The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian pound (£);
$1 = £6
€1 = £8
£1 = £11.50
(correct as of October 2011)
For some reason, Egyptian coins are notoriously hard to get hold of, so don't be surprised if a merchant rounds up a price to the nearest pound. And then of course there's the heavy emphasis on tipping or ‘baksheesh'.
What has to be understood is that the average Egyptian often has to work more than one job to make ends meet and usually thinks of foreigners as wealthy. This leads to baksheesh - the idea that everyone must be tipped for every minor service. It's particularly common in the major cities so it's worth double-checking all your receipts; cashiers will have no qualms about adding a stiff baksheesh to your bill.
The cost of living in Egypt can be kept low if you take the trouble to familiarise yourself with the area you live in. For example, taxis aren't very expensive, but the public transport is even cheaper. Food is also a small expense if you learn where to buy it. If you opt to avoid meat and dine in simple places it's possible to survive on a food budget of E£15 (£1.60) per day.
Most companies employing someone from abroad will supply you with accommodation or allocate an accommodation allowance as part of your salary. However, if you do find that you have to find your own place to live, try to head for an expat-heavy area. Not only will there be people to help and advise you but these areas also tend to be wealthier, which means you can expect a wider range of amenities and facilities.
(The popular expat areas in Cairo are Zamalek, Maadi and Mohandesin, though areas like Heliopolis, Giza and New Cairo are also gaining popularity.)
Rental prices are negotiated between the landlord and tenant and there are no laws governing the amount so it’s always worth bargaining. The prices are usually indicative of the area the accommodation is in and what amenities the property has. The agent or landlord will usually ask for one to three months rent in advance plus a security deposit, which is usually one month’s rent.
As a rough guide, a furnished two bedroom apartment in a good area will cost around E£3,000. Monthly utility bills are comparatively cheap; even with constant air-conditioning you’re unlikely to spend more than £50 per month.
Expats brought in from abroad to work in Egypt are often on a higher salary and are usually paid in Euros, British Pounds or US Dollars. Expats who are hired from within Egypt are paid in the local currency and tend to earn much less.
Unfortunately, living in Egypt doesn’t mean you no longer have to pay tax in your home country. But, Egypt has signed tax treaties with many countries and this protects you from paying income tax in both places. Expats are still liable for income tax in Egypt, depending on residency status.
Income is taxed progressively from 20% to 40%, depending on your gross income. The whole tax system is rather complicated and it’s probably best to hire a professional expat tax agency to help you manage the process.