In 2021 I made a big move from Port Harcourt to Lagos state. It was big for me at the time because not only was I young, but besides moving away for university and living with my grandmother for a few years, I had never lived anywhere else and I had always lived in the south of Nigeria. I frankly, didn’t know what I was doing or what I was heading towards. Before going house hunting my aunt warned me about a few things;
- Always check the walls. Lagos floods and agents will try to cover that up.
- Be wary of houses with reasonable price ranges and be very wary if the house is particularly cheap. It may flood or might be in such a horrible location, that you will end up regretting that purchase.
- Never, ever let them know you’re single.
- Do your research before going to check out any building.
- Trust no one, especially your agent. They lie through their teeth.
With all this, you can bet my hackles were raised and I was extra careful. However, nothing prepares you for what house hunting in Lagos is until you house hunt in Lagos. From ridiculous price ranges to ridiculous structures to absurd agents and so much more. House hunting in Lagos is definitely not for the faint of heart. With all I went through, 3 things stand out the most.
My first landlord thought I was married to my then-boyfriend because if I hadn’t said that, I wouldn’t have gotten the place. I remember the agent stressing that I fill the form as a married woman. I was so upset and asked why. My guy had the audacity to tell me to do as he said. The part of me that goes off around disrespectful men started to rear her big, fat head. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with my aunt that I realised, I really had no say here. I, of course still checked the agent but I did as I was asked. I had no choice.
The second is when an agent straight up asked, ‘Are you Yoruba? The landlord will only accept a Yoruba tenant’. My partner and I told the agent we were mixed. It was the only reason we were allowed to see the place. Every time I remember this, I curl my lip in disgust. His racism/tribalism was clearly showing.
The last was just sad. The agent didn’t want to be rude but he called my partner and me to the side and quietly asked us if we were working. He said the caretaker was sceptical because two women were looking to rent the home. Who was paying?
I’ve had a shit ton of culture shocks since I moved here. The most shocking thing was finding out there were culture shocks at all. I used to think it was all Nigeria. There can’t be that much of a difference. I’ve learnt that there is. I have also learnt that when it comes to housing if you’re not a member of the ridiculously rich or if you don’t have a ridiculously rich sponsor and if you are a single woman in Lagos, Nigeria then all the odds will forever be against you. You will have to fight twice as hard to get anything you want.
Like me, so many other women have experienced this and 6 of them decided to share their stories with us;
I was just house-hunting a few months ago and don’t get me started on these misogynistic slug-brained males, everything is up for jokes with them. I looked for apartments in Ajah because it was cost-effective but still in a central place. My top priority was space. I didn’t need something too big, but living in a cubicle wasn’t an option for me.
The things I’ve seen in this Lagos. I’ve had an agent come with 4 other people and expect me to pay a viewing fee for all of them while they simultaneously shoved their advice no one asked for down my throat.
I find most houses and agents through online listings. For most of the viewings, I felt safe but not without fear of my life.
I considered a lot of things while house hunting including the proximity of churches and mosques because heaven knows I like my sleep. I also considered things like the landlord being in the same building, I like my peace.
Never settle or it will be a problem the entire year, let your house be 70% of everything you have on your list individually (eg 70% spacious, 70% good environment etc) and then create your comfort space. Don’t be scared to spend money tooshing up or renovating a few things because you will be grateful to yourself that you did it. Your home is your solace. It needs to give you some sense of peace or joy.
I had to get a place because my parents wan off my head o! I say no Daddy! I checked locations like Surulere and Yaba because they have community. Another thing that was particularly important for me was the proximity to Igbo (W**d).
The main challenge I faced while house hunting was money. Lagos is expensive. Don’t let anyone fool you. You can get a good and comfortable 2-bedroom apartment for 500k in Bayelsa(and I’m going far). You should see what 500k gets you here. At a point, you just start to look poor but really these things are just ridiculously overpriced.
I found properties through agents and dealing with them has been an extreme sport. I have no memorable moments of my experience. I live in Nigeria. Everything is war.
House hunting in this Lagos was HORRIBLE. I started my journey because I had to. I was plagued with wet walls, flooded areas when it rains, thin walls, and so many children everywhere.
I looked at places in Gbagada, Yaba, and Ogudu, because of the proximity to the island. I also needed a place that had a good sense of security (I get home late at times), good water, good light, and few or no kids.
