Once renowned as the cradle of civilisation, Egypt is now developing a reputation as a top destination for expats. From entrepreneurs to teachers to digital nomads, Egypt offers a wealth of opportunity for foreign workers looking to start a new life in a truly intrepid part of the modern world. As many as 544,000 expats currently call Egypt their home.
Better still, expats will be delighted to know that the cost of living in Egypt is much lower than in other parts of the world. Here’s our complete guide to the cost of living in Egypt for expats.
The cost of living in Egypt
What could be better than starting a new life in this beautiful and historic country? How about saving money on the cost of living while you’re there!
According to 2022 data, the cost of living in Egypt is around 86.3% lower than in the United Kingdom and 65% lower than in the United States. These statistics take into account everything from the average rent in cities like Cairo and Alexandria, to the cost of everyday consumer goods.
So, to answer the question ‘is it expensive to live in Egypt?’, for most expats would be ‘not at all.’ However, expats moving to Egypt must take into account that the average salary will be much lower, even if they are taking a lucrative job at a multinational company.
The GDP per capita in Egypt was a mere US$3,898.52 in 2021. Even high-skilled workers at the top end of the salary bracket in Egypt can only expect to earn around US$147/EGP3,640 per month, while low-skilled workers earn just US$89/EGP2,200.
Having said that, many expats moving to Egypt can expect to earn much more. The average expat salary in Egypt is around three times higher on average, at around US$371/EGP9,200, with those at the highest end of the salary range earning as much as US$1,660/EGP41,100. While it may not seem like much in comparison to Western salaries, the low cost of living in Egypt means expats will be able to live a comfortable lifestyle with little worry.
While Egypt is not developing as quickly as other nations, it does have a stable economy that is attracting plenty of investment. GDP has been growing consistently in Egypt since 1968, with recent years seeing between 3–6% YOY growth. This is largely thanks to Egypt’s switch from being predominantly an industrial-agricultural economy, towards being centred around services, which today account for nearly 50% of Egypt’s economy.
Throughout the 21st Century, Cairo has emerged as a financial centre for the Arab world, with Egypt acting as a trading centre for countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey. With a stable government and a strong currency, Egypt’s spot in the top 50 countries worldwide by GDP seems relatively stable.
At the end of the day, you shouldn’t expect to get rich in Egypt. But when it comes to managing living expenses, you will benefit from the very low cost of living in Egypt. To illustrate, here is how much you can expect to spend on everyday items while living in Egypt as an expat:
Average cost in Egypt (US$)*
There’s good news for expats who like to dine out, too, as restaurants in Egypt are very reasonably priced:
Average cost in Egypt (US$)*
Effects of the cost of living crisis in Egypt
Egypt’s economy has had a tough few years. In 2019, the poverty rate in the country was already at 60%. Egypt then fared poorly during the COVID-19 pandemic, as investors pulled out of the country, causing Egypt to rely on loans.
As a result, it was estimated that each Egyptian person inherited a personal debt of around US$900. While official data is not yet available, some have speculated that this will increase Egypt’s poverty rate by 5.5–12% in the coming years.
What does this mean for people living in Egypt? Firstly, it means that living expenses in Egypt will surely increase throughout 2023. Egypt’s key priority will be to limit the damage before it can think about growing its economy once again. As an expat, you should be aware that the cost of living in Egypt may be much higher in the coming months and years, and prepare accordingly.
Egypt has also felt the full shock of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which caused the value of their currency to drop to a record low against the US dollar. Egypt was forced to take yet another loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – their fourth bailout in only six years.
Egypt’s reliance on both Russian and Ukrainian imports (Egypt imports US$1 billion of grain annually from both countries) puts the country in a precarious position, and as such, the Egyptian government has chosen to remain neutral in the conflict.
The shockwaves from this economic upheaval have radiated across the Egyptian economy. Inflation ran rampant through 2022, rising from 5.9% in January to 18.7% in November. The country is predicted to endure a food crisis within the next year, and the cost of medical treatment is also expected to shoot up.
Meanwhile, the government has been forced to not only slash subsidies for utilities, energy and fuel prices, but has also introduced new VAT measures to help recuperate the country’s losses.
The silver lining is that expatriates earning decent salaries are in a good position to weather the storm, while those moving to Egypt will still benefit from a lower-than-average cost of living compared to other countries.
Average apartment cost in Egypt
As an expat moving to Egypt, it’s likely you will want to settle in one of Egypt’s big cities. Cairo is the financial capital of Egypt and – with a Beta+ rating – among the strongest cities in the world according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, putting it on a par with Berlin, Barcelona and Rome.
