A brief, but useful, guide to Cairo for expats

If you and your family are about to move to Cairo, here are some quick tips on what to expect, where to live, schools to choose from and what kind of life you might have overall.

 

Where to live?

 

Most expat families live in two main areas: Maadi and New Cairo. This is because the best expat schools are in these areas. These areas also tend to have the best expat facilities, and communities, which are detailed below. Maadi is quite small and families love it because you can walk everywhere. New Cairo is a newly developed area, where families enjoy the comfort of gated compounds

 

Which school is the best?

 

Here is our detailed guide on the best schools in Cairo. We have personally visited and assessed them. Your children will be in good hands if you choose one of them. You can purchase it here: Got the Right School? We know that it’s a matter of budget, but we’re here to help you make the best decision. Don’t hesitate to give us a shout if you have any questions.

 

Parks, clubs and outdoor areas

 

Cairo does not excel when it comes to outdoor areas, so don’t expect green spaces where children can run around safely. There are a few malls where you can find kids areas, such as Cairo Festival City, in New Cairo or The Mall of Egypt, in the area called 6th October. The Mall of Egypt is about 40 min by car from Maadi. In Maadi you will find after-school clubs of many sports, which expat parents coach in the afternoon. There are quite a few gyms, with CSA (Community Service Association) being the major draw due to its expat services, which we detail below.

 

CSA (Community Service Association)

 

This is a small and very friendly association in Maadi that offers a wide range of expat services: a gym, souvenir shops, some charity gift shops, a bookshop and even a small spa and nail centre. They organise some expat gatherings, bazaars where you could book a table and sell your own products and trips of many kinds in and out of Cairo.

 

Churches

 

As Egypt is a Muslim country, Muslim families will have no problem finding a place of worship. For Christians there are quite a few churches in both Maadi and New Cairo, with the Catholic Church and Maadi Community Church being the most popular ones. You may find churches in other areas of Cairo should you choose to live outside the main expat areas.

 

Transportation

 

Most families choose to have their own vehicle. Should you work as diplomats or in an oil and gas company, buying a car is cheap as you are tax exempt. For the rest of the expat families, buying a car may be expensive due to tax on import vehicles. The other options is renting a car.

 

Public transport

 

Most companies recommend you stay away from it. However, you might benefit from the subway. The issue with the subway is that there aren’t many stops, so to be able to use it, you’d have to live fairly close to a metro stop. I have not used it a single time in three years of Cairo, but I do know that it is an option for some. Kids usually have the option to either walk to school or use the school bus.

 

Ride sharing

 

Uber and Careem are decent companies to take you from one place to the other, Many international companies forbid their employees to use the typical local white taxis.

 

 

Medical facilities

 

I can only recommend the options our company allows us to use, which is Al Salaam Hospital and Ghali Medical Clinique. If you have a private medical insurance, I’m sure they have the exact doctors and medical centres for you, and I strongly recommend you follow their instructions.

 

 

Bawab

 

This is probably the first word you will learn and it will likely happen as soon as you settle in. They are always men, and they take care of the building you live in. They clean the staircase but can also help you with various errands in exchange for a bit of money. They usually live in a little room tucked away behind the staircase or in the patio. They may help you pay your bills, buy your forgotten products, take your clothes to the laundry, help you carry your bags upstairs, clean your car, find you a handyman or even repair stuff around your house.

 

Drivers/cleaners/housemaids

 

When it comes to drivers, most of the time it means they’re going to drive your car. They stay with you for the hours established from the beginning and get paid the salary you agree together. Most housemaids/cleaners are locals, but there are many Filipinas and women from other African countries available for full-time housework, or just the occasional babysitting. You may find lots of recommendations on some of the most popular expat women FB groups.

 

Trips in Cairo

 

There are many places to visit in this city of more than 20 mil inhabitants. Here are the most memorable places:

The Pyramids of Giza

Coptic Cairo and the Garbage City

Pyramids and tombs of Sakkara and Darshur

The National Museum in Tahrir Square (wait for the big opening of the Grand Museum near the Pyramids in Giza)

City of the Dead

Islamic Cairo and the bazaar of Khan Khalili

Naguib Mahfouz tour (for book lovers)

Al Manial Palace

Jewish Cairo with the Synagogue Ben Ezra

Children’s Museum in Heliopolis (a great hands-on experience)

 

If you’re an expat living in Cairo, and reading this, what else would you add to this list?

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