Eko for show is not an idea that exists abstractly. There is a definite idea that in order to be a true Lagosian, one must be able to groove and mix at the highest levels of the Lagos cool-kid fraternity. Given that Lagos is home to some of the wealthiest people on the entire continent, this can present quite a challenge to the working guy or gal who is not struggling but still living on a budget.
How To Live The Premium Lagos Lifestyle On A Budget
If you are one of such aspiring cool kids of Lagos, this article outlines how you can carry yourself in the manner that gets you the invites to those exclusive parties and access to at least the Quilox VIP crowd, if not quite the yacht crowd.
Disclaimer: This article is written with tongue firmly in cheek. Application of any of the advice or recommendations given here is 100% at your own risk.
The first thing you need to do is get a decent, well-maintained mid-level sedan to whisk you around the city in comfort. It does not have to be a Jaguar or a BMW – a 2010 Toyota Camry or a 2011 Honda Accord will do the trick. The secret that carmakers do not want you to know is that whether you drive an S-Class Mercedes Benz or a Kia Rio, it is essentially the same thing.
The ‘luxury’ features you think you are paying for are generally standard, and what you are paying for is actually the brand. When you pay N11m for a BMW, what you are buying is the feeling of being a BMW driver, and not the car itself, which is objectively worth a small fraction of that amount. Everything it can do can also be done by a bog standard N1.2m Camry. Aesthetically pleasing exterior? Check. Comfortable temperature controlled seats? Check. Powerful air conditioning system? Check. Lots of space and legroom? Check.
Great acceleration and cruising speed? Check. (After all, you’re not likely to ever go above 130km/h consistently in a place like Lagos, so the extra on top makes little or no difference.) Sexy interior with a nice cockpit, cup holders, armrests and sunroof? Double check. When you roll up to a popular bar or nightclub at 11PM, the aerodynamic Honda Accord and the aerodynamic Lexus ES look the same to the watching multitude.
It is important to remember that despite all pretensions to the contrary, the vast majority of people who live and work in Lagos are still objectively very poor, and thus unable to tell moderate comfort from luxury. Just having a car at all probably puts you somewhere in the top 10th percentile of this city’s population. For added pizazz, if you have the budget for it, you can hire a driver for as little as N30,000/month.
The next thing you need to do is find a befitting home to become your Lagos Big Boy/Girl base. You need not spend N2.5m a year to rent a flat in 1004 Estate – there are several cost-effective accommodation substitutes.
One area you definitely want to take a look at is Gbagada. Located just next to 3rd Mainland Bridge and a 15-minute drive away from Ikoyi, it affords you the opportunity to do all your Island flexing without paying through your nose for Island digs. A budget of N600,000 should be sufficient to get you a comfortable flat somewhere between Gbagada Phase II and Iyana-Oworo, which is just a hop and a skip away from 3rd Mainland.
The roads are passable but not excellent, which is par for the course in Lagos. When you find the suitable place, you should budget about N90,000 to fix it up to your standard. This should cover a fresh coat of paint, plumbing and electrical work and decoration. A further N50,000 on a used 1HP split unit AC for your living room will not go amiss. This helps your occasional Island-based visitor feel comfortable after venturing briefly away from the security of their usual habitat.
When you’re done getting the car and the flat, the next thing you need to do is change your wardrobe. Away with the striped button-downs, the faded jeans and the forgettable, generic sneakers. What you need now is Trad. Lots of sexy, new-age Instagram-type Trad that makes you look like the Lagos socialite you are. No one needs to know that you did not buy this kaftan from Yomi Casual for N120,000. You instead buy the material for N6,000 and have Godwin your trusty local tailor make it for N11,000. Same difference.
Nobody will know that your Nike Air Yeezy Boost sneakers are not $400 originals ordered from Amazon, but N6,500 knockoffs from Balogun market. When you get down from your chauffeur-driven black Toyota Camry 2012 to take an early morning jog on Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge in your knockoff Yeezys, you will look the same as the bloke coming out of his chauffeur-driven BMW to jog in his $600 special-edition Yeezys. The imitations are specifically made to ensure that no one can tell them apart. And so you will do for your whole wardrobe, raiding Balogun and Obalende markets to find the most striking, beautiful items of clothing and footwear, which you will buy and rebrand with your Lagos Big Boy/Girl aura.
So now you have the house, the car and the wardrobe, which leaves only one thing – the arm candy. There are few things that can validate a wannabe Lagos socialite like snagging a genuine social blue blood. If you are a woman, this will be substantially easier, as there is no shortage of upwardly mobile eligible gentlemen willing to hit on an attractive woman in Lagos. In fact the problem women face in this scenario is one of quality control, making sure that social climbing grifters or pathological womanizers do not make it past the selection process.
Once that is done, the process of upward social mobility is complete. For a man however, the picture is much more complicated, but nothing that a few nights hanging out at the exclusive Island hangout spots will not fix. In the absence of copious amounts of money to ease the wooing process, all you have to do is find your angle and exploit it. Are you funny, or do you know how to hold a conversation? Feminine attention beckons!
Congratulations! You have attained the position of Lagos Big Boy/Girl!
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