Visiting Nigeria: What You Need to Know About Cost of Living

Greetings and some small talk like asking about the business or the family set the stage for a good bargain.

Shopping all major cities have large super markets and some chain stores. But like the smaller towns and villages, Nigerian cities also have markets of different sizes and cultures. In the markets, shoppers are expected to bargain. Read more...
Nigerian Currencies - Nigerian Currency - Nigeria Currencies
Nigerian Currencies

Compared to the United States, and considering the strength of the US dollar, Nigeria is a very cheap country to visit or live in. Below is a price guide, in US dollars.

Calculations are made at the lowest possible exchange rate (S1 = 100) of the US dollar to the Nigerian Naira.

    • Hotel room – from $10 – $200 depending on the size of the town and hotel class
    • A bottle of coke – 20 cents (but up to 40 cents in top class hotels)
    • A good Nigerian beer – 50 cents (60 cl. bottle, twice the US bottle); up to $1 in big hotels.
    • Restaurant meal – 40cents; up to $10 per person for cordon bleu meals.
    • Cabs – shared, up to 20 cents; hourly cab rental – up to $3/hour; “drop” or sole occupancy: $1 to $10 within the city.
    • Commuter buses – highest city fare anywhere in Nigeria: 20 cents Inter –city buses (some with catering, toilets) –
      highest fare – $35 (a little more for inter-city taxis)
    • Air fares – between $40 and $100 within the country and to neighbouring countries.
    • Apartment rental: Between $300 and $2,000 per YEAR, depending on location and size. (Nigerian apartment rental agreements are generally for yearly lease and are paid in full a year or two in advance)
    • Electricity – average per month: $1 – $30
    • Telephone per minute – 1 cent to 2 cents (local), 3c to 20 cents (long distance).

Shopping All Major Cities

Shopping all major cities have large super markets and some chain stores. But like the smaller towns and villages, Nigerian cities also have markets of different sizes and cultures. In the markets, shoppers are expected to bargain. Bargaining humanises the commercial activity, effectively forcing both parties to be courteous and friendly – a contrast to the impersonal and fairly plastic shopping routines in supermarkets. Greetings and some small talk like asking about the business or the family set the stage for a good bargain.

And selling is often determined by the buyer’s liquidity or social class usually given away by mode of dressing, carriage, unfamiliarity with pidgin English and sometimes the local language. But foreigners who bargain effectively earn the respect of the sellers. There are three main types of bargaining schemes.

Note that an Easterner in the north, or a westerner in the east, etc, will most likely maintain the bargaining scheme of his region of origin. Western (Nigerian) bargaining In the western (Yoruba-speaking) states, the seller offers a fairly high price for, say a huge chunk of beef. He says N500 (five hundred Naira, about $50), you offer N450. He says: “Pay money”.

You “price down” offering N400, N350, etc, until he stops nodding. That is the price. Slashing the price from N500 to the real price of say N300 is considered very rude and uncouth. Note that the seller may decide, as his own prerogative to sell the same size of meat to a poorer person or a “customer”, an attractive woman or regular patron at a much lower price than he would sell to you. Northern Bargaining In most of the northern states, the seller will size you up and offer you a price sometimes a hundred times the price he intends to sell the item. He could offer a cute Hausa bag for say N2, 000.

If out of politeness, you offer N1, 500, he expects you to dole out that amount. But how about offering N150, if you think it is worth it? Chances are he will now ask for N500 and rapidly descend to your own price. The western bargaining will irritate the northern – and eastern — seller. Also, while an attempt at speaking Hausa, the predominant language of the north can make prices tumble, it is foolhardy to expect a Yoruba (western) or Igbo (eastern) seller to slash a price on account of your attempt to speak his language. In fact, your pitiful attempt only aggravates your case as a stranger.

