up, sometimes sit at home and catch your breath. Take time out for some R&R before you have to dive back in the deep end.
  10. To wrap it all up-We all know the world is full of – um “not so smart” people. It’s not their fault, they are just made that way( LOL, C so shady). So, when someone cuts you off in traffic/comes at you sideways talking out the side of their mouth. Let it go. I was listening to an On Being podcast the other day (Fantastic stuff! Get into it.) and the gentleman who was being interviewed was talking about how the people who behave in this manner are usually dealing with their own troubles. It’s our place to show some empathy and rise above it.

I wrote this post with my dear friend C, she blogs about personal finance over at Sisi on a Budget, and shares loads of useful info, that we all need do check her out.

Although I’m in Thailand right now, it still felt like the right time to put up this post, especially as I’m considering… but yeah

Love always


p.s. Please share this post with someone who loves Lagos, hates it, just moved, is leaving and if you have anything that helps you survive this crazy city I’d love for you to share in the comments.

Photo credit Leke Alabi-Isama of Imperial Media Photography

You Might Also Like


  • Reply An Afrikan Butterfly September 15, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Lagos is one very special place.

    Sure it has been home my whole life, but I went to school outside Lagos. I only really started experiencing this city properly as an adult after NYSC last year and it has been wild. On September 1, I had to do some solid reflection on the tout Lagos is turning me into. Someone brushed me early in the morning and did not apologise. He was so close to me that I actually could not open my car door to get down. He drove off without even making eye contact, and Sabirah I tracked him down. Took me 15 minutes but I managed to end up next to him again in traffic and I was SO ready to go off. Then he apologised. And my early morning insults had to go to the busy body who was yelling at me for stopping in bluddy bumper to bumper traffic to talk to the other guy. I felt good after, but also horrified. Since when did I start insulting people in public? Before 7 in the morning? HA. Told my mom and she said, “Welcome to Lagos” LOL

    I wish I could make my own lunch- but no microwave at work, and I get to work about 7 hours before my lunch hour. Are there warmers that good in the market? I’ve been reading your friend’s blog for a while now & I really hope it can help me count my kobo in this Lagos. Really good points you have made, esp home as a haven. At the beginning of the year, I got my room done in really strong shades because I felt I needed bold character in my space. Now, I find myself longing for simple bright walls and minimalist everything.

    I love Lagos, and I refuse to let it make me mad.

    • Reply Sabirah September 15, 2015 at 4:07 pm

      And the award for best comment goes to…
      Seriously though, I love this comment! I found Lagos changing me and constantly have to make a conscious effort to only let it change me for good. This crazy city. And I’m with you, I refuse to let it make me mad!

    • Reply sisionabudget September 15, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      Honey! My car got keyed on Sunday after service. I’ve been thinking of how I’m going to squeeze out money to respray *and* change my shock absorbers because…Lagod roads.

      I also have the microwave problem. I’ve been teaching myself to eat fridge food. Mind over matter but it is *not* cool. I’ve considered buying a cheap one for the office O.O The only other alternative is salads but one cannot live by grass alone. Sometimes, solid food to hold belle.

      I’m very fluent in road rage. Overcoming it is a daily prayer point. The Holy Spirit and I are working on it.

  • Reply Tannie September 15, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Love this post!
    And like you I love/hate lagos
    My hatred is largely based on the fact that my home to work commute is long.. I have to leave home by 6am to get to Work for 8am. Thankfully there’s a staff bus to ride on.
    Some days I try to pack my lunch, other times I fail at it woefully because (laziness to pack food when I still want to romance my bed in the morning)

    I can’t wait to have my own place and hostfriends and family.
    I also love” Sisi on a budget”. I think she is awesome.

    I should try and attend Afropolitan vibes at least once. I hear it’s a lot of fun.

    • Reply Sabirah September 15, 2015 at 4:36 pm

      We are many in this Love/Hate relationship oh! I used to always pack my lunch the night before, that’s the only way I ever made it work. And yes Afropolitan vibes is awesome!

  • Reply Afoma September 16, 2015 at 1:48 am

    Lol I’m slightly happy to be left out on this one. I only lived in Lagos for a year and it was a very controlled living arrangement. I was 15 and in an A level school so basically, I haven’t lived in Lagos. My mother dislikes it so much. I’m looking forward to visiting properly soon and experiencing it differently though.
    Great post, as always! I enjoyed this collaboration.

    Oh and Ekene always gives the most meaningful comments!

  • Reply mizchif September 16, 2015 at 10:14 am

    L I S T E N!!!

    Lagos makes me so mad/frustrated/angry sometimes. And then other times i feel like nowhere else i’d rather be (few and far between this one)
    But yea, this whole post is facts only.
    I have so much to say that i think i’ just do my own post on this.

  • Reply Oje September 16, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    I totally loooove this post. It’s like you exposed my Lagos survival tactics. I enjoy your style of writing too. Lovely!

  • Reply Mz C-me September 16, 2015 at 9:11 pm


    I absolutely love this post. I just recently moved from Abuja where I have spent most of my life to Lagos thanks to work. I have literally spent a week and 3 days here. It hasn’t been easy and I am still trying to adjust to the system.

    • Reply Sabirah September 17, 2015 at 2:12 am

      Welcome to Lagos! It’s going to take some time but give it a chance, and refer to this post whenever you’re feeling really overwhelmed 🙂 Wishing you all the best!

  • Reply HoneyDame September 18, 2015 at 8:53 am

    This seems like a pretty good time to gloat a little about the relative ease of living and working in a little ancient city like Ibadan,which is only about an hour away from Lagos (on an extremely good day). I tell people all the time, for me, Lagos is to be taken in small doses….get a little high off the craziness and head back to sanity. Totally works for me.
    I am not sure that I can survive in Lagos. Every time I have to come in there for work, I leave with a headache. I truly believe that you, Lagosians, are heroes.

    • Reply Sabirah September 21, 2015 at 2:55 pm

      And I am so jealous of you. that is all. So jealous. And yes to small doses

  • Reply Yeye Bush September 27, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    I love this piece. Stumbled on it while minding other people’s business on Twitter. The point on making your home comfortable resonates with me. I’m currently painting the all my rooms. I light scented candles every chance I get and have I’ve started a small garden, all in pots though…since I live in a concrete jungle. Lagos!!! Eko oni baje!

  • Reply Nedoux October 16, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    Hello Sabirah,

    Ah! Lagos, the city of hurried hustlers. Really if one can survive in Lagos, they can thrive anywhere. I have shed real wet tears sitting in traffic on Third Mainland Bridge.

    I particularly like the tip about hobbies, DIY sewing takes my mind off the stress of Lagos Life.

    Thank you for sharing this post, I enjoyed reading. 🙂

  • Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  • Reply Lifestyle Inflation | Sisi on a Budget September 18, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    […] Still on the matter, I co-wrote a piece on Sabirah’s blog this week about being Young, “Rich” and Making it in Lagos. Do pop over and show some love. * I […]

  • Leave a Reply to Yeye Bush Cancel Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.