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Living expenses in Cairo?

 
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Hasan84



Joined: 07 Oct 2010
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 7:56 am    Post subject: Living expenses in Cairo? Reply with quote

Hello,

I've read a lot of the posts but cannot find what I'm looking for. Could anybody tell me the living expenses of Cairo, please?

I am thinking about going to live in Cairo and teach English (I have a CELTA but no degree and some shaky experience)... I'd like to finish off my Open University degree whilst in Cairo for the first 6 months and not work, so I'd just be living off my savings. Do you think it would be possible to live off 400 (GBP) a month? Rent and everything included? (I don't mind where I live, as long as there is internet so I can do my degree work)

Thank you
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15613
Location: USA

PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That would be 3600 EL per month. Being able to live on that... with decent internet... would be difficult. Are you an Arabic speaker and a good bargainer?

I couldn't do it, but perhaps nstick or justcolleen could give you some ideas.

VS
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Hasan84



Joined: 07 Oct 2010
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi VS, thanks for the reply.

I notice you say it would be 'difficult' to live on 3600 EL per month... so not impossible then, I hope.
Unfortunately I'm not an Arabic speaker (I'll be having some lessons though, with other money I've put aside specifically), however, I'm a pretty good bargainer and have experience of living cheaply in Vietnam where I taught for about a year and a half. The prices and everything look similar, so it looks promising.
My only vice is alcohol... we all know how costs can spiral when the drink starts flowing!!

I've seen on craigslist rooms for rent for as low as 900 EL in Cairo, not including bills, so lets say 1400 EL maximum on housing. That's 2200 EL left over... 550 EL a week. That's 60 (GBP), a little more than my unemployed chav friends get off the government over here in the UK to survive on. I think I could do it.

Anybody elses thoughts would be most welcome, there must be some other people on a budget Smile

Cheers again VS,

Haz
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jmmacdon



Joined: 01 Mar 2010
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey -

I just moved to Cairo at the end of August. I am also on a budget. With that being said, I am constantly amazed at how much money I am spending. What area of Cairo are you looking to live? I have noticed that makes a difference...

Private tutoring is huge here and a good way to make more money.

J
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justcolleen



Joined: 07 Jan 2004
Posts: 636
Location: Egypt, baby!

PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, I think I could live on that, but then I have enough living in Egypt experience to know how.

Even if you are able to snag a 900 LE flat share, you have to understand the way electricity is billed: by category of useage, not for each KWH of use. One kilowatt hour into the higher category and that's what you pay. During the winter it gets cold - too cold for just a heap of blankets at night. Running an electric heater costs money. Summer air conditioning is expensive, too, although clever use of drapes and fans can easily cool a flat without A/C.

Other expenses you will have to consider:

The baweb (doorman) and, trust me, you will want to rent a flat with a baweb as they are an additional layer of security. That additional layer of security comes with a price. It is worth tossing 30 LE or so his way because, if you don't, he won't see anything.

Transportation, of course, is a necessity. Until you have the language skills to manage a microbus, you will either walk or take a taxi. Until you have the knowledge base to know how much is a fair rate (meaning the rate locals pay), you will be overcharged for taxi rides as metered taxis are not the norm on the street. Before you get into a taxi, know how much to expect to pay (ask a local how much they would pay) and do not pay any more than that, even if the driver gets out of his cab and creates a scene in the street.

Food is expensive and food prices increase with every holiday festival (particularly Ramadan and Eid). Once those prices go up, they do not come back down. Know that even when shopping locally, at the souk, signed prices are most often simply suggested retail prices and can be negotiated down, particularly if you frequent one particular vendor. Not only that, once the neighboring tomato-souk-guy notices you never shop at his souk, he will likely ask you why and if your answer is his prices are too expensive, he will be inclined to lower his posted prices, just for you, because swiping the other tomato-souk-guy's business is a small victory. All of that chatter going on at fruit and vegetable stands is not pleasant conversation about the weather, it's people dickering for a better price and refusing to buy until they get it.

Medical care should be a big concern as it is cash as you go. The quality of medical care received is directly proportional to the cash laid out. While it is true that the easier things, like antibiotics, are easily obtained at a local pharmacy, anything that can't be solved by a couple of tablets (and it is possible to buy just a couple of tablets instead of an entire package) will require a doctor/hospital visit. Again, without the language skills, it is possible to overpay there, too. One doctor wanted to remove my appendix when what was really wrong was a stomach flu.

Your first order of business, before you step foot in Egypt, should be to learn Arabic numbers, what they look like, what they sound like when spoken, and how to say them yourself.

Then, memorize these two phrases:

"Kam?" (How much?)

and

"La! Floos kabir!" (No! Too much money!)

