A lot of people swear that Abuja has a lot of things going for it. I mean, it should — it’s the nation’s capital. That’s a decent claim to fame too. I was curious about how money moves in the city, so I asked 7 people living there to talk about their expenses.
1. Patrick, 31 years
“Abuja is peaceful. I grew up in Lagos and worked there for a while, but I don’t miss it. “
Years lived in Abuja: 5 years. I moved here in 2015
Occupation: Product Designer
Monthly income: ₦600k. My side hustle brings in an additional ₦100k – ₦500k once in a few months.
Feeding: ₦70k. I cook a lot, so I spend about ₦40k on the major food supplies every month. I spend an additional ₦30k on groceries and beverages.
Accommodation: ₦1.3m for a 3-bedroom bungalow in an estate in Lokogama, and I get the compound to myself. I pay an additional ₦100k service charge yearly.
A 2-bedroom bungalow in one of the newer estates in the area cost ₦1.4m. But you can also get a 2-bedroom apartment in a building for about ₦700k.
Transportation: ₦0.00. I work remotely and hardly go out. Save for my evening strolls, I spend my days inside my house.
Utilities: ₦30k. ₦20k goes to my power bill every month. My service charge covers waste disposal. My laundry is outsourced and runs into ₦10k every month.
Flex: This depends on the month, but I budget ₦10k-₦15k per month on alcohol, and I treat myself to grilled fish and Sharwama at least once every week and on days I get some money from a minor gig. I rarely go to the club, but I spent close to ₦90k the last time I went.
Savings: I save between ₦150k – ₦300k in a month.
2. Deborah, 29 years
“I love living in Abuja. Although I have to admit that it’s a hard city to make it in. There aren’t many opportunities, so you’ve got to be creative to secure the bag. I’ve been here for three years now, and I plan to stay a little longer.”
Years lived in Abuja: 3+ years. I’m originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but I moved to Abuja from Paris in 2017 for an internship and ended up not leaving.
I also run a food business on the side.
Annual income: It boils down to the number of contacts I’m able to secure in a year. In a good year, I make ₦5M-₦6M. But it hasn’t been a good year in what feels like forever — I made approximately ₦2.5M in 2020.
My food delivery business brings in ₦100k-₦200k monthly, so that too.
Feeding: ₦50k-₦70k. I love good food. I’m big on buying quality ingredients to make my gourmet meals. But since food prices have skyrocketed, I’ve been fasting.
Rent: My rent is on the high side. I pay ₦3.4M for a semi-furnished 2-bedroom flat in Asokoro. I’m in the process of moving and looking to find a 1-bedroom apartment that won’t cost me more than ₦2M.
Transportation:₦10k-₦12k. I’m always at home, but when I go out, I use Uber for the most part. My trips are between ₦500 and ₦700, and I spend some ₦2k-₦3k on moving around weekly.
Utilities: Power bill is a madness! I used to pay ₦15k every month, but now it’s ₦30k, even though I’ve reduced my power consumption. The cost of other utilities is included in my rent. I have a washing machine for my laundry needs.
Internet: ₦5k per month.
Flexing: I love travelling back home to the DRC, and I do it at least once a year. The cost of doing this runs into $3000.
3. Fadila, 28 years
“I enjoy living in Abuja a lot. I would hate to move.”
Years lived in Abuja: 2 years
Occupation: Executive Assistant
Monthly income: ₦85k
Feeding: I currently don’t have a food budget. I’m in a situationship with a guy who owns a big eatery/supermarket, so I get breakfast, lunch and dinner delivered to me every day. Before I met him, I was averaging ₦20k on food.
Accommodation: I pay ₦400k for a self-contained apartment in Kubwa. It’s possible to get a good self-contained apartment here for ₦200k. ₦150k is doable too, but you might not get what you want. If you’re really about comfort, a rent budget of ₦200k-₦500k will do.
Transportation: ₦16k. A co-worker drives me to work and drops me off at home every day, and I pay him ₦10k. The other transportation expenses go into cabs and uber rides.
Utilities: I pay ₦15k service charge every month, and it covers power, laundry, and cleaning.
Flexing: That’s never on my dime. There’s always someone ready to take care of that.
Savings: I’m a big saver. I save ₦25k from my salary. I get a lot of cash gifts too, and I mostly save all of it.
4.Teju, 26 years
“I love Abuja. There’s hardly any stress. I honestly can’t live anywhere else in Nigeria. I moved here from Lagos… Lagos is hell.”
Years lived in Abuja: 4 years. I came to Abuja in 2016 for NYSC and didn’t leave.
Monthly income: ₦500k
Accommodation: Accommodation is the biggest problem in Abuja. I currently pay ₦500k for a very tiny room and parlour in Gwarinpa. The room is so small that it can only fit my TV and bed. The kitchen can only take my gas cooker. My refrigerator and wardrobe stay in the parlour.
I’m moving to a bigger space in Kado — a room and parlour, and the rent is ₦1M.
Transportation: ₦30k-₦40k. I drive sometimes, but I don’t buy more than ₦4k worth of fuel at a go. My friend fills my tank sometimes. I take Ubers on days I don’t drive, and my trips in a day can run into ₦4k-₦5k.
