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Living in Egypt

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Feb 01, 2023

Summary: The approximate population of Egypt is 100 million people. The largest cities in Egypt are Cairo (the capital), Alexandria, Giza, Port Said, Suez, and Luxor. Expats love living in Egypt for its rich culture, history, and friendly people. Life in Egypt is often described as vibrant, exciting, and full of opportunity. Popular foods in Egypt include koshari (a dish of rice, lentils, and macaroni), ful medames (a dish of mashed fava beans), and kabab (grilled meats). The cons of living in Egypt include the lack of infrastructure, the high levels of pollution, and the occasional political unrest. The average cost of living for an expat is around $1,000 to $2,000 per month, depending on lifestyle and location. This includes rent, utilities, food, transportation, and entertainment.

What do I need to know about living in Egypt?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Egypt, they said:

"Before retiring in Egypt, it is important to know that you will need to obtain a residence permit for retirement and apply for a special pensioners’ visa if you plan to stay for more than 6 months. You will also need to open a local bank account and make sure to have enough savings to cover living expenses, health care and other potential costs. Additionally, health insurance is recommended for foreign retirees in Egypt and for those over the age of 65 it is important to consider the availability of medical and hospital facilities in the country as well as proximity to international hospitals. Additionally, it is important to research and familiarize yourself with issues such as the availability of amenities and services, taxes, immigration regulations and the local culture. Finally, it is important to consider whether or not you are able to obtain a long-term visa or residence permit and the best way to do so before your retirement," explained one expat living in Egypt.

"Be very prepared not let the backward ways and slowness and unorganized ways get to you. Relax and take it for what this country is great for which is cultural, beauty, great food and fun in the sun," said another expat in Alexandria.

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What do I need to know before moving to Egypt?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Egypt, they said:

"Although Egypt is a popular destination due to its rich culture and long history, there are certain considerations to make before making the move. It is important to familiarise yourself with the culture, language and customs of Egypt. Having a basic understanding of the native language is beneficial and can help you settle in more quickly. Research what type of visa you will require and the relevant entry regulations. It is essential to have valid insurance covering healthcare and other medical expenses, as public healthcare in Egypt is not reliable. Make sure you have adequate finances to cover both your initial relocation costs and your regular expenses for a period of time. Ensure your accommodation meets the security requirements, such as having a secure lock on the main doors. A reputable removal company can help you to safely move items from one country to another. Finally, take time to observe your surroundings and ask questions if you are unsure about something," replied an expat in Egypt.

"When moving to Egypt, it is important to ensure that you have the necessary paperwork to legally enter and stay in the country. Make sure that you obtain a valid passport, visa and residency permit, and also obtain necessary vaccinations for diseases that are unique to Egypt. It is also important to familiarize yourself with the culture and customs of Egypt, as well as the language. Brush up on your Arabic and make sure that you know proper forms of social etiquette and respect for the customs of the country. Another important thing to consider when moving to Egypt is the cost of living. Make sure that you know the necessary costs for rent, utilities, food and other living expenses. Finally, it is important to familiarize yourself with the political and social situation in Egypt, as it may be important to familiarize yourself with current events that may affect your safety and welfare," remarked another in Egypt.

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How do I find a place to live in Egypt?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"Finding a place to live in Egypt can be done online by checking classified ad websites such as OLX, Expat Egypt, and Egypt Real Estate Guide. You can also find an apartment or house to rent via Facebook Marketplace, or find a real estate agent to help locate available properties. Additionally, you may want to try searching for rental listings in newspapers or visiting rental locations in person for better access to more listings," replied an expat in Egypt.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Egypt?

"A typical expat home or apartment in Egypt typically consist of spacious living areas with intricate decor, modern appliances, balconies and terraces, and a range of amenities, including swimming pools, gyms, and private gardens. Bedrooms often feature en-suite bathrooms, and the apartments sometimes have laundry facilities and kitchens equipped with everything from microwaves to dishwashers. Many of the apartments have elevators and parking facilities, depending on the area and the building, and some may also feature areas where children can safely play. Security is usually provided by guards and there are often locked entrances and gates," explained one expat living in Egypt.

