AN APARTMENT OR VILLA :
Do plan on a minimum one year lease. You might be able to negotiate a
six month lease on a cheaper apartment, however.
keep a list of addresses for all apartments you see, especially the ones
you don't want. Those are the ones you will tend to forget, and the ones
you will be taken back to see over and over again. When it appears that
you are about to be taken to a villa or apartment you know you've seen,
you can politely let the agent know before he goes to the trouble of showing
it to you. This will save you much time in your search as well.
It may seem that every property you see has the same price even though
they are not always of the the same scope or quality. Similar flats should
be within a range of $300 or have some particular outstanding value to
justify a higher price. In a volatile (particularly a declining one) market
rents can vary greatly.
for the following features while you are house hunting:
Size and location of air-conditioning units: air conditioners should
be tested for both heating and cooling - and noise!
water pressure: Try all faucets and ask whether the building
has a roof storage tank and a pump for it at ground level
lighting: Bulbs can either be screw or bayonet and all
run on 220VAC. Bulbs are cheap and plentiful here, but the electricity
fluctuates and they do burn out more quickly than you might expect.
Stabilizers are relatively cheap and readily available and are routinely
used in the home with computers, TVs, videos, stereos etc.
meter: Check that your electricity meter is adequate for
all of your ACs and appliances
You can never have enough and some of it should be lockable for your
valuable items. You will need adequate storage space in the bathroom,
bedrooms kitchen and hallways and adequate sized water heaters in the
bathrooms for shower
Parking will either be basement, or on the street. Underground garages
for new apartments are the standard and are a great improvement on street
Windows that seal properly and open and close easily. Check that there
is new screening on all the windows. Mosquitoes are more of a problem
in Maadi than anywhere else due to the amount of greenery, watering
and its proximity to the Nile.
The building elevator should be in good condition, recently inspected
and running. A broken elevator is the first sign that the building is
being poorly maintained
or Boab: Your building will probably have some form of
security, but make sure that you do not live directly above or below
where the Boab lives on the premises. There will be noise. Most modern
apartment blocks have uniformed 24 hour security guards in the lobby,
and these are probably the quietest.
Make sure you are not directly adjacent to a local school. The noise
during the daytime can be very bothersome indeed. It's wise to check
out your prospective villa or apartment both in the daytime and in the
evening before you commit.
escape: Most buildings do not have fire escapes as such. You
will be lucky if you find one that does. You should, however, check out
that there are stairs from your floor that are well lighted, uncluttered
and clearly marked. This may be the best you can do. The same goes for
the upper floors of villas.
policy: If you have a dog or cat, you should inquire whether
the landlord accepts pets in his building or apartment. Most do, but to
be on the safe side, ask first.
Access and View: Check to see that you have adequate
access to sunlight and air. Many high rise buildings are placed closely
next other similar buildings and you may find that two of your three bedrooms
receive hardly any light whatsoever. Always open the curtains and shutters
of all the windows in the villa or apartment when you view it so that
you will know how much light and ventilation you will have. Most balconies
have views, but you may find later that your balcony is very uncomfortable
due to street noise, wind, direct sun and dust. You will find this more
the case with apartments in the city or apartments located on major roads.
Something that is sometimes not apparent at first view is the amount of
street noise that you may have at night, and particularly very late at
night if you live on a major road or in the city. Some of the newer complexes
outside the city have been carefully planned to always allow good views,
access to sunshine, proper ventilation and the like. But, nowhere accept
apartment hunting are 'trade offs' so evident.
Unlike 25 years ago when landlords were pretty much restricted to using
locally made appliances of inferior quality, you will now find American
size refrigerators, modern stoves and the like. Many appliances are
now of foreign brand, but locally assembled here in Egypt. They work
adequately and can be maintained. But always check that each and every
appliance and air-conditioners is running properly. If it is not, you
need to specify that it be fixed or replaced. This will normally be
accepted without comment. If there are too many things 'not working'
beware - your landlord probably has the habit of 'hands off' till you
fix it. That can be very bothersome and expensive for you.
