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How to Move to Lagos, Step by Step

by | Guides

Apr 26, 2022

Considering moving to Lagos? If you like to live in a city with plenty of outdoor recreation, big city amenities, and an intense art scene, you’ll love it here in Lagos State, Nigeria. This Lagos relocation guide contains all the key details you need to know, including off-the-record information about the state.

Being the commercial capital of Nigeria, the bustling city Lagos presents a number of opportunities. Education. Business opportunities. Jobs. A chance to create a circle of highly influential people. This explains why lots of people are interested in moving to Lagos. If you are one, this article provides a guide for you. We want to make moving to Lagos easier for you.

Settling Down in Lagos

When you first move to Lagos, you may be carried away by all the bustling at first. This is normal and is to be expected if you have never lived in a commercial city as busy as this. But here is what you have got to do: settle. 

If someone invited you over, try to locate this person’s residential address. Get an Uber to take you there. Breathe. 

If you came on your own, find your way to the hotel or guest house you will be staying in for the time being. 

In the evenings, make a habit of moving around the city. Some kind of exploration, this. It brings the city to you and gives you a feel of what life really is like here. 

Understand how the city is mapped out. Don’t get freaked out by all the crowds you may come across. 

The Mainland is the part of Lagos City that is not surrounded by water. It includes Local Government areas like Apapa, Ikeja, Surulere, etc.

The Island is the part of Lagos City that is surrounded by water and is separated from the Mainland by The Third Mainland Bridge, which happens to be the second-longest bridge in Africa.  

Speak to someone who strikes you as accommodating. It might be your cab driver, your neighbor, or someone you share a bus with.

Settling in involves asking a lot of questions and speaking to a lot of people. I’ll tell you what: like most Nigerians, Lagos residents are not mean people and will not hesitate to show someone who needs help around. 

If you form this habit, you will find yourself adapting to Lagos in a while. You will find that the weather doesn’t affect you so much anymore and that you are beginning to love it here. 

Getting a Residency Permit in Lagos

A residency permit is one of the requirements for living in Lagos, especially if you are not a Nigerian. If you are a Nigerian, you don’t exactly need a residency permit, as you are allowed to live anywhere you want in the country. 

The Combined Expatriate Residence Permit Aliens Card can be a green card or a brown card. The green card is offered to foreigners who have been naturalized. The brown card, on the other hand, is offered to anyone. 

To get a residence permit, you need:

  • Expatriate Quota Approval
  • International Passport
  • A completed CERPAC form, etc. 

Submit these to the Immigration State Command, and your request will be processed soonest.

Getting a SIM Card

A Nigerian Sim Card is a must if you have to make calls and browse the internet. Guess what? Getting one is as easy as strolling into an office and presenting some papers to a lady or gentleman seated behind a table. 

There are many Network Service Providers in Nigeria, and you are at liberty to choose which one you would love to patronize. There is MTN, a renowned network service provider with the slogan Everywhere you Go. There is also Airtel, 9Mobile, and there is GLO.

Nigerians patronize GLO a lot because this service provider is reputable as one with a rich array of Data offers. They are regarded as the Nigerian Grandmasters of Data.

You can get a Nigerian SIM card without a NIN (National Identification Number) if you have not been in Nigeria for up to two years. 

All you need to do is visit your service provider’s office and present your resident permit or International Passport, VISA, etc.

You may be asked to enroll for the National Identification Number if you plan to live in Nigeria for more than two years. 

Your new SIM card is going to come in a pack that includes your number and a few guidelines. You are now allowed to make calls and browse the internet from Nigeria. 

Opening a Bank Account in Lagos

If you’re moving to Lagos, you’re going to need a bank account. A Nigerian Bank account is quite easy to create. On average, the process does not take more than a day. The requirements are simple. 

First, you have to prove that you are living in Nigeria. That is, present your residency permit and, a lot of times, your house address utility bill. And then, you have got to get a Bank Verification Number, called the BVN. This number only has to be obtained once and can afterward be used to open as many bank accounts as you please. 

You enroll for and get a Bank Verification Number by visiting any bank you want to open an account with. Here, you will be screened, and your details captured: your face, your thumbprints, your signature, etc. 

You can open either a savings or a current account. Your Nigerian bank account is going to carry your name, and you will be given a ten-digit number—your bank account number, which is used to process whatever transfers you might handle. 

In addition to your bank account number, your bank is going to provide you with debit cards. Available debit cards in Nigeria include Mastercard, Visa, Verve, etc.

