Cairo, Egypt Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Cairo, Egypt

Cairo, Egypt 06/12/18

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I've lived in Brazil and Morocco (as a student) and in Mexico and Qatar as a professional.

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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?

Washington, DC is home base. Flight takes about 18 hours with one stop-over in Europe.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years of a 3 year assignment

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy job

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Cheap cheap cheap. Even fancy groceries with delivery is cheaper here than what you'd pay stateside. Egyptian produce is gorgeous and fresh, you just have to be vigilant about washing everything really well. I was surprised at the lack of dairy though. Egyptians don't really eat yogurt (I know!) and cheese can be pricey because there isn't much variety available locally so it's all imported.

On the local economy you can get some European brands for cleaning supplies etc but quality isn't always very good and there are tons of knock-offs. We buy most of our household chemicals at the commissary.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Clothes and shoes for my kid. Protein powder (I'm picky). Dye-free OTC medicines for my kid (she has dye sensitivities). Good quality hair products.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

We have a regular rotation of passable Thai, great Indian, great Lebanese, and middling "American". Food delivery is super super cheap. Zamalek has tons of restaurants in walking distance from where we live including high-end Italian, delicious burgers, sushi, coffee, etc.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

We had an ant problem when we first moved in but the Embassy took care of it in our first few months at Post. We do have them do a full fumigation treatment when we leave the country on R&R annually which seems to keep it at bay.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO. Mail delivery here is...whimsical at best but not from the fault of anyone in the mail room. The Egyptian government often suspends dip mail service or delays shipments in customs inexplicably so we've had several incidents during our 2 years here where we went for 2 months plus with no mail delivery.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Household help varies in cost. Expats on the local economy often employ undocumented domestic help which can be as inexpensive as $2-$3 an hour. For Embassy staff, most of us pay in the $5-$6/hr range for legal domestic help. Many domestic workers come from the Philippines or Sudan but there are also Egyptians in the mix. Lots of people here employ a nanny/housekeeper and a separate driver.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are plenty of gyms and sports clubs that people join. Gezira Club in Zamalek is popular but expensive and unless you live really close and go basically daily, it's cheaper to just pay the day-rate if you want to go in and use the pool. Lots of Mission staff members join Maadi House club in Maadi for pool use and to be able to access the gym at the Embassy compound. Membership isn't super expensive.

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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?

In the neighborhoods where the Embassy places families (Zamalek, Maadi, Dokki, Mohandisseen) credit cards work fine and are safe to use. ATMs are common and I've not heard complaints about them. We usually just cash checks at the bank branch that's inside the Embassy. The fees are about the same.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can get by with mostly English in Zamalek and Maadi, but for venturing farther afield you'll need at least a rudimentary understanding of Egyptian Arabic.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. I don't know how someone in a wheelchair or who couldn't walk up/down stairs could live here. There are no sidewalks or where there are they are broken with no curb cuts/cars parked on them. Most apartment buildings require you to walk up a half flight of stairs before reaching the elevator (if there is one).

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

We're not allowed to take any form of public transit here, so no busses, mini-busses, trains, or metro. Taxis/Uber are pretty cheap. Taxis mostly are metered now which makes the process much easier. Uber is frustrating because no one knows how to read a map (really) and few drivers understand GPS so even when you drop the pin exactly where you are standing, the driver will call you and ask you to give them directions from wherever they are. I usually just take regular taxis because those drivers are at least professionals and I've found that they know their way around the city a lot better than the kids who drive for Uber.

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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?

We have a Prius and it's fine for driving in Cairo, though we scrape bottom on many of the gigantic speed-bumps throughout the city. People drive all kinds of cars here and since we're not allowed to go into the Western Desert or really do anything "off-road" pretty much any car is fine. Our apartment doesn't have a parking space assigned to it which was problematic for our first year. We had to pay what we refer to as the "parking mafia" in our building to park the car on the street. But after we found out they had been sitting in the car with the air conditioner/heater on, smoking in the car, and driving it around without our permission we made arrangements to park it elsewhere. But for the year it was parked on the street we never had issues with it getting more dinged than it would have anywhere else. It's definitely not in perfect condition but because we don't drive a ton and because people are used to driving in narrow/weirdly designed/bumpy spaces I've found drivers here to be pretty good at avoiding parked cars. :)

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

hahahaha no. Internet here is hilariously bed. It's like a dinosaur stuck in molasses in slow motion. Ours was installed the week we arrived in our permanent apartment but it's laughably slow. It works, don't get me wrong, but we often have to turn off wifi on our phones/laptops to be able to stream on the AppleTV. Whatsapp/Facetime/Skype video calls are terrible quality and inconsistently cut off.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

We have Vodafone and it's fine. The plans are impossible to understand so we still have pre-paid phones and every time I go to renew the balance I feel like they switch me to some new incomprehensible plan. But the phones work and the service is pretty cheap. The new telecommunications tax takes 40% of what you pay though, so 200LE (around $14) used to get you about 180LE in credits and now only gets you 160LE.

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Pets:

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?

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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?

We both work at the Embassy, but I know some spouses telecommute, some work on the local economy as teachers. I don't know what local salaries are like but I imagine they are not great.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots of volunteer opportunities are available within the church communities and for the various refugee organizations in and around the city.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Formal wear is a must for the Marine Ball. All other times business attire is fine for Embassy work, with varying degrees of formality depending on your job. I wear dresses, tunics with leggings, or slacks and blouses to work. Others wear full suits. It kind of depends on your job.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Of course. Terrorism is real here and there have been attacks since we've been here but nothing anywhere near to where we were. We avoid religious sites around the holidays, we aren't out walking in the streets away from our neighborhood at night. We lock our car and our house. With basic precautions, life here is as safe as it would be in any other mega-city.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Almost all complex medical conditions require medevac including broken bones, but the Embassy Health Unit typically doesn't approve it unless there is literally a bone poking out of your skin.

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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?

AIR QUALITY. It's some of the worst in the world. We had months this winter when it was worse than Delhi and Beijing. The Embassy provides completely inadequate air purifiers for homes. We bought expensive Blue Air purifiers on our own and run them constantly. Our kid has had a cough for 6 months. It never goes away and her chest just rattles with it. I don't know how someone who has asthma could live here.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Environmental allergy sufferers will be miserable here. If the constant layer of dust and dirt in the air doesn't bother you the year-round pollen will, or the insane levels of automobile exhaust, or the residue from the nationwide burning of the sugar-cane fields. My eyes are constantly red and I have almost forgotten what it's like to be able to hear normally because my ears are always blocked and congested. Post-nasal drip will be your constant companion.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

I don't think so.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

hot in the summer, cool in the winter, comfortable in spring/fall.

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Schools & Children:

1. 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?

Our daughter is in pre-school and we love it. It's an expensive one in terms of local cost but still costs us less than $300 per month for her tuition. She's in "school" from 9-2:30 daily and the structure and having all the other kids around have been great for her. The school does provide after care until 4 p.m. for an additional fee.

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Expat Life:

1. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Sexual harassment for women is a daily occurrence, especially for women of color and blond women (i.e. women who stand out from the generally dark-haired, dark-eyed crowd).

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2. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

A private boat cruise down the Nile from Luxor to Aswan. All of the people we've met and friends we've made. The Egyptian Museum which is chaotic and badly labeled but is still so compelling. There is so much history and culture here it's hard to absorb it all.

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3. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Yes. We had custom sofas made for pennies on the dollar, and have purchased a lot of really beautiful textiles and art. Definitely plan to shop here.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

I love it here, but have constant doubts about what the air quality here has done to my child's lungs in terms of permanent damage. Time will tell, but even though we are really happy here I do wonder if spending 3 of her first 4 years of life here will cause lasting damage.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Shorts and tank tops.

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3. But don't forget your:

Lightweight long sleeve cardigans (for women) and sunscreen!

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Cairo, Egypt 01/03/18

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, I have also lived in New Delhi and the Pacific Islands.

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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?

Washington, DC. Most of the time you connect through Europe. There are a variety of flights from Cairo to most major European cities (Paris, London, Frankfurt, etc) and then you fly on from there. Expect about 16 hrs+ travel time depending on how long your connection is.

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3. How long have you lived here?

7 months.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Local "Baladi" items are pretty cheap. If it's grown or made in Egypt, it is cheap. You can get a variety of fruits and vegetables easily. Imported items are pricier because of import taxes. You can find most things locally, though you may have to go to a variety of places. The US Commissary is fairly well stocked and has good prices. You can find gluten-free things and organic options.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Specialty cooking items--coconut aminos, vital wheat gluten. I also find it cheaper to ship in diapers and wipes. Otherwise I can find everything between the commissary and the local market.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Delivery is cheap and popular! There is an app called Otlob that has menus for a ton of restaurants and you can order through the app. Delivery takes 45-75 min depending on the restaurant. There are many local restaurants with a wide range of foods. You can find almost any type of food.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

We have not had many issues with bugs, except for ants. After finding their entry point we haven't had more issues. Some people have many issues with ants.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I have not tried the local mail system. We simply use the US embassy mail system. Mail takes anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months, but a month is common. Currently mail is only delivered every 2 weeks and comes in on military plane from Europe.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Household help is fairly cheap, about $4-8 per hour. It is widely available. Having a part time housekeeper is fairly common, though not everyone (such as me) has one. If both parents work, having a full time nanny is common. If one is at home, people might have a part time nanny a day or two a week to allow time for running errands, as it's not very easy to do with kids.



Some people have drivers, though many people drive themselves, use Uber or walk. Some household help is Egyptian, but many are Filipino, Sudanese or other foreign nationalities. This typically means sponsoring a visa for them. Local staff is cheaper than foreign staff.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are a number of gym facilities. In Maadi, the two most popular are Gold's Gym (very similar to the US Gold's Gym. My husband finds it quite adequate) and the CSA gym (which I use--it is smaller, but more convenient to my housing). There are also many places for yoga and Pilates, including my favorite Osana Family Wellness. Drop in classes are in the $6-8 range often. Monthly gym memberships are $20-40/month depending on place and deals. In Zamalek there is the Gezira Club which is a huge facility with many work out options, but I haven't been. Some people have treadmills and other equipment at home. Running is possible, but really only early morning due to traffic.

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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?

Credit cards are safe to use at restaurants, hotels, etc. ATMs are common and safe to use. I use Uber a lot and pay via the app. Local markets, non-Uber taxis, admission to sightseeing, you'll need cash. Commissary you can use credit card.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

The Jewish population is very small here and I am not sure about services. Christian services are easy to find, Catholic, Protestant, non denominational, and Mormon. Most are on Fridays as that's the holy day here. Some are in the morning and some in the afternoon depending on the church.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You need a little bit for taxis and the market but I don't use it as much as I thought I would. The embassy offers language classes both in Modern Standard and in the local dialect. There are also local tutors that are affordable (about $10/hr for private)

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes! Poor or non-existent sidewalks, large holes in sidewalks and roads, large curbs, many stairs, not always elevators and little to no handicapped parking. The US embassy residential compounds do have ramps, elevators and a handicapped parking spot. But getting around the rest of the city would be hard.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are safe and very cheap. Uber is popular. Often taxi drivers do not know where they're going (including Uber as many can't read maps) and you'll need to navigate. Knowing a few words like left, right, stop here, straight ahead in Arabic is handy. US embassy personnel are not allowed to use the Metro, trains or local buses. I gather the Metro works well. Buses are very crowded and drive crazy. It is also cheap to hire a car and driver for the day if you have a lot of errands or for sightseeing. Many people drive themselves as well. Within Maadi, I walk most places.

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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?

You want a car with high clearance as there are many potholes, speed bumps, etc. It will get banged up, hit, scratched, etc so bring an older one! Older 4 wheel drive Nissan Pathfinders and Rav4s are popular. Thinks cars that will be safe in accidents and can manuever well. We prefer a 4 wheel drive car that can off road if necessary. If people can't find parts here, they often order them.



There are not really burglary/car jacking risks (well, none higher than normal). We don't actually use ours that much. We'll use it for the commissary and sometimes sightseeing or shopping but parking can be an issue as there are often no parking spots. Be prepared for parallel parking in tight situations.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Wifi is over phone lines. It is not super fast, but good enough for streaming videos like Netflix, FaceTiming, Skype, etc. There are routinely internet slow periods. Companies will promise fast speeds, but the phone lines are not high enough quality to handle those speeds. You do not have a choice of providers, it is whatever company your phone line is connected to already. Changing companies is a huge process. It took about 2 weeks for it to be installed and we had to hire a "fixer" to get the process rolling. Data on phones is cheap though, so we had internet on our phones sooner.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Data is cheap. I pay LE99 a month (about $6) for about 3.5 GB of data and a large number of minutes and texting. There are several local cell phone companies and they are all fine.

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Pets:

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?

We chose not to bring our cat to Egypt and left him with family in the US. We were concerned about evacuation and having issues getting him out during one. People do have cats and dogs and I believe are fairly happy with their vet service. Some speak English and many make house calls.



Walking dogs can be challenging as there are many street dogs, some of whom are very aggressive towards other dogs (though not typically towards people). Most apartments do not have green space, though there are a few ground floor apartments with small yards attached. The US residential compounds have green space. Commissary sells a variety of pet food and litter.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are a number of NGOs that use volunteers, especially for teaching English, helping with school work and sorting donations. I actually have found it harder to find volunteer work here than when I was in New Delhi where the big expat organizations did a lot of volunteering and had a database. People do find volunteer work here, including through churches.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Work dress code is Western business attire. In public, locals and foreigners wear a lot of Western clothing. Women will want to dress modestly. Local women do not show shoulders or knees or cleavage. Most foreigners find it most comfortable to wear long, maxi length skirts and dresses or pants or capris. Women do not wear shorts. I don't wear sleeveless clothing and I find linen clothing very comfortable in the hot months--loose and long!



Winter gets chilly and I wear jeans and sweaters with perhaps a light jacket. Going out at night for nightlife or fancy dinners you can wear sleeveless and more Western style formal or dressy wear, though I wouldn't wear mini skirts.



Men do not wear shorts locally and doing so makes you stand out. The exception being places like Maadi House (the American club) and similar places where it is all Westerners. There can be some very fancy occasions so a couple pieces of formalwear is good.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There are definitely security risks in Cairo and in Egypt. Pay attention to security warnings. US embassy personnel are not allowed in the Western Desert, oases, Sinai (except to Sharm el Sheik by air) and religious sites outside Greater Cairo. Within Cairo, avoid protests, crowds, and keep aware of surroundings. However, I do generally feel safe and I explore alone and with my children all over.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is fine. The pharmacies can give you many medicines that require prescriptions at home without a prescription. The Embassy health clinic provides all basic care. There aren't really major health issues here, except some respiratory things from bad air in the winter. The medical evacuation destination is London.

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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?

In the spring, summer and fall air quality is moderate to fairly good. In the winter it is moderate to bad. On the PM2.5 scale, it can hit over 300 in the early morning in the winter but most days it drops to below 100 by afternoon. There are some days, especially when the air is still, that the air stays bad all day and there is a haze of dust and pollution. In the winter expect regular coughing.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

3/4 of the year is very hot. Mostly dry heat though. Winter gets chillier with lows in the upper 40s, but afternoons warm up to the 60s. Very little rain--just a few sprinkles here and there especially in November.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Lots of good choices. Most US embassy kids go to the Cairo American College in Maadi. There is also a British School and others. CAC is great from what I hear with good facilities. We don't have kids there yet.

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2. 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?

Preschools are widely available. My experience is in Maadi. There are a number of schools with foreign kids. Most are all day programs--in the 8-4 or 9-3 range--and 5 days a week. Some provided extended day care. Baby Academy is probably cheapest at about $200 a month for all day. It serves kids ages 6 months to 4. It is mostly Egyptian kids with some foreigners. It does not do summer or winter break. Other schools include Small Talk, Small World (both about $350-400/month with I think parttime options) and Kompass (Montessori and highly regarded but about $8000 a year). CAC has a preschool and is about $10000 a year.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Maadi House has swimming lessons, tennis, tae kwon do, and archery (and maybe others). Osana Family Wellness offers some kid activities. CSA does ballet, gymnastics and Tae Kwon Do. There are also music classes around. CAC does many after school activities.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

There is a large expat community and I have found it very welcoming and supportive.

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2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

We have two little kids ages 2 and 4 and it is great. I think it is an underrated city with lots to do, as long as you have the right mindset. There is a hot nightlife in Zamelek. Maadi is quieter at night.

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3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

You would not be able to live an open LGBT life style here.

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4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, Yes, Yes. Locally there is no gender equality, though you don't feel it as much as an expat. Expect regular catcalls. Some women get groped or harassed more.

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5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Great exploring and history! The pyramids are as amazing as they sound. Abu Simbel was very cool and we plan to do a Nile River Cruise. The Red Sea resorts are amazing.

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6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Walk Like an Egyptian is a great walking tour company in Cairo.

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7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

The souks are fun to shop in--oils, perfumes, cobra skin belts, silverwork, etc.

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8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Easy access to Europe but much cheaper. Great history.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Heavy winter coats, tank tops.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen.

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Cairo, Egypt 09/09/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, I previously did tours in the Caribbean and Europe.

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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?

Washington, DC. It takes anywhere from 18 - 24 hours of travel time to get from Cairo to Washington, depending on connections. The U.S. government contract fare currently is with Delta/Air France and connects in Paris.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic assignment at the U.S. embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Egypt is a relatively inexpensive country. Embassy staff are also spoiled with the commissary, which, at least in my estimation, has prices 25 - 30% lower than a typical grocery store in Washington, DC. The commissary is subsidized and you can get the same products found in US grocery stores.



Restaurants are affordable, though expensive options are also available. Eating a more "local" restaurants will be very cheap and the food quality is still usually pretty good. Think in the range of $10 total for a family of four at a local restaurant. Prices go up from there, particularly at the high-end hotels in Cairo.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

None, you can get everything at the commissary and/or on the local economy.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Otlob is probably the most prevalent app used to order takeout food. Delivery times vary but nearly every restaurant in Zamalek offers delivery. You can even get a cup of coffee delivered.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ants were a problem in some apartments, but not a huge issue. These were very small, almost not visible, black ants. No mosquitoes in Cairo! I cannot overstate how great this is. Flies in Cairo are the most annoying kind of flies I've ever encountered. They target your hair, eyes, nose, and mouth and are everywhere!

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We have an APO (U.S. military mail) within the embassy and that's what pretty much everyone used for letters and packages. I never heard of anyone using the local Egyptian mail system.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

It varies based on factors such as the maid's nationality. Among the embassy community, Filipino women seem to have a monopoly for providing maid and nanny services and they charge more than Egyptians. The overall cost for domestic help is very affordable compared to what you will pay in Washington.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Some of the U.S. government-owned buildings have gyms, which are small but well-maintained and have treadmills, elliptical machines, and free weights. Gold's Gym has several locations around Cairo and is on the expensive side, comparable prices to Washington. Local gyms will not be well-stocked, but they will be more affordable. The embassy also has a good gym but you have to purchase a membership through AECWA.

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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?

Credit cards are accepted at the commissary, at the small PX in the embassy, at many higher-end restaurants and grocery stores. That said, Egypt is still largely a cash-based society so you will need to carry cash. Most people used the ATM inside the embassy or wrote checks to themselves at the bank branch in the embassy. I used the banking services inside the embassy (provided by Commercial International Bank [CIB]). The only ATM I used outside of the embassy was embedded inside a CIB bank branch near our apartment building and I never had any issues with it.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

I believe some of the churches and cathedrals in Cairo offer English language services. There is a Catholic church in Zamalek and I believe that was one of the churches to offer English language services.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

The embassy has a language program open to staff and family members, which many people take advantage of, many have had positive experiences with the program and the instructors offer classes during the work day and after hours. Many Egyptians speak some English, given the previous prevalence of tourists. Of course, knowing some Arabic will enrich your experience. You can survive in Cairo without Arabic.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. Cairo is difficult to navigate even for able-bodied people due to uneven sidewalks, potholes, etc. Many people resort to walking in the streets next to traffic. Very few buildings can easily accommodate people with disabilities.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, very affordable. Taxis are prevalent in Cairo and it's very easy to hail one pretty much any time of day or night. They are very affordable but be careful about using them because taxi drivers will often try to take advantage of foreigners. All taxis should have meters but many drivers will claim that the meter is broken. Also, many drivers will claim that they do not have change so make sure to carry small bills when you use taxis.



Uber was my favorite transport option in Cairo. Its prices were comparable to taxis and there was never any haggling or money exchanged, the cars tended to be nicer and the drivers used the GPS function embedded in Uber. GPS isn't always reliable in Cairo but will usually work if you're going to well-known neighborhoods or sites.

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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?

Most people brought SUVs. The roads in Cairo are not great and there are unmarked speed bumps all around the city; you'll eventually learn where they are. We worked through the embassy mechanics, during their personal time they will be able to help with your vehicle. I did not hear of any problems with break-ins or carjackings, but many people experience fender benders, bumps, nicks, and scratches to their vehicles during their tour. I would not suggest bringing a new, an expensive, or a car that has any sort of sentimental value. On the upside, vehicles have a very good resale value in Cairo and many people were able to sell their cars after 2-3 years for the original purchase price they paid.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Most people go through an internet fixer to get the internet set up. I worked with the fixer and it was very easy, though I did pay a bit more for the convenience. I paid for the unlimited internet package, which was 2,110 Egyptian pounds every three months. The fixer would send a person to our building to collect the payments in cash, receipts were provided. I never had any issues and I thought it was a good system. However, some others did not have such a great experience.



You can also go directly to the internet company and initiate/terminate service but it will be significantly more involved and take longer. Using the fixer, I made a phone call requesting installation/connection and it was installed within 2 days. I bought a router from the fixer but that was not required. Also, Egypt recently passed a law limiting internet usage for high-use connections. A couple of people in our building who stream a lot of music or movies had their internet cut off toward the end of the month due to high usage and had to wait for the new month to begin before service was restored. They reached out to the company about this because they had the unlimited internet package and they were basically told nothing could be done.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Most people use Vodafone for their personal cell phone service. Vodafone has 4G service and it's easy to get a number and recharge your phone and internet credit. They also offer internet dongles with 4G data to hold you over until you get your internet set up. The internet service through Vodafone was really fast and reliable.

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Pets:

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?

We had a poor experience with an embassy staff member who also provided veterinary services during his personal time. He checked out our pet twice and we didn't feel the was competent as a veterinarian. There are good veterinarian service options around Zamalek and in Maadi. Ask around for recommendations when you arrive.

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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?

This is a sore spot among embassy spouses - and rightfully so! The embassy in Cairo is large and there are jobs available in the embassy but obtaining a security clearance takes a very long time. With the current hiring freeze, things are getting worse. I know a few spouses who waited six months or longer to find work within the embassy, some were not able to find anything at all or they had to wait so long for their clearances that they were not able to begin working until very late in their tours. Working on the local economy will require approval from the Chief of Mission, with heavy input from RSO, and it's not guaranteed to be approved. Local wages are very low and most jobs on the local economy will require Arabic.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

I believe that many exist but I'm not aware of any specific person who regularly volunteered.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

The dress code in the embassy is business formal. People tend to dress conservatively in public. Most women will be wear long sleeves and pants year round, men don't typically wear shorts. Foreign women are not expected to cover their heads, in fact, not all Egyptian women are covered, but wearing anything revealing can potentially draw unwanted attention. Many women in the embassy community were cat called, hissed at (a local way of cat calling), touched, groped, etc.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Violent crime and street crime tend to be low and I never felt uncomfortable walking around during the day or at night. The potential for terrorism is real and attacks did occur during my time in Egypt. Not every attack makes international news, you probably already heard about the big ones.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

I had good experiences with dental care in Egypt. There is a very good dentist in Zamalek that many embassy staff use. Many people were medically evacuated for anything complicated.

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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 quality varies by season. The spring, summer, fall had fairly good air quality. Air quality in the winter is abysmal. Sometimes you can taste the air due to it being filled with spoke from burning garbage and pollution. It is common in the winter to not be able to see across the Nile or the tops of buildings, due to smog, pollution, smoke, etc. Many people had respiratory issues during the winter.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Air quality in the winter is terrible, see above.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Fortunately, it's sunny almost every day in Cairo. It does rain 2-3 times per year, usually in October/November.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

October - April = very mild days and chilly evenings. May - September = hot to oppressively hot. Summers here can be terrible, but at least it's not normally very humid. I hear the Gulf States are much worse for weather due to the heat and humidity.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I hear very good things about the international school in Cairo, though I cannot speak from direct experience.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

The expat community in Cairo is huge. Cairo is a major international city and there are dozens of embassies, international organizations, etc. that use Cairo as a hub for their regional activities. Morale tends to be mixed, though most people seem to be happy. Cairo has a way of grinding you down over time. Most people arrive happy and then cannot wait to leave by the end of their tour.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There is a group that hosts diplomatic happy hours for all diplomats in Cairo. The British Embassy hosts pub quiz nights. There are a lot of opportunities to get to know people.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I believe it is. However, it may be difficult for foreigners to date locals, especially if they are not Muslim. Families seem to do well here and many people take advantage of the Maadi house, which has a pool and children's playground. That said, there are really no parks in Cairo and it's very difficult to walk around the city with a stroller.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Absolutely not, mostly due to religious beliefs.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There are tensions between Coptic Christians and Muslims in Egypt. Men are treated as first class citizens and women are second class citizens.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Many people rave about Egypt and its wealth of historical treasures. I honestly was let down time after time by what Egypt had to offer. I did enjoy the pyramids and Sphinx but Luxor was a let down. Overall, for me, it boiled down to paying a lot for low quality. Honestly, my best trips were to Europe. Direct flights to the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, etc. are cheap and quick. You pay more but you get what you pay for and without any of the hassles of traveling in Egypt, including people constantly trying to gouge for every little thing. Traveling in Egypt just wore me down and I never truly enjoyed it.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Many people go to Alexandria for weekend trips (3-hour drive from Cairo), to Ain Sukhna (2-hour drive) for the beach, Hurghada or El Gouna for long weekends (5-hour drive), Sharm El Sheik (1-hour flight), Luxor/Aswan (1-hour flight) for the temples and/or the Nile cruises.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Yes, many people go to the Khan el Khalili, which is the large open air market in Islamic Cairo to buy any manner of traditional crafts. Alabaster is also very cheap in Egypt and they make many items out of the stone, which are usually very nice. Be ready to haggle when buying items in markets. Tourist/foreigner pricing applies and you will be gouged, just expect it. Some people will take a local with them to try to avoid the gouging, it doesn't always work.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

For me, there were not too many. I didn't love Cairo, but I didn't hate it, either. I did enjoy the European travel that I did while I was here. Cairo is a major city in a developing country and it can be fun to live here but it's also very frustrating, particularly traffic and the local driving/littering habits.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How difficult spousal employment really would be. I was assured time and time again by many different people that spouses would have ample employment opportunities, that was simply not true in my case.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No, I would not. Again, I didn't love Cairo. It had some nice qualities but overall I wouldn't come back.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Sense of personal space, nice car, healthy lungs.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience, patience, patience.