Eastern bargaining In the east, anywhere east of the River Niger, you are likely to be offered a considerably higher price for items. If you are asked to pay, say, N800 for a bunch of bananas, ask what the “last price” would be. He might say N450. Tell him you cannot afford the item and walk away politely. If he calls you back, it means you can bargain. If not, you are now armed with a price range and can bargain elsewhere, knowing that different sellers sell each item at different prices. If you are serious in buying, offer an amount not far lower than he offered (once you know the prize range) and not much higher than you can afford to pay. Once you offer a price, you are cannot bargain downwards. You are of course always welcome to improve on your offer.

Offering a steeply lower price than the one the seller suggested or slashing an offer already made is considered as a supreme insult to the seller. You may be ordered out of the stall. Sellers in or from the east hold the belief that the first client determines the success of business for the day and they do everything to get the first “customer” to make a purchase. It is a good time to pick up a bargain.

Transportation

Nigerian cities are linked by broad highways and multiple-lane expressways. In some places, the roads are not as broad and good as American roads. Lagos and Abuja have a spaghetti of “fly-over” bridges in the centre of the town to ease traffic. Lagos is notorious for its multitude of automobiles and frequent rush-hour traffic snarls on some of the bridges that link the Lagos peninsular to the Lagos mainland. The speed limit in Nigeria is 120 kilometres per hour.

Members of the Federal Road Safety Commission who enforce traffic regulations would normally give tickets to motorists who go beyond 130 on the expressways. Many Nigerians go to work by bus. The most famous is the “molue”, a huge yellow bus – the size of a US school bus found mostly in Lagos. It is cheap and sometimes fun to ride on.

In the mornings the molue often has preachers and medicine hawkers singing and sometimes amusing the passengers. The smaller buses, ply the highways and the side streets. In the big cities, there are usually as many as a bus a minute. The bus conductor, a very dramatic individual hangs out of the bus, fluttering like a flag, and shouting the destination as well as announcing approaching bus stops. There are commuter trains and ferries in Lagos.

But most people take the train for long distance – and utterly picturesque, if slow – trips. A very large number of Nigerians travel by plane. At a point, many made the 150-km journey between Lagos and Ibadan by plane. Nigerian airlines offer excellent services. Except for delays among some operators, air travel in Nigeria is distinctly pleasant.

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Some of the airlines have first class seats serving everything from cognac and champagne to a three-course meal. Some airlines manage to serve a full meal to economy passengers even on 55-minute flights. Most of the 36 states and Abuja have an airport at the capital.

With the deregulation of the aviation industry, Nigeria has a surfeit of airline services. Some of the airlines and their contact details are:

Airlines
Domestic Airlines Aero Contractors 234-1-4979122-4, 4962570, 4971973 (Fax)

Albarka Air 234-1-4704100, 4939040, 234-1-9-5233554, 5232619, 5232619, 8100130, 234-1-90-409670, 234-1-76-230121, 34-1-75-626145

Aviation Development Company (ADC) 234-1- 4962230, 4962657, 4965750, 4970086 (Fax)

Bellview Airlines 234-1-2624552, 612949, 613232, 2615098

Bristow Helicopters 234-1-4961070, 4962610, 4961501 (Fax)

Chanchangi Airlines 234-4978226, 7744660, 234-1-62-231778, 236442, 239949, 231010 (Fax) 234-1-9-8100143, 234-64-640020,234-84-231920

EAS Airlines 234-1-4975016-7, 4975019, 4965802, 4937815, 4937598, 4934150, 4965736 (Fax) 234-9-8100056, 5235656, 234-42-258000, 258870-1, 234-84-231921

Kabo Air 234-1-2623656-7, 618166, 2623658 (Fax), 234-64-625172, 625291, 631355, 632386 (Fax)

Nigeria Airways 234-1-4970872-3, 234-9-2346218-21 Skyline 234-1-4934440, 5874658, 234-84-231908 (Ext. 256), 234-90-403389, 234-42-556966, 234-87-236429, 234-9-8100267

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