Telephones: Every apartment
or villa should now have its own telephone line. Make sure that you
have a dedicated line and not a tie-line. Your line will probably be
a local line and cannot be used to direct dial outside Egypt, or even
outside Cairo. If you require and international line, you will have
to apply for it through your landord, or your company will have to 'buy'
a new line. In order to call outside Cairo or to call a cellphone (Vodophone
or MobiNil) you will need a local line that has the '0' enabled. You
may have you local line, '0' line and international line on the the
same phone/same line. But check that they are there. Your landlord will
not usually pay for any upgrade to your phone service. Local lines are
fine for receiving faxes or for Internet access. You can apply for Net2phone
locally also, if you want international phone capbability over a local
Satellite Dish: Your building
may or may not have a communal satellite dish. You need to ask. If your
villa or apartment does have one that is owned by your landlord, then
you need to inquire about how much it will cost to activate it for the
services you require. It is fair to ask him to renew it for you. Equipment
is available and moderately priced if you need to build a system from
scratch. There is cable access in some areas as well. That can be cheaper
than satellite and can also be used on some services for 24 hour Internet
access. ADSL and DSL lines are available for Internet in most communities
now at very reasonable prices.
general things to keep in mind when you are looking:
Apartments and Villas are not always in good condition or clean when you
go to view them. Give them a chance though. There are some classic gems
out there that will make very elegant and comfortable homes once you've
decorated to your taste and standard. You'll find European high ceilings,
Victorian remnants, solid wooden doors and windows with real brass knobs
and fittings, stained glass, and you'll also find some pretty garish and
hideous furniture. You can always ask the landlord to store his furniture
and fixtures and fittings if you really like the property.
Try not to be put off by the dirt and dust. Premises can
be extremely dusty. Many landlords are not in the habit of keeping them
clean while they wait for a tenant. Dust is something everyone puts up
with here and you'll soon have it well under control. Try and look past
any dust and dirt and visualize what you could do with the space once
it's cleaned up. Every landlord will offer to clean and prepare his property
for occupancy once he knows you are serious about taking it.
You might see an apartment in the middle of renovations.
It doesn't take as long as it might seem to you for them to finish the
renovations. You can count on a possible two week delay.
If you see a flat that needs updating, don't be afraid
to ask, many landlords will update their flats or bring a tenant extra
items in exchange for a long contract, but they don't start the renovations
until they have a signed contract. Look at the existing finishing to get
a clue what you can expect from the quality of new renovations.
The landlord normally does not get his flat ready until
he has signed a contract.
should receive your apartment clean. However, keep in mind that your standard
of cleanliness might not be the same as your landlord's and you may need
to throw in a little elbow grease yourself. If you have a large flat or
apartment you will have outside help to keep it clean. Your sofragi or
cleaning woman will know the best and most efficient way to keep the dust
at bay and you will eventually find dust of little consequence. More modern
better fitting windows has also make a world of difference in the last
COST OF RENTING AND NEGOTIATING:
You are most likely going to want to live in the greater Cairo area. Most
of Cairo is urban dwelling, except for a few suburbs where you can still
rent a single dwelling house. The typical Cairene flat consists of 3 bedrooms,
2 full baths, and an exceptionally large reception and dining room. The
washing machine is usually in the bathroom or kitchen. Dryers are not
standard and very often, if the flat has one, then it is in another room.
The number of bedrooms is not usually a factor in the price. For example
it is much easier to find an inexpensive 3 bedroom than to find a 2 bedroom.
Generally speaking flats $1,000 and above are quoted in
dollars, and those under that amount in LE Flats above $2,500 are normally
semi-furnished and those under $2,500 fully furnished. However, there
is some overlap.
Landlords who quote their property in dollars expect to
be paid in dollars. With the recent devaluation many companies are now
insisting on paying in LE Beware of any landlord or deal where you are
asked to pay any advance money without receiving a receipt. If you are
paying in LE. Be prepared to haul a large container of cash around to
your landlord every three or six months. The largest denomination bill
you can get here is the one hundred pound note and they are not always
plentiful. If your landlord does have a proper bank account at say Barlcays,
or CIB, you can arrange arrange a transfer ahead of time from your bank.
Most landlords prefer cash, however.
The lower the price, the more likely is your apartment
to be completely furnished and include kitchenware, linens and other soft
furnishings. Always ask if you expect it and you don't see.
Negotiating is possible and expected. A landlord is more
likely to agree to a lower rent if you offer to make a substantial advance
payment, for example.
- AVAILABILITY AND LOCATIONS:
You can find villas in Maadi, Katamaya, and October 6th City.
Maadi be prepared to spend at least $3,500 for a fix
- up. The villas are very often not modernized or kept in good condition
and very often need work. Some Landlords will do some updating before
you move in but you need to ask. Another option to a villa is a ground
floor apartment. You can get a home with higher standard finishings and
a small garden.
is a new development with brand new villas. Be prepared to spend a minimum
of $3,000 for a semi-detached and nearer $4,500 - 6,000 for anything else.