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Cairo, Egypt 05/25/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

I have previously lived in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

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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?

Washington, DC.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years: 2014-2016.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Seasonal produce and chicken or lamb are fairly easily-available. Pork is hard to come by; there are a few stores that discreetly sell it. Produce prices are fairly good - below U.S. prices - and the quality is fairly high. You still need to bleach/sanitize anything you're not going to cook, though. There's a good variety of international prepared foods - pasta, curry, sauces, cookies, chips, etc. - available in grocery stores at higher prices than in the U.S. I was surprised by the variety and availability of Asian prepared foods in grocery stores. Household supplies are a mix of Egyptian and international brands. The quality is OK, though paper products are generally below U.S. standards. Embassy personnel have access to a robust commissary; talk to the embassy for more information on what's available there.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

I had access to American-quality products and didn't really need to ship anything.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

otlob.com has a great app to order delivery food - in English - from a variety of Cairo restaurants. The international food scene is remarkably limited, but there are still options. There is also the full range of international (American) fast food, from Hardee's to Papa John's.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I used embassy mail facilities to send things home. International mail is possible via the Egyptian postal service, but it seemed to take a long time to reach the U.S. International courier services (FedEx, DHL) operate in Egypt.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

There is a large Filipino expat community; many Filipinos fill domestic helper roles. Some people employ Egyptian domestic staff. My helper came twice a week, and I paid US$200/month (on the higher side).

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are some gyms in the expat areas of Cairo; some Egyptians are intense gym-goers. They tend to be expensive, however. I know people who worked out at Egyptian CrossFit gyms and who became members at social and/or golf clubs.

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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 used a credit card at malls, major grocery stores, and established restaurants; however, I almost always carried cash for smaller purchases. ATMs attached to banks tend to be fine to use.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Arabic is helpful for getting around and negotiating at markets. Most people in the expat areas and at tourist sites speak *some* English, however.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. There are high curbs, few sidewalks, and many piles of rubble or trash on the street/sidewalk.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Security limits precluded me from using the subway, but other expats did. I took taxis and Uber on a regular basis without any issue. If you take a taxi, negotiate the price when you get in (or before) and try to have small change to cover the fare. Taxis should be metered.

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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?

The roads are a little rough, but they're navigable with most kinds of vehicles. Parking and traffic are both nightmarish in Cairo, and taxis/Uber are relatively cheap. It is feasible to do without a car.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet service is available, but it is DSL over copper phone lines. It's sufficient for streaming, but service can be spotty at times. It's also expensive for the quality of service you get. Configuring the service is a major pain, but if all of the infrastructure is in place - likely if an expat lived in your unit before you - it is actually quick to turn on after the paperwork is done. Many people use "fixers" to be go-betweens with the ISP, but it was fairly easy (but tedious) to navigate the process on my own.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

The two major mobile service providers are Orange (Egypt) and Vodafone (Egypt). I used a pay-as-you-go chip while I was there with no problem. Starting and exiting a contract are bureaucratic processes; avoid them if at all possible.

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Pets:

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?

I didn't have pets in Cairo, but people who did used several vets and seemed happy with them. Be careful about tarmac temperatures if you are shipping pets in/out of Cairo. I think there are vaccination requirements, etc. but don't know too much about them. Lots of people have pets in the areas in which expats tend to live.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Dress code is somewhere between business casual and business day-to-day. Bigger meetings are more formal - suit and tie.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Women are catcalled, and I know of many who are harrassed on the street. As a man, I never really felt uncomfortable, though. It's a large city - crime happens. If you exercise the same kind of caution you would in New York, Bangkok, or London, you will probably be OK.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The air quality is very poor; even with air purifiers at home, people had a lot of respiratory problems. While there are hospitals that are OK for emergency treatment, I would prefer to be evacuated for any kind of surgery or complex medical procedure.

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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 quality is very poor; even with air purifiers at home, people had a lot of respiratory problems.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Cairo is the desert. The Nile adds some humidity at times, but it's basically hot and dry all the time.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

There's a large expat community that spans the socio-economic spectrum. Morale is mixed and significantly impacted by the changing security situation.

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2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Once they get settled, families seem to enjoy it here. I wouldn't recommend it for singles.

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3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No. While there are plenty of LGBT people in the city, there's no real sense of community. The scene is totally underground, and same-sex romantic relationships are totally taboo. That said, I know a number of same-sex expat couples that were enjoying their time in Cairo.

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4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There are definite issues with gender equality, and there is a religious divide between Muslims and Christians. In general, my impression was that the people I interacted with dealt well with religious differences but that gender issues were a bit more challenging.

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5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling through Upper Egypt (Luxor, Aswan) and Alexandria.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothes.

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2. But don't forget your:

Sunblock, frequent flyer numbers.

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Cairo, Egypt 05/16/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes, this was my first.

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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?

UK. Connections via Heathrow, Frankfurt, Istanbul. It takes four hours to get to Heathrow direct.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Almost two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Love.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Cheap where manufactured in Egypt, expensive where imported, depending on the country. Western goods are very expensive at the moment due to the currency devaluation in November 2016.



Food can be bought extremely cheaply from local butchers, bakers and greengrocers.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Redbush tea. Decent wine. You just can't get it here. There isn't much else you can't get though.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Anything and everything is available and can be delivered 24/7.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

You get ants, mosquitoes and occasional cockroaches but nothing I would call unusual.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Postal services are dire. I do it through work.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

I have a cleaner. Plenty of availability but quality can be questionable. Other expat recommendations are a good idea. Help is cheap compared to the UK.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Plenty in the expat areas. Vary in price but generally cheaper than the UK.

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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?

Yes credit cards used. Egypt still very cash-based though so in small shops or local restaurants you'll need cash. Loads of ATMs.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Very little, but many classes available.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It would depend on the disability. The pavements are shocking so using a wheelchair would be challenging for example.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes except the small mini buses. Never use these. Make sure the taxi driver has the meter on.

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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?

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

No. The Internet is known for being really awful in Egypt, although it's improving slowly. Ideally get an apartment with internet already installed.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Use local. Very cheap. I use Vodafone.

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Pets:

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?

Good vets are hard to find. Get expat recommendations. I don't know about quarantine because I didn't bring any pets in.

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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?

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Loads. Animals, children, refugees, poverty, fair trade.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Nothing too revealing but generally Egypt is pretty relaxed--for foreigners especially.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

The same as anywhere really. Don't go to dodgy areas. Pay attention to your own embassy advice. In Egypt you have to carry ID so have your passport or a certified copy with you at all times.



Don't get involved in dodgy political groups.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is nothing like the UK but good care can be found. Make sure you have insurance.



Extreme heat can be a problem.



Hygiene standards are not the same as the west but again this is improving. Any restaurant frequented by foreigners will be fine.



Always drink filtered or bottled water and ensure it's sealed. I do clean my teeth in the water but I don't drink it.

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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?

Not good due to the traffic. I live "up town" on the hill (Mokattam) for that reason.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

If smog is a problem for you, you won't be able to live here.



My hay fever has been loads better in Egypt.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Mostly hot. Little rain. Can be cooler in winter. Lovely in spring and autumn.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Excellent. British, American, French, German all available plus others.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Not huge but very active. Generally good morale. Most like living here.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

InterNations.



There are pubs, restaurants, clubs etc. Many clubs.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think it's good for anyone.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No. Whilst not illegal, LBGT people are not treated well in this country. This is changing but I still wouldn't recommend it.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Egypt is an 85% Muslim country and whilst there are prejudices, it is considerably more liberal than some of its neighbours. So yes, compared to the west there is gender inequality but nothing like the western media would have you believe.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Hard to single any out. Egyptians are some of the friendliest and open people you will find. They wear their hearts on their sleeves. Great sense of humour. I work with mostly Egyptians and I love it.



It's also, in my view, one of the most culturally rich and diverse countries in the world. There is so much to see and do. You'd need a lifetime.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

It's definitely not a shopping post but there's plenty of shopping available. Of all types. Locally made stuff can be fabulous. The old bazaar, Khan el Khalili, is amazing.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Living and working with Egyptians. The culture and history. Holiday destinations of all kinds on your doorstep.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

The time. Egypt is extremely polychronic--time is a flexible concept. If you're from a monochronic, time-conscious, culture it can drive you nuts.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Snow boots.

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4. But don't forget your:

Factor 50 sunscreen.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Any books by Naguib Mafouz.


If you like murder mystery, the Parkar Bilal Makana books.


Go to AUC Press for many other ideas.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Cairo is crazy, chaotic, hot, dirty, and an assault on the senses. But probably the most vibrant and alive place I've ever been.

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Cairo, Egypt 01/30/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Several other postings worldwide. This was my first in the Arab world, though.

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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?

East Coast US; it took three flights until they added in some direct flights from Europe to my home city toward the end of our posting. While we were there, there was one direct flight from Cairo to New York on Egypt Air (US Gov't wouldn't pay for it, but we took it when paying on our own) and otherwise we had to connect in Europe. There were usually multiple options daily on several different airlines; about a 5 hour flight to Europe and then an 8 hour flight to the US.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2013-2015

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Almost everything costs less than in the US. You can find pretty much anything you need locally if you are not picky about brands, although it may take visiting a few stores to find it. If you are with the US government, the commissary is fantastic.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Would not have brought as many dry goods, since we could get them there for less than we paid in DC.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

This is a highlight. The food is super cheap (there was a place that sold really good falafel sandwiches for about 28 cents each) and very good; it's similar to Lebanese cuisine. It's a great place for vegetarians. Mint lemonade and sweetened hibiscus tea are terrific and are ubiquitous. We ate out frequently and never got sick. For a big cosmopolitan city, other ethnicities of food are a bit limited (there is no Vietnamese place for example), but you will find great French, Italian, Korean, and Thai places. Seafood is rarely good in Cairo.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Very few; we saw a couple of spiders but that was it.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We used the US embassy mail. Our first year it took about a week, but the second year was substantially slowed due to various problems.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

It goes by ethnicity. Filipina maid/nannies cost about US$5/hour, and Egyptians are about US$3/hour. You will have no problem finding someone - since the revolution, there are fewer expats, so the people who worked for them are desperate for employment. The quality of work seemed to be adequate but not as good as in some other places we have lived.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, there are multiple gyms with reasonable costs. They're adequate although not up to US quality.

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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?

We used credit cards at some restaurants and at the Carrefour, and used cash everywhere else. There are ATMs everywhere and are generally safe to use, although we tended to stick to the ones inside banks.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are several Christian denominations, and even occasional Jewish services at the synagogue downtown.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It helps to know basic directional words and numbers for taxis and shopping. That's about all I learned and I was fine. Most educated, wealthy Egyptians speak English. Where I missed out not speaking Arabic was in interactions with people other than these. Like anywhere, you get more out of it if you speak the language. However, I still was able to have a fulfilling time without it.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

YES. Sidewalks are rarely useable, curbs are crumbling, elevators break all the time.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

There is Uber and it generally works well. Taxis are ubiquitous (it rarely took more than 30 seconds to get one) and are super cheap - often only a dollar or two. The taxis you get on the street rarely have seatbelts and the drivers do not always have that much knowledge of driving or of the streets of Cairo, but most people have a list of specific drivers they call; we usually used one who was reasonably priced and had a nice car with seatbelts. We were not allowed to take public transportation although our non-government friends often took the metro; per them it is unpleasant (crowded and stinky) but fast and cheap. There are a few boat taxis on the Nile but you usually have to arrange them ahead of time; however they were expanding these when we left.

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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?

There are a lot of large potholes and speed bumps, so it would be easier to have something with decent clearance, although we had friends who were fine with sedans. The most common brands are Hyundai and Toyota. It's pretty likely your car will get dented, although repairs are cheap.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, excellent quality and very reliable, reasonable price.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Mobile phone service was great (better than in the US) and super cheap - I paid about US$12 a month including data.

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Pets:

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?

We brought our dog. There is no quarantine. Vet care is dreadful, similar to the medical care - our dog was ill and we tried all of the recommended vets, and they were all pretty bad.

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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 worked locally. It depends on your field. You likely will not earn much, but it's a chance to experience life there at a deeper level. It's a big city with a lot of opportunities.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots; mostly with refugees, orphans, or stray animals

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

A bit dressier than in the US.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There is very little street crime - less than in the US. I walked around alone at night holding my wallet and mobile phone in my hand. Otherwise... Egypt seems to always be in flux and it depends what is going on politically when you are there. While we were there, there were times when there would be small bombs every few days in our neighborhood. It seemed to be always at night and in a place where there were no people - more designed to scare than to actually hurt. The police tend to be the target, not you.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Local medical care is dreadful. Even common specialists like obstetricians or orthopedists are well below US or European standards. The hospitals are dirty and the staff there are poorly trained. I would consider this to be a major drawback of this post.

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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?

On the worst days, my lips would taste like dirt after I had been outside for a while. Most people get a cough for two months or so the first winter they are there. However, you sort of get used to it, and many days are not that bad at all, with bright blue skies. There are two months in the spring (usually March and April) when there are dust storms and it is sometimes very hazy. For me, it was an acceptable tradeoff to have sunny weather. We had some air filters in our apartment but rarely felt the need to use them.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

People with dust allergies will have difficulty. People with pollen or mold allergies will be in luck since there's not a lot of either of those around due to the dry climate.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Amazing. It only rains a few days a year, and when it does, it's only for a few minutes and is a big exciting event. There are a few other cloudy days but it's almost always sunny. Two months of too hot/humid in July/August, nice weather September-November, a little cold December-February (I even wore a winter coat a few times, but you can still sit outside at a restaurant), nice again when there are no dust storms March-June.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Our child was in preschool while we were there. Most people with school age kids seemed fairly happy with CAC, although the consensus was that it's gone downhill somewhat since the revolution. The campus is big, and very nice. Some families sent their kids to MBIS, a British school, and were happy with it. I visited and found it odd that it was right next to a big, very dusty quarry - would not want my child breathing that during outdoor time.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I can only speak from personal experience. At Small Talk, they were very accepting of having kids with special needs there (some fairly severe), but it was not apparent that they did anything special to help them integrate into the classroom. At Kompass, there was at least one kid with substantial special needs, who had an aide and did well.

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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?

Yes. We had experience with two different preschools there. The cost was not bad (coming from a Washington DC perspective). We did not like Small Talk (crowded, chaotic classrooms with poor integration of multiple special needs kids) but loved Kompass, a Montessori school with great teachers, great outdoor space, everything very carefully thought out and well-planned, and even excellent lunch served.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, if you're not picky about which ones. We were not able to locate a good gymnastics program, for example, but soccer was great.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Variable. Some people loved the adventure and the chance to know people from all over the world, and others complained about the dirt and the instability and the traffic.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Eat at an outdoor restaurant. Go to a music performance at Cairo Opera House or the outdoor theater in Al Azhar park. Get dressed up and go to one of the many balls. Pub quiz.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, I think for everyone. There is a lot of nightlife, and lots of other families with kids and if you are at the US embassy the pool club is a terrific resource (for example they would show kids' movies on the lawn weekly while the adults had dinner). The one substantially lacking part is that there are not a lot of options for outdoor play for kids (only at clubs) and outdoor exercise activities (there's a nearby canyon where you can mountain bike and hike, but it's pretty dusty with a lot of trash and stray dogs, and it's a bit too hot and sunny there a lot of the year). I found a track to run on but definitely would not have enjoyed running on the street. There is a beach 90 minutes' drive away.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

This would not be a good place to be openly gay. It is frowned upon in local culture.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Western female friends I had who had darker skin tended to be harrassed more than those with lighter skin. As a lighter skinned, clearly Western-appearing woman, I encountered essentially no harrassment the whole time I was there, except a couple of trivial incidents with preteen boys. There are different standards for Egyptians and Westerners, so dress that would not be considered ok for an Egyptian can still be ok for a Westerner, as long as you use moderation. Short sleeves and capri pants or skirts that are mid-calf are fine. People tend to be more on the dressy side there, so you will feel better if you are as well.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Camping in the desert (currently no longer allowed unfortunately), the friends we made, the cheap/safe/delicious food (none of us had food poisoning even once), going to outdoor balls, time spent at the pool club, really enjoyed our compound housing. And the sunshine (even with the bad air, which wasn't that bad most days).

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Shopping in the Khan al Khalili, driving through Garbage City, hanging out at Family Park in Rehab if you have kids (there are events there every few weeks with live music and food trucks), Al Azhar park, music and other cultural performances.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

chess sets, lamps, local musical instruments, custom wood furniture, tablecloths, wall hangings. In the Khan al Khalili back alleys you can find bizarre things like antique diving helmets and typewriters.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Most things are super cheap. You can do most of your daily errands on foot. The people are for the most part friendly and interested in interacting. Cairo is a huge expat city and it is easy to have friends from all over the world (there were kids from 35 countries in my daughter's school). The food is great. It is among the sunniest places in the world and you will spend a lot of time sitting outside. If you are US Government, the commissary is amazing and the swim club is a terrific social outlet with lots of fun activities, especially if you have younger kids.

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10. Can you save money?

Absolutely.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I didn't need to buy all of those baggy long sleeved shirts! Most likely your regular wardrobe will be fine.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, absolutely.

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3. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

.
Nagib Mafouz is always mentioned, but the Cairo of his books is pretty much unrecognizable compared to that of the present day.

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4. Do you have any other comments?

One more point to consider is driving - I felt like we pretty much took our life in our hands every time we drove on one of Cairo's few highways, to the point that we sometimes decided not to go somewhere because it just wasn't worth it. Everywhere else, it's actually sort of fun (there are no rules), but also pretty stressful. You will frequently have to squeeze between other cars with only an inch or two on either side, and the traffic is variable and unpredictable. Some people had drivers, but most people drove themselves.

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Cairo, Egypt 01/29/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Numerous expat experiences

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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?

Homebase is U.S.
Various carriers fly from Cairo to US with one connection in Europe (Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris, etc...)

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3. How long have you lived here?

2014-2016

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Good availability of local and imported groceries and household supplies. Imported goods are more expensive than if bought back home, but you can live fine on local goods.

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3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Plenty of western fast food. Restaurants are decent and affordable, but it's not a foodie city.

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Daily Life:

1. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Numerous gyms around the city

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards are usually accepted in upscale restaurants and shops. Cash is needed in simpler establishments. ATMs are available and generally reliable. At times, a credit card or ATM card may not work for some reason, so it is good to have cash as a back up.

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3. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

ir is difficult for anyone to walk in Cairo, but taxis and Uber are readily available.

Most apartments are not designed with physical disabilities in mind. Many have steps to navigate with no ramp. Some residential elevators are unreliable, making it necessary to climb several flights of stairs.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Uber is available and reliable.

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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?

A sturdy vehicle is best suited for some of the rough roads, but a very large vehicle might be difficult to park, even at your residence.

Cars usually get scratched or get into fender benders, so best to not bring a car that you mind getting dinged up.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

It is a available in some areas, but some areas/apartments do not have the infrastructure to support it.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Women need to cover legs, shoulders, and upper arms to avoid some of the harassment. They get harassed regardless of what they are wearing, but conservative clothes will help minimize the harassment.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

U.S. Embassy personnel are not permitted to travel outside Cairo without prior approval. U.S. Embassy personnel are not permitted to travel to Sinai peninsula (including Sharm Al-Shiekh) or western desert region. See travel.state.gov for details.

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2. 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?

Very dusty

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3. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Very hot in the summer. Nice in the fall and spring. Relatively cold in the winter. Mostly dry all year.

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Expat Life:

1. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Not really a "good" post for anyone, given the traffic and poor housing

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2. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Nile cruises, visits to ancient sites

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3. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

There is almost no end to the tourism opportunities in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt.

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4. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Great tourism opportunities in Cairo and around Egypt. Easy flights to other countries.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Umbrella

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2. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Cairo Trilogy
Children of the Alley

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3. Do you have any other comments?

Traffic is crazy and frustrating

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Cairo, Egypt 01/29/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Second expat experience

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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?

East coast of the USA. Most flights connect through Frankfurt or Paris.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2013-2015

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Lots of good local grocery chains like Metro, Seoudi, things are not super expensive. Alcohol is hard to come by, only Egyptian wines are sold and some imported beer. The Embassy has a commissary where you can by alcohol. And pork and bacon, which are not available locally.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Clothing, especially if a niqab is not your thing. There are western- style malls with Gap, Zara, H and M, Marks and Spencer...but the fashions are dated, modest and not in keeping with the climate. Shoes also.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything (KFC, McDonald's, Papa Johns) everything is available for delivery, including cupcakes and groceries

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Not bad...

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

The Embassy has an APO

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Not super cheap. The going rate is about US$5/ hour for a Filipino maid, less for an Egyptian.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Gold's Gym, lots of Fitness First type places, even Curves and women's only clubs

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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?

We did it, the ATM's seemed safe. Stores accept credit cards, but not small stores or the Khan...

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are lots of Catholic and Christian churches.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Some for taxis, grocery shopping. Most educated Egyptians speak at least some English.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

No no no..the roads are rubble in many places, no handicapped access. No no no.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The Metro is fast and cheap, but is quite limited in its coverage and downtown stations were closed for security when we were there. Taxis are plentiful.

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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?

Bring something old and dinged up to save yourself heartache. Some of the most challenging and unexplainable driving on the planet. You can get by without a car but he taxis are a story in and of themselves.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Can't recall who we used but do recall it was medium speed.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Local providers. We had Vodafone

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Pets:

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 quarantine, local vet care is adequate as long as it's routine.

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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?

Hmmm...not so much, except through the Dmbassy or the schools, or the American University of Cairo (AUC). A lot of companies have shrunk their footprint and there is bilateral work agreement between the US and Egypt.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots of orphanages, schools in need of volunteers.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Modest. Women mush have arms and legs covered.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Lots. The U.S. Embassy has all sorts of restrictions- no Metro, no Sinai, no this, no that. We took the Metro anyway and it was fine and probably less death defying than an Egyptian cab

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Hepatitis is abundant among Egyptians, lots of stray animals, do get a rabies shot. Local medicine is OK, but for anything serious you would want to think carefully about care in Europe or the US

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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?

Very poor in the winter when people burn rice husks. Otherwise, dusty and some pollution- what you would expect with 20+ million people. It rarely rains so everything is dusty and in need of a good bath.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Egypt is dusty, dusty dusty...but there is enough greenery to cause seasonal irritation.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The summer is hot and more humid than I thought it would be, there is a cold snap during Dec.- Feb. which is very nice and comfortable.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Most Embassy families use Cairo American College in Maadi. We had our kids there and were overall very happy. The teaching staff are solid and overall excellent. The administration is the weak link. Our experience was that of a very "hands off" attitude with the parents.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Not a whole lot. If here happens to be a skilled expat in the community who can offer specific services, you are in luck. Lots of tutors available.

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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 lots of preschools, we did not have experience with them.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Through the school

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

There are a lot of expats in Zamalek and in Maadi near the school (CAC). Not as many as before as many international companies have left Egypt.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Egyptians do not eat out much, so the restaurants tend to be western style without alcohol. Our experience was a lot of dinners at home with friends.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, although the dating scene may be difficult

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Absolutely not- grounds for incarceration

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Women must dress very modestly, to prevent unwanted attention and this gets real old, especially in the hot summer months. Egyptians seem tolerant of Christianity, I do not know about Judiasm, just never say you are an atheist

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Nile cruise Luxor-Aswan, Abu Simbel, felucca rides on the Nile, water taxis, Red Sea resorts

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Coptic Cairo is a real sanctuary, as is Al Azhar park, the Khan is endlessly fascinating, especially at night.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Copper from the Khan, Fayoum pottery, beautiful light fixtures, mashribaya woodwork, lovely jewelry and handicrafts

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The Egyptian culture is fascinating, especially the antiquities.The Pyramids are always a thrill, no matter how many times you go. The Egyptians are warm and welcoming, despite what they have been through recently.

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10. Can you save money?

Things are not super expensive and prices are negotiable....yes

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How repressive it has become.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Once was plenty

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Impatience, need for paved roads and lane markers, tank tops and hot pants, umbrella and rain boots

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4. But don't forget your:

Sense of wonder and love of history

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0679767274/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0679767274&linkCode=as2&tag=talesmag-20&linkId=N5EBSHGJQDNYNWO6

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Cairo, Egypt 10/08/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. France, Japan, Bolivia, Zambia.

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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?