Utilities: ₦13K. I pay ₦3k per months as service charge, and it covers waste disposal, security, and all of that. A lady comes to clean my house twice a week, and I pay her ₦10k every month. I have a washing machine for laundry.
Flex: I don’t have a budget for this. I’m a homebody, and when I do go out, I hardly pay for it.
Savings: ₦150k-₦200k. I’m frugal, so I manage to save that every month. But the thing is, I buy things on impulse. I can wake up one morning, dip into my savings and splurge on a purchase. I’ve started saving in Dollars, and it’s helped me curtail this.
5. Gbenga, 25 years
“Abuja is a very nice city if you can afford it. Otherwise, it’s just another Lagos with wider roads.”
Years lived in Abuja: It’s my second month here. I got a new job and relocated in January 2021
Occupation: Policy analyst
Monthly income: ₦300k
Feeding: I spent about ₦30k on food last month. Most of it went into buying lunch at restaurants. On average, a meal cost me ₦1k – ₦1.5k, although I did try some Bukas that cost ₦500 or less.
I like to cook, but I haven’t had the chance to do a lot of it because I’m still trying to figure out the markets here. I’m budgeting ₦50k for food next month, but I expect that the cost of feeding will drop in subsequent months as I get more used to the city.
Accommodation: I got a mini flat for ₦400k in Dutse-Alhaji.It’s about 40 minutes away from work, but I think it’s fair. Getting a place closer would mean paying as high as ₦800k.
It’s easy to get a self-contained apartment in the area for ₦250k-₦300k. The price of mini-flat ranges from ₦300k and ₦500k, depending on how neat and “modern” the house is.
Transportation: I work in Maitaima, and commute has been a little tricky. I combine “Along” (the public transportation system) with drops/Uber. In the last month, I spent ₦25k on moving around. I’ve estimated my transportation cost to be ₦30k per month, but I would have to limit using Uber/Bolt to once a week.
Utilities: Nothing on that front yet. I’m currently enjoying my first-month benefits. I do my laundry myself.
Flex: I like food a lot, so I put an extra ₦15k aside to try one or two restaurants.
Savings: ₦50k. But now that my apartment is sorted, I plan to start saving at least ₦70k every month.
6. Esther, 24 years
“Abuja is amazing. The traffic is good and the people here are friendlier. Lagos people are always angry.”
Years lived in Abuja: 3 years.
Occupation: Procurement officer
Monthly income: ₦100k
Feeding: About ₦25k monthly. I spend ₦4k-5k₦ on food every week. I also spend an extra ₦5k on provisions and beverages — these are the things I fall back on when I’ve squandered my feeding money.
Accommodation: Accommodation cost die! I pay ₦250k for a room and bathroom in Lugbe, and that’s because my landlord is super nice. I don’t even have a kitchen.
On average, the price of a room self-contained apartment ranges from ₦250k to ₦400k in Lugbe. You will get a kitchen if you’re lucky. A room and parlour cost between ₦500k-₦700k. For a 2-bedroom apartment, you can expect to pay at least ₦1M and up to ₦2M.
Transportation: ₦20k. I spend about ₦900 moving around every day. This runs into about ₦5k every week. I mostly use “Along” — the public transportation system. If I do Bolt/Uber rides, I spend up to ₦30k.
Utilities: I pay between ₦2500 to ₦5000 per month on power bills. This is because my landlord is super nice and my power consumption is pretty low.
Flexing: This is pretty much vibes and inshallah. I don’t have a budget for it.
Savings: It’s hard to save. I’m struggling to find a balance. I’m working on putting ₦25k asides every month. I currently have ₦20k in an investment company. At some point, I had ₦300k with them but here we are now. This money thing is tricky but shoutout to my friends, sugar daddies, brothers, parents, and grandma for always coming through.
7. Tife, 30 years
“Abuja has evolved over the years, but it’s still not a stressful place to live and transportation is cheap. The number 1 rule to survive in Abuja? Learn Hausa.”
Years Lived in Abuja: 25 years. My parents moved from Lagos in 1994 when Babangida transferred civil servants here.
Occupation: Digital Producer
Monthly income: ₦300k gross
Feeding: ₦30k-₦40k. I live with my retired parents and the only major provider. I buy food supplies in bulk at the beginning of each month. My budget used to be ₦20k, but Covid happened and affected the price of everything.
Accommodation: I live with my parents. They bought a 3-bedroom apartment in Life Camp from the government when Obasanjo was the president.
Transportation: ₦15k. I mostly move around with “Along.”
Utilities: I pay ₦10k every two weeks for power. ₦5k every month for the water bill, although they just bring a huge bill without checking the metre. Fortunately, the waste bill comes once every 6 months, and I just give them ₦5k. My laundry costs run into ₦10k per month, but I’m planning to buy a washing machine.
Flexing: Hard to put a figure to this. Once I take care of my basic expenses, savings, and black tax, whatever remains is for vibes.
Savings: I put ₦15k in my emergency savings and ₦50k in my Piggyvest fixed deposit account. I recently started saving an extra ₦100k aside for trips with my girls. I’m frugal with money, so it works out.