Over the years Lagos has become home to every Tom, Dick and Harry which makes the city of excellence a real estate hotbed and as such a case of survival of the fittest for those in search of a place to call home. In this article, Lekan Linkin Lofinji examines the challenges of finding accommodation in Lagos.
If you are on the verge of changing apartments in Lagos you have to be psychologically prepared for what may come your way even if you have enough money to rent the apartment that comes to mind.
Worse still if you don’t have a car, the search will be pretty tedious and you may have to dole out a lot of cash that will be expended on transporting your agents, the other agents or colleagues of his that may be called upon in the event that you don’t get what you want from the apartments or houses listed with him, and of course you have to transport yourself too. This is after you must have paid a consultation fee of not less than 2000 naira before inspection.
Invariably, your search for a suitable apartment takes you through various nooks and crannies of the locations you are considering settling down in, coupled with the fact that you may have to work with different agents in the course of your house hunt.
To compound your woes, there is every likelihood that you will end up having several tours in and out of various apartments of diverse shapes, sizes and colours yet left discontented after the not too pleasant adventure.
Another obvious factor that forms the core of the challenges of most prospective tenants in Lagos is the issue of budget. Many a times the budget doesn’t suit the request in relation to the location and the picture of the apartment you have in mind.
Without mincing words, searching for an apartment in Lagos is definitely no walk in the park especially when you are on a shoestring budget yet with high expectations. It will surprise you to note that a well-designed, convenient and socially-friendly 3 bedroom flat in Lagos that goes for 1.5 million naira or more will go for just 250 thousand naira in places like Ibadan and Abeokuta which are the closest cities to Lagos. Can we then say Lagos is overrated?
I won’t be writing this if I have not experienced it on my own and even still at the receiving end of the stress that comes with finding a roof over your head in a highly competitive place like lasgidi – city of hustlers.
Albeit is living and working in Lagos really worth the stress that usually accompanies finding accommodation in the fastest growing city in Africa?
Are the landlords not asking for too much? How many agents really have the interest of their clients at heart? Who do we blame for the exorbitant rent of houses in Lagos? Would we rather blame it on the rapid growth of the city?
Let’s take a look at the experiences of a couple of tenants who live and work in Lagos just before they moved into their supposedly preferred apartments. These would probably help us weigh the pros and cons and possibly arrive at a logical conclusion:
Debo Adegbenro, Manager, Finance and Operations, Realty Point Limited
Though I wasn’t really involved in the hunt for my previous accommodation but I got up to date feed-backs from my wife who was saddled with that responsibility. My wife felt the whole process was damn too stressful and she was going to give up if not for the words of encouragement I constantly fed her with.
After a couple of days of rigorous search she finally found a place at Bucknor just around Jakande Estate in Isolo which I thought was pretty far as compared to my place of work, however there weren’t good options available so we settled for it anyways.
In fact she was pleased with what she saw there, so I let her have her way as a way of compensating her for her troubles.
There were days she would go for inspection then come home sullen and almost in tears. That was how bad the experience was for her and because I was always busy working, she took the bulk of the responsibility.
The agents even compound your woes by acting like they are doing you a huge favour.
In summary, I would say the experience and even the thought of finding accommodation in Lagos is traumatizing.
Esther Adeniyi, Blogger
Recently I got a job in Lagos and being originally a resident of Sango Ota, Ogun state, I had to relocate to Lagos to ease the stress of going to work and returning home.
Albeit what I thought would probably take a weekend to actualize became an almost impossible task.
My search for accommodation in Lagos took me several months and during that period I was technically homeless not because I didn’t have the money to rent a place but because I couldn’t find a suitable place with the money I had budgeted for accommodation.
But I guess it would be right to say that the major challenge that confronted me was the issue of budget and taste. The cost of rent for most of the apartments I found that suited my taste was way beyond my proposed budget so I had to find a way around it. Simply put, Lagos is ridiculously expensive.
Probably this is just my opinion based on my background. Having spent quality time in Ilorin as a student, I would say the cost of living in Ilorin is extremely low when compared to Lagos. You would get a very decent self-contained apartment in Ilorin for at least 100 thousand naira.
In fact, you would get an okay self-contained apartment for 65 thousand naira in Ilorin. Even with the existing economic recession, apartments that went for 65 thousand naira would not go beyond 85 thousand naira. Whereas, such apartments can go for as high as 350 thousand naira in a place like Maryland in Lagos state.
I think Lagos is too dirty to even command such high real estate value to start with. As a matter of fact, this was one of the reasons it took me so long to get an apartment. In instances where the apartment in question looked suitable, the environment would be an eyesore and subsequently kill my desire to settle for the apartment. To think that I have to get through a lot of filth and dirt to reach my supposed haven was totally despicable.
Though I finally got a hostel at Yaba which was worth my troubles, the cost of rent for the said hostel was almost three times my initial budget.
I would say I got the perfect place I had in mind but it cost me an arm and a leg.
Solomon Izuagie, Accountant
I had to pass through several hurdles to get an apartment in Lagos. The first apartment I got was never even an apartment to start with. After several days of endless inspections and exploitation from the scammers who posed as agents, I got a place around Jakande estate.
Unknown to me, the place had been earmarked for demolition. I had spent barely four months there when I received a call at work from a neighbour that my apartment had been demolished.
Although I got my present apartment on a platter of gold, if I was to choose a place to live and work based on equal level of opportunities and standard of living, it definitely won’t be Lagos.
The aforementioned experiences of Debo, Esther and Solomon sums up what the average Lagosian goes through while finding accommodation in Lagos
Bottom line: You have to be prepared psychologically to find a house in Lagos. Expect the unexpected! And imagine the worst case scenario. By so doing, you won’t be left in ‘no man’s Island’
It has become common knowledge that agents who are the middlemen in the course of searching for an apartment sometimes see home search as an avenue to exploit the helpless tenant. They do not make the situation any better for a prospecting tenant.
The attitude of some agents towards a prospective tenant can be really annoying. Even after giving them specifications on the kind of apartment you are looking for, they would still go on to take you on a roller coaster ride to no where and worse still you have to pay for that ride.
Generally you need to be resilient to find a suitable accommodation in Lagos. If you are not a very patient person you may be left frustrated and miserable in the course of the search and eventually settle for anything.
Finally, when you get a good apartment in Lagos ensure you have a smooth relationship with your Landlord because you might never get another place as good as your present apartment until you finally decide to sack your landlord.