Finding an apartment for rent in Lagos on a very low budget is a very difficult task. Ask me, I know. With the experience I’ve had, along with some I’ve heard about, I think I should be able to give you some nuggets if you find yourself doing serious budgeting before you get that apartment.
We all know the Nigerian economy can be very choking, so don’t be surprised to find out that you’re not alone in the bracket of those who sit down and calculate every penny before they go out in search of that apartment. Having a budget ceiling of around N300,000 to N400,000 can be very limiting. But there are a few things you need to know if you’re in this situation.
– What you want to rent determines where you will live (or vice versa). This is the Lagos reality! With N300k, you can hardly get a miniflat in many choice areas (and I’m talking per annum). But if you go to the outskirts (think Ikorodu, Abule Egba, Alagbado), you will get a two bedroom apartment conveniently. See what I mean?
– How long you hope to pay for initially determines how soon you would get that apartment. Fact is, with that kind of budget, you’re probably looking for a one-year rent or, at most, a year and half. Well, another reality in Lagos is that most landlords are not operating under the tenancy law, so do not get any illusions. You fare better looking for the proverbial golden goose than looking for a 1-year rent apartment in Lagos. Ok, it may not really be that difficult but you get the gist. The good thing, however, is that your budget will most likely push you to the outskirt locations where you have a better chance of finding one.
– Doing the search yourself, rather than in magazines or online, is definitely faster. Yes, you can use your favorite property magazine or website to get an idea of what you can find. But don’t really think you’ll get more than that, an idea! If you’re really searching for that cheap apartment, you have to get off your butt and hit the road! Referrals may be good, that is, someone referring you to an agent previously used but they’re not ‘sure-banker’. Open your eyes very well and don’t think you can trust them because you trust the person who referred them. They’re often after one thing only – their own commission! Don’t get any illusions. And that takes us to the next point.
– A financial backup guarantees you’ll get what YOU LIKE. The emphasis here is intentional. You’ll find a number of apartments within your budget range, whether for a year rent or two (depending on what and where) but the ones you’ll really like will most likely be outside your budget. Accountable for this is the extra fee you’ll have to pay for ‘agreement’, ‘commission’ and ‘damages’. You may think an apartment of N130,000 is affordable for a 2-year rent but when you factor in a 30-30-20 for these fees, the total package jumps to N340,000 instead of N260,000, and this is still probably ‘one of those apartments’. Now, your beloved apartment may cost about N180,000 per year but be sure that you’ll most likely have to pay for two years and the fees will be more like 50-50-30! Yea, it could be that crazy. Budget backup will be the best idea in these cases, trust me.
– Never let the agent convince you to rent. Realistically, your choices are seriously limited. Let’s face the truth, you’re not in the position to pick and choose. This doesn’t mean you just have to accept any place but just know that there’s a limit to how choosy you can be and except you’re not really pressed to move, you must be realistic with the options you get. One thing you shouldn’t do, however, is let the agent decide for you! They’re all about the deal going through as soon as possible, so they’ll say anything to make you rent a shack if they have to.
Well, these points should help you on your way to get that cheap apartment. And to cap it all up, you can never be too careful, especially when it comes to payment. Make all necessary checks and never rush to pay! It’s better to lose the apartment than lose the little cash you’ve gathered for it.