Articles
February 10, 2024

What to Look For When Choosing An Apartment

This article explains several key factors one has to consider when seeking a property to rent in Lagos.

What to Look For When Choosing An Apartment

House hunting in Nigeria can be a challenging experience, with various obstacles to navigate. Whether it's dealing with competitive offers or unprofessional agents, finding the right apartment can be a daunting task. In this article, we have compiled a list of factors to consider before committing to a rental agreement.

Affordability

It's important to find a house that fits within your budget. Overspending on rent can lead to financial strain, so it's crucial to be mindful of your financial limitations. On one hand, avoid the temptation to pay extra for extra features if you can avoid especially if the features add little value to improve the property. For example, presence of a feature wall for the TV that is leading to an increase in rent by 20% when compare to similar properties.

On the other hand, do not walk away from high quality properties simply because ‘agent was rude’ or the walls were unpainted. This shouldn’t be deal breakers as the agent usually has no access or control over the property once the transaction is complete or tasks like painting can be done at your convenience.

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Location

Consider the proximity of the apartment to essential areas such as your workplace, school, and market. Additionally, factor in the indirect costs associated with commuting, as a long commute can have a significant impact on your overall well-being.

One of the overlooked factors when considering location is proximity to frequent areas of interest like workplace and the indirect costs associated with it. For instance, it might make sense to get a one bedroom apartment in Mowe, Ogun state when your office is in Lekki, but when you factor in 4-8 hours of commuting time and having to leave home 4am every working day, you might need to ask yourself if that is a wise decision?

Choosing Mowe, Ogun state might make sense as rent in such locations are generally more affordable, but these benefits are eroded by the high cost and distance of transportation as well as the toll it takes one’s mental health.

Believe sterotypes: certain areas have bad reputations and while the reasons might be exaggerated, they are usually true. You don’t want to live in Mushin when you drive a Porche or in Ikorodu when you know you make a lot of late night movement.

Amenities

Identify your essential needs, such as a kitchen or other specific amenities, and ensure that the apartment meets these requirements. Don't settle for a place that doesn't cater to your basic needs.

Pay attention to kitchen and bathrooms. For these you are looking at the following:

  • Water in both spaces
  • Presence of tiles in bathroom: do not rent a property without tiles in the bathroom no matter how sexy the wall has been painted. 
  • Cabinets in the kitchen: ignore the pressure to believe they don’t matter as they eventually do.
  • Quality of faucets
  • Water pressure in both spaces

Other questions you need to find answers to include:

  • What is the water condition in the vicinity? For instance, most areas on the island have very bad water. Haap also knows of a property at Shomolu (in Lagos mainland) where a single 3000 liters tank was used to service 30 units of studio and miniflats with an average of 2 persons per unit. 
  • What is the condition of power? Lagos state has a list of the tariff and number of hours per day for different vicinities with some areas like Magodo and Ogudu GRA getting up to 24hours daily and other areas like Satellite town averaging between 6-12hours daily. There is also the issue of whether the property is pre-paid or post paid. Haap will advice you do not take a post paid property as it can lead to a lack of transparency and a possibility of being disconnected for flimsy reasons.
A rule of thumb is to be wary of any property that the agent keeps pressuring you to pay for.

Utilities

Clarify whether the rent includes utilities such as water and electricity, or if these costs are separate. Understanding the full scope of expenses will help you make an informed decision.

Haap currently has a 2 bedroom under management in Yaba where power alone costs an average of N200,000 naira monthly ($200); total utility costs around N3,000,000 ($3,000) per annum. This is quite ironic as rent within the vicinity has an average price of N2,000,000 naira.

Safety and Security

Prioritize your safety by thoroughly assessing the security of the neighborhood. Don't solely rely on the agent's assurances; conduct your own background checks to ensure the area is safe.

Safety also means ensuring the area is not along pipelines or powerlines or that is is not along a canal. Properties within these areas are prone to demolition under short notice or worse, extreme hazards that could lead to loss of properties or lives - or both.

Personal Inspection

Never commit to renting an apartment without personally inspecting the property. Seeing the place for yourself will prevent any potential disappointments or discrepancies.

The reasons for inspection is to:Ensure the property actually exists: Haap was informed of someone that went to inspect a property and found out it was in a completely different location from where he’d preferred. And to make matters worse, the property was unavailable.Ensure the pictures match what is in the propertyTo ascertain that most of the other factors are met up.

In conclusion, it's essential to consider all of these factors when choosing an apartment in Nigeria. By being mindful of these considerations, you can make a well-informed decision and find the right apartment for your needs. It's important to remember that a great house in a poor location can still be a bad investment, so it's crucial to take all of these factors into account when making your decision.