Vermont, USA. From DC, the connection is in Germany to go to Cairo. 24 hours door-to-door for us.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Starting our second year.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

My husband works for USAID.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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).

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

The Commissary is like a full-stocked grocery store. I have never thought to myself, "I wish they had....." There is everything unless you are looking for something bizarre for your dietary needs.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Glad we have our bikes. I can't think of anything we are missing other than our winter clothes. We now get a second R&R, and we are psyched to be going to Europe for Christmas! Wish I had packed a few of my winter clothes. I'll have a friend send them, though. No biggie.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Oh, my! There is great food here. I just had Thai food for lunch. You can have cheap, authentic Egyptian food for US$1.50, or the normal fast food American fare for the same price in the U.S. There is McDonald's, Hardee's, Auntie Anne's, KFC, Subway, Papa John's, Chile's, Friday's, Domino's, Pizza Hut, the list goes on and on.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

No problems, per se. There is the occasional fly, mosquito, or ant.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO, we love you!

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We have a part-time Fillipina housekeeper. She is fantastic at US$5.00 per hour. It's a little more than we paid at previous posts but many people here go with the Fillipino community because of their work ethic.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. There are gyms at USAID and the Embassy. There is Gold's Gym, and there are a couple of clubs nearby, too. There is the Maadi House with a pool, and CAC with an exercise area (I haven't been, but I hear that classes are good).

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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 tend to use them at known establishments. The ATM at the Commissary is great, as is the one here at USAID, and the one at CAC is good, too, though it just disperses local currencies unlike the former two mentioned.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

We go to Maadi Community Church which has a vibrant congregation and children's services. We are quite happy with it. Other people attend Saint John's Episcopal and The Holy Family Catholic Church. There are mosques, a synagogues downtown, and a Mormon community.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It's nice to know common greetings but so many people speak English here.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

I think that they would but there might be some accommodations if they lived in the U.S. Government compound housing. Our apartment building, for example, does not have an elevator until the second floor. Go figure.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

We aren't allowed to take the trains, buses, and metro right now. Taxis are safe, though we are told that the white taxis are the safest. Make sure to name your price at the beginning or have the taxi driver turn on the meter. Just around Maadi is less than a dollar, so, yes- it's affordable.

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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?

We have a Toyota Sequoia. It is hard to get into our small garage below the apartment building but we manage. It is a large car that has high clearance. Expect to ding your car a bit while here. Egyptian drivers are CRAZY! No carjackings that I know of. You can order some parts from home if you need to. We have an APO.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. Pretty comparable to the U.S.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Vodafone seems to be the service of choice. It's pretty good. Our kids even have the small Nokia pay-as-you-go for emergencies (or for the phone call after school, "Mama, can I go to so-and-so's house?")

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Pets:

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. We have two cats. There is ample pet care available. The only complaint I have heard is that dogs are confined to the apartment. There are a lot of dogs on leashes in the early evening, though. They seem happy.

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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?

Yes. There are teaching jobs, EFM jobs (I'm part-time at USAID in Education), online jobs, etc. I suggest looking right away, though, if you want to work. The interview process and security clearance process both take time.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty! Orphanages, animal shelters, hospitals, schools....

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

People dress up here a little more out on the streets than in the U.S. I am comfortable wearing short sleeves outside, but not shorts unless I am at the beach. At work, it is mostly business dress, though you do see some jeans with dressy tops.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

We get security alerts sometimes via text telling us to avoid certain areas. "Protest in such and such area. Avoid for the next two hours." Usually it is something happening very far from our hometown of Maadi (outside Cairo).

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Not really. We have just had to use the Embassy clinic which has met all of our basic needs.

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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?

Moderate. There have been a couple of times during the year that I have had to close my balcony doors because people were burning something nearby but otherwise it's OK. Great evenings to sit on the balcony.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Bring Claritin, I suppose. The spring brought some allergies but nothing horrid.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

I have seen it rain only once or twice. It's mostly hot and dry in the summer, warm in the spring and fall, and even chilly in the winter. We definitely wear long sleeves and jackets in the winter.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Great schools! Our kids go to Cairo American College (CAC). Some families use the British School. As for CAC, we are very pleased with academics and after school activities. Our children are involved in Girl Scouts, swim team, pottery, running, soccer, baseball, origami, painting, recycled toys, violin, strings orchestra, etc. etc. It has been wonderful. Our three children are in the elementary school and I have nothing but praise to sing to the school.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

We have a first grader under the umbrella of "special-needs" as he receives speech services three times a week. He has a couple of other minor delays which were evident after a full psycho-educational evaluation over summer break in the USA. This year we qualify for the special-needs allowance and I have ordered quite a few things to help him with at home. I'm a teacher by trade which makes this a little easier to be able to help him myself but the allowance is fantastic. If a child is an extreme case for special needs, I don't think that this post would be too accommodating. Speech, organizational difficulties, lower reading skills- I think that these items are addressed. CAC states on its website that learning support needs are addressed with level 1 students and level 2 students for up to 300 minutes per week of support. CAC states that it does not have the resources to meet the needs of students who are classified as level 3.

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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?

Yes. Many families use nearby preschools. One I hear of often is the Irish Nursery.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes! Our kids play soccer and baseball, and there are other sports programs as well. Swimming is huge here.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

It's pretty large. The morale seems to be good though people are often happy to go on vacation.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Take a picnic basket and some wine and hop on a sailboat on the Nile. The boats, called feluccas, can be rented for about US$10 per hour and can hold up to 20 people.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes! I think that families especially are happy.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I don't think so.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

We are Christians and have not felt prejudices but I wouldn't say that I feel a lot of "religious freedom." Many Egyptian Christians here feel the prejudices. For example, you will find more Egyptian Christian workers at USAID because of the anti-discrimination laws that we have in the U.S. Not so in Egypt. There are sectors of work where Christians are not promoted or not even allowed in the workplace to begin with.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

There is a large expat community we enjoy mingling with. We have also enjoyed our Egyptian friends. We have very nice colleagues who have invited us out/over on several occasions.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Pyramids, Red Sea, Coptic Cairo, Islamic Cairo, Desert Camping (off limits at the moment but will hopefully open up again soon), Nile Cruises, Old Souk (market) downtown, etc. etc.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Egyptian crafts such as lanterns, ornate room dividers, large serving trays to turn into coffee tables, ottomans, etc. etc.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

There are so many fantastic things to see. The weather is great although it does get hot in the summer. I admit I love my air conditioning in the summer months. We drive an hour and a half to the Red Sea a couple of times a month. It has great snorkeling just a few feet off the beach.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, but we are a family of 5 so we don't save a lot.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That it's a LOT safer than people expect.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, absolutely.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Heavy winter clothing unless you plan to travel to Europe for winter.

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4. But don't forget your:

Snorkeling gear, extra swim suits, Egyptian Arabic phrase book, next size up of clothing for your kids (local U.S.-type clothing can be expensive).

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Anything from National Geographic is good for the tourist spots.

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Egypt has a bad rep since the evacuations but we have been very happy here. The political situation is much, much calmer now, and we expect more people to be drawn back here. It is a great post with great people, good work, wonderful schools, good weather, good food, and an overall good morale at post.

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Cairo, Egypt 08/19/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes.

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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?

Our home base is the southwest United States. We fly through Europe on our way home.

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3. How long have you lived here?

My children and I have been here for 8 months. My husband moved here months before us during ordered departure.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

My husband works at the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

The commissary is wonderful for those with that privilege. It is not as large as our last area with commissary access (Puerto Rico) and all the meat and bread are frozen. The vegetables and fruits are from Europe so sometimes they are not as fresh. We shop there once a month and then buy local fruits/veges, milk and bread. Local products are not expensive but American products that are imported into the local grocery stores are very expensive. We order a lot from Amazon.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Gift wrap/tissue paper for gifts, ink for our printer - it has been difficult finding those items and in the case of ink impossible to order over the Internet to have shipped here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are a lot of American fast food restaurants like McDonald's and Pizza Hut. Of course there are some excellent Egyptian restaurants nearby. Everything is within walking distance or delivery since everyone delivers here. The prices are better than the States and the delivery fee is less than US$1.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None. We did have some small ants for a few days in our apartment but the Embassy got rid of them.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

US$5-6 per hour, usually paid monthly. During Ramadan (if help is Muslim), 1/2 month bonus before and 1/2 month bonus after. Also, another 1/2 bonus during Eid in October. For each year of service, 1 month of severance upon termination.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, the Embassy has facilities. We joined the Gezira Club. It is pricey but worth it to have a safe playground and pool to swim in.

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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?

We haven't had a problem using credit cards or ATMs. We usually use cash because that is what is always accepted. Make sure you have small bills since people rarely have change.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

I don't know what is available but we go to church in English in Maadi. Friday is Egypt's holy day. The work week runs from Sunday to Thursday. So we have had to adjust to going to church on Fridays.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It's definitely a strong advantage, but a lot of people speak English well enough and we can get by.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

YES - the sidewalks are broken with high curbs or non existent curbs. There is trash and dog poop on the sidewalks.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The trains and buses are not safe and the U.S. Embassy currently (as of August 2014) prohibits such travel. Taxis are affordable but I worry about our safety or being able to communicate with the driver. It is pretty affordable to hire a driver.

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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?

We brought our minivan. It is kind of big for the tight roads and traffic here. Although there are Toyota dealerships here, our particular car is not part of this market so things have to be ordered and it can take a long while.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, but it is not always as fast as you are paying for it to be. We can usually watch Netflix or stream a movie. US$168 for 3 months service. They come to your door to collect the money and will make service calls if needed. Probably the most you'll get for speed is 4MB, but we typically run anywhere from 500Kbps to only 2Mbps. Forget about streaming HiDef!

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I bought one here and prepay. It is very affordable for local calls and Internet on my Smartphone.

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Pets:

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. I don't believe this is a pet friendly post since there is no green space near our apartment, lots of strays and trash on the streets. Also, Egyptians use poison liberally for rats and strays. We chose to leave our beloved dog with family in the States.

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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 don't know. I know of people working in schools.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There seem to be a lot. I do not have time but if you do then there are opportunities.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual for women and suits/tie for men. Modesty everywhere is a must. retty much no shorts - but no morality police like in KSA. Lots of hisses and cat calling if you reveal too much.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

YES, we have to check the alerts from the Embassy whenever we go anywhere. There are weekly protests and bombs and shootings throughout Cairo and other parts of the city. Street crime isn't that high, but harassment against women is very high. I do not feel comfortable walking alone. I have 3 young daughters and a lot of men feel very comfortable hissing at them and reaching out and touching their heads. We really hate it. There are approx. 20 million people in Cairo. So although bad/scary things happen in the city sometimes not very far away, actual personal impact is low. More than anything, it heightens stress and causes us to have to plan more carefully before venturing out.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

We have the Embassy doctor for routine care and check-ups. We've used a dentist and eye doctor with general satisfaction, but not on par with what we enjoy in the States.

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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?

Unhealthy from exhaust and cigarette smoke. I have heard that breathing the air here is comparable to smoking a pack of cigarettes per day.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Cool in winter (jacket, long sleeves, pants) and hot in summer. Very little rainfall and just the right amount of humidity. Last year it snowed for the first time in 100 years!

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

CAC is in Maadi. I homeschool so we can be close to the Embassy and have dinner together as a family. There are not acceptable English alternatives in the downtown area (Zamalek/Garden City) so most families with school-aged children have no real choice but to live in Maadi.

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2. 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?

Yes, but we have not used any preschools here.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

There are a lot of sports available at our club such as tennis, soccer, gymnastics, fencing, karate, swimming, diving, etc.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

There are a lot of expats from various countries here. The morale is low due to terrorism and lack of funds for the local government. The electricity is cut multiple times a day for 1-3+ hours each time lately. That is terribly frustrating and annoying.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Dinner cruises, dinner out, opera, ballets, touring, shopping, etc.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It is tough because there are no other families in our demographic where we live (downtown) so we feel isolated. I think there is more socialization for families in Maadi, but the trade-off is a longer, stressful commute and less face time with family.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No, it would be tough. Egypt is a very conservative society (not as strict as some like KSA) and people have even been arrested and prosecuted for homosexuality.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Most people are Muslims and some extreme groups do not like Christians. Many Christian churches were burned in the past couple of years and even some have gone so far as to say that a specific car logo looks like a cross so they should be burned. That said, there are many Christian churches available. If you look "Western," it is possible that you will be discriminated against. Supposedly Egypt is the #4 country in the world right now that likes Americans the least. Personally, my limited interaction with the locals has been mostly positive. I find Egyptians to be kind and welcoming - the ones I meet, anyway. Right now Egypt is notorious for the severe sexual harassment problems afflicting women.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Seeing all the sights that I had only seen in movies or read about in books. I also like that we spend a lot more time together as a family here.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Luxor is a quick flight or cruise. There are a lot of pyramids, mosques, and museums in Cairo. We love being able to drive to the Red Sea in under 2 hours time for a long weekend getaway.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Alabaster, handmade dolls, clothing, jewelry, linens, brass/copper, papyrus, ceramics and TRAVEL.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Touring the sights and the weather is nice most of the year. The summers are a little too hot but bearable because of the dry heat.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How unstable it would be politically, the uneasiness caused by the continuous "low level" terrorist attacks and unreliability of electricity (knowing what we know now, we definitely would have chosen to live in a compound [backup generators!] in Maadi [other families and school!]). We would not have come here if we would have known there would be an ordered evacuation (2 in three years). Plus it's tough living with the threat of protests and potential bombs.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Probably not the way it is right now. It has dropped down to a 2 year tour, but we got slammed with the ordered departure. Quality of life has really dropped over the last few years. Tourism is way down and extremism is up (in place of mass protests). Egypt is an amazing place with phenomenal history, but it's very tough to enjoy under current circumstances. And did I mention the power outages during the hot summer??? Complaints aside, we're grateful for this unique opportunity and we'll cherish the fond memories (and photographs!) we're making.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothes, but long sleeves and lighter jacket for winter months is sufficient.

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4. But don't forget your:

Flashlights (tons of power outages, if you are not in a U.S. compound, especially during the summer). Good walking shoes and a small patio charcoal grill (for when you do not have electricity). My husband wishes he would have brought his CDs since he cannot take an MP3 player into work. Anything else you need...order on Amazon.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

All the amazing National Geographic/Discovery Channel documentaries and of course all the Hollywood movies like Indiana Jones, Lara Croft, The Mummy, etc.

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Anything by Naguib Mahfouz - he is a Nobel prize-winning Egyptian author. And of course the Old Testament!

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7. Do you have any other comments?

If you're headed this way, you're in for quite an adventure on many levels!

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Cairo, Egypt 08/19/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, previous African posts.

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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?

East Coast...must connect through Frankfurt. Total trip= 20 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are somewhat expensive, except at the commissary which is cheaper than in the U.S. Gas is super cheap, many local brands of household supplies are cheaper than imported items.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Everything is available here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Anything and everything including home delivery. Many restaurants, although no alcohol served.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Small ants, some cockroaches, an occasional mosquito, not bad after living in West Africa.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Embassy DPO, but FedEx and UPS are available and will pick up.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

About US$5/ hour.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Golds Gym...reasonable prices.

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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?

We have used both without incident, although our bank in the U.S. sometimes freezes us due to fraud alerts, which is a pain.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Some,but English is widely understood in the expat areas.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It would be utterly impossible to easily live here with a physical disability. The electrical power goes out for one hour at a time several times a day in the summer and this affects elevators...

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are cheap, the White taxis have meters, but sometimes the driver "forgets", so remind him to put the meter on to avoid an unpleasant altercation.

As I have said, traffic is awful and the driving technique is something out of a horror movie - NO regard for lanes, passing on left and right, sketchy maneuvers at high speed, drivers hanging out the window yelling at each other at high speeds, tailgating at high speeds...and sometimes it is your cab driver who is behaving badly, so it is best to use a cab driver you know or that comes recommended because otherwise you might be in the car with a lunatic driver and I speak from personal experience.

The Metro is actually a great way to get around, fare= @ 20 cents. There is a "women's only car."

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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?

Traffic is a complete nightmare (worse than your worst dreams) so something already dinged up will save you a lot of stress. Road conditions are abysmal (potholes, crumbling infrastructure). Street parking is a challenge- the city and suburbs are so overcrowded that sometimes you have to navigate with less than 1" on each side and your side mirrors touched in....Bring as small a car as you can manage. It is totally possible to live car free and take taxi's.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Good connectivity relative to other posts, cost is reasonable, about US$100/ month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Bring an unlocked phone and buy a SIM card that you can reload- we use Vodaphone for calls, text and data.

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Pets:

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?

Good local vets, many pet shops.

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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?

Some NGO's and American University of Cairo. Many major U.S. companies, although this footprint is shrinking...

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots. There are organizations that list all the opportunities, like CSA.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual, women need to dress very modestly, out of cultural consideration and to avoid unwanted attention.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Lots. Sporadic regional issues, although present government cracks down pretty hard, many areas simply off limits (most of the Sinai, the Western Desert)

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Local medical care is pretty good and the International Hospital has modern state of the art equipment. nursing care is different than in the U.S.

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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?

Outside of the city is generally not bad except in the really dry summer months with dust and pollution. And in the winter when lots of ash from stuff being burned. The city has 18 million plus people, so car pollution is bad....some days you can just see the haze...

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Summer is ungodly hot and humid with little cloud cover. Winter is nice and it actually gets very cool. Very little rain, few cloudy days...

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Our kids are at Cairo American College which is still a great school despite some upheaval with two revolutions. The school has had to accept more local kids to offset declining enrollment due to political unrest/businesses downsizing footprint in the region...therefore, the school is less "International"...the school has done a commendable job keeping things going despite evacuations of kids and staff, fluctuating enrollment figures.

There are many other schools to choose from...

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2. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Through the school, many private programs (Wadi Digla) and community baseball for kids and adults.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Big community, morale varies. This is a tough place in recent years.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Hmmm....we mostly entertain at home and go to friends houses. There is the Maadi House for Americans, the Maadi British Club ( open to other nationalities). There are many good restaurants and some of the hotel based restaurants serve alcohol. Felucca rides with a picnic are a great thing to do with a group of friends.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It is a challenge for anyone...infrastructure is poor due to lack of maintenance, including roads, sidewalks...public spaces are chaotic. Families tend to gravitate around the school and CAC is open on weekends for families to use the recreational facilities and library, which is really nice.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Not in any open way, but probably ok if discreet.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, yes and yes...discrimination is pervasive.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Nile Cruise to Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbal, seeing the Pyramids, Coptic Cairo, The Khan, felucca rides, Nile River Taxi's, Egyptian Museum.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Coptic Cairo and the Khan, The Citadel, Al Azhar Park...

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Alabaster lamps, copper, nice jewelry.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Fascinating history, ability to see Middle East as it evolves, or does not evolve. Lots to do and see, however lots of restrictions on what one can do and see...many areas of the country are off limits to USGOV personnel. Things are relatively cheap, the weather is lovely, although very hot in the summer months.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, especially with travel restrictions.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, but two years is plenty.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

High expectations, need for consistent electricity, short skirts and tank tops, bicycle, flashy jewels and taste for alcohol...

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience, sense of humor, passport for periodic breaks, sunscreen and air purifier.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

The Cairo Affair,

Palace Walk: The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 1,

The Yacoubian Building: A Novel.

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Cairo, Egypt 05/28/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This is my first post with US Government. Other expat living: Uzbekistan (3), Armenia (2), Jakarta (4.5), Guatemala City (1), and growing up overseas.

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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?

Oregon - not sure, haven't gone yet! guessing very long!

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3. How long have you lived here?

A little over a year, with 4.5 months of it on evacuation.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I live here because I work for the US Government. I live and work in Maadi.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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)

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Non-imported items are pretty cheap and choices are wide. But something like smooshed tortilla chips are super pricey on the local market. I am of the mind that if there is a Carre Four store, I am fine - and they have Carre Four in Egypt. So lots of kinds of cheeses, breads, etc. These are not always in stock when you want them, though. Fresh veggies at expat-targeted convenient markets in key spots of Maadi are SUPER pricey, on their own, let alone compared to the prices elsewhere in the area. Fresh bakeries, OK bagels, etc.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Camping gear, bikes.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McD, and ?? Oh, pizza places. Decent restaurants - there are a number of good Italian places, Gaya - Korean place that sells fresh tofu on the size (for 25% of what the commissary charges), cafes, sweets, Indian, Asian food, American burgers, excellent gelato, etc.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Help is relatively expensive for poor work, in my opinion. We came from Asia, where the cost is super low and you can have live-in help 6 days/week. None of those apply here. A decent, full-time Filipina maid is about $700/month. An Egyptian equivalent is $350 and is much slower and less skilled in cooking, reading recipes, thinking on her feet, taking initiative, not ruining your clothes in wash or by ironing. We always have full-time so there is always someone at home - child care, after school, house repairs, errands, etc. Ours takes care of dry cleaning, shoe repair, grocery shopping, payments, etc., in addition to regular cleaning, dishes, laundry etc. some food prep and occasional cooking.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes they are available, at work and on the market. I'm not sure of the cost.

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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 never had a problem. I can use at larger shops and busier restaurants - often cash is easier and safer all around, especially outside Cairo.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

A few. General ones. Catholic.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Arabic helps a lot - for taxis, green grocer, etc.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Of course. Bad roads and sidewalks

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

There are many accidents on trains. There is supposed to be a nice train between Cairo and Alexandria that a lot of expats use. Taxis are generally safe, but not knowledgeable about directions! Look for orange license plate and white taxis only. Metro is awesome to avoid traffic jams to get to downtown - but often crowded and women-only cars get full.

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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?

They advise getting a car with "clearance" but I am not a fan of SUVs. You need 4-wheel drive to go out to the desert camping, but you can easily find one of many companies to rent you the driver and vehicle for such trips. A vehicle is convenient; gas is dirt-cheap (but not for much longer). Just read of a carjacking, but generally your car is more likely to get dinged than stolen.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, cheap: US$30/mo

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Pay as you go - I don't use my personal phone much. I bought an old phone in Asia and just use a SIM card wherever I go.

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Pets:

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?

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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?

Some. That's always tough. There are a TON of schools in Cairo - and some pay decent salaries - but the commute might be a pain. There are fewer IGOs than in many other posts, but they exist. Jobs with the UN and private sector also.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty! Plenty! Syrian and African refugee groups. The USG Niler just listed a bazillion opportunities. With animals, people, environment - all kinds if you seek them out.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

You can get away with smart casual. Offices are air conditioned. Suits at intervals expected. In public - modesty - the key thing I didn't realize was that the solution for women (since you cannot wear shorts on the street) is ... capris! not short, and not suffocating long. A good casual option. No spaghetti straps, etc. Or even tank tops. You can wear with a scarf or over-shirt, maybe.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Yes - depending on your level of comfort, and rules you have to go by. As a USG employee, I can't travel to many places and I have to get authorization. As non-USG you can do plenty of traveling that I'd like to do, and that I consider safe!

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

We haven't had issues. Not great.

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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?

Air quality is bad. I checked the WHO site and it's as bad as Beijing, just not in the news for that.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

October is pleasant, cools down to 40s and 50s F at night, then warms up by March, April, and hot in June-July-August - really hot!

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I believe that CAC is by far the best school here, and has been well established for 60 years or so. No problems, lots of activities offered because of the size.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, through schools as well as many clubs - including "country clubs" that you can join.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

The size of the expat community is shrinking in my sphere because of the USG security stance and reduction plan. Plenty of expats with UN agencies, many women from all over Europe and the US married to Egyptian men. expats are active, mostly in downtown/Zamalek. The morale is simply characterized by uncertainty, since history has shown that we are unable to predict much about Egypt. So you never know what will happen next.

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2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think this is a fine city for families/singles/couples - there are a ton of things to do - there are several balls a year; Cairo Opera has stuff all year round on Zamalek; there are really nice restaurants; lots of classes and communities to join: HHH, cat rescue, yoga, roller derby, running club, biking in Wadi Degla, community religious services, British club, tennis, biking on Friday mornings with a group in Maadi, dance classes, language lessons, women's groups for lots of nationalities if you don't work - like Chinese, Spanish-speaking, Filipina, Indian, etc. Music lessons, bands to join, choirs (several), etc.

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3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Probably not great.

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4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Many women hate the harassment here - I have a good street face and really it washes over me like water off a duck's back. But it's kind of pervasive and really bad, relatively speaking. It wasn't this bad in Indonesia, Morocco...maybe India...

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5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Highlights - desert camping, Luxor, felucca rides, community feeling, beaches, proximity to Europe for travel... The school CAC is great.

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6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

I like to go out to Wadi Degla because it's Near Maadi (no travel time needed), and you can be outside, not harassed, and get some exercise. Ain Sokhna beach is about 1 hour away, so it's a good day trip or stay for the weekend. I don't think I know any hidden gems, sadly. Felucca ride with snacks and bottle of wine is always welcome.

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7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

alabaster, funky lamps, brass/copper items and table tops silver jewellery (not super cheap, I think Istanbul is cheaper).

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8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Advantages are tons of Egyptian sites for all types: Luxor, Aswan, Edfu, Alexandria, Egyptian museum, Coptic Cairo, Khan al Khalili bazaar, also outdoors - "camping" they call it - with cooks and stuff, tons of beaches, nice hotels. Golf, I hear. Horseriding, I hear. Also, based on my experience in developing countries, Maadi is wonderfully walkable (esp. because it's pleasant most of the year) to shops, school, yoga, restaurants - it's not more dangerous than any big city. There are malls if you need them. The weather is nice. Sinai - driving to Israel, Dahab in the Sinai, St. Catherine's Sinai (not that I've done those); monasteries out by Ain Sokhna; the food is ok-good.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes. Sstuff isn't that expensive, as long as you don't fly everywhere - in-country and/or to Europe.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How unstable it would be politically.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

YES.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

nice shoes - we walk everywhere b/c its so nice to move outside - so bring walking shoes.

