Your Move to Lagos
BEFORE YOU LEAVE...
ADVANCE MEDICAL REQUIREMENTS
It is best to consult your personal/company physician well in advance of your expatriation. You will be advised on the appropriate inoculations for Nigeria, but keep in mind that a full course of shots can take several weeks. Yellow Fever is the only vaccination mandated by the Nigerian authorities; other frequently recommended vaccinations include Tetanus, Hepatitis (A & B), Typhoid, Polio and Meningitis. Children who have not already been vaccinated against TB should be given B.C.G. Cholera vaccinations may be required if coming from an infected area, irrespective of the effectiveness of such vaccines. Lagos is considered a malarial high-risk area and most foreigners take some form of malarial prophylactic. These usually need to be taken a week before arrival and continued several weeks after departure. Again, consult your doctor for advice well in advance of your departure.
To bring a pet into Nigeria, you must obtain an import permit from the Nigerian government. Ten days before departure, you must get a health certificate and documentation of rabies (for dogs) and other shots from your veterinarian. If a pet is brought in without the necessary documents, the pet can be detained and a fine can be assessed. Contact the Nigerian Consulate for more information. Note that some airlines do not accept animals on certain flights. An approved cage with provision for food and water is required, and some vets recommend tranquilizers for the pet during the journey. If traveling with your pet, ensure that all original paperwork (i.e. import license) is carried with you.
WHAT TO PACK AND WHAT NOT TO PACK
This is a highly subjective and personal topic with no consensus between individuals or families! Some people bring container-loads of household and personal effects; others make do with a few suitcases. There is really very little you cannot get in Lagos if you are willing to look for it and to pay the price. If at all possible, talk to a like-minded expatriate resident of Lagos before you pack-out. There is not much point in a health-food couple with no children talking to a junk food family of five.
Bring summer wear, mostly casual (cotton and washable). There are several dry cleaners but the quality is not suitable for very expensive clothes. Imported ready-made clothes are difficult to find and are expensive. Tailors and fabrics are abundant. Most of the tailors prefer to copy clothes but they also know how to use patterns. Plan on bringing all the shoes you are likely to need before your next trip home. It is also worth considering a supply of quality underwear.
There are a number of black-tie, formal activities in Lagos. If you choose to attend, you should bring a few formal dresses (simple ones can be made locally) or a summer suit/tuxedo. Ski holidays in Europe are a popular trip with many expatriates. Bring warm clothes if you plan to travel to cold weather places from Nigeria. Also sometimes in highly air-conditioned places you might want to wear a light jacket or sweater.
Things to consider bringing:
- Baby items. Rash creams, safety equipment and baby gates. Baby formula, bottle liners and nipples (teats) if you chose not to breast-feed. Diapers (nappies) are available but very expensive.
- Children's items. Supply of children's medicines. Videos and books. Large toys (floor easel, slides, bikes, houses, etc.) can all be purchased locally but are very expensive, as are children's birthday gifts. Educational toys are scarce.
- All appliances purchased here will be 220 volts. Step-down/step-up converters and stabilizers are available at local stores. A 110-volt power strip and 3-to-2 prong adaptor work well with a step-down unit.
- Good quality sheets and towels (although sheeting fabric is available), lightweight duvets.
- Ziploc bags (all sizes) and heavy duty foil.
- Holiday and seasonal items (Christmas, Halloween, Chinese New Year, etc.)
- There is a serious problem with counterfeit medicines. Also, imported medical products, if genuine, are very expensive. Bring all over-the-counter and prescription drugs that you might need including malarial prophylactics, cold medicines, and allergy relief.
- Pharmacy items: bug spray and sunscreen, anti-bacterial wipes, contact lens solution, favorite cosmetics and hair color (only black is largely available).
- Prescription for glasses.
- Plenty of passport photos.
- Reference books, such as dictionary and thesaurus.
- If you are an avid reader you might want to bring a supply of books. If you read anything other than English, this is particularly true.
- Even though there are several good vets here there is not always a supply of medicines and vaccinations.
- Sports clothes, shoes and equipment: Bring all that you will need, although tailors can copy your favorite clothes. If you are a tennis player, be sure to bring whites, as they are required in some clubs. If you are a golfer you will need polo type shirts with sleeves and long, tailored shorts.
- Most of the walls in houses and apartments (flats) are constructed of concrete. This makes hanging pictures almost impossible with nails or conventional hooks. There are, however, hooks made especially for concrete walls and they work very well. They are not available in Lagos.
What not to bother bringing:
- Furnishings (including curtains) are most easily made-to-order locally.
- Most routine electrical appliances are available, although expensive compared to U.S. prices.
- Furniture. Quality, ready-made furniture is very limited. However, there are many shops specializing in custom-made furniture of wood, wrought iron, rattan and cane. Wood furniture is very expensive and not always properly seasoned, wrought iron less expensive and rattan and cane is cheap and can be used throughout the house.
- Plastic containers are manufactured in Nigeria in many sizes and varieties. Most are adequate. Same applies to picnic-ware.
- Expensive jewelry.