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Cairo- a few questions before I accept a job

 
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leroy



Joined: 12 Jun 2005
Posts: 49

PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 9:45 pm    Post subject: Cairo- a few questions before I accept a job Reply with quote

I've been offered a position in Cairo and although the institution I'll be working for has been very accommodating in answering my questions, I definitely think I'd benefit from some independent advice. I have read back through the old posts and it has been a very informative experience. There seem to be some really clued-up and helpful people on this forum.

First of all, I'd like to ask about conditions and certs needed for residency/ work permits. Do I need to undergo any sort of medical examination or declaration for this? I only ask because when I was a teenager I was very ill and when I declared this on a medical declaration for a position I was applying for in Kuwait, I was told there was little point in continuing with my application as I would be turned down by the Kuwaiti authorities for a permit on this basis. The condition is completely gone now, wasn't anything that I could have passed on, and doesn't affect my employer-provided medical insurance (as I have already checked with them) but I don't want to come all the way to Cairo, get settled in and apply for my permit only to be turned down on this basis.

Secondly, my employer says I can rent a decent apartment for 2500-3000 LE- is this correct? My employer has no reason to lie to me about this but it does seem a little on the low side. I am not that fussy but wouldn't like anywhere too shabby, obviously a/c is a must and hot running water and high(ish) speed internet connection are deal-breakers.

Thirdly-mozzies. They adore me. None of the pictures of Cairo apartments I have seen appear to have mosquito nets around the bed- are they necessary? I have lived in countries with mozzie presence before and an anti-mosquito plug which gently heated some sort of liquid was enough to keep them at bay- would this be enough in Cairo and are they widely available?

Finally, I am a single woman. Assuming I haven't been too bady hit by the ugly stick, should I consign myself anyway to a celibate couple of years in Cairo or is it possible form normal (whatever that is) heterosexual relationships in Egypt? Forgive me if this sounds ignorant but I have had conflicting reports on this.

Any help will be greatfully received. I am lucky enough to have a little time to decide on whether or not to take the job and although I have been doing my research on life in Cairo, there's nothing like a personal account from someone who is actually there. Although I am quite well-travelled and have lived in a number of countries, I realise Cairo is going to be quite a culture shock however prepared I think I am!

Thanks in advance.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15935
Location: USA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 12:40 am    Post subject: Re: Cairo- a few questions before I accept a job Reply with quote

Leroy is rather an unusual name for a woman, but let me answer some of your questions and I'll have to leave the rest to others.

leroy wrote:

My employer has no reason to lie to me about this but it does seem a little on the low side. I am not that fussy but wouldn't like anywhere too shabby, obviously a/c is a must and hot running water and high(ish) speed internet connection are deal-breakers.

Employers have all sorts of reasons for lying to new employees and none of them are logical. And if he wants you to show up, obviously he is not going to tell you that his rental allowance will only provide a hovel. You haven't mentioned the area of the city, so that would need to be known for anyone to tell you if that is enough. Air conditioning is NOT the norm, certainly not in the cheap flats. And you may end up in a flat like my last one in 2001 that had a view of the Nile and was 2000 EP a month, and I had a shared line with the landlord... ie... it rang all the time for his family, and I was not allowed to use the internet although I could have hooked into my employers for free. But, it was short term, so location was the key for me.

leroy wrote:
Thirdly-mozzies. They adore me. None of the pictures of Cairo apartments I have seen appear to have mosquito nets around the bed- are they necessary? I have lived in countries with mozzie presence before and an anti-mosquito plug which gently heated some sort of liquid was enough to keep them at bay- would this be enough in Cairo and are they widely available?

As a person who is also adored by any mozzie within a 3 mile area, I can tell you that they are large, vicious, and ever present. In any supermarket you can get small devices that plug into the wall and they heat a blue mat which keeps them at bay. I had a collection going at all times. I'm sure that it is highly carcinogenic, but it works. I also took a good supply of 'Off' or 'Cutter' to spray myself before leaving the flat - especially in the evening.

leroy wrote:
Finally, I am a single woman. Assuming I haven't been too bady hit by the ugly stick, should I consign myself anyway to a celibate couple of years in Cairo or is it possible form normal (whatever that is) heterosexual relationships in Egypt? Forgive me if this sounds ignorant but I have had conflicting reports on this.

What you have is a never ending buffet... if you are not terribly choosy, you could occupy yourself full time... day and night... even if you have been "badly hit by the ugly stick." Expect to have your first offer before you make it to your taxi on arrival - and it may even include an offer of marriage. That said... meaningful relationships can be a bit harder. The reality is that they are all after two things... the obvious one... and a passport... and they will try every trick to charm you out of either. Rule one: Don't believe one word any of them say... And if you are not into trying the local talent, there are plenty of fellow expats, and since they don't have access to the local women as they do in Asia, some of them may even show an interest.

One thing that you didn't mention was the name of the school. If you haven't found plenty of information on it already on this board, be sure to check it out. There are some truly bad employers in this part of the world.

Good Luck and Have Fun... Cairo is one of my two favorite places in the world...

VS
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leroy



Joined: 12 Jun 2005
Posts: 49

PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 2:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks very much for that quick response, VS. Leroy IS a rather strange name for a woman, I agree. Long story and rather boring one at that so will say no more.

The area would probably be around Agouza which from my not-very-exensive research appears to be one of the more expensive districts. However, I have spent the last few years living in a country where square metre per $ ratio was among the most expensive in the world and the quality of the accommodation not up to much either so a one-bedroomed flat in fairly decent nick would be like a palace to me. I do have savings and am willing to supplement a little but I don't really want to do this excessively. If I don't think I am getting a decent deal from my employers, I simply won't take the job with them. Additionally, as I said in my earlier post, a/c and internet connection are non-negotiable. If they are not the norm in a flats at the lower end of the market (which I presume will be all that's available to me on that budget) then I will have to reconsider.

