So you’ve just made that big time career move, or you have returned home after several years working outside the country and it’s time to embrace the bright lights of the Island. Congratulations, you are now ready to become an Island Boy/Girl. So where do you move to?
1. Banana Island
“CALL FOR PRICE” is what real estate agents usually place on adverts for vacancies on Banana Island, and with good reason. Your typical 2-bedroom apartment on Banana Island starts from N7m and can go as high as N20m per annum. This after all, is by far and away Nigeria’s most exclusive neighbourhood.
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Built on a stretch of land reclaimed from the Lagos Lagoon just off the coast of Ikoyi, Banana Island is where the Nigerian super rich live and raise their families. The residents’ register on this rarefied bit of land reads like a Who’s Who of Nigerian business, entertainment and politics – a Mike Adenuga here, a Femi Otedola there, a Sayyu Dantata on the next street, a Linda Ikeji around the corner, and PSquare down the road.
For all its excellent infrastructure and prestigious location, one constant complaint about Banana Island is the fact that it is, well, boring. The flipside of being located on a super-secure private island off the coast an already exclusive neighbourhood is that there really isn’t much to do here. Of course, if you can afford to live here, then a quick drive or Uber ride to Victoria Island and Lekki should not be a problem.
2. Victoria Island
This is “the” original highbrow area of Lagos. Built by the British colonial administration as an exclusive colonial residential area, VI has slowly become to Lagos what Manhattan is to New York – the city’s most important business district.
Most of the original colonial architecture no longer exists, having been sold and demolished to make way for several commercial skyscrapers and retail developments. The relatively few accommodation openings left on Victoria Island are mostly made up of high rise developments like the popular 1004 Estate, and a few dozen colonial style houses which are still standing.
Typically, for a 2-bedroom apartment in this part of Lagos, you should budget anything from N3m to N11m annually. VI Extension/Oniru offers a slight reduction on this, with comparable accommodation starting from N1.5m, but there is a noticeable quality drop-off when surrounding infrastructure and amenities are taken into account.
VI offers the most varied nightlife experience in Lagos, with hundreds of themed restaurants, bars, and nightclubs in addition to several 5-star hotels.
For the professional working in VI, living here is the ultimate social status symbol, which comes with increased quality of life and more access to powerful individuals who also live here.
3. Eko Atlantic City
Despite still being under construction, this is already the most oversubscribed real estate development in Lagos, with practically all available land (including land not yet reclaimed) snapped up by investors and businesses. At $5000 per square metre, buying land here is not cheap, and renting will also be decidedly stratospheric.
The Eko Pearl Towers are the City’s biggest residential development, with 2 of the planned 5 towers already completed. A 3-bedroom flat at the Black Pearl Tower or the Champagne Pearl Tower is currently only available for sale and starts from N160,000,000. In return for this eye-watering expenditure, you get the benefit of Africa’s first truly world class, modern city.
Eko Atlantic offers a centralized system for all its services including water, sewage treatment and electricity. What this means is that you will never see a sewage disposal truck, a borehole, a water tanker, a fuel tanker or a generator anywhere within the City because all these services have been built into the city from the ground up.
The roads are wide and excellently paved, with wide sidewalks and covered street drainage, and more than 7,000 trees have been planted around the city to provide much needed greenery. The City masterplan features a luxury Marina, a CBD, residential districts, schools, medical facilities and everything else you could want from where you call home.
The only downside to Eko Atlantic is the sheer cost of moving in here. If you can afford it, then don’t think about it.
4. Lekki Phase 1
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Lekki Phase 1, which is equally loved and loathed for various reasons. Critics describe it as an overrated neighbourhood with awful roads and terrible drainage which floods every time it rains. Others describe it as the home of “new money” – boisterous, unpolished Johnny-Come-Lately’s who have finally scraped together enough money to move to “The Island” after scoring one big contract or working abroad for decades – who cannot wait to show off their newfound status.
Regardless of what some may think of it, Lekki Phase 1 has become an important commercial district as well as a welcome avenue to decongest the crowded central districts of the Island. This area has a selection of bars and restaurants that is second only to VI in Lagos, in addition to several nightclubs, strip malls, a boat club and a 4-screen IMAX Cinema.
If you can find away to get around the niggly flooding issue, the N1.5m you will spend on annual rent for a 2-bedroom apartment will be money well spent.
Unlike its super rich cousin Banana Island, Ikoyi is merely very rich. How so? Well, a 2 bedroom apartment on Gerard Rd will set you back about N16m annually for starters. If you venture out into “Old Ikoyi” which is nearer to Obalende, this figure comes down to about N2.5m, alongside a steep quality decline in terms of noise pollution, air quality and road quality.
Living in Ikoyi comes with all of the social perks of living on Victoria Island, with only the 400m Falomo Bridge separating the two prosperous areas. Unlike VI, much of Ikoyi’s colonial architecture remains untouched, and it retains a lot of greenery, which is one area that the Island generally does poorly in. It offers very close proximity to the fun and lights of Victoria Island, plus the added boon of a private bridge linking it to the newer lights and fun of Admiralty Rd in Lekki Phase 1.