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4. But don't forget your:

Hat, super tough sun screen.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Cairo: The City Victorious
- started to read it b/c I "should" - turned out to be one of my favorite books ever.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

I wrote this report b/c I read some others and was appalled at how negative people were. It all depends on your expectations, tolerance for uncertainty, etc. There is unrest downtown that does not affect me in Maadi. There is street crime in Maadi that is very low. Be smart! Don't live abroad if you can't adapt. That being said, the place is hot in summer. Not very green, and very very dusty - everything is dusty. People are nice, foods are good, foods are available (hey, I made borsch, eat brussel sprouts, have plums, avocados, etc. - it's a global world, I guess), it's an adventure. It's a historic time, and the sites? Timeless wonders of the world!! The Sphinx! Valley of the Queens - the tombs! wow! Would not change it.

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Cairo, Egypt 04/02/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

2nd expat experience.

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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?

Washington, DC: 12-16 hours flight; connection in Europe.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Work for U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries (except for American brand-name products) are pretty cheap locally, produce especially. Local meat is more expensive than in the U.S. The commissary is excellent, though.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Camping gear, bikes, air purifier, uninterruptable power supply.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Fast food is everywhere.There is a wide variety of nice restaurants but expect to pay Western prices.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes (but they don't carry yellow fever or malaria) and are pretty easily dealt with.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

The going rate for a good Filipina maid is US$5-6/hour. Egyptian domestic help is cheaper, though.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. There is a gym at the Embassy.

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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?

Only nicer places will accept credit cards. ATMs are widely available. I've been told not to use my credit card here for fear of fraud, but I've never had a problem using it in the places that accept it.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Several in Maadi.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It's useful to know enough to ask for directions and give directions to taxi drivers.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. There are absolutely no accommodations for anyone with physical disabilities.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are marginally unsafe, and getting more so. We are not allowed to take local trains, buses, or the metro.

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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?

Large SUV that you don't mind getting dented. If possible, bring a car whose brand is popular in Egypt (Toyota, Nissan, Kia, Hyundai, others).

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, about US$32/month for slow ADSL. You could pay more but I don't know if the service would actually be faster.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get pay as you go. I had a post-paid Mobinil line and they always tried to charge me for things I didn't order.

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Pets:

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?

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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?

Local expat jobs exist, but are rare.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Work through churches or NGOs. I don't know if this is still possible with security restrictions.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business formal at work, despite the heat.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Yes. Egypt used to be one of the safest places in the world. Now I don't even feel safe walking around my own neighborhood (Maadi). Bombs, shootings, and protests downtown.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Air pollution is the most serious health concern. Quality of local medical care is low but I've never had to deal with anything serious.

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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?

Abysmal: car exhaust, burning trash, generally awful air pollution.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Nice for most of the year. Hot (but not humid) in summer.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Getting smaller, and abysmal.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Eating out, touring, watching DVDs.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Used to be a good city for families. Now it's not a good city for anyone, Egyptians included.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Absolutely not.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Women are treated poorly and harassed in the streets, especially Western women.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Desert exploring, seeing historical sites.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Desert camping is one of the hidden gems of living in Egypt but with security restrictions, we are not always allowed to go to these places.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Alabaster.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Definitely touring, as long as you don't have travel restrictions.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How fast things would go downhill.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

My first two years in Cairo were great but the country has gone hill recently. I would have left after two years here if I had had the choice.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Luxury car, nice shoes, sense of safety/security.

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Cairo, Egypt 03/27/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

5th post.

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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?

Washington DC; about 12 to 15 hours door-to-door.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We are in our 3rd year here.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

My husband is with the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

The commissary is fabulous.

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3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

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4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Embassy APO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Expensive! With the economy in the tank, only domestic help seems to be profiting. It's completely crazy; they are all paid by the hour.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, moderate costs.

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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?

No problem to date.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It's very helpful to have some Arabic.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes, it would be very difficult because the infrastructure is so poor.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

No, all are forbidden.

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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?

Since you can't go anywhere, don't bother bringing a POV.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, about US$50+/month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

If you don't have your phone plan through the embassy, you run the risk of Mobitel having you in every few weeks, to check on you, per GOE; that is their latest irritating way of getting expats into their offices and their passports inspected.

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Pets:

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?

So far, vet services are adequate.

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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?

Mixed.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Where do you feel safe venturing?!

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Very modest.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Yes, many. From gunfire on the streets of maadi to sexual harassment of women, this should be a post with danger pay.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

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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?

Very poor; even if you are not asthmatic, it will affect your breathing!

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Dry heat is not bad, but the air quality is terrible.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

CAC is the one saving grace to Cairo!

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

None that I am aware of.

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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?

Yes, many, though the walk to some is fraught with flashers and muggers.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Through CAC.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large but diminishing; morale at the Embassy is very poor.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Felucca rides.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Very limited activities, given the security concerns.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Doubtful.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes. Non-Muslims are not respected and women are treated very poorly.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Egyptian history.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

None.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

I'm at a loss to come up with any; this has been our worst post ever. I cannot wait to leave.

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10. Can you save money?

Not really.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No, and counting down until I can leave!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Your enthusiasm for this great culture; they will beat you down at every turn. Truthfully, Egyptians don't want us here.

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3. But don't forget your:

Return ticket.

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Cairo, Egypt 07/23/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes it was and I think this is why we loved it so much! We haven't yet seen what we could have been missing in another country!

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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?

Washington, D.C. About a 18-20 hours depending on your connecting flight.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Our commissary provides all your American foods for around the same price you would pay in America. Locally-bought veggies are cheap and great.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

An air purifier. And anything where quality is important -- like sheets, towels, etc. Natural specialist foods,

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything. Egyptian fast food is the best, koshary is a rice and pasta mixed dish, and we feed a family of four (with desserts) for five dollars. I have no idea what American fast food costs, but McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, and lots more are all here.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

A few tiny ants. Wild dogs and cats are a much bigger problem.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Variable depending on the nationality. Egyptian, Zimbabwean and Phillipino mostly. Egyptians are the cheapest and Phillipinos are the most expensive.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, they are fine.

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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 use an ATM all the time with no problems. Very few places take credit cards. This is a cash culture.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes. All kinds, but we didn't go to any of them.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There are a few options for tv-watching people. I'm not sure what they are.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not a bunch. People appreciate you speaking it, but you don't really need more than 5 or 6 phrases to get by.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Lots. I can barely walk down the street without tripping. I would hate to think of needing a wheelchair.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. Metro and taxis are cheap, easy, and safe. I rode the metro daily and never had a problem. I've heard reports of taxi incidents like drivers pulling knives, rapings, etc. Thankfully this has not happened to me but it is highly possible. You get to know particular drivers whom you can trust and call.

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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?

4wd SUV. The roads are terrible and speed bumps are huge. You will need high clearance. The bigger the better.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. It was around $300 for six months. Speed was variable and sometimes non existent. Don't expect American standard Internet, but at least you can get something.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Pay as you go.

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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?

Not unless you want to work for 50 cents an hour. Lots of spouses get jobs at the embassy though.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business at work -- and cover at least knee to elbow in public.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Yes. Egypt is on the way down security-wise. Through the last two years it has gotten worse and worse. Police are useless. Sexual harassment is a daily event for any woman who leaves the house. Muggings are also extremely common. Rumors of more serious rapings are a daily event in Maadi.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

There is a med unit at the embassy and in Maadi with American doctors, but for routine stuff I would never see an egyptian doctor for anything -- and never allow them to give me so much as an X-ray. I've heard way too many horror stories. I heard someone say this before I got to Egypt, and I thought they were paranoid. But since being here and seeing for myself, I would recommend getting Medivac'd for anything the embassy can't handle.

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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?

Horrible. Burning trash, ancient cars, everyone smoking. Cairo is an assault on the lungs. If you have asthma or breathing problems, it will not be good. Plenty of people develop asthma here.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Pretty great! Spring, fall and winter are beautiful, summer is hot hot hot, but no hotter than D.C and without the humidity. It never rains.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

CAC is getting better, most people are very happy there. It has had quite a few terrible years and has survived on the reputation it had 10 years ago, but this year they got a lot of new leadership and it seems to be turning a corner.
MBIS is also well liked by people.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Not a whole lot. If your special need is not a huge problem - and not very obvious - I would keep it under your hat until you have been admitted. It is actually very easy to get the extra help once you are admitted to CAC, but they really are quite nasty about admitting kids if they have any kind of special consideration. Many parents have been extremely upset with their level of understanding. CAC's understanding and acceptance of different learning styles is quite outdated.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, same as you get in America for the same prices. All are in Maadi.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Pretty large. This can cause it to be a less cohesive community.

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2. Morale among expats:

Not great. With two evacs in two years, crime on the rise, and a general anti-American sentiment everywhere you go, morale is pretty darn bad in Cairo.

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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?

Great. There is always a party going on every weekend, and with the large expat community you will surely find a group of friends to have fun with.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's is a great place to live for anyone who is adventurous. If you like clean, quiet, safe, living -- like in the USA or Western Europe -- then you will likely hate it here.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Egyptians are definitely not accepting of gay people, but having said that -- the men are extremely touchy feely with each other, and it is nothing for a straight dude to hold hands or kiss another dude -- so you could easily go by unnoticed if you like to walk around hand in hand!

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, yes and yes.
General thinking is becoming more and more anti anything non-Muslim. As a woman you WILL experience sexual harassment as a minimum; no matter what you wear, men will leer at you, make disgusting comments to you, try to kiss you, and make disgustin han motions in your direction. If you are lucky, this is all you will get. Covering yourself up won't help much. Egyptian men believe it is normal for western women to jump into bed with everyone.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Desert camping is number one. Felucas on the Nile, snorkeling in the Red Sea, being assaulted by bedouins at the pyramids.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Feluca sailboats on the Nile, traveling to the Red Sea, desert camping, khan al khallili, bulak shopping, Islamic Cairo, garbage city: there are lots of things to do for the people willing to leave the Maadi bubble.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Local alabaster, silver lamps, furniture.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Traveling Egypt, easy weekend trips to the Red Sea. Great weather. Cheap living. Seeing a totally different world.
We requested Egypt because we wanted a total change from America and to see the world. This exactly what we got. Our whole family was truly able to appreciate just how different life is for an egyptian and our tour in Egypt was a social studies lesson for us. It has opened our eyes to a life we had heard of but never seen, and this was probably the greatest take away for all of us. It literally taught our kids the 'there are starving children in Africa' statement to life through first hand experience.

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11. Can you save money?

Sure you can, but if you want to eat at American-style restaurants every night and drink beer in an Egyptian 'made for expats' bar -- then you will probably spend every last penny.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely. We went for the adventure -- and that is exactly what we got.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Short skirts and tank tops -- and your need to be respected as a woman.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sense of adventure and willingness to be harassed and looked down on for being a slutty American woman.

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Cairo, Egypt 07/17/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, this was my fourth expat experience.

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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?

Washington DC. About 16-18 hours via a connection in Frankfurt or London.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Work at U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

If you shop at the commissary, you will pay more. If you are willing to buy off the local markets, you will spend about half of what you do in the U.S. Between the two, pretty much everything you could want is available.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

high-top shoes or short boots. You will turn an ankle on the street if you don't have some support.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything. Not just McDonald's, but Cinnabon and Fudrucker's -- but they charge close to U.S. prices.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

We had a bad ant infestation in our apartment and at one point had an incursion of half-dollar sized roaches.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We paid $300/month for a three-day-a-week housekeeper, but everyone thinks we paid too much. A combination of Egyptians and Filipinias available, with the latter being more expensive.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The embassy has gyms both downtown and in Maadi; both have pools, but the Maadi pool is the only one that is heated.

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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 only used credit cards at major hotels, but I know that others have been using credit and ATM cards regularly without incident.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Catholic in English. I can't comment on anything else.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

TV via satellite and AFN are cheap. Ahram online is the best English newspaper.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Some taxi Arabic is extremely useful (left, straight, right, stop, and numbers). The American commiunity is quite large and it is possible to not really interact with Egyptians over the course of a given day. On the flip side, if you don't want to go overseas just to talk with other Americans, some Arabic (especially Egyptian dialect Arabic) is a must.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

A lot. This city is not handicap-accessable.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes they are affordable, and some of them are safe. Metro and white cabs are fine and cheap (the metro is 1 EGP a ride; that's 17 cents). Black-and-white taxis are less reliable, and god help you if you decided to take a microbus or a tuk-tuk.

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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?

For some reason, Egyptians have a national obsession with over-grown speed bumps, which -- combined with the potholes -- argue for a car with high clearance. There's an increasing carjacking problem.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, cheap.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get a cell phone. You can get a basic prepaid handset and sim card for under $50. Air time is cheap.

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Pets:

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.

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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?

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business at work. In public, shorts are out (unless you are in a tourist area or maybe Maadi) -- women need long sleeves.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

At the embassy, absoultely. A man was stabbed at the gates of the embassy this spring simply for being an American. The embassy is on the edge of Tahrir square, and the guards have been victims of regular attacks (rocks and Molotov cocktails). During the first year we had people blocking an entrance for a sit-in demanding the release of the Blind Shaykh. I really miss those guys; they scared off the punk kids trading rocks for tear gas with the police.

The good news is that the housing is relatively secure. Crime is on the rise but is not out of control, and the mayhem in Cairo seems basically concentrated around Tahrir Square and, more recently, the presidential palace, neither of which is close to the main housing clusters.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care at the embassy is good (a good team of docs there), but if it's something serious you are taking a major risk at Egyptian hospitals -- which don't believe, for example, in medical recordkeeping.

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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?

Terrible. We brought four air purifiers with us, and I really noticed the difference once we packed them out. This is a bad post for people with asthma or who are susceptible to sinus infections. If you pick up a cough or respritory infection it will take weeks to get rid of because of the dirt in the air.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot in the summer, pleasant in the winter. Not a lot of humidity, but more than you would expect if you think you are moving to the Sahara.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Our son was in preschool and LOVED it -- there are a ton of preschools in the Maadi area where most families live. The American school is in the same area, but I can't comment on it.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

There are some programs via Maadi House (the U.S. Club), but as the western presence draws down, these will be harder to find.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge -- by far the largest I have seen. You lose a bit of your sense of comeradery in a post this big because the American community breaks into subclans.

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2. Morale among expats:

Not terrific with the ordered departure. But there's a divide between people who are on their first tour or who have served only in Western Europe (on one hand) and those who have been in tough assignments before (on the other). Morale is much lower for the first group.

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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?

Lots of restaurants. Getting a sailboat for an hour on the Nile is cheap and lets you connect to a bygone era of Egyptian history.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Two evacuations in three years have really put a damper on what used to be a primiere family post for the Middle East. We've been generally happy here, but over time this is going to take a toll. If you are single, you should really live downtown, as Maadi will probably be too sleepy for you.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I can't imagine that it is.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Women have a real problem with harassment by Egyptian men (and not just foriegn women - some Egyptian women have even posted a map of the areas with the most harassment).

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

I've bridged two revolutions; we were on ordered departure when I arrived for this assignment and are on ordered departure as I leave. The highlight has been Cairo's now-chronic instability, which has dramatically changed the face of this tour from people serving in Cairo as late as 2010.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The history is amazing. Even when you get past the big sites, there's still Coptic Cairo, the Citadel -- and if you like kitch, the 1973 Victory Museum (a gift from the People of North Korea).

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

You can find some good artwork at Khan al-Khalili.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

There is no substitute for Egyptian history. The Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum (where King Tut's regalia reside) and other key sites are all in greater Cairo. Luxor is an hour away and is amazing. Plus, you can golf in the winter.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you focus on living off the economy.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

umbrella. It only rained twice in 2 years, and then it just spit.

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3. But don't forget your:

sense of adventure.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Forget watching Indiana Jones - that era of Egypt is long ago.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Anything by Nagiub Mahfuz.

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Cairo, Egypt 06/16/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Lots of other experiences. I have been posted to Tokyo, Chengdu, Mogadishu, Ndjamena, La Paz, Toronto, Beirut, Chisinau, etc.

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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?

Washington, DC. About 12-14 hours, depending on connections through Europe.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

State Department Foreign Service, employed at Embassy Cairo.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Lots of stuff at the commissary at comparable prices.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Some knives to wear/carrry on the street.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Some of the international standards, but prices are very high.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Bad ant infestations in embassy apartments. Some roaches.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Embassy APO post office.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very available and costs are reasonable.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Adequate facilities are available at the embassy and other places. Not great, but at least something.

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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?

There is lots of credit-card fraud here, so I wouldn't recommend it.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Pretty much so. There is no Unitarian Universalist, though (our pref), as far as I can tell.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Cable/satellite.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

The more the better. Those who don't speak arabic seem to have a harder time adjusting.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

No accommodations exist for people with even the mildest disabilities. Forget trying to walk anyhwere!

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Absolutely not safe. Buses are very dangerous. Trains are poorly maintained and have a lot of accidents. I have personally been mugged by taxi drivers, and I know several other people who have as well. There is one taxi driver who does perverted things near the schools. You are really taking your life in your hands when you go near those guys.

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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?

It's better not to bring one. The embassy makes you park on the street. As gas becomes scarce, expect it to be stolen from cars. And a lot of road confrontations, it's just not worth the risk.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

It's not really high speed, but it works most of the time.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

You can get cheap cell phones and service if you stick with the basics. Buy time as you go, don't get a plan. Those are absolute rip offs.

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Pets:

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.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

OK.

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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?

None at all.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Pretty much over the top.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Absolutely. The city is no longer safe by any measure. The police have abdicated their responsibilities. The apartments do not have adequate locks, windows don't lock, balconies are easily accessible from street. Boabs and other building staff are corrupt and are themselves a threat to residents. Embassy security basically provides protection for the ambassador and DCM, and for government housing compounds, but it leaves everyone in leased apartments pretty much on their own.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The embassy medical staff is great, but if it's anything serious you had better get on a plane. Hospitals here are where people go to die.

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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?

Extremely unhealthy. Lot of car emissions, they are always burning things, and LOTS of second-hand smoke.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Not too bad, but it can get insufferably hot in the summer time.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

American, British and Canadian schools, probably others. I don't have any experience with them.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Shrinking rapidly.

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2. Morale among expats:

Most are very unhappy, but it's what you make of it.

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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?

The gay scene is almost non-existent, and it's hard for a gay couple to make friends here outside of the embassy staff.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

There is a lot of risk for street crime, but it's not like it was in Mogadishu, so I would say that you just have to remain vigilent and realize that it is a fluid situation.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

From my personal experience, absolutely not. My partner and I are always looking over our shoulders. We both speak fluent Arabic, and we have to force ourselves to ignore the malicious comments. We do constantly fear that we will be the victims of violent hate crimes here. There is just no tolerance of same-sex couples here, and the embassy doesn't really have any programs to help LBGT people adapt.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There is severe persecution of Copts, and basically anyone who is not a Muslim will find this a very uncomfortable place to live. That aspect is getting worse by the hour.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Getting mugged at the pyramids, having a knife pulled on me by a taxi driver, being on a Felukah that turned over.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

See the pyramids, of course. Nile cruises, Luxor, beaches.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Not much worth buying. What is worth buying can't be taken out of the country. Even the stuff they make: if it looks like it faintly resembles an antique, they won't let it out.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Warm weather. Hardship differential (extra money).

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, I like living dangerously. I guess I have a bit of a death wish.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

sense of security.

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3. But don't forget your:

small arms.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

"The Pharoah's Curse"

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

I didn't find any of the tourist guide books to be useful.

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Cairo, Egypt 06/07/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, this is my 6th expat experience. I've also lived in South America, Asia and Europe.

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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?

Washington, D.C. The trip is between 14 and 16 hours with 1 connection.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Almost 2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Excellent and cheap. There is a huge commissary in Maadi and many families mainly shop there. Food on the local market, especially fruits and vegetables, is cheap and delicious.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing. With the commissary and APO, we can get almost everything we can't find on the local market.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything imaginable can be found here. Costs are about equivalent to the U.S.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Very few. I've never seen a rat nor a cockroach. This may be because of the hundreds of street cats. Very few mosquitos.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

As an Embassy employee, through APO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very cheap. Between $3 - $5/hour, depending on if they are Egyptian (cheaper) or Filipina (more expensive).

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, there is a gym at the Maadi house and also at the Embassy. Local gyms are well-equipped.

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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?

No problems. Most people use cash, although credit cards are becoming more common.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, there are churches in Maadi in English.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, both. The English language newspapers are also available on the Internet. For TV, you must have a satellite dish for OSN or Showtime. Both are relatively cheap. Many folks also have AFN.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Knowing Arabic has definitely enriched my experience here and made me feel more comfortable. However, many do not speak any Arabic and they are doing just fine.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Lots of difficulties. Travel would be difficult, no work environments are equipped for folks with physical disabilities.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The train from Cairo to Alexandria is quick (2.5 hours), regular, cheap ($15) and clean. Sometimes Embassy personnel are not allowed to take the train depending upon disturbances. Mini buses in the city are consider unsafe and Embassy personnel are not allowed to take them. Taxis are (kind of) safe (no seat belts) and very, very cheap. The metro is safe and clean - although hot in the summer.

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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?

That depends. Do you want to drive in the city and find parking? Then bring something small. Will you primarily want to go desert camping and off roading? Then you will need a 4x4. Either way, bring something that you don't mind getting scratched up, since - if you drive often - you will be in numerous little accidents. You can find parts for most cars here - although they won't be the originals!

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes and it is inexpensive. It ranges from 2M (about $35/month) to 4M (about $60/month).

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

All phones will work here, if they are unlocked.

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Pets:

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.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes, there are vets. Most people with pets have their maids walk their dogs and find friends to pet-sit on trips.

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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?

Not really, although there are some in CAC.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Women are advised to cover their arms and knees. At work, it is similar to the U.S. - suits for men and business attire for women. Jeans are also acceptable, depending upon your responsibility.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

That depends. I feel quite comfortable and safe; this is one of the safest cities of its size in the world. However, many expats here feel less secure. Naturally in tourist areas (the market, the pyramids, the docks for Nile cruise boats), there are touts who are very persistent, but this is no more than in many other parts of the world - even less. Women often feel harassed by men and this is of concern. Over the last few years, there have been a series of demonstrations, often on Fridays, which can get violent. Embassy employees are warned via text and email, so it is easy to stay away.

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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 of concern. Medical care is quite good (and there is also a medical unit in the Embassy), although people tend to be medivaced for anything serious. Dental care is good, but expensive.

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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?

Cairo is extremely dirty and polluted. Mild spring sand storms can make the air quite bad.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Cairo has great weather, with four distinct seasons. Cool winters, warm springs and falls. A few of the summer months can be hot - and that's a great time to escape to the beaches or head north to Europe. But even in the summer, it cools down at night and you can dine outside every evening. It rarely rains, but, because of the Nile, it is more humid than one would expect in a desert country.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Most children and teenagers go to Cairo American College in Maadi. The school has a great reputation and students have a variety of extracurricular activities that take them to other countries in the region - a great experience. The expat community is huge here, so there are students from all over the world.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Some, at CAC. But for children with severe disabilities, this would not be a good place.

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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?

Many families with young children hire nannys to help with daycare. Most nannys are Filipina. Day care is rather inexpensive.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, the Maadi House, near where most of the families live, has dozens of sports programs.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge. From diplomats to oil to education (there are many Americans and Europeans here studying Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies).

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2. Morale among expats:

This depends on who you talk to and who you spend time with. Many people really like it here, others cannot wait to leave. It really is what you make of it.

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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?

There are restaurants, felucca rides :), bars (yes, there are), Maadi House and entertaining with friends at home.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, Cairo has something for everyone. The Maadi House is an American expat club within walking distance of many of the families housed in Maadi and offers everything that a club usually does, including a great pool. There are hundreds of restaurants and many new sushi, burger and upscale Egyptian street food restaurants are popping up all over the place. There are movie theaters, malls, a few museums, lots of interesting neighborhoods to explore. Felucca trips on the Nile are always a highlight. The Embassy community is huge and someone is always entertaining. The only problem is getting to all these places - traffic can be exhausting and the city IS huge - 20,000,000+ people!

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I wouldn't think so. Although I do know several couples who have successful relationships here.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Women are definitely "protected" by family, while at the same time often objectified by outside men. Christians, especially since the revolution, feel nervous about the future; some feel victimized.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Felucca rides on the Nile, wandering the streets of Islamic Cairo, shopping in Khan el-Khalili, the camel market, traveling all over the country, desert camping.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Islamic Cairo, felucca rides on the Nile, Khan el-Khalili, camel market, felucca rides, sitting in local cafes and meeting friendly Egyptians, did I say felucca rides?

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Travel, furniture, cotton sheets and pillows, pottery.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Travel, including the Red Sea, the North Coast, Nile cruises, desert camping and great connections to lots of places in Europe and Africa. Cairo itself is fascinating and very accessible. Caireens are friendly and helpful and will go out of their way to make you feel very welcome, no matter what neighborhood you are in.

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11. Can you save money?

Definitely. Things are very cheap here.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely. I've really enjoyed my time here and I know that I will come back again, at least for a visit. It has been a very interesting time, especially with all the changes that Egypt is going through, and I know that I have been witnessing history. I wish all the best for this country and its kind people.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Impatience.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and sense of adventure.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Cairo Time (okay, the plot is not the best, but the scenery is breathtaking)
Yacoubian Building

And, also:
Death on the Nile
The English Patient
Lawrence of Arabia

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Cairo, the City Victorious, by Max Rodenbeck
Anything by Naguib Mafouz
Vertigo by Ahmed Mourad
Taxi by Khaled Alkhamissi
Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al-Aswany

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Cairo, Egypt 05/22/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This is my first expat experience.