Then practice walking away while someone is pleading with you to return, and how you will go into negotiation mode.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15613
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ya justcolleen... ahlan (ahlan...ahlan) ...as the locals would say "where are you?" Laughing I hope you had a good summer.

Our OP here needs a good internet connection to finish his degree. What will that cost him a month these days?

VS
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justcolleen



Joined: 07 Jan 2004
Posts: 636
Location: Egypt, baby!

PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am in the US until the first of the year, then I will be back in Egypt.

Call me a sucker for punishment, but I really do love it there. Very Happy Besides, I have vested interests in Egypt. Very Happy Very Happy

An internet connection.

Depends on how you go.

Stringing a cable from a net cafe or stringing a cable from the switch box in an apartment building is the least expensive route - but the connection is ghastly slow (because everyone else that is wired in is using the available bandwidth) and prone to outages. The cost depends on how much the net cafe guy or the guy who hooks up to the switch wants each month, but it usually runs between 30 LE and 50 LE each month, plus the cost of the materials and one month as an installation fee, and however much you have to pay the baweb to find someone to hook it all up, along with paying the baweb's buddy to stand there and stare while the installation happens (which is what I had to do).

Having a connection installed by T-DATA is an option, and the price depends on how much one is willing to pay as it is based on speed - the higher the speed, the higher the price - and use - the higher the bps, the higher the price. For unlimited use, at the highest connection speed, is around 125 LE per month. That connection is not guaranteed and outages happen, particularly when a cable at the bottom of the sea is cut.

A wireless connection, by purchasing a USB stick and paying to renew it monthly, is an alternative however I found it to be a huge waste of money (400 LE for the stick and 40 LE each month) because there is so much cement in Egypt the only way I could get a signal was to hang off of the balcony. Others have had better success but mine sat in a drawer.
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justcolleen



Joined: 07 Jan 2004
Posts: 636
Location: Egypt, baby!

PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've just thought of a couple of other items that should be on anybody's list of what they could/shoud expect to pay/pay for while living in Egypt, so I'll tack that on now.

Utilities:

Stoves (a/k/a, blast furnaces) are operated by somehow setting fire to whatever is burned (natural gas, etc.), and that fuel is almost certainly attached to it with a rubber hose/clamp set up. Swanky housing is a little less scary because of the higher priced appliances, but swanky isn't the budget range of a typical TEFLer. Anyway, cooking fuel is another expense and the cost depends on the type of fuel and how you're billed (someone comes to the door to collect, the baweb finds another tank, etc.).

Telephones are both landline and mobile. Some flats rent with an active telephone line. Yes, already active and sometimes those active telephone lines are not paid current. In order to use the service you will have to clear up the old bill. Useage is charged by the minute and rates are determined by zone. There are no flat fees, no offers for a better rate if you switch to another telephone company, and it can get very expensive very fast.

Mobile communication is one area where Egypt shines. Mobiles are inexpensive to buy, available on every block and sometimes for blocks, and come in tremendous variety. To obtain a phone number requires the purchase of a sim card with one (or more, depending on the phone) moblie service providers and all mobile telephone numbers are registered to an address. While it is possible to pay extra for the privilege of having a bill delivered every month, the easiest way to go is to purchase time on cards and cards are not hard to find.

An additional expense is the services of a nanny and I say this as someone who finds more joy in dusting every day than she does in the idea of beating the dust out of multiple, floor-size rugs. Just sayin'.
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Hasan84



Joined: 07 Oct 2010
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the info! Ahhh, the joy's of moving to a new place...

You know, one thing I think I've underestimated from the sound of things is the extent of the bargaining. Of course when I was in Vietnam I was constantly aware of being ripped off, but there were lots of places to buy groceries, for instance, where the prices were set and you could be sure you weren't being ripped off (don't worry, I still managed to lose out plenty of times). It seems like when you first get to Egypt you are easy prey (I suppose that's the craic anywhere) so I will have to be shrewd in money matters. I must say though, bargaining does piss me off immencely sometimes, the following and the pleading for you to return can be a bit too dramatic when all you're buying is a couple of tomatoes. Worst though is when their first price offer is so inflated they obviously take you for a fool, I don't care how much the price drops, you won't be getting my business, mate!

As regards the housing issue, my plan is to find a room in a shared apartment where the day to day running of things is established and smooth. Never again will I put my name on the documents and then desperatley try to find people to rent rooms... the plan is minimal responsibility in that area Wink
Hopefully I can fit in the cost of gas for stoves (wasn't expecting that) into the 1400 EL maximum housing budget... same goes for the electricity (I don't like the sounds of the electricty pricing category system), nanny and the baweb.

