Lagos and Abuja are two starkly different cities. They are usually put up side by side to draw contrasts between what a city should or shouldn’t be like. For many, Lagos is chaos personified, riddled with unending traffic jams, and loud, overpopulated streets but also teeming with a vibrant creative scene and a constant stream of real-life drama. Abuja on the other hand is known for its broad, quiet streets, its gentler way of life and a sense, despite being the nation’s capital, that nothing ever really happens. All of which is perfect for someone looking for a calmer way of life. So what does it look like when someone who is used to the vibrant chaos of living in Lagos moves to Abuja?
In this piece, some Nigerians share their experience of moving to Abuja from Lagos and some of the things they didn’t anticipate before relocating. But also, they paint a diverse picture of what it’s like to live in one of the country’s calmest cities.
I moved to Abuja in 2022 due to the stress of living in Lagos. Finding an apartment in Abuja wasn’t easy but much more manageable than Lagos house hunting. Although rent prices are almost the same price with Lagos, except you want to stay in low-cost neighborhood like Gwagwalada, Iyanya etc. One of the first things I didn’t anticipate before moving to Abuja is classism. People rate you based on where you stay. Another one is how calm it is here, I’d usually shout in Lagos to change it for people anytime but here, you would look crazy if you did that. And this is because they expect it to be something you can settle quietly without shouting. The roads here are also very good and very neat. When you go to residential areas, it’s so calm you can hear a pin drop. But I like some of the busy areas like Gwarimpa where I stay because it gives me a healthy balance food is not as expensive.
I moved to Abuja in January 2023. NYSC prompted my decision to move but even before youth service, I was already planning on moving far away from home before the end of 2023. Relocating to Abuja wasn't so bad, my partner stays here, so accommodation wasn't so difficult for me, I stayed with them until I was able to get a space at the Corper's lodge where I currently stay. I will be finishing service by December/January, and it worries me whenever I think about accommodation. Finding a decent place at an affordable rate is very hard in Abuja. One of the things I didn’t really anticipate before moving here was the free flow of traffic, of course, sometimes there's a hold-up, but the roads are accessible and wide enough to accommodate cars and people actually obey traffic lights. Then there are the 24-hour supermarkets, I didn't know that was a thing in Nigeria. Things are expensive to an extent though, but with the current economy, I'm sure everywhere is just as expensive. I also didn't take into account how independent I would become, I mean I normally like to take care of my things myself but it can get really overwhelming sometimes and I just wish I was a child again.
I relocated to Abuja in August 2021 I had to move for my national youth service. I remember being so psyched because it meant I would leave home and start living on my own. One thing I didn’t anticipate before my move here was the traffic-jam free roads! I can get to places in 5 to 15 minutes! Also, there are a bunch of 24-hour supermarkets, you can go out at 2 a.m. and get stuff, which is exciting for me.
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