Furnished Apartments in Cairo

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.

yuckylivingroom

yuckydining room

yuckykitchenyuckybedroom

bathroom

kids bedroom

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Life in Cairo-Our Apt

I know friends and family have been curious about life here in Cairo.  I am really hard pressed to give adequate descriptions when asked what’s it like.  There is such a mixture of old and new, religious and secular, rich and poor.  Anyway here are some pics of our apt.

front of our apt

We live on the top left.  There is no elevator, so just about everyday, there is a hike up five flights of stairs. 

front door/hall

Front door and hallway.

living room

living room

 dining room

This is the living/dining area, usually called the ‘reception’, pronounced with an Egyptian accent of course.

Kitchen

Our kitchen.  Yes, that is my washer.  Washing machines are either placed in the kitchen or bathroom.

Bathroom

The bathroom.  There are two, one full bath, one half.  Yes, the toilet is square!.

library

This is where dh keeps his books and desk.  My son sleeps on the little sofa, which rolls out into a bed.

We have a three bedroom apt (the two girls share a room, we usually homeschool in there, and it’s seldom in a state fit to be photo’d.

If anyone is looking to move to Cairo, prices have really gone up.  For something like ours: spacious, three bedrooms, no elevator, and oldish linoleum tiles (rather than the more popular ceramic) you’d pay about $200.  That is non-furnished.  Furnished you could pay double.  An elevator in the building can add up to $50 to the rent price.  Inshallah, I’ll post later about our last apt, which was double the price and much worse, because it was furnished.  I can not tell you how good it feels to have my own stuff, after living with the junk that is stuffed in the furnished places.