Friday, August 31, 2007

Where should I live in Egypt /Cairo?

I think this is the question I get asked the most by newcomers to this country, often before they even arrive.

Quick Orientation :

Cairo is the capital & the business centre.
Alexandria is a lovely Mediterranean sea side town 3 hours drive away from Cairo but has its own international airport too.
Port Said & Port Suez are along the Suez Canal. A lot of people who work in the shipping industry are posted in these towns.
Sharm el Sheikh & Hurghada are the party towns on the Red Sea Coast.
Luxor, Aswan are in Upper Egypt and are the ancient pharaonic towns.

These are the main cities that expats live in.

I'm not qualified to elaborate on all the cities. Cairo is the only city I have enough knowledge about to share information on places to stay. So here goes...

Where to live in Cairo :

Traffic in Cairo means that it can take ages to reach from point A to point B. It's better to live as close as possible to your office or college/university so you can save a ton of time on traveling and use that time more productively.

If you are an Expat with kids then your child's school is another major consideration to keep in mind. Which school ? How long will it take my child to travel from home to school ? Is there a school bus facility ? Is there a convenient pick-up location ?
In a toss up between your own/spouses office location & child's school location, you need to take a call for yourself and your family that will best suit your needs.

If you are a student, then you may also like to stay in walking distance to a Metro station. The Metro service in Cairo is efficient & extremely beneficial to anyone who doesn't have their own means of transportation in this city or who doesn't want to drive here. :)

Areas to live in :

Maadi : The choice of a majority of expats. Close to many international schools. Maadi is a lot greener than a lot of other areas in Cairo. Plenty of organisations catering specifically to or of interest to expats like Community Service Association (CSA), Cairo Rugby Club, Studio 206, Ace Club Maadi : Association of Cairo Expatriates, Cairo Hash House Harriers, Cairo Petroleum Wives, Maadi Womens Guild, Serafis among others.

There are bungalows (stand alone houses) 2/3 floored buildings as well as a couple of highrises around roads 200 & 201.

Rents are higher in this part of town. But its worth it for the benefits of the greenery and community living.

Zamalek : An Island on the Nile in the centre of the city. Its the location of choice for embassy employees (a lot of embassies are located in this area) and AUC students. The AUC hostels are also located in this area.

The constructions are older here but not necessarily in bad condition. The apartments are really huge and spacious with high ceilings and wooden floors.

Garden City : Similar to Zamalek. Rent rates would be slightly lower than Zamalek. Its just across the river towards Maadi.

Mohandaseen : The business part of town. Started as a residential area for engineers is the story I have heard. Its an extremely busy part of town.

Dokki : A residential area between Mohandaseen and downtown.

Most of the restaurants and clubs are clustered around these areas of town.

There are other areas of town that are cool to live in to. These include downtown Cairo, Heliopolis, Nasr City, 6th of October city and El Rehab City.

Excepting downtown (which is logically in the centre of the city) the others are on the outskirts of the city and it takes some time to reach the city centre from these locations. But they are better planned with more greenery, parking spaces and less traffic.

Nasr City is also home to City Stars the largest mall in Cairo. A shopaholics delight with tons of stores, restaurants, food courts and cinema halls. Read more at

This is just a quick primer on some residential areas in Cairo. Rates will depend on size of apartment/house and location. For eg within Garden city itself similar apartments may rent for different rates based on quality of construction, amount the owner has spent on doing up the place etc.

So find yourself a good "semsar" - real estate agent - and happy hunting.

(I may write a post later on estate agents, so stay tuned)

Edited on 18 April 09 to add:
Egypt Today did a wonderful series on this topic a while ago, that I though could add to this post.

Garden City
Nasr City
New Cairo
Suburban Joy: covers Cairo-Alex Desert Road, Sixth of October City, El Shorouk City, New Cairo and the Maadi Circular.

The magazine had articles on Shorouq, Kattameya, 6th of October City, Al-Solaimaneyah also. I can't find the links for them online though.


Anonymous said...

