Cost of Living in Nigeria

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 provincial and therefore affordable. In actuality, Nigeria’s two largest urban centres are ranked as two of the most expensive destinations in the world.

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, if not in one of the oil-rich and isolated southern Niger Delta states.

Many may wonder how an African country often reprimanded for its high levels of poverty, crime and corruption can beat out global powerhouses like Berlin and Barcelona in cost of living calculations. The answers lie in the oil boom of the 1970s, which 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 housing in Nigeria

The cost of accommodation in Nigeria is indiscriminately high; but, in most cases, hiring companies will not only find and secure housing, they will also foot the bill.
In fact, many foreign companies have purchased or sub-let large quantities of housing in areas that have become known as expat enclaves, and are thus easily prepared to make the necessary home arrangements.

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

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 besieges roadways that are far below standard. Thus, this individual’s monthly salary must be tacked onto the normal costs associated with transport (car payments, petrol and car insurance). Nevertheless, employers often will subisdise these costs.
Taking public transport in Nigeria is not an option; the ramshackle buses and improvisational motorbike takis (okadas) are often not roadworthy and are incredibly risky.

Cost of education in Nigeria

For those moving to Nigeria with children, the cost of sending them to a private international school (the local institutions will not be an option for expats) is also high; in some cases rivalling the cost of fees associated for universities.

Cost of living in Nigeria chart 

Prices may vary across Nigeria, depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Nigerian Naira for Lagos in March 2016.

Accommodation (monthly rent)
Furnished two-bedroom apartment NGN 850,000
Furnished two-bedroom villa NGN 1,500,000
Food and drink
Milk (1 litre) NGN 415
Cheese (500g) NGN 1,100
Eggs (12) NGN 380
White bread NGN 300
Rice (1kg) NGN 390
1 packet of cigarettes (Marlboro) NGN 200
Public transportation
City centre bus/train fare NGN 150
Taxi rate per kilometre NGN 300
Eating out
Big Mac Meal NGN 1,600
Coca-Cola (330ml) NGN 140
Cappuccino NGN 700
Bottle of beer NGN 450
Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant NGN 6,000
Uncapped ADSL Internet (per month) NGN 12,000
Electricity (average per month for standard household) NGN 20,000