Moving To Israel

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    Topics of relevance:

    – Finding an apartment to rent or buy

    – Mortgage options for Americans

    – Official Aliya or Tourist. Pros and Cons

    – Shipping suggestions, tips and expected costs, etc.

    – Ship our car?

    – Taxes, American and Israeli

    – Banking and finance with American and Israeli banks

    – Health Insurance

    – Anything else

    If there are websites with answers to these issues, it would be great if you could post links.



    We just recently went through the same wonderful experience of moving to Eretz Yisroel (and yes, we did it before Obama came into the picture 🙂 – So if you have any questions, please email me and we can talk.


    Try the Nefesh B’Nefesh website – They have a significant amount of information on the whole Aliya process.

    an Israeli Yid


    My family is making aliya in a few weeks. If you’re serious, deifinitely check out nefesh b’nefesh. As for communities, check out tehilla– ) They list cities/neighborhoods by geography and details like approximate %age of frum people, English speakers, etc.

    I’d be happy to answer any more specific questions.


    kitzur – Since you just went through this, I had a question for you. As I mentioned previously, we’re making aliya fairly soon. Assuming you sent a lift, how did you pack your seforim? Right now, one box is packed, sealed and on a table. I don’t want them to end up on the floor or have other boxes on top of them but we’re running out of room for the packed boxes. Also, is there to ensure when the shipping company comes that other boxes aren’t placed on top of your seforim or is it out of your hands and less of an issue then?



    Please allow me to answer. We made aliyah just over a year ago – end of July, 2007. The packing of the lift is out of your hands. The movers need to ensure that everything fits tightly (so it won’t shift on the boat); they also need to ensure that everything fits into the lift! The boxes go in however they make the best fit.

    Are you packing your own boxes? Just sefarim, or everything? We did our own books and sefarim, but the movers did everything else.

    Hatzlacha – ask away if you need anything else.

    Here’s a helpful job info site:

    Also, there’s an organization called Kehillot Tehilla (, which deals with finding realestate, housing, communities, etc. The put out a wonderful booklet called Bayit Ne’eman B’Yisrael, which lists dozens and dozens of communities, and all sorts of information about each one – % of dati, % of English speakers, and other stuff you will need to know.


    It’s all very well to say you want to move to Eretz Yisroel but nowadays you need plenty of shekels and dollars! the rents are astronomical and the landlords take advantage of all the Americans coming as they think we’re all millionaires!

    Please note that Israelie tax laws state that tax is taken based on total income whether that kept in Israel, the US or on the moon! You can’t just up yourself and declare the income you have in Israel. They take into account all out of Israel assets. Chutzpah I know, and this puts a lot of people off who would love to retire in Israel.

    As for young couples, it’s all very well to go and live in EY for a couple of years but who’s going to pay for it? It’ll be on the cheshbon of the parents and it’s so unfair. Ditto for the young families with a couple of kids.

    Even the kollel families living now in EY. They could not survive without the help direct or otherwise from families and other organisations outside of EY.

    So whilst you may think it great to go and live in EY Hakodesh get real as well.


    As someone who actually lives in eretz yisroel & has seen HUNDREDS of families who have moved here over the years I can only offer one piece of advice & I can’t express it in strong enough terms.

    If you have children between the ages of ten & twenty – DON”T COME!!

    It is mammash suicidal. They don’t do well in school (the average ten year old israeli kid is on the level of a seventeen year old american) & from there it’s all downhill.


    If your oldest is less then ten or your youngest is over twenty – by all means,feel free to come. Otherwise – forget it!

    Don’t come & tell me that you know a few families in that situation that did well. That doesn’t change the facts.

    Ask any professional in israel who deals with “kids at risk” & they will confirm what i’ve written.

    Please rabbosai, don’t attack me for this, I’m just trying to save fellow yidden from getting sucked in to this fantasy that they will come to Israel & everything will be wonderful.