"Expat homes and apartments in Egypt typically have European-inspired interiors, consistent with the country's long-standing colonial history. Most commonly, these dwellings feature tiled floors, oriental rugs, and white walls to achieve a light and airy atmosphere. Other common features include ornate furniture, large wood-framed mirrors, and colorful, hand-painted accents. Expat apartments typically tend to be modern and spacious, located in popular expat-friendly neighborhoods with easy access to amenities such as grocery stores, restaurants, cafes, and international schools," said another expat in Egypt.

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What is the average cost of housing in Egypt?

If you are thinking about moving to Egypt, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The cost of housing in Egypt varies depending on the location and type of housing. Generally, the cost of apartments or studios in major cities, such as Cairo and Alexandria, range from low to moderate, while those in smaller cities and rural areas range from low to high," remarked another expat in Egypt.

"The average cost of housing in Egypt varies depending on the type of housing and the city in which it is located. Generally, costs can range from budget rentals to more expensive luxury apartments," explained one expat living in Egypt.

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How do I meet people in Egypt?

When we asked people living in Egypt about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"Egypt is a great place to meet people and connect with others. There are a multitude of ways to meet people in Egypt, from participating in volunteer opportunities, attending social events and exploring local neighborhoods. Joining online communities such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is another great way to connect with people in Egypt. Additionally, taking language classes or attending language exchanges will help you build your network in Egypt. You may also consider attending coworking or business events to enjoy meaningful conversations and make new contacts. Furthermore, taking part in online forums or joining local associations will be beneficial to connect with like-minded people across Egypt," explained one expat living in Egypt.

"The British Club and read the free newspapers for groups that meet once a week or so," said another expat in Alexandria.

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What should I bring when moving to Egypt?

People living in Egypt were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:

"When moving to Egypt, it is important to pack essential items such as your passport and visa documents, clothing and toiletries, laptop/computer and mobile phone, medication, sunscreen and sunglasses, adapters and converters for electricity, a map and guidebook, etc. It is also advisable to bring items with sentimental value, some cash in local currency, enough food and drinks for travel, essential household items, and any items that may be difficult to find in the country," explained one expat.

"Clothing appropriate to the climate (lightweight and cool clothing for summer and warmer clothing in winter), sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, mosquito repellent, comfortable shoes, toiletries, medical supplies, first-aid kit, documents, prescription medications (with copies of prescriptions), a basic set of kitchen equipment (pots and pans, flatware, etc.), cleaning supplies, cellular phone and charger, laptop and charger, books and stationary, and a digital camera," said another person in Egypt.

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Where should I setup a bank account in Egypt?

We asked expats in Egypt what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:

"In Egypt, a bank account can be setup at any of the various banking institutions located in the country, such as Banque Misr, CIB, Middle East Bank, Commercial International Bank, and Arab African International Bank. Opening a bank account in Egypt typically requires proof of ID, along with other documents such as a residence permit or work permit. Customers should also be prepared to present proof of income, such as a salary certificate," said another person in Egypt.

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Will I be able to find a job in Egypt?

When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Egypt, they reponded:

"Yes, it is possible to find a job in Egypt. With a growing economy and increasing foreign investment, Egypt provides a wide range of employment opportunities in various sectors such as manufacturing, finance, education, and technology. Job seekers are advised to look at many different sources of information including professional and industry networks, job boards, recruitment agencies, and Egypt's free government-run job portal, the Egyptian Job Portal. Additionally, networking and meeting people face-to-face may help improve job prospects," said another person in Egypt.

"Jobs are not easy to find but companies like to hire people from other countries. The travel/tourist business is good. If you can teach English or even tutor kids is a great job to get," remarked another expat in Alexandria.

