We all dream of living abroad at least once in our life, but what does ex-pat life actually mean? Bébé Voyage’s very own Kari Tainton shares her Australian family’s experience about living in Cairo, Egypt.
Q: Can you tell us a little about you and your family?
A: My family comes from Albury on the border of NSW and Victoria in Australia. My husband is a Maths teacher and we have two children: Matilda 13 and Henry 12. We love being outdoors, preferably on the water (water skiing on the river, spending time at the beach) and camping. Travel is a huge part of our lives and with us both being teachers, we get to use the holidays as a family.
Q: When and why did you move to Cairo, Egypt?
A: We moved to Cairo to experience international adventure! We were looking to move to South East Asia but the opportunity came up in Egypt so we jumped at it. As a History teacher, I have always learned and taught about Egypt so this was a dream come true. Egypt is close to Europe and was going to give us the opportunity to be able to get there easily (before Covid!)
Q: What is your favorite thing about living in Cairo?
A: I love the history I get to be immersed in. Every break from school we get we get to discover a new part of Egypt and due to Covid we got to do most of this on our own…that’s right, we had whole sites to ourselves that celebrities pay thousands of dollars for! We get to live in a great part of Cairo in a beautiful compound that feels like home but we can step out into the riches of the culture of Egypt very easily.
Q: How do you find the lifestyle in Cairo? Did you manage to adapt to daily life easily?
A: Due to the location of our school in New Cairo, it was easy to adapt to daily life because this part is very new and has everything we were used to. I could access supermarkets, restaurants, services, and every company delivers everything here too!
Q: How is family life? How do the kid/s find living in Cairo?
A: Language was probably the biggest barrier but the kids did well with this. They had an Arabic program at school which allowed them to learn the language quite quickly, particularly my son as a result of his excellent teacher. This gave us a communicator in the family so that was a lot easier. Kids’ sport was a big issue for us here. The kids were heavily involved in sport in Australia and due to nationality laws, they couldn’t participate in local leagues in Egypt. Kids have to have an Egyptian passport to take part in soccer leagues and there are not as many options for girls.
Other than that, we have had access to tennis lessons in our compound and the kids have used the lockdown time really well to make the most of the personal coach. Otherwise, we have had loads of adventures together as a family, part of the reason we came away at this time!
Q: What do you miss most about your home country?
A: Got to be said…going to the pub! Or just being able to have a glass of wine with a meal! You don’t realize how important that is until you can’t do it! Also of course we miss our family and friends. Egypt is a long way from Australia and with Covid, we weren’t able to get back at all and people who were going to visit were not able to.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face whilst living in Cairo?
A: To be honest, there aren’t a lot of challenges. Driving is a hairy experience on Cairo’s roads but you get used to it and just move with the traffic! We travel around and take things pretty much as they come which makes it easier. There is also no post so you can’t get anything delivered from outside Egypt or home. In a world where internet shopping is king, this has been a challenge as things here are expensive.
Q: If you could move there again what would you do differently?
A: Bring my Kitchenaid mixer with me! We moved with only a large suitcase and carry-on suitcase each from Australia to start our new lives! Anything imported is crazy expensive but you learn to make do and look forward to the next adventure!! I’d make more of an effort with the language too.
Q: Can you give some useful tips to families who are looking to move to Cairo?
A: Approach Cairo with an open mind. The people are amazing and as long as you don’t take yourself too seriously and can have a laugh in awkward situations you will be fine. Be prepared to have awesome holidays and don’t be scared to explore. We got told so many times not to drive places or not to go places but we are sensible and have seen things many haven’t because we were prepared to do things a little differently! Egypt is an easy country to drive around and it means you have your car when you get there!
Q: Would you move back to your home country? Why?
A: We are just about to move to Beijing in China in June, so no! We want to educate our kids in an international setting and explore the world together before the kids leave us. Australia will always be our home but at the moment, there’s so much to be seen in the world!
Q: What would you miss about living abroad?
A: Having your whole world revolve around travel! We are so fortunate to be able to travel as much as we do and we could never do that if we lived in Australia. For example, we fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine last Christmas, going to Santa’s village in Rovaniemi in Finland. I just don’t imagine us being able to do that from home and it was truly magical! It’s also great to immerse the kids and us in cultures that are not ours. There are some great life lessons to be learned from not being able to speak the dominant language, not looking like everyone else and we believe it teaches tolerance, acceptance, and empathy…as well as a brilliant desire to see more of the world.
Did you enjoy this article on living in Cairo? Hoping to get information on other cities where you can live abroad? Check out our ex-pat series on the Bébé Voyage blog: