I remember packing the last of my bags, thoroughly done with the UK and ready to move back to Nigeria. Back then, I was excited and a bit apprehensive but determined to not let the horror stories deter me. I wanted to move back and make a difference in the country. However, it dawned on me a few months after, that visiting a country and living in it, are two completely different things.
If you are reading this and thinking of taking the big leap back to Nigeria, or you know anyone planning to relocate home, here are a few tips that will help.
I believe this should be a top priority. Your support system is your lifeline. They will make your landing softer and settling in more bearable. Nigeria can throw situations at you that will blindside you. When this happens, you will need people you can call and cry, rant or even yell if you need to. It’s a type of therapy and I assure you it helps. It also helps to have people that can show you the ropes or just generally help where you’re unsure. You may have lived in Nigeria as a child or visited frequently, but it’s an entirely different life when you move back to live as an adult. If you’re leaving your family behind, make sure you have a few friends in the country that can serve as a support system.
Money saved up
If you’re moving back to live in a big city e.g. Lagos, you will find that sustaining the type of life you had abroad is expensive. If you’re living with family then that would save you money on rent, which is a huge save. If you’re not, you’ll have to make sure you have a least a year’s rent saved up alongside other expenses, e.g. fuel for your generator if you’re not living in a serviced apartment (this can be a huge expense).
Have a plan
Nigeria may or may not throw your plan back in your face 😂, but it’s still good to have one. It’s also a good idea to start executing before you actually land in the country. Start talking to people, making connections, test the waters and if you can afford it, visit more frequently beforehand. Though you may not be fully convinced if you’re constantly one leg in, one leg out, so you may just have to jump and never look back.
Prepare for the culture shock
I braced myself for the obvious things like bad roads and electricity issues. But I was totally unprepared for seemingly little things like grown adults constantly jumping queues and the bad customer service. I didn’t understand our aggression (especially when driving) and it took me a while to realise that Nigerians don’t really mean to be rude, most of them just don’t know better.
Things run differently in Nigeria and you just have to roll with the punches and make the best of every situation. Pick your battles, know when to demand that things be done properly and know when to let things go. I always say if you can live in Nigeria, you can live anywhere else in the world. It’s a peculiar country and its people even more so; asides our sense of humour which is the best I’ve come across, we are the most hardworking, resilient people I know. Our hope is unquenched and contagious, despite our challenges, we celebrate life well, (oh we know how to throw a party) and we make the best of every situation. Also, if you’re tenacious, you’ll find that you truly can make a difference and contribute to the success of a growing economy.
And finally, there’s just no place like home. 🙂