    I can also say that I know many proffesionals who came here with a fair amount of money & have been unable to find employment. They have literally been reduced to living off tzedaka. IF YOU DON’T HAVE A JOB LINED UP – DON’T COME!

    One final word of caution. If you do come & ignore my advice – PLEASE LEAVE AMERICAN IDEAS & VALUES BEHIND. Don’t complain to your kids that the rules in the schools are too strict etc. It’s a surefire recipe for disaster. Just learn to live within the system & keep your mouth shut. For better or for worse, this is how it is over here. If you are going to complain it will only be couter-productive. If you are not prepared to accept it – DON’T COME!!

    Again, please understand, I am only trying to help you.


    I learned in Kollel in E”Y 13.5 years without support from family. The last 5 years I learned independently and was not even on a Kollel payroll, except for the misrad hadasos money. Hkb”H has ways of sending money. It may not be for everyone but I would not say that “they could not survive”, since I did it. I may have little savings, but I have no debt either.



    Thank you. We have the Bayit Ne’eman book, went on a pilot trip and now have an apartment in Modi’in waiting for us.

    We’re packing books, clothes, and toys and the movers are doing furniture, breakables, and other large or bulky items. I was just asking the best way to pack seforim so that they’re packed and the boxes are out of the way until the shippers come but that you’re still treating them with kavod (ie not having the box directly on the floor or trying to keep other things off the boxes).


    nonpashut-Thank you for your words of wisdom. You forgot to add unless you speak ivrit at a 4th or 5th grade level, Israel will be hard to survive.There are too many nuances in the language, that you can feel like an outsider even though you live there. Ulpan (Hebrew Language School) is available, you may be learning the language with Russians who are very sharp and may learn and speak better than you and your family. Come with a lot of Savings, because parnossa may be difficult unless you are able to speak the language. One last word of caution in the aliya process,when your container arrives by boat, pray your lift is not among 30% opened. This is where the fun begins, because the Israeli Tax People can charge you more than the value of the items in the container. Maybe we need to wait until Moshiac comes to settle in EY.


    Nobody – not all rents are astronomically high. It depends where you live. If you insist on living in a totally Anglo area, the rents are higher. If you live in the Shomron, they aren’t.

    Notpashut – I also live here, and rarely have I seen such illogical and completely WRONG advice.

    “If your oldest is less then ten or your youngest is over twenty – by all means,feel free to come. Otherwise – forget it!” I can tell you of at least 10 families, off the top of my head, who came with teenagers who are doing very well, including us, B”H. We had (and have) a positive attitude, and so do our kids. They speak Hebrew well, are doing pretty well in school, and have many friends. Maybe we did better because we didn’t rely on “professionals” to tell us we were wrong. Maybe it’s because we planned things out before we came.

    “IF YOU DON’T HAVE A JOB LINED UP – DON’T COME!” Again, you are wrong. The vast majority of places here will not hire ahead of time; they will wait until you are actually here, with a teudat zehut in hand. Out of all the people I know who made aliyah and are employed full time here in Israel, only one had a job before he made aliyah.

    “PLEASE LEAVE AMERICAN IDEAS & VALUES BEHIND.” This is partially true. A person making aliyah has to learn to go with the flow here; however, I can honestly say that if I am polite to the people behind the desks, if I explain that I am new here and don’t know the system, then they will become amazingly helpful. I have been in several government offices here regarding tax forms and other things, and the bureaucrats have all been pretty nice and helpful. But yes, if you come and complain and act like the stereotypical American, you won’t get anywhere.

    Let’s emphasize the positive aspects about living here, not the negative. Remember what happened with the meraglim!

    All I would say to everyone is to do plenty of research BEFORE you make aliyah. There are many, many resources on the internet. Talk to people in your work field. Research communities. Come on a pilot trip. The more work you put in ahead of time, the better your aliyah will turn out. (We put two full years of research in before we stepped on the plane.)

