When you want to stay in Cairo for a longer period you may think of renting a flat. You will have your own little kingodm and you can live your life independet. No other guests, no schedules for breakfast and so on. Finding a flat in Cairo is not as hard as you may think. There are a lot of internet platforms that offer flats, here is a short list:
Another option is using one of the black-boards. You will find those in some of the international institions, one of the best is the one of the AUC (American University Cairo). If you like it more personal you can walk around in areas you really like and ask the people already living in that quartier. The best informations you will get from the bawab, the “doorkeeper”. As the janitor and girl for everything in the houses they surely know if there is anything free in their house. That can take some time and of course it is much easier when you speak at least some Arabic. That for sure is always better when staying in Egypt for a longer time and especially when you plan on living in our own flat.
Asking a semsarr (a professional) is surely another option. Most flats offered in the internet are announced by semsarrs as well. They normally have a lost with several flats and can show you the ones you like. Of course you have to pay for their services. The priceds differ a lot but you have to calculate with 1 rent.
Before you start searching for a flat you need to know some things:
Nearly all flats are furnished. The quality of the furniture differs a lot and is not necessarily very high when the flat is very expensive. The typical Egyptian style is opulent and sometimes kind of baroque. “Oriental” furniture is very rare and in most cases only to be found in really exclusive and expenisve flats.
If the flat as been uninhabited for some times, it will be very, very dusty.
Try out the electricity and the hot water
Ask for telephone and internet/TV
Try out the aircondition!!! Some only make the air smell funny….
Think of the story… especially in the summer there are nearly daily black-outs in Cairo. When you come home with your grocery-shopping and heavy water bottles and your flat is on the 7th floor this is not really nice…
Egyptian flats are normally quiet large compared to the price you pay. This can be nice but think about the fact that you maybe live alone in a large apartement. If you don´t like somebody else doing the cleaning for you that is a lot of work.
The next thing is that there is nearly no middle-class option when it comes to the price. You can get really expensive flats and quiet cheap ones. That is not necessarily an indicator for the quality of the flat. When you want to love in Downtown you can get a flat for around 2.500 LE with two bedrooms, living room, kitchen and bathroom while you pay around 7.000 LE for the same flat on Zamalek. It is worth searching for a time because sometimes you will have the chance to get the dream flat for a good price in the perfect location. In general the standards are much lower.
When you found your perfect flat you have to sign a contract. Normally is is a 12month contract and you have to pay a disposit. The contract surely will be in Arabic, so ask your landlord or the semsarr for an English Version.
In the contract there is the price for the flat… but this is not all you have to pay. This is important to know because you will be surprised whatelse you will have to pay for… First of all it is the Bawaab. They will ask you to pay them around 100 LE, with is too much. Ask you Egyptian Neighbours what they pay and then give around 20 % more, that will do. The next is the garbage guy. He will ask you to pay 30 to 50 LE, you will give him 15 to 20 LE. He will scream and lament, don´t react. Then the electricity guy… he will give you a real bill, that´s nice… same for the water in some houses. Normally you will have a cleaning lady, too. She will receive around 100 LE p. month- which does not mean that she really cleans. Be sure that your money and expensive belongings are locked away. I know, some people will say that it is not nice to say something like that, but I made my experience.
ALWAYS close your door, lock it when you are inside. Like in all big cities are are burglars hanging around in Cairo. They like to break in flats of foreigners, expecting that they are all rich.
There are much more things to say about renting flats in Egypt and more will come but this is a first glimpse!