Beginners guide to surviving in Lagos

I initially named this Lagos living for Dummies then Surviving Lagos 101 but I guess I finally stuck with beginners guide to Lagos living. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this.

As you know, I’ve been from my various posts here, here, here and here (just in case you missed it, you can catch up. You’re welcome) I’ve been living the Lagos life and even though this wasn’t my first time in Lagos, it was pretty tough adapting to and living like a true Lagosian.

When I first arrived, the first problem I had was transportation and I’m proud to say I have sorted myself out by 55% compared to -30%when I got here. I’ve gone from spending about N5,000 (courtesy of having to uber to work and back) a day to N3,000 in a week.

First point – Learn how to use public transport and the routes.

It has helped me save a lot of money and made me more familiar with areas in Lagos. I think public transport isextremely interesting and played a key role in my memories this summer as I met a lot of interesting characters either waiting for a bus or on a bus.


My favorite means of transportation is the keke napep except when its packed to maximum capacity with people who happen to be in the same body frame level as me, then its just plain uncomfortable.

Second point – will be to learn ‘Yoruba pidgin’ as a colleague at work called it. These are the phrases you need to survive/ shine eye/ not come across as a JJC and make you easy target for the people who go round preying on the ‘fresh meat’.

They are the simple O wa. Ori e ope. Elo ni? Kini? Pa pa pa. Se kia and the basic greetings.  These have saved me more than twice. They give off the impression that you’re not a first timer.

Third point – Always pay attention to your surroundings. Let me give an example. One day I was going to meet up with a friend at Ikeja GRA and my normal route usually taken me to Ikeja under bridge. It’s like N50 – N100 from there to where I was supposed to head to. I was looking for the spot where the vehicles that go that way usually park but wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings so much. A keke driver (tricycle) then signals for me to come over which I do (instinctual move) and he goes all “sister enter the keke, some men dey follow you for back” and out of the corner of my eye I spot a bunch of men I saw from when I alighted the staff bus and I hop in just to have them run after our keke like all them fast and furious movies. Moral of the story pay attention.

Fourth point – Learn how to cross roads fast.dsc_0492dsc_0493

I’m used to clear roads and drivers that actually slow down/ stop to let you cross and who observe zebra crossing rules but all of that changed in Lagos. You gotta ‘shine your eye’ because if you’re waiting for everyone to take a chill pill for you to strut your stuff across the road you’ll end up road squash. I’ve had to learn how to time the spaces between moving vehicles and know when to dash across like a pro and even graduated to crossing expressways.

Fifth point – Know the people in your area and be friendly with them.

Lagos deals with many small communities and knowing the lad who sells tomatoes or the man who owns a drink shop helps with building relationships with people. Its nice to have people greet you with a familiarity when coming back from wherever you went to, but you should know where your boundaries lie.

Sixth point – Always be prepared for sudden weather changes.dsc_0120

I learnt the hard way. After being caught in the rain a couple of times even after google weather had a forecast of a sunny day, I took to carrying an umbrella in my bag everyday whenever I was going out.20160929_130148

It felt great knowing I had one on the weather but I wished I could carry around a pair of rubber flip flops like my friend for when the roads got messy.

Fin. I hope these points help someone and you enjoyed reading too. Cheers!


What tips do you have for Lagos newbies?

11 thoughts on “Beginners guide to surviving in Lagos

  1. I really enjoyed this post, the last time I went to lagos I was six so I can say I’ve never gone to Lagos and I’m terrified because of the things I hear about lag
    Your tips will surely help me when ever I go to Lagos


  2. Great read. Luv your blog and how you connect on another level with your readers.

    To add to your points,
    1. There’s also the part about winding up ur glass and not using flashy devices in traffic.

    2. There is the awareness towards ‘foreign touch’. Pick pockets are smooth mehn. And Yeah the point about being friendly with the locals is really important.

    3. Avoid ‘isale’ as much as possible at night. Too risky to be walking under bridges at night alone.

    4. Conductors have no chills. A small boy of probably 10 was challenging me to a fight. He barely made it above my belt but don’t be fooled. Whatever gave him that liver is not ordinary. And could have seen him take advantage of my high center of gravity and his proximity to ‘certain areas’.



  3. Being a Lagos boy all my life, I get surprised from time to time by what actually happens. This place I’d full of surprises, and one can never be too careful!
    Nice tips 👍


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