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Expat Exchange - 10 Things to Know Before Moving to Nigeria
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Lagos, Nigeria

10 Things to Know Before Moving to Nigeria

By Joshua Wood, LPC

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Summary: If you're planning a move to Nigeria, here are 10 things expats living there wish they had known before moving to Nigeria.

Are you considering a move to Nigeria? This vibrant West African nation is a melting pot of cultures, languages, and traditions, offering a unique experience for expats. However, like any country, it has its own set of challenges and peculiarities that you should be aware of before making the move. Here are the top 10 things you need to know before moving to Nigeria.

1. Understanding the Cultural Diversity

Nigeria is a country of over 200 million people, with more than 250 ethnic groups and 500 languages. This diversity is reflected in the country's customs, traditions, and social norms. It's important to respect these cultural differences and make an effort to learn about the local customs. For example, in many Nigerian cultures, it's considered rude to give or receive items with your left hand.

2. The Importance of Security

While Nigeria has many safe and secure areas, it's important to be aware of the security situation. Crime rates can be high in certain areas, and scams targeting foreigners are not uncommon. It's advisable to live in secure housing, avoid traveling alone at night, and be cautious when dealing with strangers. Always keep your belongings secure and be aware of your surroundings.

3. The Vibrant Nigerian Cuisine

Nigerian cuisine is a gastronomic delight, offering a wide range of dishes that reflect the country's cultural diversity. From the spicy Jollof rice to the hearty Egusi soup, Nigerian food is flavorful and diverse. However, it's also quite different from Western cuisine, so it might take some time to get used to the local food. But once you do, you'll be hooked!

4. The Nigerian Climate

Nigeria has a tropical climate, with temperatures often reaching above 30 degrees Celsius. The country has two main seasons: the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy season can bring heavy downpours and flooding, while the dry season can be extremely hot and dusty. It's important to be prepared for these weather conditions and adjust your lifestyle accordingly.

5. The Nigerian Economy

Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, with a diverse range of industries including oil, agriculture, and services. However, the country also faces significant economic challenges, including high unemployment rates and corruption. As an expat, it's important to understand the economic situation and be prepared for potential challenges.

6. The Nigerian Education System

If you're moving to Nigeria with children, it's important to understand the education system. Nigeria has a mix of public and private schools, with the latter often offering a higher standard of education. There are also several international schools that follow the British or American curriculum. However, school fees can be quite high, so it's important to factor this into your budget.

7. The Nigerian Healthcare System

The healthcare system in Nigeria is a mix of public and private providers. While the public healthcare system is accessible to all, it often lacks resources and the quality of care can vary. Many expats choose to use private healthcare providers, which offer a higher standard of care but can be expensive. It's also advisable to have comprehensive health insurance.

8. The Nigerian Transport System

Transport in Nigeria can be challenging, with congested roads and erratic driving habits. Many expats choose to hire a driver or use taxis rather than driving themselves. Public transport is available but can be crowded and unreliable. It's also important to note that traffic in major cities like Lagos can be extremely heavy, so it's important to plan your journeys accordingly.

9. The Nigerian Social Life

Nigerians are known for their hospitality and love of social gatherings. From lively music festivals to traditional weddings, there's always something happening. As an expat, getting involved in the local social scene can be a great way to make friends and learn about the culture. However, it's also important to respect local customs and traditions.

10. The Nigerian Language Barrier

While English is the official language of Nigeria, many Nigerians speak their local languages at home. This can sometimes create a language barrier, especially in rural areas. However, most Nigerians speak at least some English, and many are fluent. As an expat, it can be helpful to learn a few basic phrases in the local language.

Moving to Nigeria can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By understanding the country's culture, economy, and social norms, you can make the most of your time in this vibrant and diverse country.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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Lagos, Nigeria

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