Like almost anything in life, there are pros and cons to living as an expat’ in the mighty city of Cairo.
Some of the advantages are:
- Private schooling in Cairo offers a full range of north American and European varieties. Not cheap, these popular schools are sometime oversubscribed.
- You can get anything delivered to your house, including food from almost all restaurants, furniture and virtually anything offered in shops.
- You have restaurants of all national cuisines at astonishingly low prices (apart from the international hotels).
- Egyptians have a witty humor and laugh at just about any adversity. Just stay away from politics, religion and sex and you will have a fulfilling social life.
- There are shopping malls all over Cairo (not quite Dubai-like) that stay open until nearly midnight.
- There is a plethora of sites to see for your guests from overseas. Remember too that you have the Red Sea resorts, Luxor, Aswan (try the greatest freshwater line fishing in the world) and mighty Gisa within easy reach.
- Accommodation for expats is fairly plentiful and reasonably priced from a western point of view. Ma’adi and Garden City are popular areas downtown.
- There are a full range of national clubs catering to all language groups so you will always have an oasis to visit when the noise dominates.
Some of the challenges are:
- Whatever anyone says, the traffic in Cairo is simply dreadful. If you are worth enough to your company, you will have a driver (a Godsend) and you will have a live-in or live-out maid to help in the home (another Godsend). If not, just learn to drive like other Caireens with a sense of humor.
- The pollution is epic during much of the year: that combined with the summer heat is really boring so good aircon is a must. More costly accommodation will have in-house generators to cope with occasional “load shedding”.
- It’s worth, no, imperative, to speak a few words of Arabic. Hello, please and thank you go a long way to induce smiles from everyone. An Arabic speaking friend is the way to go. English is the second language but spoken fluently by few.
- Public transport, for the most part, is overcrowded but inexpensive. Learn about proper taxi prices and to ask “how much to xxxxx” so you don’t look like a tourist.
- Alcohol is available at close to European prices. Egyptian wine is too, at considerably lower prices. Beer is popular among those religious groups that permit it.
Overall, Cairo is a tremendous place to live. Unlike Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai, Cairo is an inexpensive place to enjoy life. If you have a comfortable home and a driver, it’s exciting and rewarding. Day to day life is noisy, tumultuous and never boring. And the sound of the call to prayer will stay with you for a lifetime. Ahlan wa Sa’hahlan.