Living in Lagos, especially as a young person trying to make ends meet can get difficult and overwhelming. There are a lot of odds against us, and we spend our free time fantasizing about leaving Nigeria. While we’re still here though, we must find ways to make life more bearable, and even enjoyable. Here’s six tips from a fellow young adult Lagosian on living in Lagos
Use Google Maps
This is the year of our Lord 2019. Trust me, you don’t want to head out to or from anywhere in Lagos without first consulting your map. Although prone to mistakes a few times, google maps will accurately navigate you to your destination while letting you know which routes have traffic, and which don’t. In this mega city where traffic can form in 2.5 seconds, you need to constantly be checking your map so you don’t pass the wrong routes. Using google maps has saved me hours in traffic several times. Please use it, it is free.
When going out, Plan, Plan, Plan
With the way traffic is set up in Lagos, it’s very important to look before you leap i.e. Plan before you step out of your house. People often say ‘Live close to your office’ when giving Lagos hacks, but I think that is rather simplistic. We can’t all afford to live close to our offices. A more realistic advice is to plan carefully every time you’re going out. How far is this place? What time do I need to get there? How likely is there to be traffic during that time frame? Based on all of this, what time do I need to leave the house? There you go. Generally, if you can help it, avoid going in the direction of traffic during rush hour. And if you’re stuck in traffic when you’re in a hurry, jump on an okada (sorry, car owners). A little planning can be what saves you from being late to that job interview or missing your flight.
Find a hobby
Lagos can be crazy stressful, so you must find something to do that will constantly spark joy in your life. Our lives are filled with stress—from our jobs, schools, bills, partners, kids, traffic— there’s a seemingly endless list of other minor stressors. Hobbies play an important role in mitigating some of this unavoidable stress, as they provide an outlet for creativity, distraction, and something to look forward to. Hobbies build confidence, reduce stress and make you more interesting.
“Hobbies bring a sense of fun and freedom to life that can help to minimize the impact of chronic stress. Those who feel overwhelmed at a job, for example, can benefit from hobbies because they provide an outlet for stress and something to look forward to after a hard day (or week) at a stressful job,” says VeryWell.com.
Your hobby can be reading, writing, drawing, knitting or sewing. It can also be something active like learning a new sport, running, or going to the gym. There’s a wide range of activities you can pick up as a hobby. Find one or two you enjoy, and feel free to drop them and pick a new one after some time. Just don’t pick a hobby that brings more stress into your life. PS: A hobby is not the same thing as a side hustle.
Get Health Insurance
I cannot overstate the importance of having a HMO plan if you live anywhere in Nigeria. The heat, traffic and stress of living in Lagos can often put a strain on your physical and mental health. Medical bills are expensive and often come at inconvenient times. A health insurance plan makes it easier and way cheaper (sometimes free) to access healthcare when you need it. If your job doesn’t provide a HMO cover for you, you can buy one for as low as N50,000 a year, or less than N3,500 a month.
There are several organizations now offering health coverage plans. Before you choose one, do proper research. Visit the website and social media platforms of the organizations you’re considering, ask people about them, look for real testimonials and find out what hospitals around you on their network. Finally, compare costs and make an informed decision.
PS: Don’t wait until you’re very ill to buy a health plan. Gambling with your health is a bad idea.
You can meet some very important people, and become privy to important information and opportunities by simply striking up a conversation at a social event. I get it — networking isn’t at the top of everyone’s list of fun things to do. It can be time-consuming, downright awkward on occasion, and — depending on your personality — incredibly draining. However, it is important for establishing and nurturing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. It expands your support network, makes you more visible and opens doors to opportunities for you. So just do it!
Don’t limit yourself to events within your industry. You can make great connections even at the club! If you don’t go out often, you can also network on social media by starting conversations on platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter. Next time you find yourself standing next to a stranger at a function, strike up a conversation.
PS: Be sensitive enough to realize when someone doesn’t want to hold a conversation with you, and walk away. Networking only works if all parties involved are interested. Don’t know when events are happening? Want to be in the loop? I find out about events and conferences on Eventbrite, The NothingToDoInLagos Newsletter and Social Media.
Take a break, take in the sights and have fun
Finally, not every time struggle to survive. Sometimes, sit back, relax and breathe. You live in a beautiful city with a lot to see and take in. Dedicate some weekends to exploring and having fun. It can be overwhelming just existing in Lagos, so you need the occasional breather. There’s tons of fun activities to do in Lagos that can take the edge off. Go to a club with friends, visit an art gallery, go to the beach, go kayaking. Visit Omu resort with your friends, or the Lekki Conservation Centre and just take in nature’s beauty. Go jumping at the upbeat center or challenge your friends at Rufus and Bees Arcade. If it’s your cup of tea, visit a strip club. Attend a gathering of like minds to discuss issues, or go to a silent disco party. There’s no one size fits all for fun activities. Find what you enjoy and go to town with it.
Remember, this life na once! (YOLO)
Phidelia is a writer and communications manager based in Lagos. She loves chopping life, and spends her free time thinking of new ways to enjoy life. Tweet at her @the_phidelia if you enjoyed reading this.