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 cities in Africa.

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. In most cases, hiring companies will not only find and secure housing for their expatriate staff, 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 subsidise these costs.

Taking public transport in Nigeria is not an option. The ramshackle buses and improvisational motorbike taxis (okadas) are often not roadworthy and are risky.

Cost of education in Nigeria

With local schools not being an option for expats, those moving to Nigeria with children need to factor the cost of private schooling into their budgets as well. Tuition fees for private international schools are incredibly high. Most of these schools’ fees will also not cover things like uniforms, textbooks or school trips. 

Cost of living in Nigeria chart 

Prices may vary across Nigeria, depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Lagos in October 2019.

Accommodation (monthly rent in expat area)

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

NGN 602,500

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

NGN 1,110,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

NGN 167,500

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

NGN 431,500


Milk (1 litre)

NGN 575

Chicken breast (1kg)

NGN 3,175

Dozen eggs

NGN 470

Loaf of white bread 

NGN 365

Rice (1kg)

NGN 775

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

NGN 500


City centre public transport

NGN 275

Taxi rate per km

NGN 190

Petrol (per litre)

NGN 146

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

NGN 1,500

Coca-Cola (330ml)   

NGN 185


NGN 535

Local beer (500ml)

NGN 385

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two

NGN 8,000


Mobile call rate (per minute)

NGN 42.50

Internet (per month)

NGN 12,600

Basic utilities (gas, electricity etc., average per month for standard household)

NGN 21,000

Expat Health Insurance


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