Living on a Budget: Surviving in Nigeria’s Most Expensive States

Living on a Budget: Surviving in Nigeria's Most Expensive States

Ever wondered where the priciest places to live in Nigeria are? Well, I’ve got the scoop for you. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is a place of vast contrasts. From bustling urban centers to serene rural areas, it’s got it all.

In this article, I’ll be diving into the most expensive states to live in Nigeria. We’ll explore the factors that drive up living costs, from housing and transportation to food and healthcare. So, if you’re planning a move or just curious, stay tuned for some eye-opening insights.

Remember, expensive doesn’t always mean better. It’s all about finding the right fit for your lifestyle and budget. So, let’s take a journey through Nigeria’s most expensive states and see what they have to offer.


Sifting through various data and statistics, it’s clear that the costs of living in various states of Nigeria can vary significantly. The key factors influencing these costs include housing, transportation, food, and healthcare. While the most expensive states do offer a variety of amenities and luxury lifestyle options, it’s also important to note that a higher cost of living doesn’t always correlate with better quality of life.

The priciest states tend to be bustling urban centers, which offer various business opportunities and extensive entertainment options. However, they can feel overcrowded and may lack the calm serenity found in the country’s rural areas.

Lagos State, often described as the commercial hub of Nigeria, unsurprisingly tops the list for high living costs. It’s followed closely by Rivers State and Abuja; both have growing economies and present diverse leisure activities, but they also come with a bountiful array of expenses.

An interesting aspect to consider when evaluating the cost of living is Nigeria’s rural-urban divide. The flashy city life can be expensive, but lush rural settings also come with their share of challenges, such as access to premium healthcare, high-quality education, or even basic amenities like clean water and reliable power supply.

While money plays a major role in determining where one can afford to live, aligning one’s lifestyle and personal preferences with the cost of living is just as important. A rural setting might seem cost-effective on paper, but if your career is city-based or you’re someone who thrives on city life, the choice might not be as simple.

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The data below breaks down the cost indices of housing, transportation, food, and healthcare in Lagos, Rivers, and Abuja to help paint a clearer picture.


These numbers further emphasize that while living in these states comes with many amenities and advantages, you should be prepared for the accompanying financial commitment.

Top 3 Most Expensive States in Nigeria

As we dive into highlighting the most expensive states in Nigeria, please keep in mind that a higher cost of living does not always equate to a higher quality of life. If we base our findings solely on housing, transportation, food, and healthcare costs, we can establish that the following states are the most expensive.


Lagos is the most populated city in Nigeria, and this high density of people often leads to an increased cost of living. It’s a bustling economic hub with vast business opportunities, which fuels the demand for housing, thereby raising the price. The cost of food in Lagos mirrors the city’s hustle and bustle, depending predominantly on your lifestyle and dietary preferences. Like any other urban city, healthcare in Lagos is anything but cheap. From consultation fees to medication, you’ll notice healthcare costs often put a strain on your budget here.


Abuja, the nation’s capital, comes in second. The cost of housing here is quite high but for a good reason. It’s one of the more developed urban centers offering a ton of amenities. Accommodation costs range from relatively affordable to high-end, depending on the exact location and size of the house. On the flip side, the cost of food and healthcare might not be as high as in Lagos. Yet, these cost variances are not enough to offset the steep housing prices, thus contributing to Abuja’s high cost of living.


Rivers State, home to the oil-rich city of Port Harcourt, is the third most expensive state in Nigeria. Oil being a substantial revenue driver, it comes as no surprise that the state’s cost of living is inevitably high. The cost of renting a home, transportation, and food can rack up quickly, especially in the state’s urban areas. Even though healthcare services are somewhat limited compared to Lagos or Abuja, the costs are still significantly high.

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As you navigate through considerations of where to settle in Nigeria, it’s essential to bear in mind these cost dynamics and align them with your personal and professional goals. Remember, while these states may top the list in terms of living costs, other factors like personal preferences for tranquility or access to certain amenities also play a crucial role.

Factors Contributing to High Cost of Living

Living in Nigeria, just like anywhere else, comes with different expenses. We’ve previously discussed how certain regions tend to have higher living costs. But now, let’s break down these costs and elaborate on the factors contributing to them.


I’ve investigated housing prices in various areas and found out that location greatly influences house prices. It’s no surprise that housing is exceptionally costly in the densely populated and business-thriving regions of Lagos and Abuja. A simple two-bedroom flat can cost as high as N2.5 million ($6,578) per annum in these states. This figure is way beyond the average Nigerian’s earning, hence the high ratio of renters to homeowners.


In terms of transportation, it’s interesting to note that Nigerians mostly rely on public transport. Despite the extensive road network, movement is often slowed down by traffic congestion, poor road conditions, and high fuel prices. In cities like Lagos, commute times can be lengthy, and the cost of commuting is significantly high, with a daily average spend of N500 ($1.31), translating to N182,500 ($480) annually.

Cost of Goods and Services

Goods and services are not left out of the high-cost equation. In major cities such as Lagos and Abuja, the cost of basic goods like food, clothing, and healthcare is considerably high. A basic meal in an inexpensive restaurant can cost around N1000 ($2.63), which is high in relation to the country’s average income. In healthcare, the cost of standard procedures, medications, and emergency services are exorbitantly priced, further straining the average income earner.

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To manage living costs in Nigeria, one must consider these principal factors. A keen understanding of these elements can help you make an informed decision on the best place to call home. But remember, cost is just one factor. Interweave it with other life preferences to make the most suitable choice.

Ways to Save Money in Expensive States

Living in an expensive state like Lagos or Abuja can put a heavy strain on anyone’s wallet. But, if you’re strategic and thoughtful, you can find ways to mitigate the costs and make your Naira stretch a bit further. Let’s examine some practical ways to keep the budget on track.


A well-formulated budget is your best weapon against high living costs. It’s the roadmap to your financial health, setting clear boundaries on your spending.

  • Understand your income and expenses: Be clear on how much money is coming in and what your monthly expenses are. This includes basic necessities, discretionary spending, and savings or investments.
  • Set financial goals: Having clear financial objectives makes it easier for you to make smart money decisions.
  • Track your spending: There are numerous apps out there that can help you keep tabs on where your money is going.

Housing Alternatives

Given the high rent in cities like Lagos and Abuja, it’s essential to explore cost-effective housing options.

  • Room or House sharing: Sharing a flat or a house with others can significantly reduce the amount you spend on rent.
  • Location matters: Rents in the city center are generally higher than those in the suburbs. So, it might be beneficial to live a bit further away and commute.

Transportation Tips

Transportation in Nigeria’s expensive cities is another major cost source. Here are some tips to cut down these expenses.

  • Carpooling: Sharing rides with colleagues or friends can save a substantial amount on fuel costs.
  • Public transportation: Using public buses or trains, where available, is usually cheaper than maintaining a car.

Remember, it’s not about completely sacrificing your quality of life; it’s about making rational decisions that lead to significant savings in the long run. By adopting these strategies, living in Nigeria’s expensive cities can become more manageable.

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