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Moving to Nigeria?

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Paul Zimmerer

Living in Nigeria, from Germany

"InterNations is a fantastic community for expats and a must for anyone preparing to move abroad. I recommend it to all my fellow Germans overseas."

Stella Munúa

Living in Nigeria, from Uruguay

"This site is just what I was looking for when I moved to Lagos. Thanks for all the advice and support that helped us to settle in Nigeria."

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Nigeria at a Glance

Moving to Nigeria

Moving to Nigeria is a big challenge for many expats. The InterNations expat guide offers information on the country’s paperwork-heavy immigration process, Nigerian cities, and other useful info you should be aware of before relocating to Nigeria.

Expat Destinations in Nigeria

Most expats moving to Nigeria will obviously choose Nigeria’s economic and industrial centers. Most of those are found in the country’s southern coastal regions. Furthermore, many expats are living in Nigeria’s Free Trade Zones, which usually feature residence compounds for employees.

If you are not relocating to Nigeria solely for business reasons, but also for the cultural experience, you might want to go explore the country in detail. Please consider the safety precautions we have compiled in our article on Living in Nigeria before you consider freely roaming the country.

Expat Destinations in Nigeria: Lagos

Lagos is the largest city and thus the first choice for many expats moving to Nigeria. With a little over 15 million residents and a population of 22 million in the wider metropolitan area, it is also one of the most populous cities in Africa. The metropolis on the Gulf of Guinea has experienced rapid growth, as moving to the country’s economic and cultural center remains a big incentive for people from rural regions and abroad.

In many respects, Lagos is Nigeria’s most important city. It is a large hub for banks, industrial enterprises, and the music and film industry. The three ports are the nation’s biggest transfer site for all goods, except for oil, which is shipped directly from the Delta. The metropolis also is home to the most modern international airport – you will at least have to change flights here when you arrive in Nigeria.

Lagos was Nigeria’s capital until as recently as 1991. Most embassies, although now officially located in Abuja, handle visa applications from their Lagos offices. The city’s cultural and economic importance is unparalleled, as is the quality of life. Many expats in Nigeria opt for accommodation in the popular neighborhoods of Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Apapa, and Ikeja.

Your employment contract permitting, you should try to relocate to Lagos. It will probably ensure the most comfortable and interesting stay for expatriates.

Expat Destinations in Nigeria: Port Harcourt

Employment in Port Harcourt means doing business in Nigeria’s oil production center. It is the main collecting point for oil produced in the Niger Delta and home to most of Nigeria’s refineries.

Ever since the first oil shipment in 1958, Port Harcourt has had considerable draw on the people of the Delta. This is both a blessing and a curse: the masses moving to Nigeria’s industrial centers from the rural regions have caused a housing shortage and infrastructural issues. Pollution is also quite severe in the area. While living in Nigeria, you will have to come to terms with pollution, but Port Harcourt surpasses everything else.

Due to reasons we have outlined in our article on Working in Nigeria, the city has often been shaken by violence and by the illegal activity of militant gangs, who frequently target foreigners. Thus, for safety reasons, Port Harcourt should be avoided by expats if possible. Unless you sign with one of the large oil companies, which offer guarded compounds for their employees, moving to Nigeria’s other economic centers will be a better choice.

Expat Destinations in Nigeria: Abuja

The nation’s capital since 1991, Abuja is the unchallenged center of political power in Nigeria. The city, located right in the center of Nigeria between the Muslim north and the Christian south, has been built from scratch since the late 1970s. Unfortunately, it shows.

Abuja is a far cry from Lagos, both culturally and economically. There is very little industry located here, and the metropolis does not offer many incentives for expats moving to Nigeria. However, as construction is continuously going on and nearly all embassies have been relocated to the city, Abuja does have some opportunities for expatriate who are moving to Nigeria.

InterNations Expat Magazine