Greetings kim,
love this post u done here. keep up the efforts, they are most appreciated.
i think i shall rename u "the walking library of egypt" hehe.
good day to you.

Kim said...

Thanks Maryam, glad to be of help.


kim said...

hi there.
would like to speak with you.

Kim said...

Leave me your email id Kim.

But please be warned, I'm going offline for a week

Anonymous said...

I am usa citizen wanting to find a job in egypt. preferably in alexandria because i hear it is beautiful there. Can you direct me how to go about finding a job there and how the transistion is. Thanks.


Kim said...

Hi Tara,

Alexandria IS a very beautiful city.

The transition would be similar to a transition to any new country with a completely new culture.

Unfortunately I can't help regarding a job. I tried finding one myself but find this blog an easier pursuit to maintain :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim,

I have been reading your blog since I arrived in Egypt. Nice Work! I'm a student currently in Egypt for my internship. I really enjoy going to City Stars Mall. Right now, I live in an apartment very close to the Mall. Come end of June my lease will expire. My internship will continue till end of July. So now, I'm looking for an apartment to rent for the month of July. I hope to find an apartment in Heliopolis. What do you think is a reasonable rent?

Kim said...

I'm really not familiar with rent rates in Heliopolis. But I do know that rates have gone up with the increase in fuel prices last month :)

Claire said...

Hi Kim, we are planning to move to cairo permanently from Johannesburg South Africa. We need to find a good senior school for two teenage girls and accommodation for a family of four. We also want to bring our two rottweiler dogs. Any advice would be gratefully received.

Kim said...

Claire, I've been traveling with limited net access and my mail responses have been taking time. Leave me your email id and I'll contact you or send a mail to whazzupcairo-owner @ googlegroups . com

Ava said...

I am moving to Cairo in Sept 2009. I have a US teaching certificate in education. Many teachers have been placed. Others hiring want an in-person interview. I have heard there are other jobs available for Americans with a degree. I have also heard it is easy to get a fairly good job after you get there ?I need help and advice from everyone......Thanks, Laurie

RNK said...

Hi Kim,Thanks for the every bit of information . Its very much useful for people like us who would like to know about the place before we land in there.
Can u plz let me know what should be the minimum compensation package I have to expect from an company for a decent life in Cairo in terms of EGP/LE. Also what would be the cost of decent accomodation in a decent locality for a bachelor like me.


Kim said...

sorry for the late reply RNK. Was traveling.

Rates depend on the location etc. Do read my post on "where should I live" You can google it from the top of this page. It will help you a lot

i know students who live with rents as low as 500LE and there are villas of 5000$ too. so its really dependant on what you are looking for and what you are willing to spend.

Again costs depend on lifestyle. I know bachelors who live on 1000-1500le/month and save the rest. But this is really basic living. they only eat at home or eat at cheap street food kind of locations. Movie tickets are in the 30LE range

Groceries are slightly more expensive than India. Meat is about 50Le/kilo or more.

So if you tell me what the basics that you normally spend on, I can tell you how much it would cost here.

another thing to note is that a lot of Indian foods, spices, dals are not available here and if sold are sold at a premium. you can get masoor dhal and channa for 5-10le/kilo. basmati rice depending on brand is about 20le/kilo. The only other option is Egyptian rice which is very sticky, so you will end up using basmati for daily use.

just some points to keep in mind.

Anonymous said...

well... as an Egyptian girl i suggest that you avoid Egypt completely for the following reasons:
1. Sexual harassment, especially in Alexandria for the women who wants to live there, even though its beautiful and clean (compared to Cairo of coarse!!!) and trust me we can't do anything about it cz guys here are SICK!!
2. Cairo is the most polluted city in Egypt, and the dirtiest.
There are many other reason but i guess these are enough, although I'm pretty sure that Kim fled himself after the revolution as the crime rate has increased! I'm saying all this and i live in 'MAADI' myself (the safest place in Egypt!!!)
I know I'm very late..wish I found this earlier!

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