Cairo, Egypt Report of what it's like to live there - 03/27/14
Personal Experiences from Cairo, Egypt
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
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.
3. How long have you lived here?
We are in our 3rd year here.
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
My husband is with the U.S. Embassy.
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.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
The commissary is fabulous.
3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
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.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes, moderate costs.
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.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
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.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes, it would be very difficult because the infrastructure is so poor.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
No, all are forbidden.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Where do you feel safe venturing?!
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
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.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
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!
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.
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!
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
None that I am aware of.
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.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
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.
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?
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Very limited activities, given the security concerns.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
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.
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
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.
10. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
No, and counting down until I can leave!
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.
3. But don't forget your: