Abuja is a vibrant cosmopolitan city that has many things going for it. Currently, the city is expanding rapidly and with good reason: opportunity. Abuja offers you opportunity anywhere you look, be it employment, business or lifestyle. You name it and Abuja likely has it.
Abuja has something to offer all: good weather (generally hot with a rainy season), green spaces, high-end restaurants, luxury hotels, designer shops, large malls, cinemas and a colorful nightlife to name but a few.
Furthermore there is a big expat community in Abuja, from a variety of different nations. If you are looking for more of a “western” lifestyle you’ll find it in Abuja. If you prefer more of a “local” life you’ll also find that here.
The bottom line is: Abuja offers an excellent quality of life for all.
Moving to Abuja can be stressful at times, especially if you are completely new to the city. This is particularly true for foreign nationals or expats coming to Nigeria for the first time. For those have already visited the city, living in Abuja is a totally different experience from just visiting.
The good news is, as long as you aware of a few things and make adequate preparations and plans you will have a wonderful time living in Abuja and exploring the city.
With this mini guide we will highlight things you need to know before relocation to Abuja, including living costs, where to find accommodation and employment opportunities.
Life in Abuja: things to do, know and consider before you move
Learn about the city
You cannot really get a good enough feel for a city without actually visiting or living there. So if you are able to, it is recommended to actually visit Abuja to get a glimpse of the lifestyle and what the city offers. Come and talk to the locals, Abuja people are quite friendly and helpful.
Visiting the city may be more challenging for expats or foreign nationals but if you already live in Nigeria, say Lagos for example, you should make an effort to come and see Abuja for yourself. After all, a flight from Lagos to Abuja is no more than an hour duration. Besides, there is no shortage of hotels in the city, offering some of the best services nationwide.
If you cannot visit the city personally, research about the city online, making notes of places you would like to visit or potentially move to. YouTube is a great resource to do research, there are many vlogs on YouTube showcasing the city, so be sure to take a look.
Employment opportunities in Abuja
If you already have an offer of employment or are starting a business in Abuja that’s great. If you are an expat, you will need to secure a firm job offer before being able to process and eventually get a work permit.
Work is one of the major factors why people move to Abuja. As Nigeria’s capital, Abuja is the center of money and affluence in the country. Apart from Lagos, Abuja is the place where it “goes down” in Nigeria.
Abuja plays host to various governmental, private and international bodies. You will find multinationals like Coca Cola, NGO’s like Oxfam and numerous foreign embassies scattered across the city. Name the type of sector or industry and you’ll likely find a company involved in that business in Abuja.
Due to the cities developing nature, real estate and related services is one of the biggest industries in Abuja. So if you are into things like, construction, engineering, building materials, painting, interior design, furniture, bathroom stuffs etc. there is plenty of money to be made.
Having experience, knowing someone (having a network of contacts), being a go-getter, being able to brand oneself as well as being focused will all help you to get a job sooner rather than later. You can begin your search online: “Indeed jobs” is a great place to start looking.
Cost of living in Abuja
Moving is never easy on the pocket and moving to Abuja is no different. Though, it must be said, Abuja does have a notorious reputation for being a particularly expensive city to live in.
Yes Abuja can be expensive, depending on your lifestyle, but Abuja can be very cheap at the same time. One thing that without a doubt is expensive is accommodation, which is something you will have to consider carefully before relocating.
Ultimately, Abuja is not as expensive as they say and like any other capital city around the world you will always find goods and services for your level of income. So if you are seeking for luxury in Abuja you will find it as to will you be able to live comfortably on a budget. Your level of income is the major determining factor.
To give some living cost examples:
- Many Abuja based Nigerians live on under $200 a month
- You can live well with $1000 a month as long as you manage your money well (this amount of money can easily be spent in a night out in Abuja!)
- 1$ for a bottle of beer and 0.5$ for a bottle of Pepsi
- $3 for a crate of 30 eggs and $2 for a big watermelon
- Maid for house keeping costs around $100
- $1-2 for a meal at a local restaurant, upwards of $10 at a posh restaurant
- A liter of petrol costs well under $1
- Cinema ticket $3
Accommodation: finding a home in Abuja
Abuja has a wide number of different neighborhoods. Should you be interested in a serene area with tree lined streets close to the Central Area, then you would look no further than Maitama or Asokoro.
If you would love to live in a lively neighborhood, with plenty of social activity, then Wuse is perhaps the best district for you. Gwarinpa is another cool district which is a bit further out from the Central Area but no less lively.