Thanks for the heads-up on the men situation as well. I am pretty passport-hunting love-rat savvy and I am certainly not going to Egypt for the sex (I am quite choosy!). I just wondered if I faniced a bunk-up one night if this was allowed or if I would end up imprisoned, flogged and deported if I were to be found out, as in some Gulf states.

Once again thanks for your speedy and comprehensive answer.
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stoth1972



Joined: 16 May 2003
Posts: 674
Location: Seattle, Washington

PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 5:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leroy said:
Quote:
First of all, I'd like to ask about conditions and certs needed for residency/ work permits


They're checking you for HIV and TB, I believe. On second thought, maybe it's only HIV.

Leroy said:

Quote:
I can rent a decent apartment for 2500-3000 LE- is this correct?...a/c is a must and hot running water and high(ish) speed internet connection are deal-breakers


I think for most parts of Cairo, this is reasonable. You have to alter your expectations a bit. A 'nice' place might not be everything you imagined. I suppose for the pricier parts of town for foreigners (Maadi and Zamalek) this is possibly reasonably. Plenty of places in Maadi go for under 2500. We rented a place in a very nice part of Maadi for 2500, and it had 3 bedrooms and LOADS of space, pretty little garden, mango tree, etc. An apt. block went up next to it, and the following year, a woman rented for 1750. Some of my friends paid 3000 for the "american-friendly" flats (an actual clothes dryer, great A/C) and others paid 1500-2000 for a decent place. It requires a lot of looking and a lot of patience. I would talk to the doormen you see sitting outside buildings. They will get a cut of commission from the landlady if they lead you to a property and you rent. They've always got their ears to the ground when it comes to stuff like that. Even if they don't know, they'll say they do and try to find out. Can't say I'm sure about Zamalek, though 3000 might be on the low end. Agouza? can't comment. Garden City and Mohandasein/Dokki are more central, and possibly less expensive than the preferred locations for expats.

A/C? Should work. Might work. Depends on the place. VS is right-the cheaper the place, the less likely there's a unit. You might even consider taking a place you like and buying a unit (or negotiating w/ the landlord). The unit might work, but it may struggle to cool the area it's designed to cool. You'll also want to make sure that the heating feature of your A/C unit works, since this time of the year is quite chilly, and the flats never heat up with the daytime temps (or so it seems). High speed? You can pay extra for a faster connection. Dial up is super easy. Super cheap. Super slow. Hot water is usually a guarantee. You'll want to check the individual heaters (each bathroom/kitchen/sink will likely have its own hot water heater that must be turned on and heated up.) Apartment renting is a bit like other aspects of Egyptian commerce-you can wheel and deal a bit. Offer to paint if she buys the supplies and knocks down the rent, and things like this.

Leroy said:
Quote:
Assuming I haven't been too bady hit by the ugly stick, should I consign myself anyway to a celibate couple of years in Cairo or is it possible form normal (whatever that is) heterosexual relationships in Egypt?

Well, the pickings of expat men are somewhat slim. I've never been to keen on dating ESL teachers, myself. As for Egyptian men, you'll have more attention than you can probably handle. I married one in the end, but I would caution you against forming physical relationships too quickly if you're seeking a real romance. It's good to be somewhat skeptical. Egyptian men tend to quite sweet on words and "I love you" comes quite easily (shocking for many westerners and flattering to too many). So, to answer your question, no, you don't have to remain celibate, but making good choices will save you a lot of headache in the end. Doormen will watch if men come and go, and report it to your landlord, and anyone else that will listen. Discreet is the word I'm looking for. You won't be flogged or anything of the sort, but keep your senses about you. Speaking from experience, I found myself in a horrible situation with an education and seemingly normal, well-travelled Egyptian guy(not the one I married, but the only other Egyptian I "dated" besides my husband). There are guys who serially "date" foreign girls.

Leroy said:
Quote:
I realise Cairo is going to be quite a culture shock however prepared I think I am!


I think you're right about that. Egypt served me up the biggest serving of culture shock I ever felt despite living abroad in the Middle East and Europe.

Leroy said:
Quote:
Thirdly-mozzies.

No mosquito nets that I saw. That doesn't mean you can't take you own, though. Mosquitoes are the worst during the winter months. Our accommodation had central A/C and heat, and a colony of mosquitoes actually lived inside the ventilation. There were no mosquitoes outside, but if you turned off your fan...oh boy. They also like to hide under chairs and desks during the night, so the moment you sit down in the morning in your classroom...I wore repellent on my ankles every single day.

The heat tends to slow them and flies down. It is so hot in Egypt during the summer, even the flies fly slowly. When you see if for yourself, you'll know what I'm talking about!

If you want to PM the name of your school, Leroy, I can offer any details I have to share. If you're more daring, you can post that info here! Good luck!
Still chuckling at some of VS's responses to your questions...
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15935
Location: USA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 5:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the good laugh... passport hunting love rat... perfect description!!

Yes, Agouza is rather expensive as it is near the Nile, but you could range into areas like Mohandessin or even Giza. If you are willing to add a bit of your own money, and have time to hunt, you could probably find a place with AC at least. There is also always the option of doing some private lessons to augment the income. That is how I managed to live in a nicer than average flat most of the time.

Having guests is a matter of common sense and a bit of discretion... expats have quite a bit of leeway as long as they take some care - even in the Gulf.

VS
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