High Cost Of Rent In Lagos: A Tale Of 225K Against 2.5M Naira

 So I decided to leave home and come down to Lagos, just 3 months after my NYSC passing out parade, and after the living conditions at home were becoming too unfavorable, unresideable, and too stressful.


The "This boy, go and hustle" type of look my mom was already giving me and the "May God remove this kind of reproach" cough my mom was giving me already indicated that I was entitled to less than 32 "Mummy, thank you" in that house.

The "And this is useless, elder brother, we were placing the hope of an iPhone on" gaze by my younger ones and the "We can't keep shouldering your responsibility" type of fatherly advice my dad was steadily dropping was already giving me a clue of how impossible it would be to live in that house until I found my foot. It is as impossible as residing within the borders of Israel and Gaza without digesting one or two missiles or riffles.

Even though no one was yet to outrightly tell me (of course, they will dare not, for fear of my sharp-edged, defensively abusive mouth), I knew I was sitting on a time bomb. One offense, one explosion, and my entire family will collectively give me a piece of their mind. So, of course, I had to move.

I contacted one of my guys, Chidi, a childhood primary and secondary friend of mine and currently a Lagos Big Boy, according to what I see on his WhatsApp status and Facebook stories. From the clips of him chilling with top Nigerian celebrities like Davido, Korede Bello, Liquorose, Dr. Sid, and others, of course, it wasn't wrong of me to have thought that the least he would have in his bank account would be 186.5 million naira.

I called him, told him about the jobless state, how my family members would almost want to use the machete of attitude to slaughter me, and how I would most appreciate it if he would let me stay in his house for at least 6 months before I found a job or gathered up money for a business. Graciously and gratefully, he agreed.


Brethren, That was how I went from a very gorgeous 6-bedroom flat, a semi-bungalow family house in Kaduna, to a disorganized half-bedroom attachment, actually a compartment, in Ojota. That is, I went from where I could legitimately have seven square meals per day to where we had to externally source food ingredients from neighbors before compiling a decent lunch. Brethren, that was how I went from a healthy, well-fumigated environment to a malaria-prone environment. Face me; I face your quarters, predominately occupied by creatures that creep around the earth.

After what I saw and experienced in my first week of arrival, I had to search for and re-like the 2016 viral Instagram post by one controversial Nigerian actress who said that 96.87% of Lagosians live 'fake' lives. I could relate now. The said young man ' Chidi' who was forming 'Azaman' on social media was actually 'Ulcer-man' in actual reality. Dude was on the credit books of 50% of the food and provision traders in Ojota Local Government.

Chidi, the social media hype man who shouts "We're outside" whenever he links up with celebrities, was actually starving and dying inside. Omoor, after what I had witnessed in the first few days and the sapalicious penury I met my assumed "rich friend" in, I had to vigorously search for any kind of job I could get to keep spirit, soul, and body intact.


And graciously, I got one as a fuel attendant in a filling station, where I was paid N18,000 monthly. From the 18k I was paid, I will feed, recharge, and sub my line, run any other miscellaneous incidents, and most importantly, reserve a mandatory 2500 Naira for Armethen Softgel in preparation for the usual end-of-month Malaria festival. That was how I kept joggling through life in those three months until I graciously got a better job with a pay of 225k per month in one of Lagos' big companies after sending CVs to more than 12,830 agencies, both online and offline.

You might think I'm exaggerating until I show you my mailbox and you count through the several LinkedIn jobs I have applied for.

After I received my first honorable salary (N225k) as a working-class Nigerian citizen, there was this kind of unusual disgust I developed towards almost everything and everybody around my squatting space, street, and almost all of Ojota. Everything became annoying. The unhygienic state of the females in the compound graduated to premium filthiness in my eye; how the local people around there speak, eat, dress, and behave became too substandard for me to endure; the crunchiness, the irritating drainages, the mosquitoes, and even my now-very-annoying-looking roommate—everything became just too magnifyingly annoying for a 225k cash owner like myself. I could just not deal.

Truly, this thing called "money" is what showcases the true color of any human. The way my matching steps and shoulder levels augmented, a random person would have probably thought I got engaged to the second daughter of Tony Elumelu. All because of 225k.

As someone who grew up and lived half of his life in Brinin Gwari, Kaduna State, where 170k could comfortably purchase 13 plots of land, I was confident about whether or not a whole 200k+ would rent me decent accommodation in Ajah. Like, how won't it? Tenants in Zango-Kataf would protest and almost threaten to park out when a landlord decided to add 730 Naira to the 37,500 Naira annual rent. So of course, it wasn't with any jittering and lulling of faith and confidence that I requested and collected the phone number of one Olugbenga, a top housing and renting agent in Shomolu, from one of my coworkers.


