- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Egypt Guide (PDF)
While Egypt's rolling desert landscape and iconic ancient pyramids are on many a travel bucket list, the country isn't the most obvious choice for expats looking to relocate. In reality, though, Egypt has just as much to offer expats as it does tourists.
Those who move to Egypt tend to be engaging, active, adventurous and interested in connecting with communities and interacting with Egyptian culture and people. Teachers, writers, volunteers and NGO workers are all interwoven into Egyptian society, making for a truly interesting expat experience.
That being said, expats considering moving to Egypt should pay special attention to the country's safety and political situation. Though not characteristically unsafe, riots and violence have become a problem in the country since 2011.
Most expats moving to Egypt end up in Cairo, a metropolis where the malaise of city life can prove intimidating. Close quarters, pollution, and noise can seem inescapable in the endless city sprawl if expats aren’t adequately prepared. Women used to Western culture often find the transition to Egypt's somewhat patriarchal society difficult, although far less so than other Islamic countries.
For the most part, though, Egypt makes for a unique expat destination, and it is usually curiosity or love that draws expats to stay rather than financial promise or luxury living. Although the country has its business incentives, it isn't an internationally recognised industrial centre. Still, entrepreneurs may find new emerging markets and opportunities, as the country is actively promoting itself on a global front.
Expats should have no problem finding suitable accommodation in Egypt. Options range from simple studios to fully furnished condos and large villas. Getting around in Egypt can be an adventure as there are varied modes of transportation available, from overcrowded buses and minivans to first-class trains. A modern subway system helps commuters get around Cairo and avoid traffic congestion. Expats without the patience to deal with public transport in Egypt always have the option of hiring a car with a private driver.
Those moving to Egypt with children will be pleased to find there are a number of good international schools. Most of these are in Cairo and offer students the opportunity to continue studying the school curriculum of their home countries.
Ultimately, expats moving to Egypt with a sense of curiosity and adventure are most likely to have an interesting and satisfying experience. For those with an open mind, Egypt holds much to discover.
Population: More than 102 million
Capital city: Cairo (also largest city)
Neighbouring countries: Egypt spans two continents. Most of Egypt is in Africa, but the landbridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula extends into Asia. Egypt is bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west.
Geography: Egypt's landscape is mostly desert with a few oases. It is also home to the famous Nile River, one of the world's longest rivers.
Political system: Unitary semi-presidential republic
Major religions: Islam with a Christian minority
Main languages: Arabic
Money: The Egyptian Pound (EGP) is divided into 100 piastres. ATMs are common in Egypt's larger cities but may be harder to find in smaller towns. To open a bank account in Egypt, expats may need to present a work permit or other proof of long-term residence in the country. Requirements may vary from bank to bank.
Tipping: 10 percent in restaurants
Time: GMT +2
Electricity: 220 volts, 50Hz. Standard plugs are European two-pins.
Internet domain: .eg
International dialling code: +20
Emergency contacts: 122 (police), 180 (fire) and 123 (ambulance)
Transport and driving: Cairo has a well-developed public transport system, including a metro, buses, trams and trains. Other cities may have fewer options, and public transport throughout Egypt tends to be crowded and uncomfortable. Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road.
►To read real accounts of life in the country, see Expat Experiences in Egypt.
"Most of Cairo is quite safe as long as you look four ways before crossing a road. You hear a lot about a lack of security since the revolution, but I haven’t really noticed any difference." Maryanne Gabanni is an American expat living in rural Egypt. Read her interview here.
"The things I enjoy most about Cairo are the sunny weather and the many child-friendly places to visit." Sam Welbeck is a British blogger and freelancer who gave up life in London for Cairo. Read his interview here.
Are you an expat living in Egypt?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Egypt. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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