Monday, April 12, 2010

Letters from Egypt: Moving Advice

For those of you considering relocating to Egypt, here is some helpful information. I am a member of this listserv called Cairo Scholars which at times I find extremely annoying. And just when I think I’m going to finally unsubscribe, some useful information comes about that holds me there just a little longer.

Recently someone posted a thread discussing items from abroad that many of us miss immensely and can’t find here. I will specify that you can find almost everything you want, you just might have to pay extra for it as it is imported (ie Nacho Cheese Doritos which can cost around 35 to 60LE – around $7 to $10).

One thing that I am going to specify that you should come well stocked with is tampons (sorry guys). As I’m sure you can guess, tampons are not worn by the majority of women here – God forbid we give these men another reason to think we’re all prostitutes. I stock up when I’m at home and have regular packages sent by my friends and family – which has sort of become a running joke. Yes, you can find them but in packages of like five and please tell me someone that only uses five in one month. Not to mention they’re rather expensive.

Some of my other requests that my mom thoughtfully combines in a nice care package are:
*Lemon-pepper seasoning
*Dale’s seasoning
*Dip for chips
*Deodorant – I don’t find the brands here that great and most of them are antiperspirant roll-ons which kind of gross me out (I’m a Secret kind of girl)
*If you’re from the Southeast US, you know of Blue Plate mayo. As that’s difficult to find in other regions of the US, imagine how it is here.
*I use Crest Whitening toothpaste – a separate tube for day and night

Anyway, I have taken a few suggestions from the list to post here for your information:
*Battery-operated electric toothbrush
*Ibuprofen – but as a counter to that, you can find almost any variation of medicine available over the counter here. Popular pain relievers are Catafast, Cataflan and Panadol
*All electronic items as they’re ridiculously overpriced here.
*For any vegans, Isis is a local organic brand, but they use whole milk powder. Vitamilk is the brand for all of you trying to stay true to veganism
*Tarragon spice
*If you have a specific type of birth control, it is best to stock up before coming. A CS member said: “You can buy brands here like Gynera (which is made in Germany) that are very cheap (17LE a box) and just as effective as brands in the US. Others take Yaz (40LE) and have no problems finding it here.
*Although I have no clue what this is, someone mentioned Harissa
*Moon Cup – no idea what that is either
*Italian espresso – but there are good places to get Turkish coffee and I quite like CafĂ© Greco’s espresso
*Loose tea
*Anti-mite bags
*Sticky rollers to remove animal hair – ah hem, you can also just by tape
*Vanilla extract as it contains alcohol, though you are able to get vanilla flavoring in a powder form
*Microwave popcorn
*Get your phone unlocked before arrival as someone commented that it was cheaper abroad. However, if you fail to do this, you can travel to Attaba and have the service done for you – but be warned, it is a big undertaking and Attaba requires the right mindset (as in put your big girl panties on and get ready for the hassle).

For more information about Cairo Scholars:
Welcome to Cairo Scholars at University of Texas at Austin. This group serves expat students and scholars from any country who are living, working or conducting research in Cairo. The purpose of the group is to facilitate life and work in Cairo by sharing information that will help people find work, contacts or housing. However, like all academic lists, debates will ensue about issues relevant to life in Cairo. It is a moderated group -- subscribers must be students, scholars or other professional -- so please send a short blurb to the moderator, indicating who you are: studying, researching or working abroad. Submit your subscription request today. Please be patient, it may take a few days for me to process your request. Subscribe and share your knowledge to facilitate life in Cairo. "Cairo Scholars" © 2005-2009 After you subscribe, you can post by sending messages to:


  1. Hi Leanne,

    My family and I are moving to Cairo in the summer so this list was very helpful. I was wondering if you could offer some advice on living in Katameya vs Maadi and what areas of Maadi you would recommend living in. Love your blog!

  2. Katamaya is great for families, but warning – it’s far out from anything and there’s nothing to do there besides villas with pools.

    As for Maadi, I would highly recommend the Degla area. There are some really nice apartments on Rd 198 and Rd 199, which I’m unsure if it’s still considered Degla, but nonetheless – it’s close to many shops located along Rd 233. New Maadi has newer apartments, but is still relatively far from the heart of Maadi – yet closer to the Autostrad.

    Hope this is helpful.

  3. Yes, it is helpful. Thanks! My husband's coworker is already in Cairo and says he bought his TV and computer there, but I know others says it is expensive. So I'm a bit confused about that. As far as living arrangements I am definitely leaning toward Maadi at this point.

    We are relocating from Texas and I must admit I am completely overwhelmed, so any advice is much appreciated!

    Oh, one more thing- what about makeup (i am very fair) and face wash/shampoos. Are they good quality or should I take my own stuff? Thanks again!

  4. The advantage I’d say that Maadi has is that it’s easier to meet others. You have the Ace Club and now the BCA – which are also perfect for families. Honestly, what more could you ask for – you don’t have to cook, you and your husband can grab a beer and kids can play – no mess, no hassle, no fuss!

    Electronics can be found here, but they are really expensive. An iPod nano

    I’m very fair as well. I get my make-up from home as I use Mars from Sephora. I also prefer mascara from home as it is slightly more expensive here and I just don’t trust the products (they might have familiar names, but are still made in Dubai mostly which to me never produces the same quality).

    Face wash/shampoos are perfectly fine here. I get Garnier and Treseme. Many of the products you’ll recognize are made in Dubai and to me, those suffice (unlike make-up). Something else to be prepared for, slight rebranding. For instance, the Oreo knockoff is Boreo and you might find Adidas and then after a closer look, you realize it’s Abibas. And I don’t know about you, but when it comes to make-up, I don’t like imitation.

  5. Sorry, sent that before I meant to. The newest iPod nano in the US costs $149, but here, they can cost the equivalent to $300. However, I would recommend getting a TV here instead of shipping it from the US.

  6. Thanks Leanne! You are a serious wealth of information! The rebranding thing cracked me up, reminds me of Mexico (where my Mom's family is from). Abibas! LOL.

    Anyway, yeah I am picky about my make up (I use Estee Lauder) so I think I'll take enough to last me for several months. Glad to hear the face wash/shampoo is ok though.

  7. Great advice, Leanne! That's coming from a Navy brat who lived abroad for seven years so I know about moving. IT can also be tough to find cheap moving companies, but US-1 Van Lines fits the bill- consider them when you come back to the states.

  8. I agree, this is a large amount of excellent tips. I really appreciate it. Just to know what to look for when selecting a good moving company is key. I cannot thank you enough. My wife and I are moving from Sacramento CA to Kentucky and were really worried about what to do and what to look for.