The agents I worked with were rude because we were females. They kept making remarks like there was someone else who was paying the rent and the landlord kept asking if there was a male figure that would stand in for us. The agent kept telling us to get a man to be in charge of the interactions.
I got most properties from online listings on social media and agents. Be careful with agents. They can be rude, and they’re always trying to gaslight you. Tbh, my one advice is this, as much as it is very silly- really, I hate it, just get a male figure (your brother or friend) to handle it, if not they will frustrate you in this Lagos.
The one thing I can never forget from my experience is a lawyer saying when he heard it was two young ladies who wanted to get the house, he only invited us out of courtesy. He said there was no way they planned to give 2 young and unmarried women their house.
I’m currently house hunting so every day is a humbling experience. I’d say the worst thing about it is the inflation. Everything is so expensive that these prices are calling me broke in a myriad of ways.
I needed a place because I wanted to leave my mother’s house for my own sanity. I looked at apartments in Yaba because it’s central and close to all the places that bring me joy. I like to live close to places where I do fun things instead of moving necessarily to where is close to work. Jobs change but fun remains.
I’ve been looking at certain things during this process; the landlord mustn’t live there or even close by, no dogs (because people don’t clean up after their pets) and no music producers (my current neighbour has scarred me).
The culture barrier is pretty intense in Lagos. Everywhere I go, I’m asked, hope you aren’t Igbo? Because I’m more than just Igbo (I’m also Urhobo), I say no. The people who ask can’t even recognise Igbo or non-Igbo names so I just keep it pushing.
Some people don’t like to rent to single women, especially places that have a landlord living in them. In my last apartment, my landlord (who didn’t even live there), was fond of coming over to harass me often, sometimes as late as 9 pm. It didn’t stop until the day I finally shouted at him. As of then, I’d zeroed my mind that I wasn’t renewing my rent anyway so no need for niceties.
Right now, I’m using Twitter, two agents on WhatsApp and word of mouth but really, people lie a lot, that’s all I can say. However, my current agent is someone I’ve worked with before so I feel pretty safe with him. He was recommended to me.
To anyone about to embark on this dirty journey; get ready to suffer. There is light at the end of the tunnel though.
The only memorable thing I can think of is that my agent is the sweetest person ever! And I once almost rented a house from a developer who looked eerily like GRV. I was just blushing anyhow.
I haven’t searched for a house recently, the last time I went house hunting was early last year. I honestly just wanted my own space. At the time I lived with my aunt while doing my NYSC. However, when I found out my girls were renting a place, I knew that was my chance.
We looked for places around the Ajah axis because it’s where you can get affordable housing for small girls like myself. Lol. We were mostly concerned about the flood. We were all Port Harcourt, Warri and Bayelsa girls. We were used to the south-south. This method of house hunting- checking walls for water lines was, for lack of a better word, an interesting experience for us.
We found apartments through referrals and online listings.
We ended up getting a house where the landlord wanted just Yoruba people. Let’s just say we had a pretty eventful year. Despite all we faced, all I can say is that having a place to call your own is just always better.
To everyone embarking on this journey, it’s not going to be easy o… but you’ve got this!
I’m currently on a search at the moment and so far I’ve always been extremely careful with agents and landlords because one of them had almost raped me.
I’m switching my place of work at the moment so I’m moving to be closer to that area. The pay is worth it. I’m looking at places in Chevron only. Certain things are important to me; space, tranquility, aesthetics too if I’m being honest. I would also love a place where I can smoke my za in peace. Nothing beats smoking in the comfort of your own home.
The last agent I saw was the one who tried to rape me. After taking me to the last house on our list that day, he said he liked me a lot and that cause he liked me he believed we could be something more. That’s how my guy started coming closer and closer and tried to trap me against a wall. This guy was actually unbuckling his pants while moving close to me. I just laughed. He was skinny and well I don’t go to the gym for nothing. Before he could finish his attack, I had already punched his nose and run out of the place.
I would say that if I was a man that idiot wouldn’t have tried anything so I suffered it cause I’m a woman.
I’ve gotten most apartments through online listings and all I have to say to everyone working with agents they don’t know is that you just have to be smarter than them. They love to advise you on what’s best for you and they specialize in overpriced rubbish because they get the most cut in those properties. Always try to be one step ahead.