If you are hunting for a great place to live a few miles from the city center then Lokogoma offers the best value for money. Kubwa and Lugbe are two of the cheapest places for those on a budget and willing to commute into the city center.
Whatever neighborhood you are looking for, whether it’s a peaceful place or one with plenty going on, Abuja has them all.
Once you have researched and potentially gone for some sightseeing in a few different districts, you will then be able to decide on which specific area you would like to live in.
Before deciding on a neighborhood to live in, important things to consider include:
- What amenities are in and around the area? Bars, clubs, schools, markets, healthcare etc?
- Is the area secure?
- Is the neighborhood easily accessible?
- Is the infrastructure good? Electricity, water, roads?
- Cost of rent/purchase?
You may want to look at our article on the top places to live in Abuja for further guidance.
Decide if you want to rent or own a home in Abuja
Renting or owning a home is not always solely dependent on your income and or wealth, although this plays a big role. You need to sit down and decided if you are ready to buy a home and take on all the responsibility that this brings: essentially buying a house is among the biggest financial decisions people make in life.
If you are an expat the choice is much more obvious as you are likely not planning on living in Abuja for a very long time. In that case, renting is the better option as it requires less commitment. This is equally true for Nigerians who are planning to only be in Abuja for a short period of time.
Regardless of whether you are buying or renting, Abuja has a wide variety of different property types to suit all tastes and needs. From mansions, to duplexes to terraces to bungalows and flats.
You need to take into account your finances and specific requirements before deciding on a particular type of property. Those with a family have different needs to single people for example. This is were working with a reputable real estate agent, that can help guide you, is recommended.
Transportation in Abuja
How you are going to be moving around is a very important question to consider prior to relocating to Abuja. The fact remains, Abuja is not a public transport friendly city, although there are plans to improve on this in the near future. It should also be stated that Abuja is not a walking friendly city either, it’s more of a sprawling city akin to Los Angeles in the United States.
There is a train and metro system, however service remains limited as it is does not cover most of the city. The metro system currently only runs from Abuja airport to the city center.
In addition to the metro system there is a limited bus service, which primarily caters to people coming from satellite towns such as Lugbe and Kubwa.
Uber is in operation around the city and is relatively affordable (no more than $10 for a round trip). There are also green colored taxis as well as yellow tricycle motors in operation, these are cheap and can take you around town easily.
Despite these options, traveling by car remains the most convenient option for most people moving to Abuja, especially expats and foreign nationals who may not be used to Nigeria’s public transportation system.
You can either drive yourself or hire a driver (for under $100 a month). Abuja is not prone to the traffic problems of its more commercial sister city Lagos: there is far less congestion on the roads. This can be attributed to Abuja currently being significantly less populated than Lagos.
Education in Abuja
There are a wide variety of schools available in Abuja, catering to both expats and locals. The standard of schools does vary but if you want top notch international standard education there are many options available to you.
The limiting factor is again cost. The cost of sending your children to some of the best schools in Abuja is considerable, with the associated fees often being over $1500 per term.
Some of the top schools include Lead British School, American International School, Regent British School, Centagon School and Grace Garden International School.
If you are an expat, the organization you will work for often have places reserved for the children of employees at certain schools. Fees here are often subsidized (or at no cost to you) so you would do well to check with your employer.
Universities include Baze University, University of Abuja, African Institute of Science and Technology, Nigerian Turkish Nile University and Veritas University.
Healthcare in Abuja
By Nigerian standards healthcare in Abuja is decent. Having said this, healthcare in the city can definitely be improved and this is certainly one of the few drawbacks about living in Abuja.
There are a variety of healthcare facilities available including: government hospitals, local dispensaries as well as private clinics. Generally private healthcare is much better than its state-run counterpart and it is recommended that everyone has health insurance before coming to Abuja.
Some of the best hospitals include: Primus International, Abuja Clinics, Federal Staff Hospital, Maitama General Hospital, Garki Hospital, Nizamiye (Turkish) Hospital and Limi hospital.
Safety in Abuja
Like other global cities Abuja, is for the most part, safe and secure. Being the nation’s capital, security is taken seriously, with adequate resources in place: so you won’t have any problems. On the whole, the crime rate can be considered relatively low. Having said this, general security measures should be taken as you would take anywhere else in the world.
This was an overview of the things you need to know and consider prior to moving to Abuja. Working with qualified real estate professionals, who know all about the city, is important. A qualified estate agent can offer valuable advice, but it’s important to be somewhat informed before contacting one.
Are you moving to Abuja? Looking for accommodation in the city? Contact Villa Afrika to get a home that meets your requirements: +234 708 500 8039.
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