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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?

California is home base and it is a minimum of a 17-hour trip. You have to connect in, Frankfurt, Amsterdam or London. Egypt Air operates one (mostly daily) direct flight to New York.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I work at the US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

The embassy has a commissary, which is a very nice small grocery store. But there are several grocery chains in Egypt, such as Metro Market, Carrefour, and the Alpha Market. All have a wide range of products, so it is possible to live well "on the economy."

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

No, most things are readily available here, or you can order by mail.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Fast food is everywhere. Restaurants are plentiful. Most are fair -- not too many really great places. They range from cheap to moderate. A family of four can eat out for less than 40 USD at an average restaurant -- even less if you eat "local." Anything can be delivered, but going out is generally nice.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Flies in the hot times can make sitting outside unpleasant. Some people have ant problems, but I have not had this issue.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I use the APO for mail. Packages take two to three weeks.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Plenty of domestic help. Egyptians are cheaper than Filipino or Sri Lankan maids. I pay 400 USD for a part-time Sri Lankan maid. She cooks and can read and write English. An Egyptian maid would run about 250 USD.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, US Embassy and US AID have gyms, but also there is a Gold's Gym and other facilities available.

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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?

Many small stores are cash only, but credit cards are widely accepted. I have never had a problem with the ATMs. I tend to stick with the CIB ATMs.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, it is all available.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes. The International Herald Tribune can be delivered, but it is kind of expensive. We have OSN cable; it has many English-language shows and movies. We have HD service and it runs about 60 USD a month.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not much. It is helpful to know your numbers and directions for cabs. Also grocery store stuff, such as weights and names of foods. Time is also another good one. Many Egyptians in the expat and tourist areas speak a little English.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Forget it. This city is impossible for someone with a disability.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The local train or subway (Metro) is safe. Most taxis are safe, but women should be careful in the taxis when solo. Stay off the buses, both large and small.

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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?

I recommend a small 4X4, such as a RAV 4, Explorer, or Honda CRV. I brought a sedan and regretted it.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

"High speed" is a relative term. It is okay service at about 30 USD a month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

No, the cell phone service is good and cheap. I purchased a phone for my daughter for 50 LE (8 USD) and use scratch cards for phone service. For about 16-25 USD you can have decent cell service. Everyone in the family who can operate a phone should have one. Things are unpredictable here, and it helps to be able to call your kids.

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Pets:

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.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Pretty good. There are good kennels; we used them when we first arrived (East Winds Kennel). We have a dog, and our maid watches the dog in our flat when we travel. If you plan to do that, make sure your maid is not Egyptian -- they are generally not too fond of dogs.

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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?

No.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Conservative. Men can wear shorts, but women should refrain from wearing tank tops and showing cleavage.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Crime in general has increased, and purse snatching has always been a problem. Drive-by gropings of women seem to be increasing. You definitely have to be aware of your surroundings. I use the same caution I would in a any big city.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Not too many, but be careful where you eat. Wash hands often. The embassy has a good health unit.

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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?

Air quality ranges from moderate to unhealthy.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Cool and pleasant in the winter, very hot May thru October, some winds in the springtime may create sand storms of a sort.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

CAC is the school my children attend. It is a mixed bag. Athletic opportunities are decent; some people have issues with the math program. Overall, I would give it a B to a B+.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

None.

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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?

It seems it is available. My kids are older.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, most are through Cairo American College.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Pretty big, but shrinking. There are many expat clubs such as the ACE club and the British Club. There are also several expat organizations that either run (Hash House Harriers), bike, or scuba dive. Most of expat community is in Maadi.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There are many clubs in Zamaleck (such as the Jazz Club), and there is the Opera House. In Maadi there is the ACE Club and other private clubs. Most have live music on weekends. There are two good movie theaters in Maadi: Bandar and Family Cinema. There is also the City Stars Mall in Nasr City, which is a 20-30 minute drive from Maadi. There are restaurants such as Macaroni Grill, good movie theaters, and retail stores such as H&M.

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3. Morale among expats:

I would say mostly low. Things are changing, and there is an uncertainty in the air. No one knows where the country is going,s and most change that occur appear to be negative.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think it is best for couples and families with kids under 12. Teenagers can be bored here, and there is very little supervision by expat parents in regards to alcohol and drugs. Marijuana is readily available.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No way.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Absolutely. Harassment of women is an issue. My wife curtails her travel due to the hassle she receives.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Touring the country has been the best part of the tour. Prior to the revolution, my family and I went to Mount Sinai, which is now off limits to US Embassy personnel. However, I have toured extensively since the revolution, including Sharm El Sheikh, Aswan, Luxor, Lake Nassar, the White Desert, Alexandria, Hurghada, and El Gouna -- as well as all over Cairo. I usually drive myself and have no problems. Desert camping in the winter and sand-boarding are definite highlights.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Local travel, sightseeing, Aqua Park (water park), camping in the desert, sand boarding, kite surfing, snorkeling and scuba diving. There are also several bike clubs and runners' clubs.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Metal works, handicrafts, art work in general, and some nice furniture.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The advantages are saving money and touring, no question. Egypt has much to offer -- even post-revolution.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Probably not, although I have had (and continue to have) a good time. It is more about making the best of the hand you are dealt. If you have to come here, you can make it work, but I can't say I would do it again. Living through the revolution and the constant threat of being evacuated again is stressful. Egypt is on a slow decline -- and may continue to be for the next several years.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

umbrella and rain coat.

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3. But don't forget your:

sense of humor, patience, and understanding. Also, if you like to camp and have a 4X4, bring your camping gear. That is one of my favorite things to do here.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Cairo: The City Victorious
by Max Rodenbeck, and Culture Shock! Egypt
by Susan L. Wilson. Loved them both.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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Cairo, Egypt 05/12/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

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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?

DC is a 12 to 14 hour flight.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. State Department Diplomat - Second tour.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

The PX and the commissary are fully stocked.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

We order just about everything, including kids' clothes, from the APO because local quality is bad.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Almost all, but quality is much poorer than American standards. Cost range is similar to US Prices, and Otlob.com is used by most of us to have food delivered.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes and flies, roaches, sand fleas. You name it.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO - two to three weeks.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Easy to find - Filipinas work for about $5/hour; Egyptian help for about $3/hour.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Gyms at the embassy and USAID are good.

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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?

This is not an issue at the embassy or at resorts/hotels.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Available in Maadi.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

OSN.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

I recommend speaking Arabic (Egyptian-dialect Arabic) if you are going to live here.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

This is not a handicapped-friendly society or city.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

They are not safe.

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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?

Bring something that can handle bumps and potholes well (something with high clearance). Be ready to get in accidents - multiple accidents. And remember, Egyptians will blame you and get hostile, even if they are at fault, because they are looking for a payoff.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

When you buy internet service, the company pumps it into your building, and you share the bandwidth with everyone in your building.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Mobinil works just fine.

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Pets:

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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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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?

No.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

The security situation in Cairo is rapidly deteriorating. Egypt is seeing more jihadi extremism, constant protests/riots around the US Embassy, carjackings, and muggings. As tourism bottoms out, people are getting desperate and know that expats have money. Also, sexual assault and/or harassment is pretty much guaranteed to affect you or someone close to you.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

I would never walk into an Egyptian Hospital. Medical evacuation is to London.

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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?

Terrible. Garbage is everywhere, as are dead animals. There are sandstorms in the Spring, and everyone burns crops in the Fall. Kids end up with asthma. CO2 emissions from unregulated vehicles and leaded gas cause daily headaches for much of the staff.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The climate is pleasant in the spring/fall, a bit chilly in winter, and hot as hell in the summer. It hardly ever rains.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

CAC is having difficulty staffing with quality educators post-revolution.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

None.

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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?

Preschools are available.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes. After-school programs are good. A kids' baseball league is available.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large for most posts, but isolated and getting smaller every day as people leave.

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2. Morale among expats:

Extremely low. Post management was too late in spotting and/or admitting that Cairo is getting worse, not better. Post management is highly unsympathetic to the plights of the little people, and they live a fairly sheltered life with teams of bodyguards and walled villas --- while we hope we don't get sexually assaulted or mugged on the way from our apartment to the Maadi House.

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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?

Everything happens at CAC (the American School) or one of the few expat clubs now, as people are afraid to go out on the town.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Families with very young children living in Maadi can have a decent run of it by spending all of their off-time at CAC, the Maadi House, and in their homes. Singles will find Egypt to be a very challenging dating environment. Couples will have a decent time if they are shut-ins.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Absolutely not.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Racial - yes. The Egyptians don't particularly like westerners, who (at best) are seen as cash cows to milk and not as people.
Religious - yes. Christians are looked down on, as are Jews. Nevertheless, these "people of the book" get much more respect than other religions. Coptic Egyptians are leaving Egypt in droves.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Luxor/Aswan was nice.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Coptic Cairo is a hidden gem. Stay away from the pyramids, you'll only be disappointed.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Local crafts, most of which are mass-produced garbage.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Any special advantages this post used to have are unenjoyable because of the constant danger.

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11. Can you save money?

Sure.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

I would not wish this post on anyone.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Hopes and dreams of a good tour, and your idea that you will be liked or accepted by the locals. Also, any feelings of safety.

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3. But don't forget your:

Don't forget that you are the idiot who bid on this post.

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Cairo, Egypt 05/12/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Fourth expat experience. Also lived in Tunis, Tegucigalpa, and Buenos Aires.

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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?

We still live overseas, but home base would be New York, I guess.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Four years, leaving this summer of 2013.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government, U.S. Dept. of State.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

We used the commissary, so we had access to everything we need. Friends buying on the local economy also had a fairly easy time and found things to be relatively cheap for living. We saved money here.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing really...everything is available here. But we tend to eat naturally: no canned or frozen foods, so we have had no problems.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are decent, fairly inexpensive restaurants all over Maadi. I don't do fast food, but I have noticed McD, KFC, BK, and every other chain. around.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ants in our apartment, that's all.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We have APO, but people not with an embassy do have problems. Not sure how they manage.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Expensive. Workers from the Philippines can command $600 a month or more. We had a part-time Egyptian maid (3 partial days a week) and paid her $250 a month. I know a decent maid from Uganda who charges US$5 an hour for cleaning.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, all over the place. In Maadi there's CAC, CSA, and private gyms of all flavors. There are also personal trainers for hire.

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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?

We have used them without problems. There is an ATM in front of our building. Never had a problem in 4 years.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

All denominations and in English.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, again, everything. And cheap.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It is not really needed, but it is always helpful. Shopkeepers have basic English. Arabic for taxis is helpful.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

There is absolutely no way that people with physical disabilities would do well here, because there are no sidewalks and the streets are in awful condition for walking, let alone for someone with a disability.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Trains for work are fine --- a bit stinky and crowded, but cheap and fast --- and very affordable. Buses? No way! Taxis are generally safe, although single women need to be careful.

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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?

A 4x4 would be good. We have a CRV, and it is good. We don't drive outside of Maadi except to go to the beach, because the driving is absolutely crazy. Do not bring a new car or a nice car.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, from $30 a month and up depending on speed.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Local cell phone companies are fine. There are three of them, and service is pretty good and cheap.

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Pets:

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.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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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?

Nope.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

In public, women have to dress conservatively: no shorts, no tank tops, covered arms (at least short sleeves).

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Crime is on the increase since the revolution, but this is still a safe city.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

My hubby has been hospitalized twice with serious problems, and both times worked out fine. Local doctors and technicians are very good. The nursing and cleaning staff, less so, but survivable. The Embassy has great doctors and nurses.

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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?

Awful, most of the year. I was really sick during my first year, but then I adjusted.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The weather is lovely, always sunny and clear. It rains once or twice a year. Hot summer, warm winter.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

CAC is the school we used, and it was fine. It has a lovely campus and lots of extra-curricular activities. My kids were happy with the school.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

My older son had one year in high school and had access to a special teacher for his ADD, but CAC isn't too keen on taking kids with special needs. I had to persuade them to take him, and it worked fine for him.

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Absolutely. There are plenty of activities for kids.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Very large. Don't know numbers.

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2. Morale among expats:

At the moment it is pretty low because of the uncertainty. Crime is on the increase, and people are worried---not sure what is going to happen. The U.S. Embassy community is struggling because of our location right near all the activity of the last two plus years. But, having been here four years, I don't regret it. I have enjoyed my time here and, if I had a choice, would have done it again. It's been good for family. But I definitely see that many people are unhappy.

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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?

There is plenty of stuff to do: balls of all kinds, clubs, sports events, eating out --- lots and lots.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Living in Maadi is like living in a village. One can walk everywhere, and kids have lots of activities to choose from. It's a great location for families. Harassment is minimal in Maadi, and crime, although on the increase, is still very little compared to what we faced in daily life in Latin America. Singles and couples tend to live downtown, and some love it, some hate it. It probably depends on the person. Females alone obviously are going to have a MUCH harder time.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I haven't heard much, but gay friends do not come here, so there's probably a reason why.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Gender is most definitely an issue here. It is very hard for women, all women, with harassment. It existed before the revolution and is much worse now. It doesn't stop me from going out biking around with my group, BUT it can happen at any time.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Being able to fly so many places on EgyptAir, biking in the desert and around Cairo, doing a Nile cruise.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Getting out of the city to do desert camping, or going to the beach, is the best. There are great beaches very close by, and there's nothing like desert camping. Flying out of Egypt is cheap, so we have visited Italy multiple times, Budapest, London, Paris, etc. We have also visited Jordan (Petra) and Cyprus and Istanbul, plus Tunisia and Morocco. It's all close by, and airfares are cheap. Diving in the Red Sea is a great experience!
Also: falucca rides on the Nile!

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Lots of local art, jewelry, etc. Khan Khalili is the place to shop.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Touring Europe, saving money, weather, ... lots of things.

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11. Can you save money?

Absolutely! (Unless you travel as much as I did.)

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, I would do it again, but perhaps not four years. It's never boring, and I can't say that I love the place, or will ever come back, but I don't regret the four years. And yes, I would do it again.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

nice car and any revealing clothing.

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3. But don't forget your:

sense of humor, sense of adventure, and open mindedness.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Cairo is what you make of it. It's probably a lot easier for families with small children, but any post is what one is willing to make of it. Don't hang out with the people you work with; seek those with positive attitudes. Find opportunities to volunteer and help, and your time will be fine. It's a fascinating country undergoing big changes.

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Cairo, Egypt 02/01/13

Background:

1. 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?

US East Coast. Trip is typically 4 hours to Germany, 8 to the east coast, then a short hop (1 hour) to my family's area. Husband's side is in Texas, which ends up being about 30 hours of travel.

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2. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

(The contributor is affiliated with the U.S. Government and has lived in Cairo for three years, a first expat experience as an adult.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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!

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

USG personnel have access to a US military-run commissary, making groceries and household supplies very reasonable. For other expats, groceries and supplies are a bit more costly, but still reasonable, assuming you aren't living exclusively on imported items. Produce here is quite good, and something is always in season. Mangoes and local bananas are amazing (Egypt grows something like 60 varieties of mangoes), oranges are good, watermelon is great, strawberries are good, etc. As in most developing countries, you should treat your produce if it is something you eat "skin on" (i.e., not oranges, bananas, etc.)

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Not much really - about the only thing we have shipped that we can't get here are quality shoes, some clothing (both shoes and clothing sold here is either poor quality or expensive imports), car parts, animal food (the pet food that is available here is generally of poor quality).

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Pretty much every fast-food joint you can think of is in Cairo, and they all deliver. The cost for Egyptian fast-food is minimal (not even a dollar for a large helping of Koshari, an Egyptian favorite), and the cost for western chains is reasonable, particularly as the Egyptian pound weakens against the dollar.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Minimal insect problems - mainly fly issues.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

USG personnel have access to the APO system, making mail here easy (though sometimes a bit slow).

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Domestic help is available and affordable. Prices seem to range depending on the origin of staff, with Philippina staff being the most costly and Egyptian and Sudanese being the least.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

AECWA (the American Association) maintains two gyms - one at the embassy and one at the USAID building. In addition, they maintain a pool at the Maadi House. Beyond that, there are multiple gyms and exercise studios all over Cairo, including Gold's Gym and others.

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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've used both with no issues in Cairo.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Christian services are available in a variety of denominations and languages. I can't speak to other religions.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Cable with English-language channels is readily available for about $40 USD/month. Many USG personnel also choose to get AFN as their only TV access. English-language print media are also available.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Far less than you would expect. Egyptians are very welcoming of any effort to try to speak Arabic (most realize that it isn't an easy language), and I have found that many people speak at least the basics of English. It helps to have basic "taxi Arabic" - things like left, right, straight ahead - and to know your address. It also helps to learn the basic bits of politeness! I know many expats who have been here for years, never leave the expat bubble, and have gotten by with almost no Arabic to speak of. Despite my efforts, my Arabic is very weak, but a few after-work classes have given me enough to get by with the basics.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Having a physical disability in Cairo would not be easy - accessibility is non-existent, even in the USG buildings (obvious ADA violations).

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Trains in Egypt are fine - I've taken the train between Cairo and Alexandria multiple times and have taken trains in Upper Egypt as well. However, depending on political issues, the USG may place restrictions on where you can go by train. Local buses are off-limits to USG employees, and I know of only a few non-USG expats that are willing (or brave enough) to take them. Taxis are affordable and generally safe, although there has been an increase in robberies in taxis since the revolution. Most folks get names of taxi drivers from friends, etc. and use those drivers. Many expats prefer only the white taxis because they are metered, but I've had no significant issues with the older unmetered black taxis, provided I know what the fare should be to where I am going and negotiate it out prior to getting into the cab. Regardless of where you go in Maadi, the fare should not be more that 5 Egyptian pounds, so I don't even negotiate on that.

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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?

Pretty much any car will work. We have a small SUV and like the clearance it gives us over the Cairo traffic and potholes, but I know folks who have sedans and are comfortable with those as well. As most other folks note here, traffic and driving in Cairo (and Egypt in general) are pretty wild, so whatever you bring, expect that it will get banged up a bit while here. That said, body work is really cheap! Car parts can be found for most cars - Hondas, Toyotas, Kias, and Hundais are all very common here. In terms of restrictions, USG personnel have never been allowed to be on the roads outside Cairo after dark - it simply is not safe from a driving perspective. Immediately after the revolution, USG personnel did have other restrictions on their driving in Cairo proper, but most of those have been lifted. However, there are no-go areas for driving outside Cairo for USG employees, including the entire Sinai, and some areas in Upper Egypt.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

High-speed internet is available through a variety of companies and generally works without too many hitches, though it is never as fast as it claims to be. Also, Egypt has a fair-use law, so you can experience a massive slow-down if you hit the limit (so far, we have not had a problem with this).

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Cell phones are easy to get if you choose to - the three main companies are Vodafone, Mobinil, and Etisalate. Many folks (myself included) brought an unlocked phone from the US and bought a SIM card here.

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Pets:

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?

There is no quarantine for incoming animals, nor is there a quarantine for animals going from Egypt to the US. There is long waiting period for animals going from Egypt to the EU, related to the rabies testing, but not an actual quarantine in the receiving EU country.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are plenty of vets in Cairo, and the cost is not exorbitant. But unfortunately, the care these vets provide ranges from middling to poor. I am only aware of one dog kennel (far from where most expats live) and a few cat boarding facilities (most with rescue groups that offer boarding as a way to raise money for their work). The one thing that is easy to get is a pet sitter - because domestic staff is easy to find and cheap, it is not an issue to get someone to take care of your animals while you are away. That said, many Egyptians are afraid of dogs, so just make sure whoever you hire is actually comfortable with your animal and has references. Another issue for dog owners is the Government of Egypt's means of controlling the street dog population - it uses meat laced with poison that is left on the streets for these animals. Beyond being a horribly cruel way to cull the population, several expats have lost their dogs when the animals have inadvertently gotten into poison on their walks. Some expats with dogs use muzzles to ensure that their animals do not inadvertently get into poison-laced food/trash on walks.

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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?

The key problem for most folks in terms of jobs on the local economy seems to be the pay scale. Unless folks come in to Cairo as "out-of-country" contractors, employers will typically try to hire them on at a local pay scale, which is incredibly low. Among the USG community, many spouses choose to work in the mission, but these positions are generally poorly paid and "scut work" in nature. The embassy doesn't seem to have an interest in making better use of the skill sets that family members bring (or in reimbursing them at a US pay level). Other family members find employment at either CAC or, in a few cases, at the American University in Cairo.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

The dress code at works depends on individual offices and supervisors, but the basic accepted dress code throughout Egypt is "not revealing." It is best to avoid short skirts, shorts, sleeveless tops, tank tops, etc.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Since the revolution, security has become more of an issue. But Cairo was abnormally safe for a city of its size prior to the revolution and has now really just shifted to a security level one would expect for city of this size. The key factor is that the police force is relatively ineffective. So, when something does happen, there is little that can or will be done about it. In the expat areas (Maadi, Zamalak, and Dokki, primarily) there have been increases in issues such as purse snatchings, etc.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo has a large medical staff, and there are clinics in both Maadi and at the embassy. Beyond that, the physicians in Egypt are not necessarily bad, but the paraprofessional medical providers are lacking (e..g, nurses, etc.) As such, for basic care, Egypt may be fine, but for any significant care (and any type of surgery), it would be better to receive care outside Egypt. Pharmacies are plentiful, and medications are readily available, so that is not an issue. Most health concerns are those you might find anywhere in the developed world (and developing too, in some cases): stomach viruses, respiratory problems, etc.

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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?

Pretty bad - most folks develop the "Cairo cough", and things are worse in the fall (September / October) when the fields outside Cairo are burned. Pollution from vehicles and dust are both significant, but that said, charcoal is not used much here, so that, at least, is not an issue. Outside of Cairo, the air quality is better, particularly up in Alexandria and other parts of the North Coast.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The climate is nice: low to no humidity except for a few weeks during the summer. It is hot during the summer, but the evenings cool down nicely. Frankly, summer here is better than it is in most US southern and east coast states. Winter is cool, but most Embassy housing now has heaters for those who get cold easily.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

CAC is the school that most members of the American community send their kids to. That said, people also send their children to the Lycee Francais and to the British School, also in/near Maadi. Beyond that, I can't contribute much, not having kids.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

CAC makes no accommodations for special- needs students. I have been told that the British School can / will make some.

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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?

Preschool and daycare are both available, but again, with no children I cannot comment extensively on them.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Sports programs are available through the schools. (For adults, there is an active softball league, a runners club, two clubs for bikers - road and mountain - a rugby club, and a hash-hound-harriers group, to name a few.)

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

The expat community in Cairo is very very large. Beyond the USG community (which is huge), there are substantial communities from the other embassies, a huge US military/contractor community, and a huge oil community. In addition, there are faculty at CAC and the American University in Cairo, along with other donor groups.

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2. Morale among expats:

Moral here is mixed. Really, it depends on who you spend time with! Many USG personnel prefer to spend their time only in the USG community. For many folks, it seems like Egypt is their first (and possibly only) developing world post - these folks often seem to be generally negative (i.e., it's dirty, people are like home, etc.). It's true that life in Cairo has its quirks, but It is a fascinating place. Egyptians are a generally nice people (who love kids), and life here is relatively easy in terms of amenities. That said, as in many places, the people who thrive here are those that can laugh at the quirks of the developing world and those who make sure to get away for breaks on a regular basis!

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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?

As noted previously, there are plenty of restaurants and movie theaters in Cairo. Other than that, much entertaining / social life is in homes, although many expats living downtown also take advantage of the city's bars and clubs.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

As a couple with no children, we have enjoyed Cairo. Most of our friends do have chdilren, and they probably have somewhat more mixed feelings. They do enjoy parts of it, but do find that it is limited in terms of open green areas for the children to play in safely. Again, most housing is in apartments, so there are very few yards. Maadi House and the CAC campus are where most families go to let the kids run. From our perspective, there are plenty of things to do - diving, spending time with friends, desert camping, trips to Alexandria, etc.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It isn't the worst, and I've known of G&L expats who have thrived here. But open G&L behavior is still pretty much taboo in the general society.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There is prejudice against the Sudanese population here (and other African immigrants), and there can be tension between the Coptic and Muslim communities. Gender issues also crop up, and since the revolution, there has been an increase in sexual harassment. That said, I have experienced worse (and more) harassment in other countries, including in the US. At least once here, I have told someone "hissing" at me that it was "haram" and he backed off - I don't think he had ever been called on it before. Thanks to the wonderful American TV shows / movies we export, there is a definite perception that American (and other western women) are "easy" and comments will come along with that perception.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Diving in the Red Sea, seeing amazing sights, interacting with Egyptians (and living through a revolution - though that may not be a positive highlight!)

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Cairo itself has a variety of sights to see, including pharonic monuments, amazingly beautiful Mamaluk, Fatmid, and other architecture, fascinating Coptic history, the Khal el Khalili (market), concerts, etc. There are also all the other things you would expect in a big city - restaurants, movies, malls, etc.). Outside Cairo, the Red Sea is world famous for its diving, and it is very easy to get dive certified while here. While USG personnel are no longer allowed to go to many sites in the Sinai (such a shame), you can still dive out of Sharm el Sheik, Hurghada, Safaga, etc. and off live-aboard boats. There are also trips to the desert (camping, dune surfing, visiting the oasis and desert ruins, etc. ), trips to Luxor / Aswan / Abu Simble, and trips to the north coast including Alexandria, etc.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Alabaster, Khayamiya (Egyptian applique), jewelry, fanous (lanterns), and travel.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Weather, sights, people.

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11. Can you save money?

