In Lagos, it is often perceived as a step up when you relocate from the Mainland to the Island. Many consider it as a form of economic aspiration as you climb up the social ladder and cement your position in the middle class. Thus, when Dafe a Senior Banker who just purchased a 4 bedroom apartment, moved to the Island, his experience wasn’t as rosy as he thought. Scaling up the social ladder did come with some cost particularly if it involved moving to the Island.
Oblivious to Dafe and so many others who recently moved to the Lekki from the Mainland, electricity just as a nice neighbourhood is also a luxury on the island. By relocating to the Island, he had no choice but to buy a new 20KVA Diesel and 10 KVA Petrol Generators respectively. But even people on the Mainland buy Generators as well don’t they? The only difference however, is that he spends thrice as much on buying diesel and fuel.
Moving to Lekki also meant paying Tolls as he and his family commute every day to work and school and back. At first, Dafe considered the N120 he paid as he crossed each toll as a mere stipend and money well spent in exchange for a good access road with minimal traffic. After all, whilst the road leading to his erstwhile neighbourhood of Maryland was equally good, the traffic congestion he had to encounter on his way home from the Island was frustrating. By the end of his first month, the family was already spending north of N20, 000 monthly on tolls. A switch to the all access “E-Pass” hardly changed anything instead his expenses went up. By the time he realised Toll was costing him and his family between N20, 000 – N25, 000 monthly.
One of the excitements of relocating to the Island was finally giving Dafe and his family an opportunity for his kids to get ‘quality’ education. Surely, there were good schools on the Mainland but the Island was different. Schools were more expensive on the island. You made more in terms of tuition and other associated cost. There was always pressure to keep abreast with what other kids were doing. If there is a class vacation abroad, you somehow had to get your kids to attend even if it meant borrowing money.
Security in Lagos is pretty much challenging no matter where you live. However, living on the island typically attracts a higher security cost. The guards at your house will likely cost more. You also contribute regularly to Estate or community security. It is also likely that you spend some money on security systems for your homes and properties as is typically the case in highbrow areas. These things can be very expensive.
Rent & Fees
Everyone who plans to move to the Island knows rent over there is typically higher than what obtains on the Mainland. However, what Dafe probably doesn’t know yet is that the location effect also affects rent increases. Luckily for him, he pays no rent but for his neighbours and colleagues who live in rented apartments and complain of frustrations with draconian landlords, he starting to grasp with the reality on ground. People on the Island pay far more not just in rent but in agency fees. They also have to dole out more cash with the landlord hiding under the weakness of the Tenancy Act to charge two year rentals. Dafe however, doesn’t escape rentals. His Land Use Charge cost him about N15, 000 per annum as his house is considered to be in the “medium” range considering its location.
Nature is often forgotten when people change to a new location but Dafe fortunately did consider nature in choosing his present location. His cousin Tobe’s experience was a startling reminder. Tobe moved to the Island years before and settled beside a former popular beach destination around the Chevron round about. Life was good for the first three years until a major rain that fell a few years ago forced him to abandon his residence for good. He was at work when he got a call from his neighbours that his house was flooded. Believing it wasn’t so serious, he ignored the urgency of the call until a picture was sent to his cell phone. His compounded was flooded and his other car virtually submerged. By the time he got back home, he only just managed to pack his soaked clothes, documents and water proof belongings. His electronics, furniture and even car was not salvageable.
Perception like some say is reality. Markets also view this concept as logical basis for pricing. Electricity bills, water, refuse bins, supermarkets, salons etc. all seemed to cost a lot more on the Island. Things often cost slightly higher on the Island than on the mainland, largely due to the perception that those who live on the Island are richer than most who live on the island.
Other utilities such as water and refuse disposal can also be expensive for those living on the island.
This article originally appeared on Nairametrics on Nov 24, 2013 and has been updated subsequently.