One Bedroom Apartment opposite VGC. N150,000.00 only.
The advert caught my attention.
I had just changed jobs and was now working in Victoria Island.
I still lived in Sango Ota, Ogun state, Nigeria.
In the first days of my resumption, I spent an average of 8 hours in traffic everyday getting to and from work.
I quickly did the math.
40 hours a week
160 hours a month
At the end of the year, I would have spent 86 days in traffic.
Now, that was scary.
At the end of the first week, I needed a solution. Fast.
I contacted a few house agents and told them about my accommodation challenge.
When it came to renting a house in Lagos, one couldn’t be too careful.
I had been advised to tell the agents what my preferences were.
Each time I spoke to an agent, I would ask:
Does the landlord live there?
Does water flow through the taps?
Is the place waterlogged?
Is there parking space?
Is it a flat or bungalow?
Ground floor or topmost floor?
Is it a new house?
Was it in an estate or by the road?
I tried to be as specific as possible, hearing that estate agents were notorious for getting houses that were either below standard or above budget.
I wanted to live in a decent place, with decent neigbours and still afford it.
By the way, my budget was N400, 000.00 for two years (all charges inclusive).
The agents had all kinds of names:
Andrew. Victor. Ali. Bayo. Harrison. Ziggy. Dean. Don. Bala. Emmanuel. Etc.
The agents took me to all kinds of houses:
One was a 9 bedroom duplex that was converted into 6 separate apartments. We all had to share one common entrance. Creepy.
Another was a tiny apartment that shared a yard with a school, a mechanic village and a church. Excuse me!
There were also boy’s quarters, where conveniences were going to be shared with other tenants. Crazy.
We even saw this apartment that seemed to have everything: parking space, large bedrooms, bathtubs, and a front porch.
There was just one problem.
The landlord lived there, held the keys to the gate and insisted that the gate will be locked at 8pm. Unacceptable.
After my 4 week search, I still couldn’t find any suitable apartment.
Desperation set in.
Then I bought a real estate journal that stated all the available properties for let.
I circled all the options around my new office and called to confirm availability
Most had been paid for already.
Most, except one.
I read the advert again to be sure I was seeing the right thing
One Bedroom Apartment opposite VGC. N150, 000.00 only
This sounded too good to be true.
Someone answered the phone on the other end.
‘I’m calling to ask about your one bedroom apartment opposite VGC. Is it still available?” I asked.
‘Yes’ the man replied. ‘In fact, we have 8 apartments and all of them are available and it is new building.’
I was ecstatic.
This was the first time I would find a new building, with 8 available apartments, opposite a high brow estate, at that price.’
It was too good to be true.
I took permission from work to close the deal.
When I arrived at their office, the senior agent assigned a young man to take me to the apartment.
It was quite a distance from their Yaba office so we had to take a taxi.
Until we got to VGC.
VGC means Victoria Garden City.
VGC is a high brow residential estate in Ajah, Lagos state.
VGC meant premium.
If I couldn’t afford VGC, I could at least live opposite it.
So, it came as a surprise when we drove past VGC.
I was puzzled.
Where were we going?
I tapped the junior estate agent, who had slept off that we had passed VGC.
The taxi driver also raised a red flag.
The junior agent startled me with his reply.
‘It’s not this VGC oh!’ He said. ‘It’s the one in front’
At this point, I started getting suspicious.
There was only one VGC in Lagos.
At this point, the taxi driver lost it.
He asked us to pay him and get out of his car.
Not wanting any more drama, we obliged.
The junior agent told me not to worry.
He said that I would like the house when I saw it.
I had spent too much time to go back.
We boarded two okada motorcycles and went ahead.
It was the hunt for the mysterious VGC and I wasn’t going to miss out.
We rode for about 30 minutes when we arrived at the second VGC.
I had never seen it before but I was taken aback by its serenity.
The serenity threatened the bike men so much that they swore to return immediately but we begged them to wait.
I was this close to getting a house and I wasn’t ready to blow my chances.
Opposite this new VGC was a new block of 8 flats.
They were new.
They were clean.
There was ample parking space.
Water was rushing
The landlord didn’t live there.
The price was right.
There was just one problem
This VGC was the Victoria Garden Cemetery.