Most definitely - particularly as the Egyptian pound continues to weaken against pretty much every other currency out there.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

In a heartbeat! We have loved it, and would have no issues coming back here again, even with all the post-revolution changes---assuming, of course, that things don't go downhill more than they have to date!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

tank tops, short shorts, and plunging necklines.

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3. But don't forget your:

sense of humor and dust rags.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Anything by Naguib Mafouz, Breakfast with the Infidels by Nabil Shawkat.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

Egypt is a country in flux at this time, so things could change for the better or worse at any moment. That said, Egyptians are nice people - they have the good grace to laugh at their quirks, and will laugh at yours as well if you give them a chance. Folks who come here often complain about how pushy vendors are here, but I've found that if you are firm, pleasant, and show a bit of humor, you really won't have any issues. Don't expect Egypt to be like "home" (or like most western European cities) - it isn't. But it is a fascinating place with much to offer if you give it a chance.

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Cairo, Egypt 02/14/13

Background:

1. 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?

Cairo to London is about 4.5 hours; I think NYC is about 12 hours.

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2. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

(The contributor is a diplomat who has been living in Cairo for a year, a sixth expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Prices on the local market for groceries can be cheap for some items and expensive for others. As was mentioned previously, local produce is plentiful but must be rinsed with bleach. The American Embassy has a commissary here that most people I know use, and I understand prices are decent there.

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3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Restaurant quality is rather uneven. Some are very good, many are not so good. Almost all fast-food chains are here, but the products don't taste much like what you find in the West. Prices in large measure depend on the targeted customer base. Restaurants that target Westerners charge prices Westerners would usually expect to pay.

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4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

The same kind of insect problems you have in any city where trash is strewn about. Especially when it's warmer, there are lots of pesky and persistent flies.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

You can use international mail, some embassies rely on the diplomatic pouch, and the U.S. has an APO here.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Varies. I do see a fair number of Filipinos working as housekeepers and nannies; they generally cost significantly more than Egyptians. I know some expats hire Egyptian drivers to avoid the stress headache of dealing with the traffic, but I'm not sure about their level of satisfaction.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are a number of very good gyms in Cairo, including Gold's.

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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 haven't had a problem so far, but I am very careful about where I take out money, due to crime here. I also try to use ATMs stationed at reputable establishments --- malls, office buildings, and so on.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

A fairly wide variety of denominational churches offer English services, and there is a synagogue here. Whether any mosques offer English services I don't know.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There is a satellite package called OSN here that some people subscribe to for English programming. Nilesat has a fair number of English channels, and the Armed Forces Network is available to Americans stationed here.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

If all you ever do is interact with expats, and if you have a driver who speaks Arabic, then you can get by with little. You'll also feel very restricted and claustrophobic. English is not as widely spoke here as one might expect. Not having any Arabic is a handicap and will impact morale.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

There are absolutely no accommodations for the handicapped. It's unliveable.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

I avoid all of them. None are safe for different reasons, although all are cheap. Train accidents occur more frequently than I'm comfortable with, buses are always crammed, and taxis are not at all advised for women traveling alone. It's good to find one driver you trust and use him to the extent you can. People use the Metro in Cairo. It's not everybody's cup of tea, though, and Metro stops can become flashpoints for protests. It is essential that you follow the news on what's going on where and when.

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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?

I brought a vehicle, but I've sort of resigned myself to the idea that it is going to get hit at some point here. In retrospect, it is probably better to come without one. Drivers are cheap, and you can find one with his own car. So, unless you have a family to cart around, you may want to think twice. I hear service can be an issue, and carjackings can be a problem depending on where you are and the time of day.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Well, technically yes. I have ADSL and paid for 4MB, the fastest offered by TEdata. But in reality, the speed is never anywhere close to that. The service does go down more often than I would like, and the speed frequently slows to the point where streaming is a headache.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

We have an account with Vodaphone and are satisfied with it.

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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?

No.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business at work. Men can get away with shorts in the neighborhoods that are heavily populated by expats. As a woman, I wouldn't expose much skin anywhere. It's just asking for trouble. As I said, sexual assault has gone up sharply, and while the way a woman dresses is no excuse for attacking her, it's good judgment not to draw any more attention to yourself than you have to. Some non-Muslim Egyptian women have taken to covering themselves to avoid harassment, and there have been stories about women having their hair cut forcibly by Islamic fundamentalists for not covering it up.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

And how! Law enforcement, as noted earlier, is ineffective, and criminals have become more brazen---likely because they feel much more confident that they can get away with theft, robbery, sexual assault, etc. The security situation in North Africa and Sinai has created an Egypt in which there is no shortage of guns and other dangerous toys---and bad guys willing to use them. It isn't at all clear whether a large-scale attack against Westerners hasn't occurred because there is a lack of capability or a lack of will. Uncertainty about the security environment has created a tremendous amount of stress among expats and Egyptians alike.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

I wouldn't have any medical procedure done here that required anything beyond the capability of the mission medical unit. Hepatitis is a problem, as is sanitation overall.

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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?

Awful. Some days the air is so bad you can barely make out the buildings on the other side of the Nile. Respiratory problems are commonplace. I struggle breathing sometimes.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot in the summer but surprisingly cool in the winter. Not cold, mind you, but there are mornings where you want a jacket.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are a number of them, including a British school and an American school. Parents, by and large, seem satisfied, although some have told me that the quality of education and student body compositions have changed significantly since the revolution. I can't really speak to that, as I arrived after Mubarak's ouster.

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2. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes. Cairo American College runs Little League baseball and soccer, among other things.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Not as large as before the revolution, but there are still a fair number of expats here.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Depends on how much home entertaining you do, how adventurous you are, and how comfortable you feel wandering about after dark.

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3. Morale among expats:

Among those I interact with it is very poor. Pessimism about the situation pervades life here. People don't feel safe and don't see any prospects that Egypt is going to improve in the near-term future. Even some long-time residents are packing up and heading elsewhere.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

No. This isn't a good city for anyone right now, and almost everyone I know is either counting the days until they leave or investigating the possibility of cutting their time here short.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Absolutely not. Period.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Absolutely. Coptic Christians, as can be read in the press, are heading for the exits. There is a great deal of anxiety about the emergence of a country governed by Sharia law that even moderate Muslims share. Women are treated barbarically, sexual assault---of the most gruesome variety--- is skyrocketing. Domestic abuse is common.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

None to date. The security situation has placed a number of locations I'd like to visit---including the bulk of the Sinai---off-limits. I don't dive, don't particularly enjoy touristy seaside resorts, and haven't had a chance to visit Upper Egypt yet (which I'm sure will be worth the trip). But otherwise, the fluid and unpredictable security environment has made me cautious about wandering about.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

When the situation permits, traveling to the historic sights in Egypt, although those I've visited so far have generally been filthy and overrun by overly-aggressive vendors. Any time someone has a chance to rip you off, they will. And that's particularly true for foreigners. Red Sea resorts are nice, from what I understand, if you are into that sort of thing. I don't dive, but I understand diving is spectacular.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Furniture, carpets, papyrus paintings, pottery, and glass.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Its proximity to interesting tourist destinations.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes. The pound is plummeting here against other foreign currencies, and I frankly don't find all that much to blow money on here except travel and furniture.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No. And when I leave, it will be with the intention of never returning. I had wanted to come to Egypt for quite some time, and it's been a major disappointment.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

romanticized ideas about what Egypt is like. Even Arabs who visit here for the first time are shocked, particularly now, at the filth, deteriorating infrastructure, and significantly degraded security environment.

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3. But don't forget your:

camera -- although taking pictures of the wrong things can get you arrested.

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Cairo, Egypt 03/31/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

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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?

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3. How long have you lived here?

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

The contributor is affiliated with the US government, has been in Cairo two years, a sixth expat experience ("and by far the worst").

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

This is the other nice thing about Egypt: the commisary and PX. Both have just about all the items you need to feel at home, even though this is the third world. Hopefully the power does not go out too much and ruin your food. It goes out daily for 1-2 hours, and during the summer months it is worse. We also have water outages.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Air purifiers and lots of filters!

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Most major brands in the US are here, and they deliver for a small fee. Domino's, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, McD's, BK, TGIF, Applebee's, Hardee's, Auntie Ann's, Baskins Robins, Fuddrucker's, Starbucks, etc. Prices and quality are lower than in the USA.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

The sand fleas and mosquitoes can be problematic.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO. It takes as long as three weeks sometimes.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

It is widely available, but you pay for what you get.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Gyms at the embassy are nice, but you have to pay a membership fee to use them. This post needs to get real and start throwing in some perks, because morale is very low and few want to be here more than six months. Many are counting the days until they leave.

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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?

Cash a check at the embassy and save the ATM fees. It is simple and easy. Use your ATM cards and credit cards with no issues in the PX and commissary.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, there are some.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Newpapers are not, but you can get an AFN tuner or local satellite. You can also get Apple TV.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Basic Arabic is useful.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Many. Do not come here. Sidewalks are broken or non-existent, and cars will run you over. Dead animals in the streets, donkey carts. falling in holes...seriously, there are simply too many to list.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

We avoid the trains as they often are targeted by criminals and stopped. They are not safe! Mini-buses: never! You have to beware of the taxis and what they charge, or they will rip you off. Ask for

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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?

Bring an SUV that you do not mind getting dinged up. Traffic is crazy here. Beware: Egyptians usually do not use headights while driving at night, and they get mad if you have yours on.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Sort of. It is not high-speed, but it gets the job done when there are not the 1-2 hour daily power outages. Cost range is about $50.00 a month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Use Egypt Vodaphone if you have an unlocked I-phone for family members. They are fairly reliable and reasonable in price. The embassy covers the phone/cell phone/bb of the employee.

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Pets:

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?

Dogs and cats, no, but it's a good idea to pay the money and get an expeditor to meet you when you arrive with your pet. Not sure about other animals.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Okay - but I would not bring a pet here. They are stuck inside all day, and taking them for walks can be very dangerous, as packs of rabid wild dogs roam the streets and prey on pets. People often carry large sticks or other means of protection to fend off animals that come too close.

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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?

Not really unless you like working for less than minimum wage. If you have free time, there are lots of volunteer opportunities.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business everyday...

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Where to start? Daily power outages, sexual assaults on women, robbery by sudden snatching, theft, assault and battery, rape, getting shot at or attacked with rocks are now all common-place events since the revolution. Even the safe districts of Maadi have seen these issues, rise and the State Department thinks we are still the same 15% post we were pre-revolution. This is easily a 25% diff post now and the tours should only be for two years.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Smog, polution, teargas, stray rabid animals, trash, urine, dead animals, E-coli just to name a few. Don't forget the sand, dust, and dirt, it is everywhere and makes it hard to breathe...The embassy has a wonderful clinic and there is one at USAID.

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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?

Unhealthy. It would be wise to invest in some good air purifiers. Also, invest in good sunglasses for the entire family. The sand and polution in the air affects your lungs and eyes.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Unhealthy. It would be wise to invest in some good air purifiers. Also, invest in good sunglasses for the entire family. The sand and polution in the air affects your lungs and eyes.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The school is either hit or miss. Since the revolution, the CAC cannot retain quality teachers, at least not a lot of them. Yes, some are good, but MANY are far from it. Had we to do this over again, there is no way we would bid on this post.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

None. CAC says to get a tutor or don't come.

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

There are some available via the school and Maadi house.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large, but shrinking because of the political unrest.

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2. Morale among expats:

Extremely low since the revolution - this place really is bad now. It seems that everyone you talk with is counting the days until they leave or they are contemplating curtailing.

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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?

Don't plan on having a glass of wine during dinner at a restaurant, the MB made that illegal. However, some places will allow you to bring in a bottle (for a fee) if you check with them.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I don't think this is a good post for anyone. Seriously, think long and hard about the sacrifices you and your family will be making if you come here.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes. If you are not a male Egytian muslim, you will face some sort of prejudice.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

RnR

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

If you have the Egypt bug, you can visit the pyramids, museums, and everything else you want to see in a week or two. Spend your money on that and then get out.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Be careful, as most items are brought in from China. You can get some decent rugs and perfume oil if you know where to go.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

none

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11. Can you save money?

No, because you spend it on vacation to leave this place.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

NOOOO!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

High expectations.

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3. But don't forget your:

Air purifiers, extra filters, surgical masks for sand storms, and patience - you can wait hours in traffic everyday.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

I must be crazy to bid here.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

I was crazy to bid here.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Again, think long and hard about bidding here. And if you decide to bid, think long and hard again...

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Cairo, Egypt 03/26/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

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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?

D.C., 14 hours via Frankfurt

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3. How long have you lived here?

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

The contributor is a diplomat who had lived in Cairo for more than a year, with multiple expat experiences.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

We have a commissary and there are reasonable local options, including Carrefour. This meets all of our needs.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

More things to keep the kids busy: board games, more video games, DVDs, pizza-making supplies, ice-cream maker.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are several good restaurants in Maadi (Thai, Lucille's, Korean BBQ, Sushi, etc.) and some high-end establishments in Zamalek (downtown), Sequoia, La Bodega, etc.). And when it's unsafe to go outside, Otlob.com keeps us fed!

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Plenty of insects and critters feasting on the trash left in the streets. We've seen dead animals in the streets, including cats, dogs, horses, and birds.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Post is serviced by APO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Available and fairly inexpensive. $120 per month for 2x weekly.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There is a very nice gym at USAID, and there is another suitable gym at the Embassy. However, most people address their morale issues in less healthy ways. The Embassy med unit is probably quite busy these days and the Maadi clinic recently altered its hours to better address the needs of mission families.

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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?

We use credit cards when dining out and while traveling. There are banks at both USAID and the embassy.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are several Christian services.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

We subscribe to OSN for television, and there are a good number of English-language programs.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It would be unsafe to come here without Arabic.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

This would be nearly impossible.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Post policy does not allow for the use of buses or trains due to security concerns. Metro is allowed, although stations also serve as gathering areas for protestors. Travel outside Cairo after dark is prohibited.

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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?

Drive a small SUV at your own risk. Due to security concerns, post dictates that USG employees travel in armored vehicles when using GOVs, so you may wish to consider why that policy exists when evaluating whether to bring a vehicle to post.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

2MB for $40 per month (approx.). actual speed closer to 0.8MB.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

All mission members are provided with mobile phones, and we leave them on at all times, day and night, to monitor security notices and see what new surprises Egypt will deliver us.

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Pets:

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.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

We've identified a good vet for our cats.

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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?

No.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Shirt and tie in the office, jacket at meetings. We don't get out much these days; our time in public is limited.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Yes. The embassy compound was breached, and there are ongoing concerns about crime, political violence, potential for terrorism due to absence of a capable/willing host country police force.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

London is the medevac point. Bring your own home first-aid kit, complete with medicine, especially for the kids.

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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?

Poor. Our daughter now has asthma.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Desert.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

They ain't what they used to be. As a result of the departure of a number of expats, the quality of CAC has diminished in comparison to pre-revolution standards. Our family worries about the safety and security of our children because the school appears to have less security than USAID and the Embassy.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

The school is generally responsive to the needs of students who are part of the mission community.

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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 a number of local preschools and daycares to choose from, although we have no direct experience with them.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Our kids are enrolled in a number of after-school activities, including soccer.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Dwindling.

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2. Morale among expats:

Long gone. People are waiting for the end of their tours. The use of alcohol is increasing, and rumors about the deterioration of Egypt are circulating everywhere, including at school.

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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?

People have become insular; dinner parties and play dates at home are the norm now that so many weekend activities have been disrupted by localized protests.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This is not a good city for anybody. Egyptians are trying to leave, as demonstrated by the long visa-queues at the embassy, and Americans are either counting the days remaining in their tours or hoping for Authorized Departure.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No. Women are subject to sexual assault (digital rape) and verbal harassment. We assess our dress on a daily basis, being careful to ensure we're not showing too much (read: any) ski---although this doesn't seem to stop the harassment. Several of our friends have been groped.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Egypt has spent more than 30 years starving its people of education and rights. All forms of ignorance are on display here.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Resilient Egyptians and traveling out of Cairo with my family to other cities in the region.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Embrace the cold reality that you'll spend your weekends watching Egypt fall apart live on CNN and Al Jazeera!

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Gas masks for the tear gas!

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Living in the midst of a revolution, wondering if we'll begin receiving danger pay, surviving a real-life Argo scenario.

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11. Can you save money?

In the short term, though you'll spend it on flights out of Cairo or payments to your mental healthcare provider.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes. But we'd like to be recognized for the sacrifices we make. This would be as simple as seeing post management demonstrate that they care about our safety and security and recognize the very real hardships and dangers we face.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Optimism.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience. This is a good opportunity to build solidarity with other colleagues and families, most of whom are struggling to maintain their sanity and productivity despite serious challenges, both internal and external.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

The Yacoubian Building.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

These days, Cairo reminds us a lot of Black Hawk Down.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Cairo, Egypt 02/13/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

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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?

USA. 12 hours, transiting Frankfurt

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3. How long have you lived here?

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

(The contributor is affiliated with the U.S. Government and has lived in Cairo for one year, a seventh expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can find most everything, sometimes cheaper, sometimes MUCH more expensive. The insecticides are more effective than in the US. I think that they use DDT still, which kills everything.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Bed linens. I thought, with Egyptian cotton being so famous, that we could buy them here. But it turns out that they are more expensive and of lower quality here than they are in the US.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

You can find the American standards, but don't expect the quality to be the same. Cost is comparable to in the US, in a major city.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Nothing real bad, but there are some mosquitoes, chiggers, fleas, etc.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Quality can really be poor, so be very careful and don't jump into this too soon. There is some quality help available, but it takes some careful screening. Prices are reasonable. Our maid is good, but we got her from another family leaving the country. Sometimes that works, but sometimes people just want to pawn off bad help on an unsuspecting newcomer.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes.

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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?

there are plenty of ATMs, but remember that crime is out of control here, so there is some risk.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, there are many English-language services for major denominations.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

A lot more than people tell you. You will feel pretty isolated if you don't have some level of conversatinal ability, and everything will cost three times as much.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It would be impossible to get around Cairo with disabilities. The sidewalks are almost nonexistent, there are huge curbs, breaks in the pavements, and drivers have absolutely no respect for anyone who can't run out of their way fast.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Buses are absolutely not safe and should be avoided. Taxis are not at all a good idea for women traveling alone, or for anyone without some level of Arabic. Trains are not safe. They fall off the tracks, and train stations in Alexandria are popular sites for riots. The train station in Cairo is definitely not safe and not navigable by non-Arabic speaker. Prices on all the above are affordable, though.

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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?

Don't bring a car. It will get trashed, you will absolutely get ripped off on maintenance, and they are already starting to have diesel shortages. Regular gas is soon to follow.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

It is not really high speed, but the cost is reasonable.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Buy a cheap throw-away phone and buy the phone cards with the pre-paid minutes. Don't get hooked into one of their plans.

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Pets:

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.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Adequate.

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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?

No, absolutely not.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Dress tends to be a bit more formal. Just don't show much skin in public and you'll be okay.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Absolutely. This place is a war zone. The police are totally ineffective and will stand there and watch while you get robbed or are groped and molested. Carjackings are becoming a problem, with even a senior government minister falling victime to a random carjacking.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The recent outbreak of polio is a concern. The quality of medical care is poor, but it is expensive. Dental care costs more here than in Washington, DC. Just like everything else, if you don't speak Arabic you will get gouged.

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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?

Very unhealthy. They burn everything here. But when they burn crops, you do get a nice popcorn smell everywhere.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Extremely hot in the summer, but surprisingly cold in the winter.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Adequate but extraordinarily expensive. As long as your employer is paying that is not a problem; but don't expect the programs to match up seamlessly with programs in the US, such as how math is taught.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Small.

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2. Morale among expats:

Extremely poor. Everyone is trying to get out at the earliest opportunity. It has clearly not always been that way, but the country is going downhill fast.

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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?

You can create your own, with some effort.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

No, absolutely not. You really can't take kids out on the streets much around here. It is expecially terrible for girls. The life for singles used to be better, but now that it is really not safe to be out at night, it is not a lot of fun. The real problem is you just don't know when or where protests will erupt. And crime targeting westerners is rampant.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Absolutely not. This is a very homophobic society. You can go to prison for being LGBT here. It would be uncomfortable to even go out to dinner together.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, all of the above. The country is quickly becoming anti-Christian, and the new constitution enshrines Sharia law in a special place above all law. Persecution of Christians is getting serious, especially in the south, and now it is reaching even into the cities. Women are treated like property.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

getting to see riots, political violence, and crime scenes up close.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Everybody wants to see the pyramids, even if they do look like an abandoned construction lot with trash everywhere, and VERY agressive vendors who won't leave you alone.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Junky egypto-trinkets made in China. But don't try to mail it out, or they'll think you're smuggling ancient artifacts.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Cheap fruits and vegetables on the local market---as long as you thorgouhly soak them in chlorine due to the current outbreak of polio in Cairo.

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11. Can you save money?

Sure, if you live in dump and eat rice and bread.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely. It's an experience that eveyone should have at least once in their lives---unless you have already lived in a war zone.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

sense of security.

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3. But don't forget your:

laptop. Oh, wait, the courts just decided to ban YouTube. So maybe you won't need it after all.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Yes, there are a lot of down sides, but if you can just learn to laugh at the crazy quirkiness and idiosynchrasies of living in a developing country that is going though a rough patch, you will really find it the adventure of a lifetime. Go for it!

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Cairo, Egypt 01/18/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

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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?

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3. How long have you lived here?

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

(The contributor is affiliated with the US Embassy and has been living in Cairo for a year and a half, a ftfth expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Like the US.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Patience and high blood pressure medication for dealing with Egyptians who try and take your money every moment of your life in Egypt.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Every fast food chain is here and they all deliver.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO at Embassy.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Available and cheap.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, there are nice gyms in Cairo--a nice Gold's Gym in Dokki/Zamalak.

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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 use them and have not had problems.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Lots of Christian Services.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Available.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You need some basic Arabic -- some Egyptians will try and speak English to you, but then it's usually some type of scam.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

That would be inviting disaster. Egyptians will even happily run down anyone who is walking, and there are no sidewalks.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Buses? Forget it, unless you want to get groped and/or robbed. Taxis are great and very cheap, but be careful if you are a woman.

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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?

The drivers here are worse than in any country I have ever been to. They will hit you and just keep going. Do not bring a nice car here. Traffic is so bad that you never really drive fast. I would suggest a small car because parking is hard to find.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes -- I pay about $80 US per month and it's good.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Cheap and readily available.

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Pets:

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.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Don't know

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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?

There are plenty of jobs available for foreigners, but wages are pretty low.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Egyptians are pretentious and fairly formal.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

During Mubarak's regime, Egypt was extremely safe. Now there are few police, and they are quite scared themselves to intervene. On a daily basis you see more and more disorder and chaos. Women are regularly accosted throughout Cairo, and crime has become a real problem.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Everyone in the Embassy has had upper respiratory problems-- Cairo-cough --that lasts for months. It's just such a dirty city.

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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?

Extremely unhealthy. Save for China, Egypt is probably the worst country in the world when it comes to air quality. Cairo has about 30 million people, and it seems like all of them drive. The Egyptian government subsidizes fuel, which allows people to buy cheap gas. Therefore, the cars that are on the road are unbelievably poorly maintained, and there is zero environmental concern. It is among the dirtiest places on Earth. Johannesburg, for example, is much much cleaner. Furthermore, the stench of urine is everywhere.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Warm--up to 100 F in the summer and cool in the winters. No rain ever.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Cairo American School seems to be the only good thing about this post. It is extremely large and is an excellent school with excellent staff. The expat kids are very well behaved---in contrast to the Egyptian children.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Getting smaller by the day.

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2. Morale among expats:

Poor. Egypt has always been very dirty and frustrating, but for some people it used to be fun and exotic. Now, with the increasingly poor security, deteriorating infrastructure and criminality, and sense of entitlement of its population, most people---Egyptians included---are desperately trying to flee. Morale at the Embassy is poor, with people hoping for an evacuation.

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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?

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Cairo still has a pretty vibrant nightlife, but who knows what the Muslim Brotherhood will do. There are lots of very pretentious Egyptians who go to the nightclubs throughout Cairo. Singles and couples can have fun going out.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Don't know, but I see quite a few gay egyptians.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Egyptian men are notorious for being very aggressive toward women. There have been several incidents when women from the US Embassy have been assaulted by Egyptian men. Women with blond hair seem to be at greater risk.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Nothing; Of the 100 countries I have visited, including many throughout Africa and Asia, Egypt is my least favorite, and I pray that I never have to return. Egypt has about a 10% recidivism rate for tourists, which tells you something. It is awful and just getting worse, as security is becoming a real problem.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Leave Cairo--maybe go to Sharm al-Shaykh or Guna. But you will have to deal with Egyptians in those places who will try and extort money from you at every turn: taxis, hotels, etc. This is a "bakshish" culture more than anywhere I have ever been.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Nothing -- Egyptians have not produced anything since the Pyramids. All of the Egypcrap is produced in China now.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The weather in Cairo is quite good year around. During the summer it does get very hot, but the winters are very pleasant--down to about 55 Fahrenheit. It is also generally a cheap city: taxis are very very cheap and food is affordable.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, but you need to leave Cairo and Egypt regularly, so travel can get expensive although Egyptair is pretty good.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No way! Don't come.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

obsession with being clean;

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3. But don't forget your:

soap and disinfectant

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Egyptians have a lot of justified pride in their history---mostly the Pyramids---but their achievements pretty much ended there. There is an incredible feeling of entitlement, but you will see Egyptians defecating and urinating in the street and throwing trash everywhere. It is truly a filthy place. As an example, you can wake up in a wonderful mood, and during the 30-minute-to-1-hour commute, dealing with the people on the street, you will be enraged. I have spent many years abroad and have loved all of my time in numerous different third-world places, but I cannot wait to leave Egypt and never come back. I read the last comment by a lady whose husband works at the US Embassy. Her 3 months in country and her lack of daily interaction with Egyptians should be taken into account. Morale amongst virtually everyone at the Embassy is poor, with most counting the days until they can leave.