Is food really 'expensive'? My mum spent some time in Egypt and she said there was some good, cheap street food (that was 30 years ago though). I realise you can go out and spend loads if you want in the fancy restaurants, but there has to be filthilly cheap food. I draw the line at McDonalds though; no man should have to stoop that low!

Yeah, I think that's good advice to learn the numbers and what they look like. I can just imagine how any confusion would be pounced upon.

Internet... that is something I will really need for my degree. I was thinking about the USB dongle option, sounds a bit expensive and unreliable though. I think I'll just have to make sure the shared apartment I move in to has that area covered already... and that it can fit into the budget.

Erm... can't think what else to write. Oh yeah, jmmacdon, I haven't started thinking about areas to move into yet (I'm about 6 months away from departure) but to be honest I'm not too fussy as long as my fellow housemates' are nice. I'd be happy to live in a dodgy area where there aren't many non-locals like myself. I lived in an area of Saigon with my ex-girlfriend who was blonde that didn't have any Westerners. People would stop in the street terrified of the blonde hair. It was like being celebrity, crazy person, pop star, rapist, all in one with the attention you'd get. Even scarier was the homosexual attention I got!
What area's to live in Cairo do you reccomend anyway?

Thinking about transport, are there many mopeds (small cheap and slow motorbikes) around? I found mine indespensible in Saigon, I'd definitley put some money aside to get hold of one if it was viable in Cairo. It's a great way to explore also.

Anyway, I've rambled on enough here, a few too many Guinesseseses tonight I think... actually, how much is a pint of Guiness in Cairo? Or just a normal, local beer in a normal bar?
Plus, what is an 'OP'? VS, you referred to me as an 'OP'. I'm quite up to date with all this forum lingo, I think it must mean, 'Original Player', or maybe just, 'Ordinary Person'.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15613
Location: USA

PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 1:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You almost had it... Mr Original Poster!

There are fixed price super markets with both local and imported items. With a limited budget, they are not the cheapest, but you may want to pick up staples there. Just beware of impulse shopping... it will kill the budget.

There is a local beer... Stella... never drank it, but back in the day that your mother was there (and perhaps me too), they called it the Heinz 57 of beer because every bottle tended to taste different. Imported beer will likely not be in your budget. As to street food, there is the traditional fuul, taamiya, koshari, & shwarma. (google for recipes) If you catch a bug from it... head to the nearest pharmacy. There is always someone there who speaks English and many of us used the pharmacist as a "doctor" - and they will provide what you need to fix this common problem.

My last flat had a shared land line and I shared with the landlord. I could have connected to the internet at the university for free, but he wouldn't allow it. So I used the local net cafes. (BTW... this was 2001 and my rent was 2000 LE for a tiny flat in Zamalek)

VS
(Great information justcolleen... ah the joys of butagaz for cooking and hot water... insha'Allah, you will be back there soon. We should have known better than to drink from the Nile!! Cool)
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Hasan84



Joined: 07 Oct 2010
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All the information is great. In many respects it does sound familiar to places I've lived before (as regards pharmacies, water, food and alcohol) so I should be ok because hopefully I've made all the mistakes before. Obviously there are things that might (correction, will) catch me out, as they would any newcomer, so I will take a little extra cash for the first few months which will be put into the 'Idiot' category of my budget.

The biggest spend is obviously the rent, that will be where I have to be shrewd. Hopefully I'll find some nice people to rent with who are also budgeters!
When I do finally arrive (6 months or so, just gotta work my ass off to get the money together) I'll certainly post on my experiences of living off the budget. I'm sure it would be useful to many people.

Thanks everybody for the help, I'm always open to more Smile ... I am the OP!
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svatopluk



Joined: 16 Sep 2009
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MOD edit
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Hasan84



Joined: 07 Oct 2010
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is a good question.
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Nevpraguetefl



Joined: 22 Oct 2010
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was last in Egypt 2 years ago and at that time it was still possible to pick up a quick snack on the street for around 75 piastres.
Of course, the same thing in Heliopolis would set you back much more.

Ah Cairo, I miss your crazy cab streets and your melancholic prayer time cries to the core of the soul of everyone whom has the fortune to walk your pavements.
It's one hell of a city (in a good way that is), and Sinai is one hell of a lovely respite.
Enjoy!
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justcolleen



Joined: 07 Jan 2004
Posts: 636
Location: Egypt, baby!

PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hasan84 wrote:
You know, one thing I think I've underestimated from the sound of things is the extent of the bargaining. Of course when I was in Vietnam I was constantly aware of being ripped off, but there were lots of places to buy groceries, for instance, where the prices were set and you could be sure you weren't being ripped off (don't worry, I still managed to lose out plenty of times). It seems like when you first get to Egypt you are easy prey (I suppose that's the craic anywhere) so I will have to be shrewd in money matters. I must say though, bargaining does piss me off immencely sometimes, the following and the pleading for you to return can be a bit too dramatic when all you're buying is a couple of tomatoes. Worst though is when their first price offer is so inflated they obviously take you for a fool, I don't care how much the price drops, you won't be getting my business, mate!


Once the vendors in your neighborhood know you live there and aren't a tourist, price gouging will stop.

Hasan84 wrote:
As regards the housing issue, my plan is to find a room in a shared apartment where the day to day running of things is established and smooth. Never again will I put my name on the documents and then desperatley try to find people to rent rooms... the plan is minimal responsibility in that area Wink
Hopefully I can fit in the cost of gas for stoves (wasn't expecting that) into the 1400 EL maximum housing budget... same goes for the electricity (I don't like the sounds of the electricty pricing category system), nanny and the baweb.


Once you land in Cairo, finding a flat will be relatively easy. Your best plan would be to have an Egyptian help you, although know that help will likely come with a price (a finder's fee). Stay away from the likes of craigslist for flat shopping as any advertisements in English are solely and exclusively targeted at westerners and their perceived wealth.

Hasan84 wrote:
Is food really 'expensive'? My mum spent some time in Egypt and she said there was some good, cheap street food (that was 30 years ago though). I realise you can go out and spend loads if you want in the fancy restaurants, but there has to be filthilly cheap food. I draw the line at McDonalds though; no man should have to stoop that low!


It's all relative.

Meat (beef steak) has gone up to 70 LE/kilo and a kilo of tomatoes is 10 LE, up from 2.5 LE a year ago. The cost of living has skyrocketed, so much so that a man recently killed his wife because she wanted tomatoes, he didn't buy them because they were too expensive, and she accused him of failing to support her. It's very difficult to access the most basic of foods for ordinary Egyptians living on a typical Egyptian salary (which averages 460 LE/month).

Hasan84 wrote:
Yeah, I think that's good advice to learn the numbers and what they look like. I can just imagine how any confusion would be pounced upon.


The more Arabic you learn the easier your life will be. Egyptians are outright delighted at even the most remedial stabs at the language. They are happy to teach it as well. You said you are planning to learn Arabic before you go, however I believe that is a waste of money as you'll learn Standard Arabic, not the Egyptian dialect which is commonly understood throughout the Arab world as so many movies come out of Cairo.

Hasan84 wrote:
Erm... can't think what else to write. Oh yeah, jmmacdon, I haven't started thinking about areas to move into yet (I'm about 6 months away from departure) but to be honest I'm not too fussy as long as my fellow housemates' are nice. I'd be happy to live in a dodgy area where there aren't many non-locals like myself. I lived in an area of Saigon with my ex-girlfriend who was blonde that didn't have any Westerners. People would stop in the street terrified of the blonde hair. It was like being celebrity, crazy person, pop star, rapist, all in one with the attention you'd get. Even scarier was the homosexual attention I got!
What area's to live in Cairo do you reccomend anyway?


Stay away from the dodgy areas because Cairo's dodgy areas are really dodgy.

Also, no living with a girlfriend in Egypt. Co-habitation is illegal and this is strictly enforced. If you do get the notion to have a lady over for the evening, or in your flat at all, or in a room alone for that matter, do what the locals do and "orfi" marry, which is simply a document drawn up at an attorney's office agreeing to be married and shredded when the need to be married is over.

Don't be shocked if you receive homosexual attention. While it's a crime and outwardly frowned upon, Egypt has a very active homosexual sub-culture.

As for the area you choose to live in, you will have to decide whether you want to live in an area with a large expat population or not.

Hasan84 wrote:
Thinking about transport, are there many mopeds (small cheap and slow motorbikes) around? I found mine indespensible in Saigon, I'd definitley put some money aside to get hold of one if it was viable in Cairo. It's a great way to explore also.


Any type of motorized transportation is expensive. Once you see the traffic in Cairo you may want to rethink whether you're that eager to risk life and limb.

Hasan84 wrote:
Anyway, I've rambled on enough here, a few too many Guinesseseses tonight I think... actually, how much is a pint of Guiness in Cairo? Or just a normal, local beer in a normal bar?


A Stella, the local brew (which is LETHAL) will set you back 10 - 20 LE. Local clubs have happy hour with discounted prices. The longer you're in Cairo, the larger the information system (social circle) you will develop, and they can point you in the direction of the adult beverages.

VS -- True, I did drink from the Nile, but it was an accident and I still say I was duped!
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