Cost of Living And Retiring In Egypt: The Surprising Truth

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Egypt is known as a very cheap destination to live in with cheap accommodation, food and transport especially if you came from the United States and Europe. In this article we will guide you through your expenses to retire in Egypt.

Here’s a summary of the monthly expenses in Egypt:

Rent for a 3 Bedroom House$290 USD / 4,557 EGP
Rent for a 1 Bedroom Flat$152 USD / 2,388 EGP
Utilities (Electricity, Gas, Rates)$44 USD / 691 EGP
Internet$21 USD / 330 EGP
Maid Service (per hour)$4 USD / 63 EGP
Groceries$100 USD / 408 EGP
Dining Out (2 people) x 4 times$40 USD / 629 EGP
Healthcare$199 USD / 3,127 EGP
Fitness or Social Club Membership$29 USD / 456 EGP

NOTE: These prices are for properties in Cairo. You will get something much cheaper if you decide to live outside the capital city or city center. Your expenses also might vary regarding of your personal lifestyle.

Let’s take a deeper look at the prices in Egypt now that you’ve seen an overview of them and see how you may save more money during your retirement in Egypt.

What Is Egypt Like?

Egypt is a country that is both African and Arab in culture and over 95% muslim religion. Egypt is a country steeped in history dating back thousands of years. Though most people associate Egypt with recent events, particularly the Arab Spring revolution in 2011, the Egyptian people are nevertheless deeply rooted in ancient history.

The Pyramids of Giza may be seen from a variety of locations in Cairo. Cities like Luxor in the south are like living galleries, with ruins and antiquities strewn about. Egyptians are incredibly welcoming and will go out of their way to ensure that you have a pleasant stay. They are proud of their homeland and want people to see how stunning Egypt is.

If you’re searching for a destination that is rich in culture and history and has plenty to do and see, Egypt is a terrific place to live. It has a well-documented past including the Pyramids, the Nile, and ancient Egyptian settlements which are household names.

What Is Healthcare Like In Egypt?

Egypt’s healthcare system is divided into two parts like most countries with a public and private system. Due to a lack of funds and inadequate manpower the public healthcare system is usually of poor quality. The government’s expenditure on the universal healthcare system is minimal accounting for only about 1.5 percent of GDP. 

The provision of health care in remote regions and that available in a metropolitan city like Cairo differ significantly. The capital is where the majority of specialized operations are performed. Although the government has attempted to modernize public healthcare the service is of poor quality and far from what a Western expatriate would expect. 

Despite the fact that public hospitals are free for Egyptian citizens, many of them avoid it due to obsolete equipment, long treatment lines, insufficient staff training and poor hygiene. Egypt, while rich in culture and heritage, is still a poor country.

Egypt’s private healthcare facilities are of a high quality, with medical personnel who are experienced in treating foreign nationals. Expats can also get insurance that covers evacuation to another country as well as advanced and specialized medical care. Medical personnel, doctors, and nurses are often bilingual so communicating in English will not be a problem.

Private Insurance for expat in Egypt will start at for as little as $151 USD with a $1000 USD deductibles for any major surgery. 

Here are a few recommended private health insurance in Egypt:

Can A Foreign Resident Own A Property In Egypt?

Yes you can. Under Egyptian law 230 in 1996 expats now can buy and own property but buyers are limited to owning just two properties totaling fewer than 4,000 square meters.  They are not permitted to rent the property out for more than five years or resell the property before that time. 

If you want to sell after that time, you must put in a special request to the prime minister’s office. You’ll need to invest a holding deposit to remove a home off the list while contracts are being drawn up once you’ve decided on one.

It is recommended to rent instead of purchasing a property in Egypt because it is much cheaper and less complicated to do so. The first thing to keep in mind is that purchasing a home in Egypt is very different from purchasing a home in the United Kingdom. 

In Egypt, unlike the United states realtors (both individuals and businesses) are not regulated. Before signing any contract you should conduct full background checks on the realtor and/or developer through your local lawyer.

There is a possibility that a developer will be under investigation by local authorities or that there will be issues between developer and the state government that assigned the development land to the developer. If ever in doubt don’t hand over any money for a deposit or for any other costs until you get local legal advice.

The cost of a three bedroom house in the heart of Cairo will be around $83k USD and for a one or bedroom house will be around $50k USD 

NOTE: Cairo is one of the most expensive cities in Egypt. You can get much cheaper property outside of Cairo city center and beach away from the beach on the coastline. These articles will let you know the best places to retire in Egypt. Check out The 8 Best Places to Retire on the Nile in Egypt and The 6 Best Places to Live or Retire in Egypt to discover them.

