Cairo at a Glance
Moving to CairoiStockphoto
The InterNations expat guide leaves no riddles about moving to Cairo unsolved.
Dear Readers, due to the continued turmoil Cairo and all of Egypt have been experiencing for the past years, with no clear end in sight for the foreseeable future, there is no way for us to ensure the factual information contained in this article series is up-to-date. Cairo should not be considered a safe destination for expatriates at the moment (August 2013). This current version of the article was accurate as of August 2011. As soon as the political and social situation in Egypt stabilizes, we will return to our usual update schedule. Thank you for your understanding!
InterNations Editorial Office
For many expats moving to Cairo, short commutes to work and access to international schools and embassies are an important factor. Some also prefer to reside among compatriots. Thus, a large number of expats move to Cairo’s well-established expatriate neighborhoods.
Moving to Cairo: Cairo for Expats
Popular choices among expats moving to Cairo include Maadi, Garden City, Heliopolis, or the northern half of Zamalek. These districts are fairly westernized and offer many restaurants, cafés and cinemas catering to western tastes. If you are not interested in moving to Cairo’s city center, Maadi and Heliopolis should be your first choices. The commutes from there are reasonably short: You’re moving to Cairo after all, not to the inside of your car or a metro.
All of the abovementioned areas also have a high density of international schools (please see our article on Living in Cairo). Moving to Cairo’s expat neighborhoods is often a very sensible choice for parents keen on enrolling their children in one of these institutions.
Several new satellite cities with sonorous names such as New Cairo or Cairo Festival City are under construction. Once they will have been completed, they should quickly become a popular choice for middle-class and upper-class people moving to Cairo. These planned cities will be a stark contrast to the busy hustle-and-bustle of Cairo proper.
Moving to Cairo: Relocation Services
Before moving to Cairo, discuss the possibility of hiring a relocation agency with your employer. These agencies provide you with everything you need before and during the process of moving to Cairo, including help with local authorities and assistance with your search for accommodation. If you want to keep the process of moving to Cairo as short and uncomplicated as possible, you might want to look into this option.
Moving to Cairo: How to Find Accommodation
Once you have decided on moving to Cairo, remember that searching for accommodation may work a bit differently than back home. If you’re moving to Cairo without the aid of a relocation agency, a simple Internet search will not do. Using housing portals is not very common, and most apartments you find online are for daily rental, or to be let as vacation homes.
Usually, those moving to Cairo consult real-estate agents. This method is quite straightforward and does not differ from what you have experienced elsewhere. You can find listings in the various Egyptian English magazines available in hotels and at newsstands.
Moving to Cairo: Local Help for Your Flat Hunt
There is also a more direct method that many people moving to Cairo prefer: After deciding on a neighborhood, simply ask local shopkeepers for a semsarr. They will direct you to a realtor responsible for the area. It is rare for a semsarr to be listed anywhere, so if you are interested in a particular neighborhood, this is the most effective way.
There is an even more direct way, cutting out the last middleman: Every residential building has a bowab. This person assumes duties similar to a doorman or porter and is your most important contact after moving to Cairo, as a bowab can arrange almost anything for you. From newspapers to groceries or shirt presses, your bowab will be able to help you. Asking the bowab of a building that sparked your interest for vacant apartments can often prove fruitful.
It would be wise, however, to bring someone fluent in Arabic when approaching a semsarr or bowab, in order to avoid problems with the language barrier. After all, you may not speak Arabic well when first moving to Cairo.