A Guide to Surviving in Lagos; Nigeria’s Busiest City

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You must have seen or heard people talk about the horrible experience they face in Lagos, yet, those people are still very much living in Lagos. The fact is that like every busiest city in the world, Lagos equally poses a high level of risk when it comes to surviving in it. However, with the proper guidance, you can survive in Lagos without having to regret it. This article on surviving in Lagos will address some of the misconceptions centered around survival in Nigeria’s busiest city

A Guide to Surviving in Lagos; Nigeria’s Busiest City

Facts about Lagos

Before moving ahead to share the guidelines you need to survive in Lagos, let us first take a look at some of the interesting facts about Nigeria’s busiest city;

  • Lagos was first occupied by the Awori tribe of Yorubaland around the 13th century.
  • The name ‘Lagos’ was coined from ‘Lago de Curamo,’ the Portuguese name given to the city by Ruy de Sequeira.
  • The city is also known as ‘Eko’, a name the Awori people called the state.
  • The state was once made the capital of Nigeria.
  • With a population of over 15.3 million people, Lagos is the busiest and one of the most populous city in Nigeria.
  • It is the smallest state in Nigeria according to the landmass.
  • The city has four major Islands and many other small ones.
  • It is home to the Third Mainland Bridge, which is the second-longest bridge in Africa.
  • The Nigeria movie industry, Nollywood, is located in Lagos.

Guidelines to surviving in Lagos

  • Know about the locations you will be visiting before your visit

Conducting a background check is a vital step you must have taken before making a trip down to Lagos. Although the city has a small landmass and can be navigated using a Google map, it is also important for you to have adequate information from residents before you move down here. It does not matter if you are visiting for a few days or planning to move over permanently, you need to get details that will help you survive in Lagos.

Important details you can get from residents include; the present cost of transportation, feeding cost, hotel fee, important landmark near your location, weather conditions, etc. Ensure you get these details from residents you can trust to avoid falling prey to dubious people.

  • Do not come empty-handed

Lagos is one of the most populated cities in the world, and the disadvantage of this is that the cost of living is on the high side. The city is classified into two regions; the Island and the Mainland.

The Island consists of locations where people of high social status reside. It is safer to live in as its environs are peaceful compared to the Mainland. The cost of living on the Island is high. Popular locations on the Island include; Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lekki, etc.

The Mainland, on the other hand, is where the middle and low-income earners reside. It accounts for over 70% of the state’s residents. The cost of living on the Mainland is quite affordable compared to the Island. Locations on the Mainland include; Surulere, Iyana Ipaja, Yaba, Ikeja, Magodo, Ogba, Ikorodu, etc.

It does not matter if you are planning to stay on the Island or the Mainland, what you should know is that you should be prepared to spend a lot of money while you are in Lagos. transportation, feeding, relaxation, etc. will cost you a lot of money.

  • Learn to use Google/People maps

Lagos is a developed city and routes in the city can be navigated using Google map. It is not all locations that can be easily accessible using Google map; some locations, especially in the Mainland cannot be easily seen on Google map or Google map can push you to drive in one way in some location which may result in you paying huge fine if you are arrested. In areas like Ajegunle, Bariga, Agege, and Makoko where there are a lot of slums, you will need to ask people for directions to avoid missing your way.

However, while making inquiries from people about unknown locations, do not expose yourself as a newbie in the town (other wise known as JJC), especially in rough areas. Ensure you are smart about your approach to asking for directions. Being smart when asking for directions will save you from getting tricked by fraudulent people.

  • Be prepared for long-hour traffic

If you have never been stuck in traffic for hours, then you definitely should prepare for that while coming to Lagos. Lagos traffic is one aspect of living in the state that has become popularly accepted by residents over time. Lagosians can get stuck in traffic for up to five hours due to a large number of cars in the city.

Although Lagos traffic is not predictable, there is a simple tip you can follow to prevent finding yourself in this frustrating situation; choose the day and time you want to go out. Research has shown that days like Monday and Tuesday have a high rate of traffic congestion because they are busy days. Going out around 12 pm to 2 pm can also help you avoid traffic as residents would have gotten to their destinations by that time. In a situation where you do not have a choice, you can wake up as early as 4 am to beat the incoming traffic.

  • Keep your valuables away

Another guide to surviving in Lagos is to learn to be safety cautious. In Lagos, there have been numerous cases of daylight thefts. To avoid falling victim to this sad occurrence, ensure you keep your valuables away from the public while moving in public.

If you are using public transport, ensure to keep your phones, wristwatch, gold jewelry, and other expensive things securely in a bag (Don’t flaunt it). The city is so populated that if you fall victim to daylight theft, it will be difficult to locate the culprit. In a situation where you are driving, ensure you keep the doors locked and windows up at all times, do not follow unknown routes, and do not park the car in any unsafe locations.

  • Get ready to face angry commuters

To survive in Lagos, you have to learn to hide your emotions. Many commuters are always in a hurry, trying to catch the bus on time to avoid getting stuck in traffic. It is often common for them to give you an angry expression when you stop them to ask for help or even want to get to know them. Do not be scared about that, you have to learn to ask the right people.

  • Try not to go out alone

If it’s your first time in Lagos, it is advisable to go out with someone that knows the nooks and crannies of Lagos. Going out with someone familiar with the city will help you navigate through the city without stress, and you will also learn how to adapt to the Lagos ways faster. If you are going to be visiting as a tourist, you need to go with a tour guide who will show you around the city.

  • Have a skill/ job

If you are unemployed and looking to move to Lagos permanently, then you should work on making use of this guideline. Lagos is one state that has contributed greatly to the GDP of Nigeria. Lagos’s contribution to the economic development of Nigeria comes from the fact that the residents of the city are highly industrious people.

No industry cannot be found in Lagos, tech industry, food processing industry, oil refinery, entertainment industry, communication, and many more are located in this city. The availability of various industries in the state gives you an opportunity to source for jobs or even start a business. Remember, you have to find ways to make money if you plan on surviving in the city.


Surviving in Lagos can seem to be an impossible task especially when you are not familiar with the busy city life. However, the above-listed guidelines make it easy for you to learn how to survive in Lagos as a newbie in the state.




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