Cairo - Post Report Question and Answers

What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Big! We live in Maadi in a leased apartment. It's in a great location near Cairo American College and within walking distance of shops, restaurants and almost anything you can think of. Most homes have marble flooring, lovely ceilings and plenty of room, although not a lot of storage space. Concrete walls, so drill is best for hanging art. Windows/doors don't seem to seal well, so dust/drafts seem to come in, even after they are "sealed". In our leased apartment, GSO takes care of some issues, landlord takes care of other issues. Boab takes care of trash and cleaning/maintenance of the building. This may or may not be up to your standards. From Maadi, commute to embassy is about 45 minutes to an hour in armored vehicle (required). To consulate it is about 15 minutes. Traffic can change everything. - Feb 2021


Diplomats have a different housing situation than others might. I was in one of the larger diplo-dorms. There are a few of these with different commute times, but the housing is decently size and has the amenities that make living comfortable. - Nov 2020


Government provided diplo-dorm housing is typically around 1000-1250 square feet. If one lives downtown the commute time is around 15-20 minutes. From Maadi, it's longer, around 40-60 minutes. Most singles and couples without children live downtown, families in Maadi. I found Maadi to be quite enjoyable regardless. - Jan 2020


We live in a large leased apartment in the Zamalek neighborhood. It's a 3 bedroom apartment, though the third bedroom is tiny and the window placement makes it not fire-code compliant so we use it as storage. Zamalek is about a 15-minute commute to the Embassy, which is less than 3 miles away, but with traffic it can take up to an hour. - Jun 2018


We live in Maadi, where many expats and people with families live. We live in US government owned housing, which all have 3-4 bedrooms and a common area with small playground. Leased housing in the area varies greatly in size, but some are huge and can easily have 6 or more bedrooms. Layouts vary. A few are ground floor with outside private garden/yard. However, most do not have their own green space though many have large balconies.

Commute times to downtown where many embassies are is 45-60 minutes or more, depending on time of day. Typical commute times are on the longer side. At off-peak times, you can do it in 30 minutes. Maadi is popular because the Cairo American College is here, where many American kids go to school. The British School is also in Maadi.

Many people without kids like living in Zamalek, Dokki and other downtown areas. Fewer resources for kids, but a much shorter commute and lots of nightlife. - Jan 2018


Housing is a mix of leased properties and U.S. Government properties around Cairo, though predominantly in the neighborhoods of Zamalek and Maadi. I lived in a US Government building in Zamalek. It was a two-bedroom unit, approximately 1500 sq. ft. The building had a small gym and parking spaces available, though parking would be tight - possible not sufficient - if everyone in the building brought a car. As it is, a car is not necessary in Cairo due to the abundance of taxis, Uber, etc. It's very easy to live in Cairo without a car. - Sep 2017


I lived in a rented 3-bedroom apartment in the Zamalek neighborhood - really, an island in the middle of the Nile close to downtown Cairo. .It was spacious, but there was limited storage, and the kitchen had limited counter space and storage. Housing stock in Cairo is old and tends to be in poor repair. The embassy did a good job upgrading the unit I lived in, but the rest of the building was dirty and in disrepair - common conditions in Cairo, as far as I could tell. - May 2017


I own my own apartment and I don't live where most expats live, which are Zamalek, Ma'adi and New Cairo. Also Sheikh Zayed is becoming more popular. Everything is available, it depends where you choose to live. Zamalek and Ma'adi are expensive. Commuting time depends on where you work but Cairo traffic is legendary. - May 2017


We lived in Maadi and I would definitely recommend this for families. The commute to the US embassy was pretty bad (20 min with no traffic which rarely happens, usual commute was 40-50 min due to average traffic, rarely an hour and a half on a really bad traffic day like when it rained). However most kids go to school in Maadi and there is a broad range of shopping, restaurants, and social activities there - mostly walkable. - Jan 2016


U.S. Embassy housing pool is depressing. Outside of Maadi, apartments are run-down and lack storage space. Entrances to buildings are often poorly maintained and a little frightening. It is somewhat embarrassing to host guests. Some apartments do not have the telephone line infrastructure to support high speed internet. Commutes can be lengthy, due to traffic, even for short mileage. - Jan 2016


A lot of housing in the local economy. There are a few small "compound style" houses, but everyone (with the exception of a few section heads) live in apartments, which are quite large and well appointed. - Jan 2016


Most people live in very spacious apartments (We have a five bedroom, three bathroom). Our three children are very happy at school, and we live only 10 minutes from both school and work (USAID). - Oct 2014


