Differences Between Living in the USA vs. Living In Nigeria

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By Lola Fajemirokun

Growing up in Nigeria, I never understood why anyone would want to uproot and go live in another man’s country.  Haven lived in the USA and Nigeria for almost equal amount of years, here are some major differences between both countries:

  1. Amenities (Electricity, Water, and Security):
    • Nigeria: The major reason people want to move out of Nigeria is because of poor amenities. In Nigeria, paying your electricity bill or water bill does not mean you will have both. There is power rationing across states in Nigeria, hence your electricity can go off spontaneously without notice. Same issue is with water. Also, security is a big issue – there is no such thing as calling 911 or expecting the police to help you run after a bag snatcher. Arm robbery and kidnapping is rampant. The local police walk around with riffles vs. hand guns which could be intimidating.
    • USA: If you pay your electricity and water bill you are pretty much guaranteed to have both. There are situations where the power goes out due to weather conditions but for the most past the issues are usually resolved within a relatively short period. Security is an issue in every country but in the USA, you have a sense that when you call the police they will genuinely try to resolve any security threat you have. Being able to call 911, for fire or other emergencies, 24hours a day gives you a sense safety to a certain extent.
  2. Schools
    • Nigeria: Public schools generally operate at a low standard so most middle class or wealthy families opt to send their children to private schools. Public schools are underfunded so children attending these schools must bring in their own furniture (chair, table, etc) and other supplies. Education is not cheap and at the primary and secondary school levels there is no accountability, if a student does not show up for school, there is hardly any follow-up. In Nigeria, parents do not get in trouble for not sending their young children to school. Education starts at the age of 2.
    • USA: You can find a public primary (elementary and middle school) and secondary school (high school) ever 10 or so miles in most states. These schools are generally free except for supply cost and other little items that need to be provided by the parents. Private schools are considered a luxury in this part of the world. There are student loans available for university level education so it is accessible for anyone willing to attend a 4 year or 2 year college. Education starts at the age of 5 and there is no flexibility with this requirement- if your child does not turn 5 by September 1 he or she must wait until the next school year.
  3. Cash Flow:
    • Nigeria: You will generally have more cash in hand living in Nigeria vs. living in the USA. There is minimal tax deduction on your paycheck. You will almost always get extra cash outside your paycheck, either through gifts or other random activities. There is also mostly no health care or retirement plan deduction from paychecks so overall employees take home more of their earnings.
    • USA: You will generally have less cash in hand for the most part. Nothing is free and taxes abound. An average person gets states tax, federal tax, social security tax, and other Medicare tax deducted from their paycheck. Aside from these deductions, medical insurance, dental insurance, life insurance and other insurance fees along with retirement deductions (if elected) are deducted from each pay-check. So an individual earning $1,000 per week end up taking home maybe $500 after tax and other deductions. There is almost a guarantee that nobody will hand you any cash gift. Your paycheck is IT, except you have other business activities outside of work then your cash flow will be fixed.
  4. Family:
    • Nigeria: There is more of a family bond vs. the USA. You can go and come as you please at your relative’s house, no invitation needed. You can sleep over, show-up with a friend and be yourself generally without feeling like a burden to your relatives.
    • USA: There is less of a family bond compared to what you will experience in Nigeria. You need to call before showing up to anyone’s house and if you think you will sleep over without asking…. Forget about it because it’s not going to happen without someone giving you a stern warning. It is not uncommon to see father and son (or mother and daughter) pay separately at a restaurant.
  5. Weather:
    • Nigeria: It is pretty much summer all year long.
    • USA: Depending on what state you are in, temperatures can vary between 0 to 105 degrees at different times of the year.
  6. Jobs:
    • Nigeria: The job market is weak. Getting a job after college or just getting a job is difficult for an average person.
    • USA: There is always someone hiring, whether or not you are underqualified or overqualified for the job is a different discussion. If you are just trying to get something doing chance you will find something.

Each country has its own unique challenges but home these differences give you a glimpse of what it’s like living in both countries.




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