Femi Alabirin

It’s been 13 months since I made the ‘dreaded’ move back home and I still have mixed feelings about my decision. I’ve had to adjust, re-adjust, learn, re-learn, un-learn, manage… just name all the verbs applicable. Below is a list of a few of these things:

  • Lagos is not Houston or NYC or ATL…

“Femi, Lagos is not Houston oh… this one that you like to go at night and not come home till 11p. There are desperate people out there… the policemen aren’t your friends…” if I got $1 for every time my mum or my uncle said that to me (still say), I’ll be a thousannaire K. I get it, Lagos is not safe but I spent 11 years of my almost adult to adult life living alone, going out anytime with no one breathing down my neck about safety. I’ve had to reach a compromise with these people… I’ll let you know where I’m going and who I’m with, in case of incasity

  • Nigerians are unprofessional…

In my current job, I deal a lot, a whole lot with artisans/vendors/contractors and these people are the most unprofessional people ever. The worst part? They don’t care. As long as you’re paying them. You call a guy to install an electrical fitting and you literally have to stand over the guy to make sure he installs it perfectly. Otherwise, you’ll have to call him back to fix it which might take a week cause he’ll tell you he’s coming aka, I’ve heard you but I’m busy doing a sham job for someone else and I’ll come when I can.

  • You need a guy… and a backup for that guy

I read somewhere that Nigerians are possessive. It’s true. Everyone has a guy. My plumber guy, my AC guy, my electrician, my carpenter etc. I learned that it’s important to build your contact list of service men (that you trust or that your mother trusts) because anything can happen at any time and there’s no yelp or google review to let you who the best person is. Then, you need a backup for that guy because the day you need him the most, he might be in the village dealing with a sick mum or sick relative.

  • Always ask for a discount…

This was very difficult for me because in America, if a price is set, that’s the price and you pay but that’s not the case in Nigeria. There are two prices… real price and adjusted price with enough margin so that if you negotiate, you and the vendor finally end up around the real price, give or take 5%. Except in restaurants or grocery stores, I’ve had to adjust my mindset and ask for discounts

  • Bring double or triple of your basic essentials

Make sure you have excess supply of your bare essentials like toothpaste, body wash, hygiene products etc because although you might find them here, they might be fake or very old and expired

  • Café Neo is not the equivalent of Starbucks…

Sorry, not sorry. But they try.

  • You need a side hustle…

If you had to pick just 1 takeaway from this post, please let it be this one. Except you work for a multinational and you’re earning foreign currency, you need a side hustle or two to support your salary. Everybody has a side hustle cause that’s the only explanation for Tola (not a real person), who earns the same pay as you, going to Quilox every Friday night and you can barely afford lunch from BBQ & Cravings

  • December rocks is overrated…

I came home every December for two weeks to 1.) get away from the cold & 2.) party non-stop. Last December, I don’t think I went out at all because of the realities of living in Lagos. Go to work, traffic. Leave work, traffic. There was no energy to go anywhere abeg

In summary, it hasn’t been so bad but it hasn’t been a bed of roses. If I had to advice anyone who wanted to take the plunge, I’d say you do it at your own risk. Weigh the pro’s (lol, how many?) and the con’s (a lot), determine the tradeoff… how many ‘negatives’ am I willing to take for 1 or 2 ‘positives’? Also, make sure you have an exit strategy if things don’t work out as you had imagined/planned because there’s nothing worse than being stuck in a bad situation and not having a way out.