The Embassy is downtown so if you do not want a long commute you can live within 10-15 minutes drive. There are U.S. compound apartments as well as housing options on the economy. There is a suburb, Maadi, where a lot of expats live because it is near the school. Maadi is a long drive with traffic sometimes around an hour commute through the hectic traffic here. Most living is in apartments with very few villas. - Aug 2014


Apartment living, most very nice and spacious. Commuting for USGOV folks is in an armored van, about an hour each way to/from Embassy to Maadi, less for folks living closer in town. - Aug 2014


As USG we live in a local apartment that is spacious and light, with tall ceilings, and an excellent location. We do get power outages - hardly anything - usually 1 hour at a time max, for several nights in a row, at about the same time. (During the day, I don't know) - May 2014


Apartments on the economy are spacious, but power outages are a major concern. I live and work in Maadi, so my commute is ~15 minutes. - Apr 2014


Housing, unless you are in a villa as an agency head, it's horrible. Apartments are dumpy and you get very poor service. - Mar 2014


Tiny little appartments with no yard. If you live in Maadi the commute is awful and can take 1-2 hours because traffic is so terrible. If you are childless you can live in Zamalek and have a thirty-minute commute. Housing is a huge morale killer in Cairo and something very few people are happy with. I'm glad we only had to live where we did for two years. - Jul 2013


Almost all apartments. I've been in small, poor posts up this, but this is by far the worst (smallest, poorest-maintained) housing I've had. - Jul 2013


We're in a leased apartment, and commute times vary between half an hour and two hours, depending on traffic. - Jun 2013


Most folks live in apartments, either in the suburb of Maadi (about 8 km south of downtown Cairo) or downtown in Zamalek (the island on the Nile) or Dokki in Giza. The Embassy owns three compounds, where many Embassy employees live. Commutes from Maadi by car to the Embassy vary between 20 min to 1.5 hours, depending upon the traffic. The metro takes 20 minutes and is clean, although it is not air conditioned in the summer. Commutes to Zamalek and Dokki vary bewteen 10 and 30 min, depending upon the traffic. - Jun 2013


Most people are in apartments with no yards. From Maadi to the embassy by car is 20 to 60 minutes, depending on traffic. The Metro (subway) is a viable option, but there is no A/C in the summer. I take the Metro every day and love it. - May 2013


Mostly apartments, with villas for senior foreign service folks. The lack of green space for kids is a problem. Commutes from Maadi average one hour for a 7 mile trip. Drivers are aggressive and often angry. - May 2013


Apartment living both downtown and in the suburb of Maadi. Commute time for those of us in Maadi depends. Hubby takes metro, so it's 30 minutes (and $1) door-to-door, including taxi. Shuttle can take 20 minutes to over an hour, depending on the day. - May 2013


Housing is almost entirely in apartments, but generally quite spacious ones. As in many developing countries, the quality of construction is often "quirky", and it is pretty much guaranteed you will have issues at some point. Most USG personnel live in Maadi (a suburb south of the main downtown area) or Zamalak / Dokki (both centrally located downtown). Maadi is close to the Cairo American College (the elementary/middle/high school), the Maadi House, the "American Club," and the USG Commissary. In addition, there are a variety of expat groups, clubs, churches, etc. in Maadi, not to mention coffee shops, restaurants, shops, etc. Zamalak / Dokki have great access to restaurants, shops, and cultural events (e.g., the Cairo Opera House, El Sawy Culture Wheel, etc.). It is definitely less suburban than Maadi, and is generally popular with singles and couples without kids. There are three main USG work areas in Cairo - the embassy, USAID, and the Naval Advanced Medical Research Unit (NAMRU). The embassy is located in Garden City - downtown - and the commute from Maadi can take anywhere from 45 minutes to hours, depending on traffic. The embassy runs a shuttle for staff from Maadi to the embassy. There is also a metro that runs from Maadi to downtown, which some people use as an option. It may be faster, but it can be crowded and hot during the summer (it has also periodically been off-limits for security reasons). The commute from Zamalak / Dokki to the embassy is not long - maybe half an hour at most, and in theory you could actually walk. USAID is located in Maadi (along with a few other USG offices). The commute for the folks living in Zamalak / Dokki is the same as described above, just in reverse. That said, the commute for folks living in Maadi is wonderful - 15 minutes at most! Folks at NAMRU are pretty much stuck in traffic no matter where they live - sorry! - Feb 2013


Mostly apartments, some villas. Quality is uneven; some are better than others. But like everything else in Egypt, nothing is well-maintained. Commuting time depends on where you live and work. If you live and work in Maadi, the commute is very short. If you work at the British or one of the other embassies in Garden City and live in Maadi, even though it's only about seven miles, that commute can take up to an hour-and-a-half at worst. Traffic is terrible, and driving habits are the worst I've seen anywhere -- and I've been around. - Feb 2013