As many as 20 million people live in Cairo’s metropolitan area, with a further 5 million in Alexandria, accounting for most of Egypt’s total population.
As you might expect, property and rental prices are higher in the centres of these bustling metropoles, but not out of reach for most expats. Let’s take a look at the average costs of living in Cairo and Alexandria.
Average rent in Cairo
Cairo is a city of two halves. On the one hand, Cairo is home to many modest apartment blocks that are great for living on a budget. On the other hand, there are an increasing number of luxury apartments for expats who prefer to live lavishly.
Here are the rental price ranges for apartments in Cairo’s popular middle-class Maadi district:
Highest rent (US$)
Lowest rent (US$)
Source: Propertyfinder.eg December 2022
Average rent in Alexandria
Alexandria is Egypt’s historic second city, located on the shores of the Mediterranean. It offers all the metropolitan standards of living you would find in Cairo with the added benefit of being close to sandy beaches. Better still, it’s easier to live well for less in Alexandria than in Cairo.
Here’s how much it will cost you to rent in Alexandria’s popular Smouha district:
Highest rent (US$)
Lowest rent (US$)
Source: Propertyfinder.eg December 2022
*It’s worth noting that one-bedroom apartments are hard to find in Cairo and Alexandria, hence you might have to pay a little more to secure one.
In summary, the cost of renting in Egypt is very affordable, which is why expats living in Egypt often enjoy luxurious lifestyles in large apartments, at low prices.
All in all, the average rent in Egypt is 86.3% lower than in the United Kingdom.
What is the cost of buying property in Egypt?
Buying property in Egypt presents various challenges. Among them are the fact that Egyptian real estate agents are not regulated, which is why it is essential to hire a lawyer to help you. They will vet the agent, run land registry checks to ensure the land can be bought and sold, handle conveyancing, and will help you to pay all necessary taxes.
Bear in mind that these legal fees can rack up fast. Most buyers can expect to pay 3% of the property value in legal fees, alongside a US$80/EGP2,000 registration fee and 0.3% stamp duty.
In 2022, the average property price in the Cairo region was US$1,029/EGP25,419 per square metre.
Therefore, an average 3-bedroom property in Cairo will cost around US$200,000.
Are there any challenges to buying property in Egypt as an expat?
As mentioned, you will need to hire a lawyer early into your property hunt. This to make sure that both the developer and the real estate agent are properly vetted.
It’s also worth noting that foreigners are not allowed to purchase non-residential buildings or agricultural land in Egypt. However, it may be possible to do this by incorporating an Egyptian company and making these purchases through that entity.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth office advises anyone buying property in Egypt never to hand over money until you have taken independent legal advice, and to always make payments via a secure bank transfer.
They also advise:
- Ensure you receive bilingual copies of all documentation
- Check all documents to ensure that you will receive sole ownership of the property
- If buying off-plan, do not pay the full amount up front – rather, pay in instalments, with the last instalment due at the time the building is scheduled to be completed
- Ensure that the seller has legal ownership of the building and the land before you agree to pay
What are the costs of household bills in Egypt?
The cost of household bills in Egypt is low but set to increase as the cost of living crisis bites. Still, expats will find the cost of amenities to be much lower in Egypt than in other countries.
See below for the average cost of bills in Egypt:
Average cost in Egypt (US$)*
*As of December 2022, Numbeo
It’s worth noting that Egyptian flats almost always have full utility services prearranged. If you’re living in an apartment building, your bowwab (a maintenance man/doorman) will handle your utility bills.
They will arrange for garbage collection (there is no government-organized rubbish collection in Egypt), clean the communal building interior (not your apartment) and arrange for any repairs needed. Most importantly, your bowwab will present you with all of your utility bills.
Cost of education in Egypt
Education in Egypt is among the best in Africa, but still at the lower end of the global spectrum. Egypt ranked 102nd in the world for education in the 2018 UNESCO Education Index.
The Egyptian government is committed to improving its education system and, as of 2020, invested 12% of annual spending in education. Education in Egypt is free at all levels, including tertiary education.
The Egyptian education system is split into three levels: basic (4–14 years), secondary (15–17 years) and higher education. A second, semi-independent school system called the Al-Azhar System also operates for Muslim students. The majority of schools in Egypt teach lessons in Arabic.
To ensure their children get the best quality education, many expats who move to Egypt choose to send their children to private or international schools. There are 85 international schools in Cairo alone, plus at least 18 more in Alexandria. These schools run on a variety of systems from around the world, including British, French, American, Dutch, German and IB systems.
