The Great Escape: Mothers explain their journey from the big city to their coastal paradises.

Three mothers, Norshek, Natalie and Jennifer, along with their families made the decision to leave Cairo and relocate to the Egyptian Coast. Whilst Norshek and Natalie found their new homes in El Gouna , Jennifer moved to Ras Sedr. They shared with us their stories and experiences of raising their children hundreds of miles away from the country’s capital.

What were the reasons to leave Cairo?

For Natalie and her husband, political instability was a catalyst for deciding to leave Cairo, “Cairo just no longer felt safe, so we began to move bit by bit to Gouna, staying a few weeks at a time.”

Jennifer, her husband and her daughter, on the other hand, left Cairo for work, to manage their kitesurfing company once it became no longer possible to do so from Cairo.

For Norshek and her family, work was not the main driving force. According to her, “providing a better life for our children was one of the main reasons for leaving Cairo.”

Norshek and her children
Norshek and her children

Why choose their destination?

All three mothers desired the simplicity of coastal life whilst having access to all the necessary facilities. Both Norshek and Natalie mentioned that one of the key draws to Gouna was the fully-functioning hospital.

Whilst for Jennifer the choice of Ras Sadr was because of the business location, she adds that her and her family are able to live there because, “it has everything you need. Well the necessities anyway.”

Was the transition easy?

Jennifer admits that she thought the transition would be difficult. “I grew up in London so am used to cities. So when my husband said we would be moving, I freaked out. But we tried it for the summer at first and in the end it was great.”

According to Norshek, the move was fairly smooth, “It was easy to move, because we work from home. There are lots of opportunities in Gouna.” In terms of her children, Norshek tells us, “only one of my children was in nursery when we left Cairo. It was very easy to move her, she hadn’t been to nursery for the summer and then we introduced her to things slowly in Gouna.”

Natalie Stefanos
Natalie and her daughter Carla

What makes the coast a good place to raise a child?

According to Jennifer, one of the main benefits for children is the lack of pollution, Hannah can spend all of her time outdoors, surrounded by nature.” Norshek and her family now spend all of their time cycling outside instead of stuck in traffic in Cairo’s polluted streets. And being outdoors also allows the children to have fun without technology and material things.

In Cairo, all three mothers felt that they had to watch their children 24/7. Natalie says “I don’t have to constantly tell her, don’t do this, don’t do that.” Jennifer definitely agrees, “My daughter is definitely a lot more independent now than kids from Cairo, you can tell the difference.”

According to Norshek, this change is significant, “my daughter was in nursery in Cairo, but I didn’t like the influence that the other children were having on her. You could see how their parents’ stress was affecting the children, and that was impacting my daughter’s behaviour. I have noticed a huge difference in my children since moving to Gouna.”

Norshek has found the nursery in Gouna far more fitting, with their hands on and practical approach, “the teacher is able to take them out and teach them how to cross roads and things like that, something which parents would never allow in Cairo.”

Jennifer and her daughter
Jennifer and her daughter

Will your child miss out on anything that only the big city can give?

For Jennifer, the main problem with Ras Sedr, is the lack of school. The other problem that all the mothers have found, is the lack of facilities for hobbies. Jennifer says, “although I can teach her yoga and my husband teachers her swimming, things like gymnastics would be difficult here, because there aren’t the facilities. Also there aren’t music teachers.” Norshek has found the same in Gouna, although with Gouna continuing to grow, a new sports centre will soon be available. Proximity to Hurghada also helps with certain facilities. Natalie manages to return to Cairo fairly regularly to allow her daughter to experience the things that she would miss out on growing up in Gouna.

Are there things that moms miss out on too?

Where you live does not just affect your children, it also has a big impact on the moms themselves. When asked what they miss about living in Cairo, both Norshek and Natalie mentioned malls and shopping. Norshek says, “I do miss just being able to sit and have a coffee with friends in the mall.” For Natalie as well, Gouna lacks courses in things like photography and cooking which Cairo has aplenty.

Would you ever return to Cairo?

Despite the few things they miss, none of the mothers would want to move back to Cairo. According to Jennifer, “I definitely wouldn’t move back. I am very settled here. I couldn’t manage Cairo for more than a few months at a time.” Natalie feels a similar way, “returning to Cairo would be too stressful.”

Norshek on the other hand, has relocating in her blood, “My husband and I agree that humans are supposed to move around. We were in Cairo together for 7 years before we moved to Gouna and we will probably move in another 5-7 years, it is important to give the kids new experiences and let them see new things.  For us as well, it will be a new adventure.”

To all the mothers and moms-to-be reading this, let us know what you think, could you leave Cairo and move to the coast to start a new life with your family?

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