One of the most daunting and, later, frustrating experiences I encountered when I moved to Egypt was finding a new apartment. My employer initiated this process before I even left the United States, trying to make that difficult transition a bit smoother, but it’s never easy to commit to live somewhere sight unseen. My experience was no exception.
The apartment I originally chose turned out to be much too small, so my desire to keep looking launched me into a week-long apartment-hunting journey that left me exhausted and a little panicked, if I’m honest.
New Cairo City, Heliopolis and El Maadi are all different areas of the Cairo area, and I immediately noticed that there are big differences in the living accommodations offered in each.
Maadi was the farthest away from my new job, so the 45 minute drive each way immediately eliminated that city from my list of possibilities. I visited there later, however, and found a very walkable city, an area green with trees and vegetation, reminiscent of the New York or Chicago suburbs, closely connected to all sorts of restaurants, clubs and grocery stores. Perfect for people who don’t ever want to buy a car. The down side… it’s got the big city stench (garbage, fuel exhaust) and the big city traffic. The apartment buildings are tall and units can be spacious, so finding the perfect place will happen quickly, but you’ll pay a little more.
Heliopolis was promoted as “more vintage.” I saw two apartments in Heliopolis before I realized that, at least to me, vintage meant “a little run down.” It’s an older city and the rentals aren’t as modern. Heliopolis reminded my of the inner city apartments in 1970s American sitcoms. They’re very, very affordable, however, and it’s a green and walkable like Maadi. If price and convenience are most important to you, this might be your town.
New Cairo City is a new development, so the options are endless. The whole town is mostly unfinished construction. I did see a few slightly outdated places, for sure, but you’re much more likely to land yourself a newer place if you search here. I did. You might pay a little more too, but that’s not the general rule. It’s not walkable at all, so you will either need to learn to drive here, or get accustomed to using Uber. I found my apartment in Tagamoa 1, or District 1, in New Cairo, and I fell instantly in love with it. I wanted something small and easy to clean, so a one-bedroom was perfect. I wanted something new, and I got it…there was still plastic on the appliances and the mattress when I moved in. I wanted something cozy, and I found myself a little nook of a place, with a courtyard and shade trees. It felt too good to be true after seeing at least twenty other places. The best part was how I landed the deal, which is the story I shared below, posting it on my Facebook right after it happened.
Today… and I kid you not about this story… my ‘person’ was haggling in Arabic with my (future) landlord about my (brand spanking) new apartment, trying to get him to renegotiate the deposit, and as they fought back and forth (which is so uncomfortably and awkwardly loud, and very common), my person won and when I asked her HOW? she waved her arms all around and said “I told him ‘Look at her shoes!! Do you think she is going to wreck your stupid apartment?” …and (I know you think you know where this story is going but you don’t!) she said because my *white Keds* were so white he said “Ok if she takes such good care of her shoes she will take care of my flat.”
And just like that, me and my new white Keds have a brand new apartment!