I like to watch House Hunters International, but I have a few problems with the show. I want less “house” and more “international.” Most of the show is spent on repeating the details of house 1, 2 and 3. And most of the buyers are demanding of Western standards and usually have unrealistic expectations of size, location and price. My favorite part is the last two minutes of the show where they reveal the house they “chose” and how they like living in that particular destination.
Despite my skepticism of reality TV, I decided to present three apartments (or “flats”) that I was shown in the search for my Cairo home. I think it’s interesting to see how people all over the world live and that’s probably what makes the show popular.
Most of the newcomers chose to live in the Cairo neighborhood called Maadi because it’s green; the tree-lined streets are a relief from city life. It has a walkable lifestyle, which was my favorite part of living in Japan. And there are many cafes and restaurants around—both Egyptian and foreign. The neighborhood is a haven for expats, but still has the local charms that I am looking for.
My wish list included:
- 1 or 2 bedrooms
- any floor
- clean kitchen
- budget between 4,000 to 6,000 Egyptian pounds ($450 to $675)
Note: All of the apartments we saw are furnished, spacious and have air conditioning units and secure entrances.
For the floor levels below, I am using the American standard. Our bottom floor is called the first floor. Whereas, in most other countries, the bottom floor is the ground floor and the next floor up is considered the first floor. Try explaining that to American middle schoolers studying Spanish…planta baja, primer piso, segundo piso, etc.)
On another note, our real estate agent, Sherif, is the most patient man I have ever met. He juggled so many different likes and dislikes and personalities of our group. He deserves any commission he made—and more. He took us out on multiple days and arranged rental contracts with landlords all over Maadi.
Click any photo in the galleries below to see a larger version and start a slideshow view
House 1—Big on Kitchen & Style
- 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($562)
- 3rd floor
- 2 bed, 1 bath
House 1 made the list because of its giant kitchen and plush living room, including a flat screen TV and two full size couches. It has a lot of decorative items like paintings, figurines and plants on the walls and surfaces. This is both a pro and a con. It made it feel like a place you want to live, but it also felt like you were living in someone else’s house. I prefer a simple style.
It has two bedrooms. The master has wooden floors and a comfortable bed with a large mirrored closet. The guest room has two twin beds for visitors. I would probably never use the second room.
The kitchen is very large with a full size dishwasher, six burner gas stove, microwave, refrigerator and a washing machine. I like the multiple wood cabinets and tile floors. It looks fully functional and ready to go on move-in day. House 1 is right in the middle of my budget.
House 2—Red Couch, Balcony & Vintage Tiles
- 4,000 Egyptian pounds ($450)
- 2nd floor
- 2 bed, 1 bath
This apartment is a little more “shabby chic.” I liked some of its details like the red lantern lamp, red couch and chair. We had a red couch when we moved into our first house. I also like that it has a balcony on the shady side of the building. The two bedrooms were spacious and included a queen and a twin bed, but didn’t include any bedding or pillows. I may want to buy my own anyway!
The downsides were that it is a little dark; the kitchen is hiding in the back of the flat with no windows to let in the light. The living/dining room needs a few rugs to warm up the stark white tile floors. Although the kitchen is tiny, it has cool wall tiles that looked like vintage Arabic advertisements. This complex has a daycare in one of its units, but we were assured that the hours are when we are at school and it doesn’t operate on the weekends. House 2 is the cheapest flat.
House 3—Country Home
- 5,800 Egyptian pounds ($650)
- First floor
- 1 bed, 1 bath
This place is unique because it is not located in an apartment complex. The downstairs of the owner’s house has been converted into an apartment. This place has the ultimate homey feel. You walk into a dining room with warm earth toned tiles and touches of red (my favorite color). It opens to the living room with a TV and floral couches. It has a private entrance as well as two doors that open to the outside patio.
The one bedroom is carpeted and has a king size bed and vanity. The kitchen is adorable (blue and white is another favorite color combination) and contains a refrigerator, microwave, toaster and a “kettle.” The bathroom has a washer and a shower with a door, but no bathtub like the previous two places. House 3 is the most expensive on the list.
I am pleasantly surprised by apartments in Cairo! I’ll report back in a few days with my pick, but in the meantime, do you think I should choose House 1, 2 or 3? Head to the comments section below to have your say!