How To Live Well In Lagos

No one is an expert at living well in Lagos because the city consistently defies rationality, but these twelve probably obvious pointers from my twelve years of living in the madness (and remaining relatively sane) might be useful for something.

1. You can’t do much anything without money.

You can either have (access to) a lot of money or have some money and a lot of sense. Either way, money is a basic requirement. Like I said, probably obvious.

2. Only leave home if you’re forced to.

Milk every opportunity to stay in your house. Movement costs not just money but time, energy, peace, and everything else.

A thought: If your work doesn’t require you to be physically present, WFH isn’t really a perk, is it?

Now, you can’t leave home even if you wanted to.

3. To car owners: Don’t drive.

It’s okay that you’ve decided that you must own a car in the city, but don’t fall into the trap of jostling daily with fellow motorists who live on a diet of animosity and rage.

Your options:

  • Get a driver or get a driver. Your heart will thank you.
  • Carpool. Spread the stress, there’s always enough to go around.
  • Drive sometimes, like once a week or something.

If you must drive, never surrender your car keys to a LASTMA official. You won’t like yourself afterwards.

If you commute by bus, read all of this.

4. Pay people to run your life.

Outsource everything you can, from laundry to grocery shopping. It’ll cost you, sure, but see point 1 above for a hint.

Side note: Avoid romantic partners who suggest that domestic drudgery is a virtue. They’re foolish.

They say it’s iconic. I’m not sure anymore.

5. Keep your friends close and your artisans closer.

When you find a good plumber, tailor, or carpenter, hold on to them as if your sanity depends on them. You see, it just might. They might also be overcharging you. Keep reading.

6. You will overpay; deal with it.

Don’t try to be smart all the time. Just know the difference between what’s overpriced but necessary and what’s daylight robbery at gunpoint on Apongbon Bridge.

This isn’t what a pedestrian bridge is for.

7. Make spa days a necessity.

Taking a cue from point 5 above, get a massage therapist on your side for (less expensive) home service. What you may lack in ambience (aka easy listening music, candles and Febreeze), you’ll make up for in money saved.

8. Don’t argue with a gun.

There’s a time to prove a point but it’s never that time when there’s a gun involved. Smile through the pain of disrespect.

It does take some faith to live here.

9. Protect your weekends.

Build walls around Saturdays and Sundays, then top those walls with the barbwire of non-negotiable insistence – “I’m unavailable and that’s that.” Look, now you have a two-day holiday every week if you don’t squander it on events you don’t need to attend.

10. Treat your phone like a luxury you can’t afford.

Keep conversations short, chat groups few and notifications off – as much as you can.

Note: If your office wants to use WhatsApp as a full-time work tool, well, it’s time to become frequently unreachable.

No, you won’t make it to the airport in time.

11. Eating out isn’t the enemy.

Eating out above your budget is.

Common sense: Find the restaurants that don’t charge a kidney for (two-shrimp) fried rice and get cosy with Instagram food vendors that take bulk orders (or hire a cook who’ll do batch cooking in your kitchen). It’s all a balance.

12. Keep the door open.

To live well in Lagos, I swear, you must leave Lagos regularly. Schedule a regular trip somewhere, could be Epe or Edinburgh. You’ll return feeling like you can cope with the madness… for a while.

All photos taken by me.