I called him the so-called agent, we discussed, and I described the kind of house I would love him to get for me: a 3-bedroom furnished, tiled flat with a huge dining space, a spacious veranda, a well-oriented cooking space (the kitchen), and maybe the bonus of a swimming pool (not mandatory). After my thorough description, the house agent said "Okay" and promised to immediately begin to scout, and he gave me his word that he would get back to me in two days. Of course, there was no need to ask how much my budget was; my authoritative voice and tone were already giving "Forex Trader" and "Crypto Merchant' vibes.


As promised, barely 48 hours later, he (Mr. Olugbenga, the housing agent) called me around 2 p.m. while I was at work and said that he had found about four houses that matched my description and asked whether I was free to check them out. Of course, why not?

With all excitement, I took permission from one of my superiors at work and proudly rushed with my 225k to Jakande Main Junction, where the house agent said he would be waiting for me. I got there and started the house-hunting journey.

The first house we screened was this very gorgeous structure, said to be one of the properties of an ex-Lagos state commissioner. I won't lie, that house matched my whole requirements, but the ventilation factor was zero. With how stuffy that place is, there was no way a normal person was not going to be victimized by nightmares. Dem no born you well. Spirits of the forefather must visit. Another put-off was how undersized the veranda space was. Certainly, while stretching your arms, intruding into a co-tenant's window was sure. Too compacted. Too shrank! Nah! I wouldn't pay 225k to rent stress.


So I moved. Myself and the agent.

We went on a 13-minute walk before we met the next one, took permission from the landlord, and once again screened through the apartment. And indeed, that one was perfect—an absolute spec. The whole room was spacious, and the veranda was almost like a mini-football field. Good water system, constant electricity, and glamorous decor.

Buttttt. The stench, smell, odor, and unusual contraceptive stinkiness in that environment were too much for even an elephant to bear. The people living in that house in those environs were just a more fortunate version of the pigs living at my squatting residence in Ojota. See the magnificent, smelly gutters around? I could literally swear that they haven't been drained since October 16th, 1996. Come and see the speed with which I assiduously moved. God forbid I use my own money to rent an incurable communicable disease for myself.


Omoor, that was how I kept bouncing and rejecting all the houses my very patient and humble house agent was showing me until we got to "Ladoke Estate," a very glamorous, exotic, 2023 model eight-story building.

Just viewing from the exterior, there was no way a legitimate hustling Nigerian wouldn't think that the structure wasn't built with stolen government funds or proceeds from a cybercrime deal. That one is too much for a common man!


As usual, we took permission from the house's caretaker and went in to inspect my desired apartment, and bruhhh, there was absolute glamour. The decor, the excellently tiled floor, the wonderfully crafted ceiling, the restaurant-worthy toilet, the spacious veranda, the sereneness—everything was given. Without being told, I could just guess that this was where Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila lived during his hustling days. The wereyious agent knew of such an incredible house but kept taking me through a tour of houses in Lagos as if I were the newly appointed commissioner for physical planning and urban development.


After I had evaluated the whole apartment and certified it "excellent,", we (myself and my agent) marched on to the caretaker to finish the final proceedings: payment. That was when I knew that although Lagos and Kaduna are in one Nigeria, Ladoke Expressway and Ahmadu Bello Expressway cannot be compressed into one sentence anyway.

Before man (the caretaker) even uttered a word, he, first of all, sized me up from head to toe, majorly focusing on my hair, neck, ears, trousers, and chest (maybe to be sure I was not one of these Yahoo boys or Arabanko guys forming Upcoming Artist) before asking, "Kini oruko re?" (What's my name?) I told him. Then he further asked my tribe, religion, and so many irrelevant questions that older African humans emphasize. And of course, respectfully, I answered all. Once again, he sized me up with his eyes and rechecked my ears to be very sure there were no earrings there before he finally pronounced those figures that made me step two feet back.

2.5 what? Am I in a trance, or is this some kind of prank or a social experiment to ascertain how temperamental a potential tenant is?

From those two steps back, I asked again, "Sir, How much did you say the rent was?

And once again, he repeated "2.5M." Jesus Christ! At this point, I was wondering whether I wasn't pricing one of Revolution Plus Properties. Could this man (this caretaker) be thinking that I was pricing the whole estate, which is why he is mentioning an amount that can purchase 182 plots of land in Zungeru, Niger State?


Omoor, to be very sure that I heard well and that myself and this caretaker were on the same page (i.e., he isn't pronouncing a 30% part-payment price) for the entire estate, I asked again, "Sir, Is the 2.5M for a 12-month-long rent or...

And aggressively, he replied, "Shey, nah eternity you want to pay for?". I was offffed!

Now, what offedd me most was when I looked at my agent with the "Bros, are you seeing what I'm seeing here?" eye, and the dude reciprocated with the "Oga, bargain, and negotiate, nah?" type of eye. Ah! How will I bargain 2.5 million? What's really going on here (in Mr. Macaroni's voice)? House, 2.5 million Naira? For 12 months?

Ah! Omo, I dragged my agent outside, paid him the agreed-upon 20k agent fee, and trekked back to Ojota with my remaining 205k Naira. Make  I continue to manage my squatting, Abeg.

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