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What is life like in Egypt?

When we asked people living in Egypt what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Life as an expat in this area is generally relaxed, safe, and enjoyable. It has a pleasant climate, with lots of sunshine and a low cost of living. Accommodation, food and transportation are all quite affordable, and there is an abundance of outdoor activities to enjoy, including walking, cycling, swimming, and boating. Expats will find it easy to make friends. There is an international community that is welcoming, friendly, and curious about visitors and their cultures. With its stunning nature, long history and attractive locations, the area is a great place to live," said another expat in Egypt.

"In Egypt, Family is number one but going for coffee is right up there as well. Going to the mall (Carfor) seems to be a big deal here," added another person living in Alexandria.

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What do expats in Egypt appreciate most about the local culture?

"Expats in Egypt often appreciate the hospitality that is extended to them by the locals, as well as the tradition and customs of the people. The deep roots of the country’s culture, art, architecture and religion make it an attractive place for expats to live and explore. From the finest handmade textiles to delicious cuisine, experiencing the culture of Egypt can be an incredibly enriching experience. Expats also benefit from the vibrant nightlife, friendly citizens and excellent healthcare, giving them an enjoyable quality of life. An important aspect of life in Egypt is the celebration of the culture and traditions, enabling expats to fully participate in their own way. Living in a country as diverse as Egypt, expats can be sure to have a truly rewarding experience," said another expat in Egypt.

"The people are very friendly and try and help wherever they can. The sense of safety is also a surprise. The delight in finding things that I am looking for is wonderful," added another person living in Alexandria.

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What do expats find most challenging?

"Expats often find adjusting to a new culture and language difficult. Building a social life can be a challenge when first arriving, as it often takes time to establish connections. Overall, finding work or searching for a suitable school for children can be difficult as well. No matter the difficulty, expats must also find a balance between their daily life and exploring the local culture," explained one expat.

"Very dirty, smelly, busy, noisy place. Nothing is the way you would expect it to be, and it's difficult to get many things done," said another person in Alexandria.

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Is there a lot of crime in Egypt?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"Crime does exist in Egypt, especially in larger cities. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, is common in overcrowded areas of populous cities, while more serious crime, such as muggings and armed robbery, is also reported. In recent years, the risk of terrorist activity has increased throughout Egypt and the tourism industry has been hard hit by several incidents," said another expat in Egypt.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Egypt accepting of differences?

"Yes, there is a lot of diversity in Egypt. People in Egypt are quite accepting of differences, which is evident in their long history of religion and culture. Egypt is a melting pot of different faiths, with Islam as the majority religion and Christianity and Judaism in close minority. People of varied linguistic, regional and ethnic backgrounds live in Egypt. Egyptians are accepting of other cultures and respecting of differences, and accept and appreciate the cultural, ethnic and religious diversity of the country," explained one expat living in Egypt.

"Very friendly people and excepting of most but don't ever forget that being Muslim is very important to people here. They like people from all over to visit because this means having a good tourist business," said another expat in Alexandria.

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What are the schools in Egypt like?

"Schools in Egypt are highly structured and hierarchical, with the school system divided between public and private schools. Public schools follow the national educational plan, while private schools can have their own curriculum and requirements. Education in Egypt is free through the secondary level and is mandatory until ninth grade. Traditional Islamic education, or madrasas, are available in some areas and there are a number of international schools, which follow a Western-style curriculum. Schools typically have an emphasis on rote learning, with examinations and assessments used to measure and evaluate students," remarked another parent with kids at in .

"I would put a thumbs-up and tell you to go ahead. Misr American College is the ideal school for your children. Its small community, foreign teachers, polite students, elite class, good reputation, effective methodologies, warm welcome, and strict yet relaxed atmosphere make it the ideal elementary, middle, and high school for expatriates and Egyptians," explained one expat living in Maadi , Egypt.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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