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Cairo, Egypt 11/27/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

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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?

Woodbridge, VA - 13 hours

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3. How long have you lived here?

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

(The contributor is four months into a 3-year posting at the U.S. Embassy, a first expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

We have an AWESOME commissary with very reasonable prices. We really aren't left wanting---well, I do want Haas avacados, but I can deal with the California ones. They even sell different varieties of soy and almond milk. On the local economy, things are more pricey, but it's convenient to have them deliver or be near your home. The commissary is about 4 miles from Maadi, but in traffic it can be a small hassle.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

An ironing board! They take the one from the Welcome Kit. Also: mattress cushions - the beds are NOT comfy. Most things, however, you can get here or get delivered here. Amazon and Target are lifesavers (especially with free shipping offers!).

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Hardee's, KFC, Papa John's, Domino's, Subway. Be aware that food from these places will not taste the same as in the US, and there will be no real bacon! The costs are very reasonable, and EVERYTHING in Cairo can be delivered! Grocery stores, pharmacies (you don't even need prescriptions here and the pharmacist acts as a doctor), fast food, even greenhouses.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

There are little no-see-um's that I'm not familiar with, but they do bite, nut not like mosquito bites. When we moved in, we had an ant problem (thankfully in our bathrooms instead of the kitchen - - - but still!) that was hard to conquer. Flies bother you (due to the trash everywhere), but you get used to them!

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We have an APO with an office in Garden City (where the Embassy is) and in Maadi at USAID.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very large pool of help available. For a maid working 20 hours/week, we pay $400 (US) per month.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. There are a few gyms to purchase memberships from - including USAID in Maadi and the U.S. Embassy gym. In Maadi there is CSA, Fibers, and Gold's Gym, to name a few.

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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?

Debit/credit cards are accepted in most large restaurants, but this is a mostly a cash society. They use the Egyptian Pound (LE), and it is currently about 6 LE to the $1. Lots of folks want tips for nothing here, i.e., a random person "helping" you park your car by waving their hand.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Absolutely. I've seen many, many different churches of varying denominations here in Maadi!

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

OSN offers cable services as does AFN.There are many channels available in English. OSN is about $50 (US)/month. I don't have AFN and don't know about it!

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It is a bit helpful to know numbers and directional words (left, right, straight). Pleasantries are appreciated. :) In Maadi, at least, many know English.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Many. The curbs here are nearly up to my knees. There are only sidewalks sometimes and there are many potholes and unmarked/unpainted speed bumps everywhere. That and all of the sand...maybe wheelchairs wouldn't work well with all of the sand.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

White taxis are safe. Avoid black taxis (no meter). The Metro can be used with viligence, and there are busses, but I don't believe we are to take them. Walking is big around Maadi. Taxi's and the Metro are very affordable!

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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?

I haven't dealt with repairs yet, but I was happy to find a gas station with Nitrogen to refill my tires! The cost was less than $1. It's bumpy here, and there are unpainted/unmarked speedbumps to control traffic (no stoplights and VERY FEW street signs).

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Well...it is. Our internet speed varies GREATLY and I wouldn't think you could stream from it... It is about $30 (US) per month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Bring an unlocked phone or have yours unlocked online for about $30. Then buy a sim card from one of the local providers for about $20. They do sell phones here (they call them "mobile phones" here...referring to a "cell" means very little to them). There are cell plans available on a monthly basis, but I've been using scratch cards for minutes and data.

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Pets:

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.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Sorry - don't know. Many have their maids care for their pets when absent.

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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?

Not that I've seen.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Covered shoulders and knees are the norm. In Maadi you can wear a skirt that skims your knees and a wide-strapped tank without too many cat calls or gropes! At work, I'd say business casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Post-revolution Egypt is still figuring itself out. There are small crimes of opportunity (purse snatchings), and some women report gropings (usually when alone), but I have not heard of major incidents against Americans specifically.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Unknown as of yet, thankfully. We do have a medical clinic from the Embassy in Maadi and at the Embassy in Garden City most days of the work week. There are reliable doctors in the area...and dentists, too.

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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 quality is moderate to unhealthy, especially in late Summer/early Fall when they burn all of the trimmings from trees and bushes. And, of course, all year when they burn trash!

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It is a dry climate (just next to the Sahara Desert). When we arrived in August, it was approximately 110 degrees F during the day, and we had lows near 85 degrees F at night. Currently the daily highs are about 75 degrees F and lows are in the 50 degree F range. We have not had rain (with the exception of about 12 drops of precipitation one day) for the entire time we've been in country (4 months). Mostly it is sunny or hazy (because of the pollution). Some days this month have been partly cloudy. It's a great place to have a balcony!

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I can only speak of Cairo American College (CAC), where our children go. We have two in elementary, one in middle and one in high school. The children love the school. I think that they are adequately challenged and like the smaller class sizes (vs the US). There is a great community within the school - great since the school is also one of the FEW green spaces where children can play at freely! It is a secure compound (you need to scan-in a badge to enter). There are afterschool activities --- even for elementary! The older children have some amazing travel opportunities with their classes. One problem I see is that they really seem like they have TOO much happening - and with 4 children in 4 different sections of school, it feels like a full-time job to read all correspondence from the school. That being said, they also tell you of events with short notice!

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Not many that I am aware of. There are ramps and elevators. I don't believe there are many special-education classes. They do have a very active counseling department.

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, via CSA, school, private groups and the Maadi House.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge!

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2. Morale among expats:

Mostly positive. Demonstrations wear on moral, but overall people are happy.

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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?

Mostly home entertaining. There are dance clubs (salsa and popular) that I've heard of. Lots of restaurants to sit and eat at.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think it can be. It is mostly what you make of it. You need to remain aware at all times. Crossing the streets was a challenge for my younger ones - people honk their horns for no reason here! It's how they let you know they are around...in case you are a blind driver or something. No traffic laws are enforced --- but it kind of makes driving an adventure! You are rarely going fast enough to get into an accident that would have an injury - unless you are a pedestrian!

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I believe there is a large underground GL community here in Egypt by Egyptians. I don't have any friends here that are G or L, so I don't know first-hand how they are treated.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Women certainly don't have to worry about being offended by chivalry here - it doesn't exist. But if you have a child, they LOVE them! There is a separate train car on the metro for women. That being said, I haven't had too big of an issue living everyday life here as a woman.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Driving!

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The Maadi House (an embassy club), pyramids, museums (although they are not well-labeled and don't give much info about displays), the Khan al Khaili market, beautiful deserts, diving (in the Red Sea), bowling, and movies.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Alabaster, silver and brass lanterns and platters/hangings, jewelry (silver and gold - made to your liking), papyrus paintings.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The embassy has a fantastic commissary, and there is a great school community. Also, tourism is popular.

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11. Can you save money?

Sure - if you eat at home!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes. Even with all of the unrest, Cairo isn't too bad!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

short dresses and slinky tops - or slinky clothes of any kind! Also, no winter gear is needed. Bikes for small children are iffy - teens and adults use them. Leave behind your ideas that the streets will be clean and the place will smell fresh. Also leave behind ideas that rules will be enforced . But, overall, people are kind. You can also leave behind your worries about stationary and framing needs - - - shops for those are everywhere!

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunblock and water bottles. Nerves of steel when driving or walking! Swim goggles and nose plugs, scarves, summer clothes, light jackets, XM radio and .mp3's or CD's (only 2 stations on the radio to listen to and they are not filled with much variety).

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

This place would be terrible for our family (picky eaters!) without the commissary. Do bring physical things to do INSIDE as your children will not just be able to run outside and play after school. Be prepared to make lots of playdates! But the expat community really is great and, besides an incident with bad lettuce when we first arrived, things are going well. :) Good luck!

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Cairo, Egypt 09/20/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Yemen (villages), Sudan (villages), Addis Ababa

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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?

Richmond, VA, US16 hours or so.12 1/2 hour direct flight Cairo to NYC, then a commuter flight to Richmond. Or, Cairo to Frankfurt. Overnight in Frankfurt, then Frankfurt to DC and drive to Richmond.

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3. How long have you lived here?

May 2009-February 2011

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Govt.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Everything is available if you are willing to look for it and pay for it.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Air purifiers!

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonalds, KFC, Baskin Robbins, Chili's. Food is varying quality. Cheaper than in the US.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Organic produce can be grown and delivered locally by a few different companies. Few meat subsitutes available, but I did see Soy Milk and occasional Tofu. If you are there with the US Government, you may have commissary shopping privileges, and you can buy almost anything you want there.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ants, due to the heat.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Through the APO at the US Embassy. DHL is available.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Highest hourly rate you will pay is equivalent to 5 USD/hour, and that is usually only for a Filipina nanny/maid.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Gold's Gym, Curves. US Embassy and USAID have nice gyms.

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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?

ATMS are everywhere and work with most US banks.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

At least 4 international, English speaking churches: St. John the Baptist (Anglican/Episcopal), Maadi Community Church, Heliopolis Community Church and All Saints Cathedral (Anglican). Also St. Andrew's downtown, and a catholic church in Maadi.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Available.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Very little. However, many signs aren't in English.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Very hard. No handicap ramps, few usable sidewalks.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are very cheap, but often poor condition and without seatbelts. The Metro is very cheap, but hot in the summer. Difficult to take the metro with a small child, and occasionally women have trouble taking the metro alone, although there are women-designated cars. No reputable bus system.

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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?

Most expats drive SUVs due to road hazards (poor road conditions, but mostly poor driving habits of local people). A sedan or small SUV would make it much easier to park and fit down too-narrow city streets, but would provide less visibility. I hated driving there, to be honest.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

about $35 a month for medium-speed DSL.Able to do Skype chats, but not smoothly.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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Pets:

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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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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?

No, unless you speak some Arabic, or are willing to work for VERY little salary.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Women should dress more conservatively (i.e. cover your knees, shoulders, and cleavage).Men in shorts is not generally acceptable, although many expat men do wear them.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

We had to leave with the "revolution" of Jan. 26th, and are now in our next post. There is the continual worry of another evacuation, due to continued political unrest in Egypt. Always plan to be evacuated, assume that you won't come back and pack accordingly. We learned the hard way! Keep a stock of food and water at home in case you aren't allowed out of your home due to unrest in the streets.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Many doctors there, but of varying clinical knowledge and ability. Can buy most meds you need over the counter, at low prices.

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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?

Very unhealthy. Winter is the worst, due to crops being burned. Occasionally we had ash falling from the sky. We used a heavy-duty large air purifier in the living room at all times, and small ones in the bedrooms. Black sooty deposits collected on many things in our well-sealed house, including on curtains and toys.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

A few weeks of very hot in the summer (July-Aug), down to 50 degrees F in the winter (Dec-Jan).Need a light jacket in the winter, but can generally wear T shirts year round.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Cairo American College is large and has a great reputation. Although I had no personal experience with it, I knew many parents who sent their kids there, and I wouldn't hesitate to send my son there when he is school age.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

Lots of "nurseries" available from birth age, although varying quality. Most popular ones in Maadi used by expats were Small Talk, Small World and Irish Nursery. All run by expats but with some local teachers. Expensive, but often the only social/outdoor play options available in the city.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, through CAC and other international schools. None for kids under 5 that I saw....

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

HUGE!

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2. Morale among expats:

Middle of the road, depending on happiness of their kids, sickness due to pollution, issues with driving, etc.

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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?

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It is a hard city to live in with a young child, unless you are very brave and interested in traveling a lot. School age kids have great opportunities with the American College.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?


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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

As in all Middle Eastern countries, women are often not well-respected, and are harassed on the street. Black people (African-American, British African, etc) were often assumed to be Sudanese, and faced prejudice due to that.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Visiting Sharm El Sheikh, seeing Luxor and Aswan

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Pyramids, Cairo Tower, Saqqara, Dashur, diving in the Red Sea, antiquities in Upper Egypt, Nile Cruise, camp in the desert, bike in the wadis, bowling, cinemas, lots of restaurants. Limitless options if you are intrepid and willing to travel.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Middle Eastern carpets, artwork, souvenirs.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Tourist opportunities, beautiful weather in the winter, cheap prices

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Not now, with the political unrest. Perhaps when the govt stabalizes, and when our son is school age and could attend CAC.Not a bad post, but the future there is very uncertain right now.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Umbrella

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3. But don't forget your:

Sense of adventure, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, AIR PURIFIER!

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

The expat community in Maadi is very warm and open to new people constantly coming and going. We enjoyed having friends from all over the world (Bulgaria, Italy, Canada, Zambia), and many were people like us who had lived all over the world themselves. This is unique to Cairo and other mega cities, I think.

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Cairo, Egypt 08/04/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

New Delhi

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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?

From Washington, DC, 14 hours, connect in Frankfurt, or non-stop from NY

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can find everything you need. Supermarkets are plentiful and reasonably priced. Local foods are safe to eat. American and European canned/boxed goods are widely available.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

a small SUV

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Tons. They range from incredibly cheap to very expensive. A full meal at El Tabei El Damyati (an Egyptian fast food place) can run under a dollar, while gorging yourself down the street at Mori Sushi will cost you about $50.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

tiny ants

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

via APO

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We pay $5/hr for part-time help.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, public (Gold's) and private. An expat community center in Ma'adi called Community Service Association (CSA) can help new folks find everything.

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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?

Like the US, be choosy about where you use an ATM. I found a skimmer on one in City Centre Mall. We use CBI bank's when we need one.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, protestant, Roman Catholic, Coptic are all available in Ma'adi. There is a synagogue downtown.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

I haven't seen an English-language newspaper, though I'm told one exists. There is one local TV station that broadcasts mostly in English with occasional programming in French. Another local channel regularly broadcasts American tv shows with Arabic subtitles.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Depends on the neighborhood. Generally, Cairenes speak better English than I do Arabic.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Blocked and broken sidewalks, no curb cuts, heavy and random traffic, few accomodations. Challenging, but possible. Elevators and ramps exist, and people are massively helpful.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Stay away from buses and the ubiquitous blue-and-white minivans. The Metro train is safe and cheap (20 cents one way), and taxis are cheap. Negotiate the fare with black taxis; white taxis are metered.

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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?

Bring a vehicle that looks good with dents. High ground clearance is good because of random speed bumps and potholes.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, with good quality. Cheap and slow (512kb) is $20/mo, with ADSL2+ at 4mbps going for around $80/mo

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

There are three GSM providers: Mobinil, Etisalat, and Vodafone. They are all cheap, all offer pay-as-you-go or monthly billing, and you get a decent signal pretty much everywhere in the country. International roaming isn't cheap, but it is available.

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Pets:

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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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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?

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Dress modestly in public. This is an Arab country. I am occasionally embarrassed by what Americans and Australians think of as proper dress to go out in public. It gets hot here, so suits are fairly rare most of the year.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Not really. These are civilized people.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is good. Ambulances, not so much. If you need to get to a hospital in a hurry, get someone to drive you or take a cab.

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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?

Usually smoggy with find sand. You do a lot of coughing in Egypt

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot and dry, though not usually unpleasant. It rains a few times in January and February. Dusty year-round

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

My daughter graduated from Cairo American College and my son still attends there. It is a top-notch IB school. CAC is one of the big draws attracting Americans to serve here.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes. Don't expect American football, but a wide variety of sports are available, mostly through the schools.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Fairly large

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2. Morale among expats:

Varies wildly. One wonders why some people ever leave their birthplace.

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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?

Tons of it available. Egyptians will use any excuse to celebrate.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I've had several single friends bemoan this as a bad place to find a partner. My family has enjoyed it here. It's safe, there's lots to do, you can eat at the restaurants without fear of becoming ill.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

There is a Gold's Gym near my house that seems to be a meet-up spot for gay men. Like all sexual expression in Arab countries, it is discreet, but it does happen.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The 25 January Revolution, the Great Pyramid, Road 9 in Ma'adi, Alexandria/the Med, Egyptians

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Tourist bits are everywhere. Living in Ma'adi, a suburb of Cairo, there is an expat haven called Road 9. If you're homesick, you can walk down Road 9 and get KFC, McDonald's, Auntie Anne's Pretzels, stop in Radio Shack, etc.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

pottery, silver jewelry

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Egypt is friendly, even during the revolution. It isn't cheap, but for the natural tourist there is much to see.

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11. Can you save money?

Not really

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Probably, at least for a short tour.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

parka

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3. But don't forget your:

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Buildings erected in the last fifty years are largely architecture-free. Because of this, many parts of the city are ugly and soulless. There are jewels hidden between the slab concrete monoliths, though. Mostly mosques. It seems they reserve actual beauty for sacred places.

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Cairo, Egypt 08/04/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Frankfurt, Edinburgh

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2. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Frankfurt, Edinburgh

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3. 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?

Washington, DC to Cairo is about 14 hours with an intermittent stop in either New York or Europe.

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4. 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?

Washington, DC to Cairo is about 14 hours with an intermittent stop in either New York or Europe.

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5. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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6. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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7. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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8. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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

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

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

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3. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Very low cost of living with shopping ranging from hypermarkets to local convenience stores.

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4. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Very low cost of living with shopping ranging from hypermarkets to local convenience stores.

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5. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Everything is available here

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6. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Everything is available here

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7. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything you could want.

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8. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything you could want.

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9. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

View All Answers


10. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

View All Answers


11. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Not noticeable.

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12. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Not noticeable.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Access to APO

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2. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Access to APO

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3. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

plentiful and not too expensive.

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4. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

plentiful and not too expensive.

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5. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes

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6. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes

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7. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Banks abound but cash is king.

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8. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Banks abound but cash is king.

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9. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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10. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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11. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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12. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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13. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It makes all the difference.

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14. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It makes all the difference.

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15. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Many

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16. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Many

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Avoids most large and micro buses and tuk tuks. Taxis are everywhere and inexpensive by US standards.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Avoids most large and micro buses and tuk tuks. Taxis are everywhere and inexpensive by US standards.

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3. 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?

Not too large. Pathfinders, Land Cruisers, Pajeros are huge for Cairo streets. Good ground clearance is better than 4WD.

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4. 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?

Not too large. Pathfinders, Land Cruisers, Pajeros are huge for Cairo streets. Good ground clearance is better than 4WD.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes and comparable to US prices.$40 per month is average for good DSL.

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2. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes and comparable to US prices.$40 per month is average for good DSL.

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3. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get one.

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4. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get one.

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Pets:

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?

View All Answers


2. 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?

View All Answers


3. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

View All Answers


4. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

View All Answers


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?

View All Answers


2. 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?

View All Answers


3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

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4. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

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4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

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5. 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?

Unhealthy. Cairo air is very smoggy and polluted. People with asthma and respiratory conditions may experience increased symptoms.

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6. 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?

Unhealthy. Cairo air is very smoggy and polluted. People with asthma and respiratory conditions may experience increased symptoms.

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7. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot in the summer and warm in the winter. Higher humidity that one might expect.

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8. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot in the summer and warm in the winter. Higher humidity that one might expect.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Several international schools and universities of varying degrees.

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2. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Several international schools and universities of varying degrees.

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3. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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4. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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5. 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?

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6. 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?

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7. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, through the schools, sporting clubs and missions.

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8. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, through the schools, sporting clubs and missions.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

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2. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

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3. Morale among expats:

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4. Morale among expats:

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5. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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6. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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7. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, but dating can be a challenge due to strong religious ties within the communities.

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8. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, but dating can be a challenge due to strong religious ties within the communities.

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9. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It is illegal, but that does not say it is totally underground. I met my partner here. There are a few bars and cafes to go to, but they are not openly GLBT. The community is large if not always visible.

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10. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It is illegal, but that does not say it is totally underground. I met my partner here. There are a few bars and cafes to go to, but they are not openly GLBT. The community is large if not always visible.

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11. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes

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12. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes

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13. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Antiquities, the Red Sea, Siwa.

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14. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Antiquities, the Red Sea, Siwa.

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15. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Way too many to list.

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16. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Way too many to list.

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17. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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18. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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19. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Cairo is a huge, sprawling, metropolitan city with access to anything you might need. The cost of living is low, access to transportation is good and there is a wealth of social and cultural activities.

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20. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Cairo is a huge, sprawling, metropolitan city with access to anything you might need. The cost of living is low, access to transportation is good and there is a wealth of social and cultural activities.

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21. Can you save money?

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22. Can you save money?

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

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4. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

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5. But don't forget your:

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6. But don't forget your:

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7. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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8. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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9. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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10. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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11. Do you have any other comments?

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12. Do you have any other comments?

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Cairo, Egypt 07/19/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I live in Cairo before as well as San Salvador and Caracas

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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?

Washington or New York. You have to connect in Europe, so about 4 hours to the connection (Rome, Paris, Frankfurt) and seven or eight to the US East coast. Since the revolution in January 2011 there are no direct flights, but once demand picks up it is likely that airlines will return to their former schedules, which included direct flights to New York and DC. The direct flights took about 12 hours from Cairo and about 10.5 to Cairo.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Affiliated with the US Embassy in Cairo

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Most things you will want are available here. Some are imported/expensive. You can find delicious Europeans meats and cheeses at pricey boutique stores. At the local grocery non-imported dry goods are fairly inexpensive, and the local vegetables are delicious in season. You can buy imported vegetables too, but for import prices. Toys, both electronic and brand-names like Legos, Barbie, etc. are expensive here. Anything that is for a sport that isn't soccer or has lycra as a major component should be purchased before you come. Some specialty sports items are hard to find and will be expensive.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

My own mattress, kid/baby stuff like car seats, strollers, high chairs, big toys like kitchens or slides (all more expensive here).

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are a lot of restaurants. There are good Italian and some Asian restaurants. It's harder to find good Indian food. There are a lot of restaurant chains: Fridays, Chilis, McDonalds, KFC, Applebees. Too many to name. The prices are usually reasonable. The chains are about the same prices as in the US. There are some very expensive hotel restaurants, and some very reasonable restaurants. You will find plenty for every budget.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

There are some organic vegetables in some markets. However, I'm not sure if everybody's definition of "organic" is the same. You can find tofu, but maybe not at the local market. You would need to find an Asian specialty store. I have never tried to find gluten-free food. Restaurants often will not have good alternatives for vegetarians.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

It depends what part of town you are in. If there are a lot of trees/grass near your area, people water constantly and you will get some mosquitoes. Some people get tiny ants that get into things.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Egyptian mail is ok for letters going and coming from abroad, but do not use it for anything internal. They have a good express mail service for overseas mail. I used to receive letter mail from the US in about 10 days. Do not try to receive packages. Duty on most items is 100% and picking them up from the post office is never a good experience. Many employers offer some kind of pouch service as well.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

This is something that is changing. Only diplomatic families can sponsor a visa for a household helper that is not Egyptian. You are responsible for either proving they are working for another diplomatic family or cancelling their visa and providing them a ticket home at the end of your stay. Local help is available, of course. It is harder to find an English speaking Egyptian household helper, because English speakers will usually be able to find a more prestigious job. You may have to try several before you find a good situation, so if you need childcare right away, try to have someone help you with referrals before you come.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. In most neighborhoods where expatriates would live you will find something. You may have to go through a local hotel, but there are also sporting clubs, Gold's Gym, Curves, etc.

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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 find the foreign transaction fees to be high using ATMs here, but they are available and people use them safely all the time.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

A lot of English-language Christian services of many denominations are available. Outside of Christian and Muslim services, it will be harder to find.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

You can find internationa English-language papers, but they are a bit expensive, especially when they are all on line. There are local magazines and papers in English at very reasonable prices. Local cable TV service has a lot of popular shows and movies in English with Arabic subtitles at reasonable prices. What you will not be able to do is access "watch it now" and other streaming video sources through Netflix and Hulu. There are local video rentals through expatriate clubs and in local stores.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None. Most shopkeepers, cab drivers, and offices will be staffed with at least a few people who can speak enough English to complete whatever transaction you need. However, you will have a much richer experience if you try to learn some spoken Arabic. It makes people happy if you try.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It would be hard if you have mobility issues, because very few buildings are wheelchair accessible, and curbs not only don't have ramps but are also extremely high. I think it would be hard if you were missing one of your senses as well, because you need to be alert to dodge traffic, bicycles, potholes, etc.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

All are affordable. The Metro is fast and convenient depending on where you want to go, but avoid buses and mini-buses, which once you see them, you will know why. Keep track of your purse/pockets. Taxis are everywhere and are affordable and the newer ones have meters and air conditioning! It will cost $1 for a short ride and around $6 for a longer ride (30-45 minutes).

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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?

Any car would be fine unless you plan to do a lot of desert driving and then you would want a 4-wheel drive. The driving is difficult, crowded, and often counter-intuitive, so many people use SUVs so they will be sitting a bit higher. Most parts are available here for Japanese and American cars. I see a lot of Chinese and Korean cars on the road, so I'm assuming those parts are available as well.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

It is available, but ask for the speed that is one level above what you think you need, because it will always work at the minimum of whatever range they are selling. We spend about $40/month, but you could get cheaper/slower service if you want.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

The local service providers are all about the same, and fairly reasonably priced. You can use a univeral or quad-band phone with a local chip or buy one locally.

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Pets:

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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

It is available, but as with human medicine/care ask for referrals from friends.

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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?

