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Housing in Egypt

Choosing a neighbourhood in Cairo to call home usually depends upon the needs of the family or individual. Couples and singles who will be working downtown might prefer living close to work in Zamalek or Mohandiseen. Those with children generally prefer to live in the El Maadi/ Digla area where the American, British and German schools are located, or in Katimaya or Mirage City, gated communities.

In Cairo, expect to pay a minimum monthly rent of $4,000.00 for a villa and $2,500.00 for an unfurnished or furnished flat with a modern kitchen, three, or more bedrooms and two full baths. Furnished properties often overflow with the landlord's tired, gaudy and uncomfortable rejects. Since new furniture is a bargain and you can have anything made to your specifications at a reasonable cost, you can augment your furnishings with ones you can actually sit on without being propelled across the room.

Mosques dot every neighbourhood. Five times each day (from predawn to night) the followers of Islam are summoned for prayer from loudspeakers positioned at the top of each mosque. During the month of Ramadan, they're turned up to full capacity. To avoid being blown out of bed each morning, before signing a lease, go by the property at a time that coincides with the duration of a prayer call to check the sound level from inside the property. Because the streets are quiet then, remember prayer calls will be even louder at dawn.

No matter what the real estate agent or owner tells you about completion dates, do not lease a property that is unfinished or in a building containing units that have not been finished. Everything is made of cinderblock. To create living space, sledge hammers are required and workmen will wield them from dawn to dusk. The vibrations, noise and construction debris that will find their way into your home and body are not conducive to a happy adjustment or maintaining your sanity.

If you have a dog and your budget doesn't allow for a villa, you might want to consider leasing a ground floor flat with a government yard. There are few places to walk a dog and some domesticated animals have been poisoned by tainted food left out by those intent upon eradicating the homeless dog and cat population.

Every building comes with a bawaab who is employed by the landlord. A bawaab will carry packages, wash your car each morning, escort visitors to your door, keep the common areas of the building clean, gather the trash, and snoop for the landlord. A landlord will generally pay them only 1-200LE per month. They depend upon the generosity of tenants for monthly baksheesh. Providing a package of meat on occasion is also appreciated.

Any kind of help you need, whether full-time, live-in, or part-time is available at a very reasonable price. Due to the Egyptian penchant for doing things their way, it is important to work with your housekeeper, driver, nanny, or gardener to show them how you want things done. You'll have to do this often until they understand that you won't back down. Filipino and African help is available at a higher price.





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