Sooner or later, after arriving in Lagos, you are going to need your own place to stay. This means you will have to hop on the ride every Lagosian has hopped on at least once. The ‘finding an apartment’ ride. As with many other experiences in Lagos, there are no promises. It may be a long ride; it may be short. You may enjoy it; you may not. But whatever the case, this is Lagos, and you are a Lagosian now.
This article explores how to find an apartment in Lagos, where it gets hard, and how to keep up:
Is it Difficult to Find an Apartment in Lagos?
Truthfully? Yes, and no, and maybe. No one can say exactly this or that. How difficult it may prove to find an apartment in Lagos depends on many things: location, structure, etc.
But most importantly, it depends on you. Lagos is a dense city, housing millions of people. So there is a lot of competition regarding housing. Like you, thousands of people want houses. And not just any kind of housing. They want good accommodation.
Finding an apartment in Lagos is going to be easy for you if you have got what most Lagosians don’t have: money and connection.
If you have got a lot of money, the difficulty level is going to drop so low because you can easily get an apartment in the areas of Lagos too high-priced.
Sprinkle some connection to this—a good real estate agency, a good agent, etc. It becomes easy peasy for you—some kind of walk in the park.
You get up, call your agent, a house is found, you meet the landlord, and sign some papers, and that is it.
On the contrary, it may be a bit difficult to find an apartment you love and will want to live in if your budget isn’t that heavy. You will most likely have to settle, but this doesn’t always happen.
You might get lucky if your agent is good. Let us hope that happens.
Before you Start Looking for an Apartment
Before you start looking for an apartment in Lagos, in our beautiful Eko, try to do the following:
1. Have your Papers in Order: During the process of looking for an apartment, you may have to move around a lot. This means your papers have to be intact. Make sure you have your national ID or passport on you at all times if you’re a Nigerian. If you’re a foreigner, ensure you have your residency permit on you all the time. A VISA is an added advantage. You don’t have to cringe or shrink back whenever you see the police.
2. Brace Yourself: This is Lagos. To live and do business here, you should brace yourself. Expect anything. The good. The bad. The ones which make your eyes roll and your stomach churn. Prepare to hide your infuriation at your agent when he shows you a house way beneath your expectation and somehow tries to convince you that it is just what you need. There are many agents like this in Lagos. Sweet-talkers. Brace yourself for them.
Brace yourself, also, to meet the most annoying of landlords. This is Lagos. You will meet them.
3. Know What You Want: Before you start looking for an apartment in Lagos, have a clear picture of exactly what you want, where you want it, and how you want it. This way, it is going to prove difficult to sway you.
If you want to live on the mainland, then stick to that. Tell yourself that you want to live on the mainland. Give yourself reasons why you want to live on the mainland.
Say, “I want to live on the mainland because I work here and can’t deal with the traffic on the third mainland bridge.” Do the same if you want to live on the island.
I tell you what: housing goals are a great habit. Knowing what you want is crucial when you are looking for an apartment, especially in a city like Lagos.
4. Keep your money: you have a housing goal/target. This is fine. Superfine. Now, you need to keep your money. The amount of money you lay aside for your apartment search should be in direct concordance with your housing goals.
If you want a house on the mainland, then prepare enough money for a house on the mainland. If you want a house on the island, prepare enough money for it too. This way, they will be no headaches.
If you will have to hire an agent, make sure his pay is already ready.
5. You May have to Settle: this is the truth. Whilst you have housing goals and the budget for it, know that you just might have to settle for a few clauses.
Read: How to Move to Lagos, Step by Step
Looking for an Apartment in Lagos
Some hack: look everywhere. There are not enough exquisite houses. So if you want one for yourself, you have to look everywhere, including places where people are not looking.
Look on the internet; on platforms like Jiji, Nairaland, Twitter, and even Facebook. Listen to the radio. Read the papers. Talk to someone.
Word of mouth and referral is a great ways to find an apartment. Ask your friends, family and colleagues first. In fact, many of the people living in Lagos got to know about their apartment from someone who knew someone.
Get the services of an agent if you can pay for it. Different real estate agencies can make it easier for you to find a flat in Lagos.There are several agencies for housing in Lagos. Some online, some offline.
But know that, like many other businesses, scams have infiltrated the house agency business in Lagos. Many, I mean, lots of people who front as agents out there are, in fact, scams and will leave with your money when they are done scamming you.
How to Avoid Apartment Scams
The rule of the thumb is: to avoid people who only talk about money. It is somewhat easy to fish out an apartment scam. They talk a lot but don’t say anything substantial.
They also know a lot of people. In the stories they will tell you, which are all lies anyway, they gave this big name and that big-name a house, so you should let them have all your money.
They come with lofty promises you know they can’t fulfill because they don’t look it at all.
If it is an agency, you will fish out scams by looking up the agency’s social media profile. As mentioned earlier, social media is going to help you a lot as you look for an apartment in Lagos.
A scam agency is most likely going to have a non-existent social media presence. And if they do have a social media presence, it is going to be flooded with hate comments from people who have been scammed previously.
Nigerians have a thing for calling out scams on social media, I am telling you.
Read: Lagos Travel Guide: What to See, Do, and Eat in Lagos
By now, you should already have a housing goal. You know the location you want to live in and why. You know the kind of house you want to live in, and why also.
This is where you move around and access. This is where you choose.
Your agent is going to present you with a number of houses to choose from. Keep your housing goals in mind as you access these houses.
The location? Do you love it? Do you love the neighborhood?
Do not be swayed by what your agent says. Sure, for his money’s sake, he is going to want you to get whatever he presents to you by all means. Take your time. Check what you have to.
Find out the electricity state. Check out the plumping system. Do all the necessary checks you have to.
Contacting the Landlord
Your agent is going to be the middleman between you and your landlord, who, in fact, owns the apartment. As the deal between you and your agent nears an end, you will have to meet your landlord.
Get his contact from your agent, and give him a phone call. Be smart enough to sniff out any irregularities.
Be sure it is he who really owns the house, that he isn’t an accomplice with your agent.
Let him know enough about you. Know enough about him too. Listen to his terms. What does he permit in his apartment? What does he not permit?
Visiting the Apartment, Again
You may have visited the apartment you had chosen with your agent. Now, it is time to go again. This time, your landlord ought to be there. If you can, have a friend accompany you.
Hear what your friend thinks. Is the apartment really as good as it looks?
Signing the Lease
It is almost done now. Get you a legal practitioner who will assist with signing the lease. Be sure the lease has a court stamp duty and that you agree to all the conditions written therein.
Moving into your Apartment in Lagos
Congrats. You own an apartment now. Moving in is not difficult at all. You can choose to move in at once or little by little.
A transport agency is going to help you move. Congrats!
Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash