This is a really exciting time to be living in Nigeria. It has been identified as one of Africa’s key ‘emerging markets’, attracting investment and trade from all over the world. As a result, more and more expatriates are choosing to live in Nigerian cities such as Lagos and Port Harcourt, to experience the vibrant West African lifestyle with all the amenities of the western world. Expats living in Port Harcourt will soon get used to the rhythm of the city, picking up groceries at Borikiri Market, which is stylized in a traditional manner with vibrant stalls, and watching the sun set over the Izumini River, which offers scenic views and is a hotspot for sightseers and photographers. At weekends, check out a Nollywood film at one of the local theaters and get a feel for the burgeoning culture of 21st century Nigeria.
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West Africa has been a magnet for expats for centuries – from merchants, to missionaries, to multinational employees. English is still the main language spoken in Nigeria, although many Nigerians will speak a tribal language such as Hausa or Igbo as well. Before moving to Port Harcourt, learn a few words in each of the local tribal languages so that you can impress your new neighbors with your interest in their culture. Port Harcourt has a large Muslim population, so read up on Islamic customs before you move to the city so that you know what to expect. As a sign of respect, knees and shoulders should for example remain covered at all times when in public, so invest in some breathable linen clothing to see you through the hot and humid summers. Speak to other expatriates on the InterNations forums to find out more about the Nigerian lifestyle and what to expect from a move to West Africa.
How you prepare for working in Port Harcourt will very much depend on what your job will be. Criminals have targeted expat workers in the past in search of ransom money, and if you are working for a well-known oil company or other multinational, you are probably at greater risk. Many large firms offer a driving service for expatriate workers if they feel they could be targeted – don’t be afraid to request protection if you feel unsafe during your stay as an expat in Port Harcourt. While the chances of a kidnapping are low, it is always worth taking precautions. Use the InterNations forums to speak to other expats in Port Harcourt or parts of Nigeria or West Africa who have worked in similar industries.