Do not disclose your BVN to anyone. There have been a lot of Nigerian scams that involve Bank Verification numbers. 

Read: Lagos Travel Guide: What to See, Do, and Eat in Lagos

Finding a Place to Live in Lagos

If you’re moving to Lagos, you’re going to need good accommodation and a secure area. A place that Housing is easy in Lagos. Where you decide to live depends largely on your budget. Houses on the Island are quite expensive. But the money spent is mostly worth it, as these houses are beautiful and comfortable to live in. 

Houses on the Mainland may not be as beautiful, but they are cheaper. 

Get a house on the Island if you have the money for it and if you work close by. It is best to get a house in the area you work in, as you won’t have to deal with the Lagos traffic every day. 

Moving from the Island to the Mainland and vice versa can be very frustrating due to the traffic on the third mainland bridge. 

Employ an agent to search for a house for you. Lagos agents actively search for houses that meet your requirements and take a percentage from your rent after the house has been secured and the rent paid. 

Pro Tip: If you are moving to Lagos, understanding how the change will impact your budget is also a good idea.

Read: How to Find an Apartment in Lagos

Getting Health Insurance

Since you’re considering moving to Lagos, it is a good idea to have health insurance. You are eligible to get health insurance from either the government or private health insurance agencies. 

Register for the Lagos State Health Insurance Scheme by visiting the Lagos State Ministry of Health, where you will be given a form to fill out.

Finding a Job in Lagos

Now comes the hectic part. The truth is, finding a job in Lagos may not be so easy, as you are in competition with thousands of other people. You have got to have your eyes and ears everywhere.

Where do you want to work? What can you do? Do you have the experience that goes with the job? 

There is at least one firm or agency in Lagos that is willing to employ you, especially if you have got a portfolio. Here are tips to keep in mind when looking for a job in Lagos.

  • Browse for vacancies on the internet. 
  • Check out newspapers. 
  • Listen to the radio. 
  • Watch the television. 
  • Show up at interviews neatly dressed and prepared. 

The goal is to be confident in yourself and your abilities. Nigerians are not racist, so you don’t have to fear that race is against you. 

Just be yourself. Answer every question you are asked in your own language. 

Getting a Car

There are a number of car dealers in Lagos. To get a car, visit one, choose the car you want, pay for it, and the car becomes yours. 

After purchasing the car, you need to go to the State Board of Internal Revenue and go through the necessary processes. You will need a few credentials for these processes—your national ID, passport or residency permit, the car’s particulars, etc. 

The processes do not take long, and you won’t have to spend a lot of money.

Pro Tip: Many Lagos drivers are aggressive. They are known to flaunt stop signs and basic courtesy. Also, be prepared for many honkings because Lagos road users love their horns. But eventually, you will get used to this after moving to Lagos.

Getting Help with Language/Learning Yoruba

Seeing that Lagos is a big city with a number of different people from different ethnic backgrounds, you won’t be bothered much by the language barrier. 

Most Lagos inhabitants speak both Yoruba and English. Expect a switch to English Language or Pidgin at the hint that you don’t understand Yoruba. You do not need to speak Yoruba to move to Lagos.

Learning Yoruba isn’t going to prove problematic. You only need time. As you go about the course of your day, interacting with the locals, you will be able to pick up the simple bits of the language. In no time, you’ll be able to grasp the bigger aspects. And soon, you’ll understand it completely. 

To learn Yoruba, become quite inquisitive. Ask questions. What does that mean, etc.? Also, try pronouncing a few words and phrases, and don’t be afraid of being laughed at, haha. 

Getting Used to Life in Lagos

Life in Lagos is easy. Just as with anywhere else in the world, you’ll get used to it as the days pass. The goal is to be open to new experiences. To meet new people. You most certainly don’t have to be secluded. 

Say Hi to your neighbors once in a while. Visit cinemas, go on tours, attend afrobeat concerts, and learn pidgin English.

Practice journaling. Let every day lived in Lagos mean something to you!

Moving to Lagos is not going to be difficult if you follow the steps outlined in this article. One of the most beautiful things about living in Lagos is that the city constantly challenges your expectations of what it looks like, so you have to be ready to dive in and explore it the maximal.

Photo by Zenith Wogwugwu on Unsplash

By Allison

Allison is enthusiastic about finding information and sharing guides about Lagos. He also covers all exciting topics about Africa at Lonely Africa. He lives in Lagos with his wife Antje and cat Leo and loves fabric crafting, and watching TV in his spare time.

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