If you are a diplomatic family member, you can work in the local market, otherwise, your employer will have to apply for a work permit on your behalf and many are willing to do so. There are many positions as English language instructors, editors, report writers, consultants, journalists, and other types of jobs, but it is very much about networking and knowing people who will refer you. It is more difficult to find jobs at higher pay levels, since there are so many expatriates available.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Suits for office workers. Slightly less formal in summer just because it's so hot.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

This is a touchy area since the revolution. Because Cairo was so incredibly safe before the revolution with a huge police presence and a populace willing to step in if problems arise, you will hear people discussing security as a huge concern. However, in terms of random crime, Cairo is still safer than most cities, despite the reduced police force. It now makes sense to lock your car door when you drive and pay attention to your bag/wallet when you are out, just like in any other big city. In terms of security issues related to the revolution/protests, those have also been minimal since the change to an interim government, with some disturbances in the central square which cause traffic disruptions and localized disputes, some of which end up escalating to fights. While most demonstrations have been peaceful, there is always a concern when huge numbers of people congregate in one place. You should check the news before you go someplace to make sure to avoid any protests. Also, you can check the US Embassy travel information. It is a bit alarmist, but it has useful information on where you should be careful outside of Cairo. It is unclear how safe it is on more deserted roads like those heading toward Taba (on the way to Gaza) and other areas. In general, we feel very secure in our neighborhood and everywhere we've wanted to go. The most dangerous thing is still the traffic.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Doctors and equipment can be excellent. Medical support staff are less so. Make sure you have someone with you if you are going to the hospital or if you think you will be unable to speak for yourself because of anesthesia or other reason. The best hospital in Maadi is Al Salam, and they have a "patient advocate" that you can ask for if you are unsure of what they are telling you. Be watchful of hand-washing and clean gloves. Also, be careful if you get manicures/pedicures, that the equipment is clean. Hepatitus C is prevalent here. You can get doctor recommendations from the consular office at the US embassy, but your best bet is to ask your friends.

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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 quality is terrible. There is a high particulate matter content from teh desert and extreme pollution from traffic and minimally regulated factory output. Bring air filters and keep the windows closed.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It's dry and hot in the summer, and dry and warm the rest of the time. It gets to be about 50 fahrenheit in the winter in the evening, but you never really need more than a jacket or sweatshirt. If you're wearing a suit, the jacket will be enough. If you are outside the city in the desert, it can get cold at night. It only rains two or three times a year.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

My kids attend Cairo American College, and we've had excellent experiences at both the high school and elementary levels. The school also has an on-line school program which they used during the early months after the revolution began in January 2011. For elementary school, it was great in terms of how much they were able to provide on line, but of course it's more labor intensive at that age for the parents. The high school kids were able to do a lot on their own. In any case, as disruptive as last year was, the kids didn't miss out on school contact. Other schools include Maadi British International School, American International School, British International School Cairo. Make sure to check out the location in relation to where you are going to live. They all have buses, but kids can spend a lot of time in the bus.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Cairo American College is very straightforward about saying they cannot accommodate special needs kids. Some of the other schools, like Maadi British School and The American International School do accommodate some special needs, but I don't have first hand experience. You should contact the schools directly. They all have web sites.

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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 a lot of good pre-schools. Some of the more popular in the Maadi area are: Small Talk, Small World, The Irish Nursery. My child went to Small World and really enjoyed it. He was more than ready for Kindergarten when he started, and he thought it was fun while he was there.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

There are sports available through just about all of the schools -- soccer, swimming, and track at a minimum. Also there is a soccer league and a t-ball league in the Maadi neighborhood regardless of the school you kids attend or where you live. There is also a softball league for adult men and women and a rugby league for kids and adults.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge and of all nationalities.

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2. Morale among expats:

Most people have kind of a love/hate relationship with Cairo, but overall, it's an enjoyable post. There are a lot of perks -- nice housing, good weather most of the time, lot's to do, but things are loud and crowded and dirty, so it's easy to let it get to you.

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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?

The houses are made for entertaining, with big living rooms and dining rooms. There are catering services available and temporary help is available if you want to have big dinners/parties. There are many expatriate social gatherings and you will likely be invited to gatherings of Egyptian coworkers and other groups.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's a good city for families, singles, and couples. There are good restaurants for all price levels and groups. There are night clubs for people who can handle late nights, sports leagues, an active Hash House Harriers, diving groups, scouts, art/dance/music lessons for adults and kids. It's a regular big city.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

There is a big contradiction in this area. There is a large and thriving gay community, although it has to remain completely underground. Occasionally, the government decides to crack down. In the past there have been raids on clubs, where all the foreigners were released, but local people were arrested. Occasionally, they will decide to deport gay expats. They don't seem to care about women as much as men. I don't know if things will change with a new government, but I'm guessing they won't. So, I would say as long as you discretely live alone or with a partner, have a mixed group of friends, and don't have big parties, you will probably have a good time.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There is a lot of harrassment of women in the streets no matter what you look like or what you wear. Some cafes will be completely uncomfortable for women. In terms of race, there are some nationalities that face some discrimination and dark-skinned people will have a harder time than light-skinned people, but in general, if you are nice people will respond accordingly. Most people are pretty accepting, but you might find people who say negative things about Israel/Jews.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

I like to go to the Red Sea. There are some big resorts there, but there are also quiet camping places that offer better snorkeling/diving. The coral reef is fantastic. Also, seeing the historical monuments and floating on the Nile are pretty great. Right now, it is amazing to watch the government and the people try to sort things out and form a democracy. It's a pretty incredible time.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The pharaonic sites in the Cairo area include the Giza Pyramids/sphinx, Sakkara pyramids, the Egyptian Museum. The Islamic architecture is also amazing including the citadel, the "City of the Dead" and the Khan El Khalili (old market) area. You can inexpensively take a felucca (traditional sailboat) ride on the Nile. There is an opera house with some interesting offerings, a beautiful Agha Khan Foundation sponsored park that overlooks the city, and a lot of expatriate and locla social and sporting clubs. That's just in Cairo. Alexandria has another slew of interesting historical sites, there are oases and wadis to visit, and the Red Sea, as well as a ton of other historical sites you can see with a Nile cruise in Upper Egypt. If you can't find things to do here, you aren't trying.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

All kinds of Egyptian crafts: alabaster, blown glass, engraved copper table tops, mashrabiya wooden screens, wool carpets, cloth items from quilted items to tent fabric and table cloths.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Egypt is full of ancient antiquities which are stunning to see. Besides the Pyramids of Giza and the Temple of Karnak, there are hundreds of other incredible pharaonic places. Pluse the Islamic architecture and history is amazing. Even with that, the people of Egypt are its biggest asset. It's not the most efficient place, but people are easy to get along with and open to foreigners.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't buy too many imported things.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothes, bicycle (unless you are a child or willing to drive your bike out to the desert to ride), expectations about traffic/promptness, short shorts or other revealing clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Extra sunglasses, snorkel and mask, easy small camera you can use to capture the odd things you see every day.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Cairo: The City Victorious, by Max Rodenbeck, and The Cairo Guide, by The American University in Cairo Press (with the Cairo map book). For fiction, Naguib Mahfouz of course, but there are too many others to list.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Try to watch one of Adel Imam's recent movies in translation. Also a recent movie called "Taxi" in Arabic, but likely can be found with subtitles (I saw it on a plane). Do not think you will get a real idea by watching "Cairo Time" because I haven't seen anybody here that looks like Alexander Siddig, and I didn't think the movie gave any kind of impression of what it is like here. You can get a lot of ideas about antiquities by watching the myriad National Geographic and Discovery productions on various places in Egypt.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Egypt is a pretty conservative place and people tend to dress up more than in the US. So, while you can wear long cargo shorts around your foreigner-prevalent neighborhood, you should wear long pants everywhere else -- men and women, and keep the sleeveless to a minimum unless you have something to cover your shoulders in transit.

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Cairo, Egypt 06/05/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This is our first overseas post as a family. My father and mother have traveled overseas before.

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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?

We were based in Washington, D.C. before arrival at post. We took United Airlines to London for a layover which is required by Government policy. The flight was 9 hours and enjoyable. We then took an British Midlands to Cairo which was a four hour flight and decent.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I've lived here for 1 year. But was evacuated for 3 months due to the popular uprising with the people. You can ask for further details about the revolution anytime.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

My parents are both diplomats of the US Government and work at the US Embassy Cairo.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Local markets are everywhere with readily available products. Some at high prices. But if you are with the US Embassy or Military, you have the DeCA Commissary (a huge compound!) and AAFES post exchange---which is a HUGE benefit!

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Auntie Anne's, MacDonalds, Subway, Hardee's, KFC, Domino's, Papa John's. You name it, and everything delivers right to your door! Some products cost less than in the states. Restaurants are available everywhere, you just have to find one. The embassy issues a great guide.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

I wouldn't trust the local markets to have cleaned their vegetables or fruits well. I wouldn't trust the meat either. But you can find good stuff. It's readily available. The commissary has a large produce and frozen meat section. The meat is USDA inspected and from the states. The produce is shipped weekly from Germany.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

I've never really noticed any regular annoying insects other than the flies.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Through the diplomatic pouch system. You can ship from the States, too, using APO (Embassy only).

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Domestic help is plentiful and very affordable. Some people will have a cook, maid, gardener and driver for the price of one in Europe! They are usually reliable and some come with certain requirements if not native.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. The school offers one, so does the embassy. There are a few community association gyms, too.

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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?

Their are ATMs. Some stores have credit card capability, but don't rely on it.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are plenty of English services and denominations. Holy Family (Catholic), St. John's (Episcopalian), Maadi Community (non-denominational), and more. There's also a synagogue run by the Israeli Embassy.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Their are a few providers offering English channels such as CNN, Boomerang, Disney, Food Network, etc. I'm not really sure about English newspapers.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

A bit. English is prevalent. But in a taxi or most stores you need basic Arabic.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It's not a good city for the physically disabled. The sidewalks are terrible or non-existent. Poor elevator service. And emergency response is awful.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The Metro system is reliable, if sketchy and unnerving. Taxis are plentiful and very cheap, but most of the time they are in poor condition. The new white ones are very nice. The buses and micro-buses are not used by Mission employees and Westerners in general.

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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?

Something sturdy with four-wheel drive, like a Land Rover, Pajero, Toyota, Suburban. Something that can take atrocious road conditions and the harsh desert landscape. Their is a serious lack of parts in Egypt. I'm not sure I've seen many repair shops. Carjacking isn't a problem. But repairs - if available - will be very expensive. But on the plus side, gas is dirt cheap.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. Through most cellphone providers. It's pretty fast and reliable.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Their are plenty of services. Vodafone and Mobinil are the two largest providers, with good coverage, even in the middle of nowhere.

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Pets:

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?

I don't think so, never heard it mentioned.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes good vets and pet services. If you like cats Cairo's the place to be. They are everywhere and that means everywhere. You might see a hundred a day. Not to mention the packs of wild dogs roaming around.

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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?

Not really, their hard to come by and work out. Your best bet is looking at the schools.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Formal dress at work. Conservative all the time. Egypt is not super conservative. Shorts by a Westerner is acceptable. Females should be especially careful. Not for offending them but more being harassed.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

After the revolution security became much tighter. Curfews for embassy staff and various other security directives. Walking around is very safe though and crime is rare. But has slightly spiked since the revolution. Their are police everywhere yet they do little if nothing. Driving at night is prohibited, driving out of Cairo at night is extremely dangerous. Certain provinces within Egypt are prohibited for travel, too.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Their are decent medical facilities. Check with community first good hospitals. Very good Embassy Med Unit.

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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?

It's very unhealthy but bearable. After awhile you don't notice it. But you can tell it's not good and their is always dust in the air and sand.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Climate is hot most of the time. Dry and not very humid, very little cold periods. And it never rains, if it does it's a drizzle and it brings down all the pollution.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Their are two schools used by embassy personnel. CAC (Cairo American College) is an extremely respected private school more commonly used. Their is also AIS (American International School) which is the second choice. I attended CAC and my brother and sister did too. We liked it, it's located in a quiet part of Cairo with housing located all around it. Its academics are highly regarded and its sports teams are quite competitive. It's an American curriculum K - 12. It offers full IB and various AP courses. Sports include Water Polo, Soccer, Baseball, Softball, Basketball, Tennis, Swimming, Cross Country and Track. (Seniors graduate at the foot of the Sphinx near the Great Pyramids, an amazing ceremony!)

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I'm not sure of any programs for special-needs kids. At CAC they have LSP (Learning Support Program) but I'm not sure it's geared towards special-needs.

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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?

Their are lots of daycares available. Many are located in Maadi.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, mostly through the school. There are leagues for Rugby and soccer. Sporting clubs are also popular.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Very large. American, British, Canadian, German, Polish, Italian, Korean. Their are lots of different types. Each will have their own amenities clubs, shows etc.

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2. Morale among expats:

Very high, lots of social activities. Everyone gets along and helps each other out. Strong Embassy morale and Diplomatic expat community too.

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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?

Lots of entertainment and social things. By the school's, communities, Embassies. There's nightlife downtown.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's good for everyone, there's lots to do. For families and couples their are trips organized by the CLO. Plenty of tour groups or you could just take a day trip or get lost in Cairo. For singles, I believe their is nightlife activity in downtown Cairo.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No. It's probably not a good idea, as Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country. It's not a good idea to by gay/lesbian. They are not tolerant.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I don't think there are many racial issues. You will get looks, being a Westerner, (all the time). Religious issues are relevant. There are constant disputes and clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians. Being Catholic, Protestant, Episcopalian is not much of an issue. Their are lots of churches. Women have to be careful. Their are reports of sexual harassment and such. Men will stare at women, and cat-calling isn't unheard of.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Their are many. Seeing the Great Pyramids at Giza riding around the complex on a camel. Hiking Mt. Sinai and Mt. St. Catherine's. Living through the Egyptian Revolution (part of it) it was both extremely fascinating and scary at times.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Their are unlimited things to do: The Giza Complex, Khan el Khalili, Mt. Sinai. The Red Sea, Gouna, Sharm el Sheikh, Ein Soukhna. The list goes on.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Their are tons of advantages living in Cairo. It is one of the most fascinating cities in the world! The Pyramids, Sphinx, Khan el Khalili, Alexandria, Sharm el Sheikh, El Alamein the list goes on. The culture is rich and beautiful, the Arabs are wonderfully nice people, the food is amazing (if you go to the right places). Everything is cheap and affordable if you can find it. The weather is hot all year round except for like three months of October type weather stateside (occurs around December). It never rains, their are occasional sand storms.

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11. Can you save money?

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, any day!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Heavy coat, gloves, umbrella (except for the sun).

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, hat etc.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Cairo, Egypt 09/22/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

I lived before in Erlangen, Germany, and Abu Dhaib, UAE.

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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?

From U.S. east coast, expect about 14 hours of travel time. I recommend a rest stop in Europe, like Frankfurt, Paris, or Amsterdam. U.S. Airways also flies to Athens from Philadelphia.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2008-2010.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Everything you need, and very cheap. Most supermarkets carry European products. Embassy and U.S. military staff have access to an awesome commissary.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Most all the fast-food chains you know and love are in Cairo, and they will deliver. You can even order your dinner online through otlob dot com. A standard McDonald's meal starts at around three dollars.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Some ants in the appartment in the summer, but that can be controlled.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Lots of very affordable domestic help. You certainly can't live so well in Europe.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

YES. Gold's Gym has several branches in Cairo. Aurthur Murray has a dance studio in Maadi.

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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 had no problem using ATM machines and Credit cards.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can get by without learning Arabic, but you'll have a much richer and rewarding experience if you obtain at least a basic understanding.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Forget it. There is no accommodation for the disabled in Egypt. The sidewalks are blocked by parked cars, there are no ramps to access the sidewalks, and the curbs are impossibly high for wheelchairs.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The Cairo metro is safe and the fastest way to get downtown from Maadi. The Alexandria train is a nice way to get to visit Alexandria. The newer taxis (white) are modern and comfortable, but the older black/white taxis are scary. Both should get you downtown (a 40-minute trip) for about five dollars.

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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?

A 4x4 with a high clearance is best. There are many high speed-bumps and large potholes that can ruin standard cars. Korean cars from KIA and Hundai are the most popoular with the locals.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

DSL up to 4 MB costs about $40 per month. Note that although Voice over IP applications, like Vonage and Skype, are technically illegal, the restriction is not enforced, and ISPs do not block the use of these applications, so I could talk very clearly over the internet.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Nokia and Vodafone have the best reputations.

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Pets:

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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are vets, but I don't know about kennels.

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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?

Yes, lots.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

I found most Egyptians overall to be very friendly to me and to each other. I felt much safer in Cairo than in most large cities in the U.S.Traffice is going to be your main security risk, since the local driving style is simply dangerous, and more so during Ramadan in the hours before the breaking of the fast. Driving on the highways at night is considered extremely dangerous because of crazy drivers.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

We had our first baby in Cairo, and the quality of care that my wife and baby recived was probably much better than most places in the U.S.

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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?

Unhealthy, but livable. This is a bad place for those with upper resperatory problems. However, there is very little pollen, so I didn't experience my annual allergies to grass and tree pollens.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Except for a few days in the winter, it's sunny all the time. The summer can be hot, but there is usually very little humidity.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The international school makes this a good choice for families.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, through the school. There are several amusement parks around Cairo.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large expat community. Most expats either work for oil companies, the embassies, or the U.S. military.

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2. Morale among expats:

Morale is mixed. You'll find some like me who have found their niche and love living in Egypt, and then you'll find those who typically are overwhelmed by the noise, the garbage, and the crazy driving and so hate living in Egypt. You usually won't find many people in between.

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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?

You never have to be bored. There are lots of places to go out and visit. The Opera House is excellent, and much cheaper than the European equivalents.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

If you are single, male, looking to get married, and either muslim, Eastern Orthodox christian, or Coptic Orthodox christian, this is your eldorado. I've been told that for many reasons a majority of the local men are unqualified or unwilling to marry, so the country is full of beautiful, nice, young ladies praying for a prince charming to save them from spinsterhood.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Egyptians are openly hostile to homosexuality. I understand it is an act which can be punished by law. If there is a gay/lesbian scene, it would be very secretive.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Although Egypt has a peace treaty with Israel, the Israelis are the people that the Egyptians love to hate. So if you are Jewish, it would not be a good idea to publicize it.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Exploring Egyptian history, learning to dive and taking extended live-aboard dive trips, enjoying the Red Sea resorts.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

In Cairo, take history tours. The Opera house is excellent and affordable. Outside of Cairo, visit the Red Sea resorts.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Papyrus paintings, silk tapestries, 100% Egyptian cotton bed sheets, dive trips.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Exploring history, diving, and Red Sea resorts. For those intested in history, Egypt has tons of amazing historical sites to explore. The diving in the Red Sea is some of the best in the world, with excellent water clarity and vibrant coral reefs. The Red Sea resorts offer complete luxury, relaxation, beatiful scenery, and night life for the price of a Best Western Hotel in the U.S.

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11. Can you save money?

You should definitely be able to save money in Cairo. Most of the local population lives off of about 200 U.S. dollars per month, so services are always cheap for westerners.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, I had a great time.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Bicycle. There is a cycling group that rides together every Friday morning, but there most of the sights along the way are eyesores. The crazy drivers make it too dangerous to ride your bike outside of Friday mornings.

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3. But don't forget your:

Camera, swim suit, diving gear, softball gear, Boy Scouting gear.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Eyewitness Egypt (travel guide), ISBN 0756666775.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Don't miss: "Egypt's Golden Empire", by PBS DVD Video, available on Netflix as DVD or streaming video. Take the time to watch all 160 min of all the episodes. The explanations of all the tour guides will make so much more sense if you do.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

There is just one park with green spaces in the whole city. Whenever you miss green nature and clean, modern campgrounds, you can fly to Cyprus in one hour. A weekend escape with Cyprus Airways leaves Thursday evening and returns Sunday evening

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Cairo, Egypt 06/26/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

no. Dakar, Senegal

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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.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Spouse is Foreign Service.

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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.

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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.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Diapers.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Anything and everything. Mild to Wild.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Lots of roaches.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Plenty of choices here and prices are comparable to the US.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Very few.

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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.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

There are no sidewalks, no wheelchair access, and elevators don't work.

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Transportation:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Pets:

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.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are plenty of good vets and several good kennels.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

HUGE!

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2. Morale among expats:

Varies. For those of us with large families living in GOVT housing, morale is pretty low.

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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?

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, yes, and yes.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Saving money. Motorcycle riding.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes. We survive on one paycheck and are able to put the other one in savings.

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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.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

western attitide. I find they generally dont like Americans.

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3. But don't forget your:

patience.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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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.

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Cairo, Egypt 12/02/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I have also lived in Colombo, Sri Lanka and Tel Aviv, Israel.

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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?

There are frequent flights to Washington, DC via Frankfurt and Paris with a travel time of approximately 15 hours, including layovers. In addition, there are direct flights on Delta and Egypt Air between Cairo and New York, although they are not recommended because tnhe planes used are not comfortable for a long trans-Atlantic flight.

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3. How long have you lived here?

13 months.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

The commissary is very competitively priced. There are also plenty of local supermarkets (Alfa Market, Metro, Seoudi). Local products are cheap, but the imported stuff is marked up to two or three times what you would pay in the US.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Specific toiletries and skin care items, but other than that, you can find everything here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Almost all American fast-food joints are available here. There are plenty of restaurants ranging from Egyptian street food ($1-$2 for a meal) to very pricey, high-end restaurants that have food at the same prices you would pay in the US for an expensive meal. Almost all cuisines are available here.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Domestic help is readily available. Egyptian maids and nannies are generally cheaper than Filipina maids and nannies, but the latter are reputed to provide better quality work.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, the embassy and USAID have gym facilities. There are also a number of private gyms, including Gold's Gym, Samia Allouba, and Curves.

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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?

There are plenty of ATMs affiliated with Egyptian banks, as well as BNP Paribas, HSBC and Barclay's. I've never had a problem using an ATM. I mostly use cash here, but higher-end hotels, restaurants and stores take credit cards.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, numerous Christian denominations have services in English. There are also Jewish services on major holidays, but they are mostly held in Hebrew for the benefit of the Israeli Embassy staff.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Al-Ahram Weekly, International Herald Tribune, a basic cable TV package (including CNN, MSNBC and some channels that show American series and movies) is available for approximately $20 per month.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Most people speak at least a little English, but knowing some Arabic goes a long way towards building relationships with Egyptians - they are thrilled beyond belief when foreigners can speak Arabic.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes! Sidewalks are either non-existent, or are frequently interrupted by trees, crowds, piles of rubble or trash, etc.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The best way to travel to Alexandria is by train (about $15 round trip). There is also an overnight train to Luxor and Aswan. Cairo has a metro system which is extremely cheap (18 cents to anywhere on the metro), and there are women-only cars. It is crowded and dirty, but it can be a lot faster than traffic, and you can't beat the price! Taxis are abundant and cheap, and recently the government has been introducing metered cabs to avoid haggling over fares. USG employees are not permitted to take minibuses or public city buses (you probably wouldn't want to anyway).

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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?

In my opinion, a small SUV is perfect for Cairo. It's big enough to handle the uneven, pothole-filled roads but small enough to drive down and parallel park on narrow streets. The roads and traffic here are absolutely insane (donkey carts on highways, cars parked on bridges to take wedding photos, no use of headlights at night, trucks piled to impossible heights with any number of things until they nearly tip over) but you can get used to driving here.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet is available, though it's not necessarily high-speed. TE Data, Soficom and Link.net are the main providers, and cost is about $18 per month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

There are three major cell phone companies here - Mobinil, Vodafone and Etisalat. All are probably comparable in price and quality.

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Pets:

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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are vets here, but I hear the kennels aren't so good. Most people with dogs have their housekeeper watch them while they're away.

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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?

There are a lot of EFM positions at the embassy and at USAID, as well as some positions at NGOs and teaching positions. There is a coordinator at the embassy who works with EFMs to help them find jobs.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business attire at work, casual in public.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Very unhealthy! Cairo is extremely polluted on a regular basis, and more so in early October when farmers burn the rice fields in the Nile Delta, and in March/April when there are dust storms.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Egypt is a police state, so there is very little violent crime. Sexual harassment is a problem, though for the most part it is verbal only. There have been terrorist attacks at various tourist destinations in Egypt, but the government generally keeps pretty tight control.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The main health concern is the unhealthy air quality. Also, a lot of people get stomach bugs. The embassy health unit is excellent, and there are a couple of hospitals here that provide decent care. But for anything other than minor outpatient surgery, go to Europe or the US.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It rarely rains in Cairo, and when it does, it sprinkles for about 2 minutes maximum. Every day is sunny and dry, and temperatures can reach 100 degrees in the summer and go down to the 40s and 50s on winter evenings.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The Cairo American College (pre-K through 12) has an excellent reputation. There is also a British school and probably some other international schools.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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 a number of preschools in Maadi, but not having kids, I don't know much about them.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge!

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2. Morale among expats:

Generally great!

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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?

Lots to do and plenty of places to go out to, from casual to swanky. Lots of family activities within the USG community as well.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Cairo is a good city for everyone, provided you don't have respiratory health problems. There is a lot to do for people who enjoy going out - tons of cultural events at the various embassy-affiliated cultural centers, plus at Cairo's own cultural centers; lots of live music concerts, art exhibitions, restaurants, bars (though very smoky), or just going to see any number of the sites representing Cairo's several-thousand-year history! Families seem to do very well here, as there are a lot of activities centered around the American School and the local USG club (with pool and playground and children's activities), and there are a lot of families with young children here.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Homosexuality is illegal in Egypt, and there have been arrests made of gay Egyptians. However, from what I have heard, there is an underground gay scene. Nevertheless, Egyptians in general are not open about homosexuality, and the topic is not discussed.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Women here, including Egyptian women who wear headscarves, are harassed regularly, though most of