Lestina Slocum is a retired American police officer who moved to the Egyptian resort town of Hurghada nine years ago. She loves the relaxed lifestyle, including the snorkelling, shopping and dining out, and finds her pension goes a lot further in Egypt than it would back in the States. Here she offers her insights about living as an expat in Egypt.
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: I'm from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States of America.
Q: Where are you living now?
A: I live in Hurghada, El Wafaa/El Dahar Area in Egypt.
Q: How long have you lived here?
A: I have been living here for nine years.
Q: Did you move with a spouse/children?
A: No, I moved to Egypt alone.
Q: Why did you move to Egypt; what do you do?
A: I moved to Egypt through the suggestion of a dear friend. I live a relaxing lifestyle, I go snorkelling, play in the Red Sea, relax on the beaches, shop, read, surf the net, exercise, bake, cook, visit acquaintances (at times) and/or walk around town.
Q: What do you enjoy most about Hurghada, how’s the quality of life?
A: I love that Hurghada is a resort town with lovely beaches and friendly people. The quality of life in Hurghada is exceptional! Whatever you may think that you want or need to make life more comfortable, it can be found here!
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: Yes, there are some negatives. Imported foods for one are costly! I miss "Philly" Cheese Steak sandwiches and the convenience of buying the varieties of sugar-free sweets in the market (I'm diabetic). They're not accessible here; therefore, I'm forced to make my sweets... cakes, water ice, ice cream, candy, puddings, cookies and many other sweets all sugar-free!
Q: Is Hurghada safe? Are there any areas expats should avoid?
A: I find the city to be safe, if there are areas for expats to avoid, I have not found them yet.
Q: How would you rate the public transport in Egypt? What are the different options? Do you need to own a car?
I rate the public transportation good at best, being that it is efficient and affordable (it can be scary at times). If not walking or on the back of someone's motorcycle, I employ the use of buses and/or taxis. I personally don't find a need to own a car, the town is so small, with public transport or taxis accessible throughout.
Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Egypt?
A: I had three surgeries (without medical insurance) in all honestly I rate the healthcare as superb! It's affordable, the staff of doctors, dentist, nurses, clerks, technicians (all the employees that I've been in contact with) at El Salaam Hospital are friendly and professional. The diagnosis and treatments of illnesses, I find are precise! The hospital is very clean!
Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Hurghada as an expat?
A: I'm not too certain, I've only lived in the El Wafaa/El Dahar area, which is inhabited by expats and Egyptians alike.
Q: What’s the cost of living in Egypt compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: The cost of living is lower here than at home, electricity, water, gas. Imported foods are more expensive, three to five times higher than their cost at home.
Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: The locals are very friendly. I don't mix mainly with other expats, over the years I've mixed with a few.
Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: I suggest that all expats try to understand the Egyptian culture to prevent being offensive to the Egyptian people. It's easy to unknowingly offend; I'm guilty of it myself, in my (past) ignorance.
If purchasing property, use a trusted attorney and translator (or two). Get all contracts signatures verified through the Egyptian Court System. Employ common sense in all areas of life, just as you would in your home country (just a suggestion).
A point to make to single women expat arrivals, beware of a union called "Orfy", it's not marriage! It is not internationally recognized, it's merely a union.
I find it important to read embassy pamphlets with understanding! We must always listen to the advice of our embassy! We must seek their advice in all matters in question. We must remember that our embassy is there for us!
Live, love and enjoy Egypt!
– Interviewed August 2012