If you are very lucky you will get one for less. Katamaya Heights is a
golf course surrounded by large single unit villas and semidetached homes.
It is a secluded area or Heliopolis on the other side and 15 minutes away
from the nearest grocery store.
5 minutes from Katamaya Heights in another new development
called Arabella. You can get a the same $5,000 villa in Katamaya for $2,500
October 6th is even a newer development that might appeal to anyone working
downtown and wanting to live outside the city. You may find a new villa
as low as $1,200 per month but look for $2,000 as the average.
Unfurnished: without any white appliance (washer, dryer,
fridge, dishwasher, stove, air-conditioning/ heat units) or hot water
White appliances and hot water heaters only and possibly curtains.
White appliance, Living room, dining room and bedroom furniture; curtains;
cleaning tools, i.e. vacuum cleaner, broom etc.
Pool: There are 3 or 4 building that have pools for the residents
and then maybe another 2 or 3 that have private pools in a Penthouse apartment.
There are a handful of villas in Maadi that have swimming pools. Many
of the villas in Katamaya Heights have swimming pools and the club itself
has 3 swimming pools.
Electricity: according to
your use. Electric bills can run quite high in the summer if you are
using all of your air air-conditioning units. My winter bills run around
300LE for a 400m2 apartment and I am only using the heat mode on the
air/heat units just long enough to take the chill off the room.
A meter reader will come every month to read the meter
and a bill collector will come the following month to collect on the bill.
If you feel that you are being unfairly charged there are ways to complain
and have your bill adjusted, but it will take some effort. If you consider
it a serious mistake, have the administrative manager of your company
look into it for you. Once you start paying at a higher rate, you continue
to be charged at that rate unless you do something about it.
Usually runs somewhere between 5 and 10 LE Ditto on the payment
According to your usage. Three different types of services exist. Local;
local with 0 (calling mobile phones and anywhere outside Cairo); international
Local and local 0 calls are paid quarterly. You must go
to the telephone company to pay the bill or get on line at www.telecomegypt.com.eg
and pay there. Your international line is billed and due on a monthly
My quarterly payment due on my local line that is also
used for the computer is 370 LE
(Boab): Every building has one. You will pay them anywhere between 30
and 60 LE depending on the size of your building.
Some buildings require an extra maintenance fee. This covers electricity,
elevators, water for common areas and security guards.
If a garage space does not come with the apartment, then you will have
to make separate arrangements with the garage or a nearby garage for parking
your car. This pertains mostly to the downtown neighborhoods, i.e. Zamalek,
Mohandeseen, but many of the garages were given away to insurance companies
in the 50's and are now separately operated from the apartment buildings.
Typically you leave the car and keys with the garage attendant
and they park and retrieve it for you. They should also wash it. Expect
to pay around 100LE/month.
If you live in a Villa, then you will have the additional cost of your
own gardener and security, if you want them. 100 - 200 LE per month is
the standard rate for each.
man: If you have a swimming pool you will have the additional
cost of a pool man. 400 LE incl. chemicals, filters etc.
Agreement: Your lease agreement is really just a written document
that represents a gentleman's agreement of sorts. Neither party will have
the time or energy to take the other to court. However, you will want
to negotiate a fair and equitable contract that both parties are willing
to accept and abide by.
duration: Minimum 1 year, normal 2 years.
of Payment: Quarterly (most common); Semiannual; Annual (rare)
monthly (rare, and for cheap flats only)
Increase: The landlord is unusually looking for 10% every two
years. However, the rental rates have stayed steady over the last 4 or
5 years and have recently taken a dive, so he may be quite flexible here.
Deposit: Equal to one month's rent. Some landlords view this
as nonreturnable. If you are concerned, make it clear at the beginning
of the lease on what basis you will be refunded your deposit. Normally
you will sign a list of fixtures and fittings (furniture) and agree to
return these in reasonable condition allowing for normal wear and tear.
Be clear at the start and it will save you're worrying about it toward
If your company doesn't take care of maintenance, then you will want
a good maintenance clause. Check ours out on our sample lease. It is
the best we have been able to come up with.
Clause: A standard provision in all expatriate lease agreements
allows the lessee to terminate his lease in the case he is transferred
from Cairo, or in the case of a force majeur. See our sample contract.