April 20, 2024


Serving the university community

Travails of off-campus living

Njoku Eunuice Ona, Odefemi Olaide Dorothy, Nkanga Akaninyene Effiong, Otomewo Oritsejolomi Joshua

Acquiring university education has for some time now become the greatest aspiration of most young people. An opportunity to be trained by a reputable institution like University of Lagos (UNILAG) would no doubt be a no-brainer for anybody seeking quality education. A school whose name is now synonymous with excellence, often rings a bell when mentioned alongside  the pleasant feeling and pride of being tagged an “Akokite”. 

Or is the dream of becoming an alumnus so alluring that a candidate is often tempted to play-down the importance of assessing and considering the constraints that affect a smooth studying experience in UNILAG?

You see, there are a few things you should know if you are looking for a house in Lagos. First, they are expensive. Second, houses around tertiary institutions are neckbreaking expensive. Third, accommodation around UNILAG is grave-digging expensive. 

Let us explain, a standard apartment in UNILAG goes for about 500k upwards.This is not to say that you cannot get a self con for about 250k-300k. In fact, it comes with its own inhouse pool. But if this pool happens to be the lagoon waters flooding your rooms and gracing the streets, oh well nature just got closer to you. 

While the high cost of accommodation is a notable concern, it is far from the only one. Bills payments is one important thing to note. You literally pay for everything, from light to waste disposal, to security, to breathing.

 Okay the last part was an exaggeration but you sure get the drill. These bills can be quite outrageous too. For example, a single room in a face-me-I-face you apartment can attract a 5k electricity bill each month if estimated billing is used. Maybe we’ll talk about the noise from generators some day. 

Then there are the problems associated with transport in Lagos. The farther you live away from school, the more expensive transportation becomes. The bad roads are no help either or the lack of transport vehicles when you need them the most, especially at night which results in high fare hike as the transporters gladly take advantage of the desperation of Lagosians trying to get home on time.

Faulty vehicles breaking down at the worst of times with no mechanic in close range often lead to forfeiting fare paid, and boarding another vehicle to get to class or home on time, leads to outspending transport fare budget. 

We cannot conclude the transport palaver without talking about the monster called Lagos traffic waiting for you every single day. The crazy traffic, often met during rush hours, is a major contributing factor to Lagos transport price hike. The traffic is often unpredictable and no matter how we try to beat it, we end up late to class, sometimes making us seem unserious with our schooling. 

Apart from that, the distance from school and unpredictability of Lagos traffic makes it almost impossible to meet up impromptu tests or assignment submissions. So guess whose CGPA suffers. The stress of commuting makes it quite a challenge to rest properly and read adequately. 

Did we forget to talk about security challenges? We wouldn’t have done right if we did. For example, frequent clashes between cult groups around YABATECH- Jibowo axis has been life threatening and discouraging. The security risk of boarding ‘one-chance’ vehicles early in the morning in a bid to beat traffic also exists. Also the likelihood of being pickpocketed or robbed in transit is a fear we deal with every single day. 

Just in case you are considering staying off campus for the few advantages it has, here are a few tips we have gathered from our experience:

  1. When searching for a place, ensure to check for and ask about: Water leakage, flooding, light bills {are there leftover bills? Who will pay them?}, the road accessibility {Will you wade through rivers just to get home?}. Ventilation and lighting, network!
  1. Take your financial planning seriously and keep track of your expenses.. At the beginning of the month, separate your bills payments from your regular spending money. If possible, label them and have a separate purse or bag for them. You don’t want to go into debts with the most important things not being attended to.
  1. Work on your time management else you will be late to class every time. Having a realistic and flexible schedule is one thing that helps. Another thing that works is labelled alarms. Don’t just set an alarm for 4pm, you might forget what you were meant to do. Specific labels like: ‘Do your MAS 215 assignment now!’ can go a long way.
  1. Utilize your traffic time. You can spend up to three hours in traffic each day depending on where you’re coming from. So, why not use that time to do something else and reduce the long list of things you have to do when you get home?   For example, you could do research for an assignment, catch some sleep at your own risk though. 
  1. Be extra security conscious. Be watchful of the vehicles you board, if possible go in pairs. Let someone know where you are at all times. As much as possible, try not to leave school with a low battery if you can, so you can be reached at all times. Keep all your senses alert. But don’t sleep in traffic,if you feel drowsy, make sure your valuables are tucked in a safe place in such a way that you can sense unwanted movement.
  1. Find time to rest. Ensure you really rest. You need all the energy you can get.
  1. Last but not the least, invest in earphones, those things are lifesavers, but remember to pause your music when crossing the road. And still shine your eyes, because this is Lagos.

So to live off campus or not? Our answer will be to choose your poison.

Or well let UNILAG choose if for you,because we won’t have such intense housing issues if the University could provide enough accommodation for everyone. 

Anyway, we would like to end this TED Talk of ours with this quote by Jean-Paul Sarte we scraped off the net: “We are our choices”.

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