Cairo, Egypt Report of what it's like to live there - 06/26/10
Personal Experiences from Cairo, Egypt
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
no. Dakar, Senegal
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
Tulsa, OK.27 hours. Cairo to JFK. JFK to Atlanta. Atlanta to Tulsa.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Spouse is Foreign Service.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Apartments, apartments, apartments, and a few overpriced villas.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
You can find anything if you are willing to pay for it. Embassy folks have the commissary.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Anything and everything. Mild to Wild.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Lots of roaches.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
There are lots of Filipinos here. Also Egyptians, Sudanese, Zimbabweans, etc. It is very affordable. Everyone has somebody working in their home.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes. Gold's Gym is here, and the embassy has two nice gyms.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
I have found them to be very safe.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Plenty of choices here and prices are comparable to the US.
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
I speak no Arabic and have had no issues except at the airport.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
There are no sidewalks, no wheelchair access, and elevators don't work.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Taxis are everywhere. They are cheap but they have no a/c and no seatbelts.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Small and rugged. There is the occasional carjacking here but not too often. Roads have HUGE speed bumps, but there is no parking, and parking your SUV may be difficult.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Internet is ok at best. But it is not that expensive. I pay a year at a time, and it's about 300 dollars.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Get one. You can do pay-as-you-go or sign a contract. People do both and I have heard pros/cons for both.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
No, but getting your pet in/out of country is expensive and difficult.
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
There are plenty of good vets and several good kennels.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
I would say yes.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
All I can say is that it's hot here and you really want to wear shorts. However, this is a Muslim country, and I find it disrespectful when women wear short shorts or sleevless shirts. People try to do it here in Maadi because so many expats live here. But be prepared for unwanted vulgar attention from the locals. Bring your capris. Streets are very dirty, so if you wear sandals your feet will get dirty.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Egyptian men are very rude and sexist towards women (American women, especially).
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
The air is horrible and is unbreathable somedays. 2 of my 3 children have developed asthma since we arrived.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
The air is horrible and unhealthy. There are millions of cars and everyone smokes.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
March - October: very hot. Novemebr - Feb: nice.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
CAC is a fabulous school. One of the very few good things about this place.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
The British school does a great job with special-needs kids. CAC has nothing and will not accept your child if he/she has special needs.
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
There are many wonderful preschools, and domestic help is cheap.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Plenty of opportunities for kids. But you need to expect late and lazy teachers.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. Morale among expats:
Varies. For those of us with large families living in GOVT housing, morale is pretty low.
3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
I have 3 kids...what social life?
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Yes, yes, and yes.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
I haven't seen or heard anything to suggest it's not.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Lower class Egyptians have no respect for women. And I have found they do not care for Africans. American or otherwise.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
In my opinion there are none. Except for the ability for my husband and chidlren to ride their motorcycles in the desert.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
The pyramids, desert, and getting out of the city is must for your survival.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
There is nothing here I like, but some people do like the blown glass and the alabaster.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Saving money. Motorcycle riding.
11. Can you save money?
Yes. We survive on one paycheck and are able to put the other one in savings.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
If I never have to step foot in this country again it will be too soon.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
western attitide. I find they generally dont like Americans.
3. But don't forget your:
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
6. Do you have any other comments?
If you are a pet lover (as we are) be prepared to have your whole life revolve around walking your pets. Very few people have gardens. If you enjoy big city life, then you will do well here. If you like room to spread out and have space for your kids to run.....this place is the pits.