How to get an apartment in Lagos as a freelancer

So you're a young freelancer, creative, or content creator chasing your dreams in Lagos. You've made the vision board, you have the talent, and you’re ready to hustle. You’ve been at it for a while and now it's time to get your personal space or upgrade to a better apartment. 

But there's one hurdle waiting for you: Lagos landlords.

This guide is about how freelancers can navigate the sometimes-tricky world of Lagos house hunting.

The Dream Apartment and the Reality of Young Renters

We've all been there. The excitement of moving, the endless scrolling through property photos sent in the lowest quality on WhatsApp, the Pinterest boards overflowing with interior design inspiration. 

You step out on day 1 with a look of expectancy. Your energy is on another level, but the apartments the agents show you are far from what you want. But they tell you not to worry because the listings for tomorrow will be so much better and they promise you’d love it. Day 2 comes, but still nothing. But you’re still optimistic. After all, you're making big moves. Adulting. 

The agents take you around Lagos and still don't get you the type of apartment you want. It’s either an apartment so ridiculously small that you ask yourself if they intended someone to live there. Or somewhere way above your budget and still inhabitable, but you keep pushing.

Then after weeks, you finally find one apartment that you love, in an area where you want to be, that is within your budget, and ticks all the boxes.

You’re happy. 

But then delays come. The agent is taking too long to get back to you. Time is running out.

And then, the reality hits. 

Finding an apartment in Lagos is tough, but it can be tougher when you're a young, single freelancer.

Landlords often have reservations about tenants who don't fit the traditional mould of the "9-to-5 worker." You might face skepticism, long searches, and even downright rejection, simply because your hustle looks different.

Why Lagos Landlords Might See You Differently

Landlords say they want to do their due diligence, especially because of past experiences. They look for red flags in tenants.  Just as we do our own diligence when it comes to security, basic amenities, and, if you live on the Island, flooding. It's not about you, but rather the perception landlords have. 

Here's a peek into their thought process:

  • Stability Concerns: Lagos landlords often prioritise tenants with seemingly "stable" lives. They think young, single individuals are hardly committed and often transient. They fear they would up and leave at any opportunity, leaving the apartment empty again.
  • The "Yahoo Boy" Stereotype: The unfortunate reality is that the remote work lifestyle can sometimes be misconstrued as involvement in illegal activities. When these landlords see you at home during typical work hours, sitting in front of a laptop. They find it hard to believe that you are actually doing good and hard work.
  • Financial Security Worries: Landlords might worry about freelancers' income consistency, fearing they might struggle to pay rent compared to those with fixed salaries.

Simple tips for finding an apartment in Lagos as a Freelancer 

Finding a place as a freelancer can be frustrating, but remember, it's not your fault. You found the opportunity to work for yourself, to earn your wage on your terms. You found those opportunities and now you need a space where you can create, live comfortably, think well, and do a good job.

Here are some tips to help you navigate the Lagos housing market:

  • Project Professionalism: Don't downplay your hard work. When asked what you do, instead of saying, “I do gigs”, or “I’m a freelancer”, talk about your skills, the services you provide, and the companies you've worked with. Sell yourself as you would to a client, command respect, and show them you're a responsible tenant.
  • The Power of Guarantors: Having a reliable guarantor, like a family member, mentor, or even a past client, can vouch for your character and give landlords peace of mind.
  • Honesty is the Best Policy: Avoid the temptation to lie about your marital status or employment. Some people even go as far as “renting” spouses, forging marriage certificates, and wearing fake wedding rings. Or creating fake business cards and referrals. But it might backfire later. Some landlords go as far as performing company checks to see if you’re a staff member of the company you said you worked at. Building trust is key.
  • Don't Limit yourself to One Agent: Use more than one agent when house hunting. Cast a wider net by asking friends, colleagues, and online communities for recommendations. The more agents you have, the more options you'll find.
  • Think Long-Term: The biggest fear for these landlords is that they won’t get their money on time.  So if you find the perfect place, consider offering a 2-year lease. This shows commitment and gives landlords financial security.
  • Plan Ahead: Don't wait until the last minute. Start searching at least a month before your current rent ends to avoid rushed decisions or settling for subpar options.

You are young, talented, and hardworking. Finding your dream apartment is possible. Try these strategies, and you'll be well on your way to securing a space that reflects your unique lifestyle and fuels your creative journey.

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