For the first two years we were here, we lived in furnished apartments. Unfurnished are much cheaper, but don’t include a refridgerator, stove, kitchen cabinets, or even closets. So furnishing an apartment involves a considerable outlay of money. Our very first apartment was pretty decent, albeit on the 5th floor with no elevator. It had three bedrooms (one with air conditioning), 1.5 baths, and something they claimed was a washing machine. Let me explain, they have two types of washers here. One is completely automatic, put the clothes in, the soap, hit the buttons, and wait for it to finish. The second kind, which we had, you put the clothes in a cylinder, fill it with water, let the machine agitate the clothes til you think they are clean. Then you must rinse and wring out the clothes by hand. I don’t know whose idea this was. It is slightly better than completely washing by hand, but only slightly. We were about 2 blocks from a shopping center, grocery store, and walking distance (a looong walk) from Fajr Center. We paid 1500LE (around $250).
Our second apartment was much worse. Roach infested, damp walls with peeling paint so bad that a mattress next to the wall had rotted. We had been in a big hurry to find a place, the previous landlord went back on his word and said we couldn’t stay. We ended up having to find a place pretty fast in the summer time, which is a peak time for renting, driving prices up. This montrosity did have more in the way of appliances, an automatic washer, two air conditioners, and satellite tv. We basically moved in after seeing it once at night. Big mistake. The roaches showed themselves after we moved in. I made myself sick spraying Raid everywhere. The first time I cooked dinner, I left the food to cool on the stove. When I came back, two homongous roaches were on the lid of the pot. My first instinct was to grab the poison, but common sense prevailed. Instead I started hitting the pot, hoping to knock off the roaches. I succeeded with one, but the second fell into the pot of meat curry!
The pitiful condition of this apartment was not because of lack of funds on the part of the owner. My dh saw his apartment and said it looked like a palace. Nor was it reflected in the price we paid, an ungodly sum of 1900LE ($333), mind you the average pay here is about $50/month. My purpose is not to complain, alhamdulillah I am very thankful to be out of there and in a decent place now. My main point is renters BEWARE. Do not be in a hurry to find a place. Look over the apartment carefully and in the daytime. People will basically get out of you want they can.
A furnished apartment makes sense if you will be here a short time, say less then a year. If you plan to stay more than a year, than I would highly recommend an unfurnished. The furniture placed in furnished apartments is usually not very good, either purchased used, or cast-offs of the owners. Besides this, the rental contract says you must leave the apartment AS YOU FOUND IT! That doesn’t sound bad at first, however most rental contracts in the states allow for reasonable wear and tear. So if the stuff was broken down, you are not going to be found responsible if it breaks a little more. Not so here. It is very rare to get a security deposit back, in my experience. Any little thing will be noted down, and used as an excuse to keep the entire deposit.
My experiences are basically limited to Nasr City, Cairo, which has a high number of foreigners and the most popular places to study arabic. I’ll leave you with few photos of last hated apartment.
Filed under: Housing |