Housing is only good if you are one of the lucky ones to get a villa or a large ground-floor apartment. At least then you can get outside in some type of small yard. Otherwise, you are couped up in an apartment unless you want to go outside and expose yourself to polution, catcalls, and solicitations. Also, remember there is little-to-no green space here for children to play in, and there are NO parks. CAC and the Maadi house are really the only places for kids to get out and release their energy. So, if you like living in an apartment with children who have no desire to go outside, this could be your post. - Mar 2013


Government-owned and local market. Commute times range from 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes depending on location, traffic, and protestors --- who sometimes manage to close roads with their rocks, molotovs, and micro-bus strikes. - Mar 2013


Housing is generally in modern (though poorly made) apartments that are subject to some serious problems, such as burst pipes, electical fires, and even structural collapse due to the lack of any building code enforcement. - Feb 2013


Families generally live in Mahdi, which can take up to 1 hour to reach from the embassy due to traffic. Homes are fairly nice--mostly apartments. Some embassy people live in Zamalik, which is closer to work. Muhandasin is usually for singles, and there are only apartments there. CAC, the school, is in Mahdi, which is why most families live out there. - Jan 2013


Most houses for singles and families are flats. There are some villas available. We have 4 children and have been given a 5-bedroom flat - - - NOT on a compound. There are a few government compounds, but I think they max out at 4 bedrooms. Most families live in Maadi, with couples and singles living in Zamalak. Outdoor play space for children is very limited. The compounds and SOME flats have some outdoor space for children, but not much. Most kids play outdoors at the schools or at the Maadi House (embassy club). Commute times from Maadi (though not far in mileage) are about an hour each way. The compounds have another advantage - they have generators! They rarely lose power (we lose it at least once per week for a few hours and at most 5 times per week for a few hours), and we also lose water at least once per week for a few hours. I don't hear of this happening from the compounds. - Nov 2012


Most families choose to live in Maadi, as it is greener, and has a good American school, some international churches and more flats with a garden option. Commute to downtown Cairo from Maadi could take up to an hour, but usually 45 minutes. Living downtown in Dokki, Zamalek or Mohandessin is an option for couples or singles, but I would discourage it for kids, due to pollution and no play areas. - Sep 2011


Cairo is mostly apartment living. Embassy-owned apartments are spacious and well-maintained. Traffic is heinous; depending on what time you leave and whether public schools are in session, the commute from Ma'adi to downtown can take from 20 minutes to an hour. - Aug 2011


Most expats live in Maadi, Zamelak, Mohandessin or Dokki. Apartments are expensive for expats but generally large and spacious. - Aug 2011


Most people live in apartments, although there are some villas in some of the farther away suburbs. The apartments are generally large. A traditional apartment will have a huge living room/dining room areas with smallish bedrooms. Also, closets in some places are scarce. - Jul 2011


Housing is spread out. Singles and couples live near the embassy in downtown Cairo. In either Zamalek, Dokki or Mohandasieen. Families live where the school is located in Maadi further away from the embassy. Most are housed in apartments, senior officials in Villas. Housing is very comfortable and nice. We live in a large apartment due to family size. It's enjoyable. Employees are brought to work in armored shuttles. They pick people up at certain locations and then drop them off the same place later. From Maadi it can take 30 - 50 minutes commuting depending on traffic. For those closer it should only take 10 - 20 minutes. - Jun 2011


Most families prefer to live in Maadi because it is close to the school, is quieter,and has the most suburban feel to it. Many singles like Zamalek because of the proximity to night life. I wouldn't recommend any other neighborhoods to expats. - Sep 2010


Apartments, apartments, apartments, and a few overpriced villas. - Jun 2010


All USG employees live in apartments ranging from 2-5 bedrooms. There are 4 USG-owned buildings, and a number of private buildings in which the USG rents apartments for staff. Most USAID employees live in Maadi, approximately a 5-10 minutes drive from USAID. Most embassy employees with children also live in Maadi (due to its proximity to the American School) and have a 30-minute to 1-hour commute to the embassy, depending on traffic. Embassy employees without children generally live in one of Cairo's downtown neighborhoods (Zamalek, Dokki, Mohandeseen) and have a 15-minute drive to work. - Dec 2009


I live in Maadi, in a very comfortable apartment. Because the Mission is so large you do not get the housing size that you are justified in having, but the apartment size that fits with your job. - May 2008


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