What is the cost of education in Egypt?
While state education is free at all levels in Egypt, the price of international schools in Egypt can be quite high depending on the age of the child, whether they will board and what sort of education system you choose.
Fees for international schools in Cairo range from US$1,800 to US$13,000 per year.
What is the cost of higher education in Egypt?
Egyptian universities are not particularly world-renowned. Egypt has just one university (The American University in Cairo) in the Top 500 worldwide according to the QS World University Rankings 2022. For that reason, many Egyptian students choose to study overseas.
If you do wish to study at an Egyptian university, tuition fees are typically around US$1,000–US$6,000 per year.
Cost of transport in Egypt
Egypt has a fairly good public transport system. Cairo has an extensive metro system consisting of 74 stations, and construction is ongoing to deliver Egypt’s second metro system in Alexandria.
Roads in both cities, and inter-cities highways, are typically fast-moving, and most residents of Egypt travel by car. However, the roads also make it easy to get around Egypt by bus. Expats will find several options: standard buses, private mini-buses, or Cairo Transportation Authority (CTA) buses, which are air conditioned and come at a slightly higher price.
Either way, the cost of public transport is very cheap, so you won’t need to worry about transport pushing up the cost of living in Egypt.
Here’s how much you should expect to pay for public transport in Cairo as of December 2022:
Average cost in Cairo, Egypt (US$)*
Cost of healthcare in Egypt
Healthcare in Egypt is not of the highest quality, but it is exceptionally affordable – even when it comes to choosing high-quality private healthcare.
Healthcare spending in Egypt has been gradually increasing throughout the 21st Century, and has been consistently between 4–6% of GDP. In 2019, healthcare spending was US$150 per capita, a 19.35% increase over 2018.
Expats and Egyptians alike can benefit from the public healthcare system in Egypt, which is mostly free of charge.
However, Egypt’s public healthcare system is very much behind the times. Poor-quality facilities, long waiting times, outdated equipment and poor hygiene turn most people towards the private healthcare sector. Around 3 in every 4 medical procedures in Egypt are paid for out-of-pocket.
Fortunately, private healthcare in Egypt is not expensive, and with the right international health insurance policy, expats and their families can benefit from high-quality healthcare in one of Egypt’s many private hospitals.
As an expat, there are many other benefits to choosing private health insurance, including:
- Major treatments including cancer care, maternity cover and in-patient hospital stays can be covered under your policy
- Medical evacuations (Medevacs) in case you need to seek treatment in another country
- Mental health care – Cairo is the most stressed city in the world, so caring for your mental health will be important while living in Egypt
Staying on budget while living in Egypt
Any expat living and working in Egypt should find it easy to live a comfortable lifestyle in a country with a very low cost of living.
However, with inflation sky-high, and the cost of living in Egypt going up day-by-day, you may start to find it challenging to make the most of your budget.
Here are some of our top tips to help you stay within your means and enjoy a high quality of life in Egypt:
1/ Know your take-home pay
While companies in Egypt tend to attract expats with promises of high salaries, it’s important to remember that taxation will eat into your finances. Personal income tax is tiered in Egypt, so you’ll need to know how much you will have left out of your salary before you set a budget.
Income tax brackets in Egypt are as follows:
Gross income (EGP)
2/ Budget for rent/mortgage payments
Your rent and mortgage payments will account for your biggest monthly expenditures, so it’s important to a) choose living accommodation that fits your budget, and b) ensure you have enough in your take-home pay to cover rent or mortgage payments.
3/ Calculate your monthly bills
With the cost of living in Egypt increasing all the time, you may start to find that everyday essentials like food and bills start to creep up. It’s important to know how much you will be expected to pay for your monthly bills in advance, then make sure you have this money set aside.
If you believe that your income may change, global income protection insurance could help you to manage your cost of living in Egypt.
4/ Set your monthly budget
Once you’ve worked out your monthly outgoings, you can rest easy knowing that your budget is secure. The good news is that expats in Egypt can enjoy a relatively high standard of living, despite the rising cost of living.
Insurance to help you manage the cost of living in Egypt
For over 30 years, William Russell has helped expatriates like you make a new life overseas.
Our comprehensive insurance packages fit into your ordinary living expenses, giving you and your family peace of mind. With international health insurance, you can access high-quality medical treatment whenever you need it, and with income protection insurance you can guarantee you’ll never fall on hard times.
Speak to us today to find out more about how international health insurance could help you make the most of your new life as an expat in Egypt.