How to Live in Egypt on a Budget

If you live in Egypt for a while or are about to move to Egypt you have been noticing the devaluation of the country’s currency. Even though the country is significantly cheap to live in for an ex-pat, with the current conditions everyone is filling the pressure of budgeting. If you are now financially concerned or want to move to Egypt on a budget, worry not my friends as I have many tips that can help you out.

I’ve been living in Egypt for 7 years in a very local area where you will not find another American. When I first moved to Egypt, the culture, social, and economic structures were thrown at me so furiously that I had to either swim with the fish or drown. Many of my friends who know me since the beginning of my move to Egypt have seen a complete shift in mindset. I was drowning and I wished someone would have guided me in the early stages. The truth was, I didn’t find anyone like me, I am not your typical ex-pat.

In 2008 when I visited Egypt for the first time, I was a college student and had a limited amount of money to spend. We were a group with the same outcome and we quickly realized that lots of foreigners were being hustled into spending quadrupled prices I had the idea that we would observe what locals would pay and we would just give the same amount without asking for the prize. It actually worked not knowing that this would help me out at later times. Let’s start with the shenanigan, shall we?

Coffee: I used to love to go out and drink a cappuccino while my kids play. Like all the other things the cost of coffee went up to the point that it doesn’t make sense to spend that money. I was able to perfect my cappuccino at home and enjoy it before going to work or even taking it on the way there. This is also the time to limit your amount of caffeine if that’s your intention. We actually take these privileges for granted without realizing that one day they can be taken away from us.

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Energy: Egypt gets unbearably hot in the summer but it’s still manageable to go without the AC if one is strategic enough. Although I use AC in the summer I only do so at night and sometimes have to wake up in the middle of the night to shut it down. However, we use fans throughout the whole house to help us feel cool during the day.

Photo by Simon Berger on

Food: I can’t tell you how much ex-pats pay for food. If you shop at central Maadi you are probably going to end up spending 3 times more than a local. If you become strategic and do some ground research you can often find the original prices of food not too far from your residence. Ask your doorman for the prices of things and learn your numbers very quickly. If you are ambitious you can start growing your food, Egypt is a rich country filled with locally grown varieties of fruits and veggies.

Entertainment: At first I was saddened by the lack of public green open areas but then discovered that there are very inexpensive botanical parks, museums, or just a walk around Maadi, Zamalek, and downtown Cairo. If you are the adventurous type then exploring other provinces around Cairo can be incredibly affordable.

Transportation: Uber or its sister Careem is the easiest option but if done all the time the cost of each ride can add up. Egypt has a variety of transportation such as microbuses, big blue buses, metro, and even tuk-tuk. These types of transportation can be a little bit intimidating if one does not speak Arabic but since Egyptians are always willing to help, you will never be left alone to figure things out. Remember, when I said that it’s crucial to learn Arabic numbers? Well, for public transportation all you need to know in Arabic is the name of your location and your numbers for the price.

Photo by Murat u015eahin on

I recently learned to apply value to other aspects of life like having a great conversation with a friend, reading a book, and embracing life for what it is. The value of money should reflect our purpose and goal in life. Therefore, a budget not only is personal but is measured by its beholder. However, Egypt is a great place to add value to your life while still on a budget.

Siwa by Zaira Shehata

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