Yes, Lagos is the centre of excellence but there’s so much you should know about this city if you want to live here.

The city of Lagos is renowned for its energy and vibrance.  (TW Magazine)

If you are one of those people lucky enough to come from a state with a functioning airport, you may have come in by air on one of those many planes with a door that manages not to fall off until you land.

If you’re not so lucky, then you must have come in by bus, speeding past the long trail of churches that line Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and manage to cause insane gridlocks anytime they are led to have a monthly event.

Either way, somehow you end up that takes you to Ojota. At the pedestrian bridge, close to Total Fuel Station, the driver suddenly shouts, “last bus stop, gbogbo ero”.

You don’t know what it means but everyone’s alighting so you decide to let common sense lead the way.

Then you remember you didn’t take your 400 naira change yet.

Driver, please, do you mind giving me my change? Your conductor left…

No dey shout give me, abeg”, he screams.

Like say you sabi speak English. I can speak English too. Ruffian. You think is only you that go to school”, he shouts as he hands you two rumpled 200 naira notes.

You’re shocked, to say the least.

Bros, I nor follow you fight”, “Na question I ask, I no kill person

You turn around to the sight of two policemen dressed in a shade of black that the Nigerian Police would not approve of.

You’re a Yahoo boy abi”, they say as they hover menacingly

That’s why you think you can come here and talk as you want

Ojota is one of the busiest bus-stops in the country. It is the site of two interstate motor packs and the first landing point for most entrants into Lagos.  (Pulse)

Look at him dressed as a ruffian”, one says, pointing to your ripped jeans and face cap.

Oya, bring out your ‘hi-phone’, criminal”, the other says as he grabs your trousers.

You want to retort in protest but the menacing, reckless swing of their automatic rifles teaches you better.

By the time you’re done, your wallet has 5,000 naira less than it used to. They found nothing on your phone but as you later learn, that doesn’t matter.

Moving to Lagos is usually motivated by the prospect of making it in Nigeria’s economic and commercial capital. Yet few people are ever ready for the myriad of typical habits and that define the centre of excellence.

If you ever plan to move to Lagos and start a life or something that looks like it for a couple of years, here are a few things you should be prepared for.

(1) You always have to deal to traffic:

The traffic gridlocks in Lagos are the stuff of legend. Despite having over 20 million people by UN estimates and waterways, most of the city’s population still moves around by way of a simplistic road network.

A simple broken down vehicle can cause a long pile-up that shuts half the city down on a good day.

In some places, the width of the roads are to blame, especially when traders set up shop on the sidewalk and pedestrians claim a chunk of the road. In other cases, it’s a needless trail of round-abouts and toll gates.

Passengers board a speed boat at Bayeku jetty in Lagos, one of the few ways to beat the traffic jams in Lagos’ commercial capital.  (AFP)

Sometimes, it’s impossible to place a finger on the root of the problem and the long piles of cars just sits there, waiting for something miraculous to happen.

It is why waking up in the wee hours of the morning is part of the equation; it’s all too common to see professionals hunting for a solitary bus at 5.30 in the morning.

If you want to survive here, you have to join the movement too.

(2) Cost of living is… costly:

If you’re coming from one of the not-so-densely populated areas of Nigeria, you better be ready for the shock of your life. Lagos is an expensive place to live, work and visit in.

Because the demand for products, services and everything else is so high, the people who have these things can afford to charge higher prices.

In areas like Lekki and Ikoyi, life is exponentially more expensive that it is in other areas of the country.  (Pulse)

Also, it costs more to do business in Lagos; the government has a savage team of tax lawyers, accountant and other professionals so levies and duties are charged at every turn.

There’s also, in certain places, a misguided perception that pricey-ness equals quality, hence everything in those areas tends to be a lot more expensive than they would be elsewhere.

Basically, the best you can do is to know what you want, live on a strict budget and know when and how to haggle when the time cometh.

(3) There are too many people in Lagos

You think traffic gridlocks are for vehicles alone until something takes you to Lagos Island and you’re trying to find space for your legs in a crowd of hundreds of people in the middle of Balogun Market.

The saying goes that everybody wants to live in Lagos and it’s mostly true.

About 20 million people are squeezed into an area smaller than a local government area in certain states. The result is that everywhere feels too tight; in so-called highbrow areas, buildings are built barely a few feet from each other.

Commuters face a daily struggle to make their way through congested traffic in the port area of Lagos  (AFP/File)

In the city’s less desirable areas, entire families of five sleep in a room the size of a large bathroom. It is also why accommodation is so deathly expensive.

The city has a housing deficit and the few options available are not ideal and are ridiculously overpriced.

(4) Lagos never stops moving

There are many cities that do not sleep but Lagos goes a step further to be the city that never stands still. First-time visitors and even old residents always describe a strong sense of energy, a buzz that emanates from the city at any given time.

It is a great sense of urgency that has made the city one of the world’s most promising financial and commercial hubs.

No one knows if it comes from the city, its history of the people; in the latter’s defence, they are the most tenacious people you will ever meet.

Lagosians make the most of their limited circumstances to flourish with a mix of tenacity and the need to hustle.

It is why when you’re walking on the city’s streets, a languid pose will most likely imply “weak” more than relaxed.

(5) Everybody is trying to assert their power

Try not to appear weak in Lagos because from that point, it is only a matter of time before someone tries to take advantage of you.

The Nigerian Police is filled with overzealous officers who are too eager to prove their authority while crime flourishes under their noses.  (

In the city, everyone from vendors and street traders to the police is all too eager to show you how strong they are, physical and otherwise.

In most cases, it can lead to a scuffle or violence between two strong, emphatic personalities; but overall, it makes for an interesting dynamic.

For a newbie, it can hard to deal with at first; as soon as the wrong people sense your naivete, they will most definitely attempt to cut a chunk for themselves, either by robbing you or just subjugating you for however long.

The best way to deal with this varies for and from each person with an experience and something to say. Simply avoid unnecessary interactions and stand your ground when pushed.