Here are a few real estates you can check for current pricing:

What Visas Are Available For Foreign Retirees In Egypt?

There is no retirement visa for Egypt but there are other visas you can use to enter the country. The visas you can apply for are Tourist, Business and Ordinary.  The tourist visa is only 30 days and you can get a single entry or multiple entry which is the same for the business visa and the Ordinary visa is for 3 to 5 years.

The tourist visa comes in two forms and that is applied for directly with the local country embassy or through the eVisa system.  This allows for a single or multiple entry visa for a 30 days stay and will be great to have a look around for where you might want to live.

For a price of $25 USD, US citizens can obtain a renewed single-entry 30 day tourist visa at Egyptian airports. A $60 USD multiple-entry visa is also available and both need to be used for the first time within 90 or 180 day depending on which tourist visa you picked.  Paying a few dollars more extends it to the 180 day expiry for first entry.

LINK: Egyptian eVisa Portal

The business visa is the same as a tourist visa with only a 30 days stay for single or multiple entry and you must provide a letter saying what business you are there for from your home address to the embassy.

The Ordinary visa is what you can use as a retirement visa that is valid for 3 to 5 years. You need to show you have sufficient funds to stay in Egypt which can be your retirement fund drawdown or a national monthly pension.  This is a temporary residence visa only and can be renewed.

If you have stayed for 10 years and are over 60 years old you can then get a permanent residency or citizenship.  To get this citizenship you must also be able to demonstrate that you are physically and mentally healthy, that you have no criminal history and also that you are fluent in Arabic. There are other options for people under 60 years of age under similar rules for early retirees. 

You must also be able to support yourself legally in the country for citizenship. You will no longer be required to renew any visas or permits and you will be able to keep your original citizenship which allows you to hold both an Egyptian and an original passport.

The procedure for obtaining a temporary residency permit is rather simple. You’ll need a tourist/entry visa first and then you’ll need to apply at a local police department with an application in both Arabic and English, a current passport that should be valid for at least six months, and a passport picture. These requirements are subject to change so double-check with the Egyptian Embassy in your home country before leaving.

How Much Do Groceries Cost in Egypt?

The cost of restaurants in Egypt is 69% cheaper than what you usually pay in the United States. This makes it an affordable destination to retire to if you wish to eat out while maintaining your savings for the long run. In addition to having a low cost of restaurant prices, Egypt also has cheap groceries. Groceries in Egypt are 64% cheaper compared to the US. 

Here is the overview of common staple groceries:

Milk1 Liter / 1 quart$4 USD
Bread1 Loaf$0.6 USD
Eggs1 Dozen$1.2 USD
Beef1 kg/ 2.2 pounds$4 USD
Chicken Breasts1 kg/ 2.2 pounds$2.1 USD
Imported Beer12$3.4 USD
Wine1 Liter/ 1 quart$10 USD

NOTE: these prices were only valid at the making of this article so check the grocery websites below for current pricing.

Here are some common local supermarkets you can look at for current prices:

TIP: Carrefour in Egypt is classed as an upper market grocery store with service you would expect in the US and other countries with name brands.  You will be able to get groceries cheaper in other supermarkets.

Is Egypt safe for expats?

Generally it is safe in most parts of the expat suburbs of the towns as long as you keep away from the poorer parts of town.  Being a 95% muslim population there are strict laws against certain things like being LGTB. It is still against the law with a 17 year jail term or deportation as well as regular torchure of the local gay population. Being a LGBT tourist is ok if you don’t show public displays of affection and are in a tour group.

There are definite inequities for women in the country as well so if you are not straight or a solo retiring woman I would not advise retiring there. You will face issues that your male counterparts won’t.  That being said, if you are a married couple none of these will be an issue.

The overall stability of Egypt has been up and down with riots and protests common especially in Cairo.  Covid has put a lot of pressure on the economy especially due to the lack of tourism for a country that relies heavily on it for 12% of its country GDP.

Displays of wealth will draw pickpockets and people trying to sell you things all over the country as with most poorer countries so be mindful of personal safety. While it is a great place to visit when the country is stable, at this stage I would not recommend retiring there.

Keep looking at the US State Department website for updates on when it will be safe to travel there again.

LINK: US State Department Advisory for Egypt

Is Retiring In Egypt A Good Idea?

Not right now.  They have a lot of turmoil and internal political struggles as well as the after effects of no tourism during COVID.  The US State Department has a current “Do Not Travel” for the country but this does not mean it won’t get back in order over the next year or so.  But this would be a medium term 3 to 5 years review for me.

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