Son and father riding a bicycle, photo by Mika Elgendi,

Why would you want to live in a compound?

Compound was a pretty new word to me when I first moved to Egypt. It’s basically a fancier residential area, where all the buildings look the same or similar way. The reason for this, is an overall polished look and I guess lower building cost too. You can find a wide range of units inside. Starting from apartments in average 4 to 6 floors tall and ending with stand alone villas, with beautiful gardens and terraces. The compound itself, is surrounded by fence with one or several entrance gates. These gates are looked after by security guards 24/7, all year long. They make sure, only the unit owners and their guests can access the premises and enjoy the privacy, greenery, breath taking views, facilities, pools and last but not least, the beach, if it's a compound located by the sea.

Why would you want to live in a compound?

Well, if you are a young family with kids, for instance, compound life might be something very suitable for you. There are sidewalks pretty much everywhere, unlike outside. There is less of a traffic and therefore the air is cleaner as well. Maybe you have a dog, that also can be a good reason to move in. Many foreigners choose to live in compounds, as it's calmer and safer place to be.

What facilities can be found in a compound?

Most of the bigger compounds offer everything you need for your day to day life. Some of them are built so well, you don't need to go outside. There is usually a club house with a pool and playground for sports, gym, classes, running track etc. Hospital, clinic and doctors. Schools and nurseries. Shopping mall and beautiful outdoor cafes. Grocery shops or even a market (souq) offering fresh veggies and fruits, like the ones, that can be found in compound called Rehab, located in New Cairo, for instance.

Are there any disadvantages?

In my opinion, everything comes with pros and cons. So does the compound. Number one, there are no doorkeepers. In Egypt, aslo known as bawab. It's a person, who lives in your building with his family and is available to help the residents with small jobs as cleaning the car, helping to carry groceries upstairs, small repairs etc. More about bawab and his responsibilities can be found here. Second, it might be a hussle to catch a taxi. Most of the people I know, use mobile application Careem or UBER to call a taxi. If you live in a compound, it's quite unlikely, you can hire a cab directly from the street. As I already mentioned before, the guards at the gate let in only the residents and their guests. You might need to inform them via phone, that taxi is coming to pick you up, in case you live in a smaller compound. Or the drivers have to leave their licence at the gate and pick it up, once they are leaving the premises with a client. Either way, chances, that they are just aimlessly driving around the compound, waiting for customers, are prety small. Third, there are definitelly fewer shops inside the compound, than outside and when there are, they are usually gathered in the same area. Many find it inconvenient, but with a bit a of planning or using online grocery shopping sites and deliveries, everything can be solved. 

Hope this shed a bit of a light on the living situation in Cairo, in case you are considering to move to Egypt. TTYL

Compound gardens with kids photo by Mika Elgendi
Marassi compound North Coast photo by Mika Elgendi
Son and father riding a bicycle photo by Mika Elgendi

Made with love by Mika Elgendi. Please ask for permissin to copy my photos. Thank you