Lagos is so amazing that no words I could possibly string together could do its beauty justice. Vacationing there is the perfect mix of laid back and adventure. But would it be a good place to plant my flag and live?
It’s hard to characterize a city that I didn’t see when the lengthy busy season was in full swing. All the nice things I’ve said about it might be invalidated when you inject a few hundred thousand tourists. But no matter how full it is, it’s one of the only real cities that’s a stones throw away from over a dozen beaches. The fact that you might be able to leave work and see the sunset on a gorgeous beach by walking 15 minutes is pretty incredible.
The city seems quiet, with a thumping center. It’s the kind of place where cocktails are served up until late but the grocery stores close at 8 pm. What’s interesting is that there seem to be just as many locals out in city center as there are tourists. People bring their kids just to walk around, and bar flies hang around drinking a beer and chatting up the visitors. It’s like a slightly more refined version of Key West, where maybe your bartender won’t be in flip flops but they’re just as happy and friendly.
I love seafood. And even though this plate of tiger prawns all but confirmed that I have a slowly worsening shrimp allergy, Lagos is seafood heaven. Everywhere you turn, there’s interesting dishes like carbonara mussels or ginger soy seared tuna. There’s also a lot of English options because there’s a lot of British expats in the Algarve. And though I would never rave about British food, having a simple but perfect egg, bacon, and pancake breakfast in a hole in the wall like Cafe Odeon is the best way to start your day. Italian is also popular and available everywhere.
Things to do
When I think about a city, I often measure it by how much there is to do there. Where are the concerts, where are the bars, the places to shop? I think life is so often just full of things to take up time. But I think the best thing to do in Lagos is to fucking relax. It’s the kind of place where you never have to check the time. I can picture myself taking a dog for a walk along the cliffs or waking up late on Saturday and deciding to go for a swim. And since it’s so effortless to do any of those things, no planning or stress or looking for parking at the beach would be required. You can just show up. I love cafes, particularly since I work from behind my computer. And I did feel Lagos could use a few more chill cafes where people can sit and work while they enjoy a crepe and a coffee.
Quality of life
I think the Algarve is very welcoming of outsiders. Which is why a lot of business owners in Lagos are from somewhere else. So I think the best way to live in Lagos would be to run a bed and breakfast or open a bar or something. As much as I love to be a hermit, I think Lagos is best enjoyed being around the people that pass through here for a memorable trip and a little fun. The city is safe and given all the walking, it would be healthy, too. And I do miss being near the ocean, a luxury that is always rejuvenating.
Surprisingly, the Algarve is not an expensive place. Transportation and food are very affordable. And unless you’re living in a beachfront resort, renting there would be totally affordable. You can walk everywhere and have a nutritious meal for just a few bucks. Even if you’re paying a vacation destination premium for an apartment, you can Airbnb it when you’re going out of town and make most of your rent without having to lift a finger. The costliest thing about it would be getting in and out of there, not in price but in time. Taking a 2.5 hour bus to your closest airport sucks. But maybe if I lived there, I wouldn’t have much incentive to go anywhere else.
Total livability score: 7/10
I can understand why this is a popular place with expats. If I have one or two more unbearable Prague winters, I might be packing my bags for Lagos, too.