    Hatzlacha to all who come!

    blue shirt

    I have been living in Israel for twenty two years. Both notpashut and mamashtakah have made vaild points. To anonymouse1079, though, I must tell you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting seforim one on top of the other. Nor is there anything wrong with putting a packaged box of seforim on the floor. All seforim are shipped by truck an/or sit in warehouses, only one of those boxes is on the top, and one of them will always be on the very bottom. There is no disrespect in this. Have a successful aliyah, we will all root for you.



    Obviously we know different people who’ve gone through different experiences so there is really no point in arguing, although I can say that I am very close with an individual who deals with kids at risk over here & he told me (aside for the fact that I see it with my own eyes) that over eighty percent of kids that he works with moved here between the ages of ten & twenty.

    By the way, the Avnei Nezer & the Chayei Adam (I’m quoting from memory here) both say that it’s assur to move to Eretz Yisroel without parnassa lined up BEFOREHAND. Things have not changed in that regard (except for the fact that B”H nowadays people don’t actually die from hunger).

    This is not a question of being like the meraglim or emphasizing the positive – it’s a question of informing innocent people that there is no inyan to move to Eretz Yisrael if it will (or even may) destroy your childrens lives. Remember – I didn’t say not to come – I just said that at that stage in your childrens lives, don’t come.

    YWN Moderator

    Why did you delete that??

    I’ll try & say it in gentler language so you won’t delete it this time.

    Don’t blindly accept the rosy view presented by Nefesh B’nefesh – as mammashtakeh says – do your own research!

    Much better. Thank you! – YWN Moderator


    Mamashtakah, no disprespect but The Shomron??? This is not usually the first choice for those wishing to live in EY and I was referrng to the main cities / localities such as Eilad, Ashdod, parts of Yerushalayim, Petach Tikva, Bayit Vegan, etc. I know several people who have come back to the States because financially they cannot afford to live any longer in EY.

    You need to bear in mind that the job you had back in the US may have paid well but in EY they pay peanuts for most jobs. This applies to the bi-lingual jobs as well. The standard of living has risen and not in line with salaries.

    I travel regularly to EY and from trip to trip I have noticed the price differential. It is harder for those living there than it was say a couple of years ago and the tourist industry has also been affected which has a knock on affect for the locals living there (employment etc)

    In an ideal world, which unfortunately it’s not, I would love to emigrate but I am also a realist. However I do want to be buried there. Oh my,now I’ve gone all morbid


    what’s wrong with the shomron? it sounds beautiful to me! which are the best towns there?


    About 10 years ago, my family was in Eretz Yisroel for a few weeks. My mother met a girl who said that her mother is a nurse. My mother had just finished nursing school and was facing starting her new job upon return to the U.S. The girl told my mother that her mother gets paid x amount. My mother was very impressed as the amount was very similiar to the amount being paid back home. She decided then and there that she wants to stay in Eretz Yisroel. My father would have to give up his business but there are less expenses (ie tuition) in Eretz Yisroel so we would manage. What she did not realize was the amount stated was per MONTH and not per WEEK. So basically the salary was about a quarter the amount paid in the States. So yes, money is an issue in Eretz Yisroel!



    Back to the original questions that started this thread, I could answer some based on my experience.

    Apartment – Renting is less common than buying. Personally, we’re renting for a one year lease to make sure we like the community/neighborhood we’ve chosen and then are planning on buying

    Official Aliya or Tourist. Pros and Cons- If you make aliyah officially, there are financial benefits based on marital status, # and ages of kids. You’ll also get the health insurance. If you’re a tourist you can’t work (legally) and if you do decide to make aliyah, the time spent there already may lessen your benefits.

    Ship our car? – Not the best idea. The tax on importing a car is something like 100%. Getting around by bus is the norm in some places. Also, it’s more common in certain fields of work to get a company car (high-tech especially)

    Taxes, American and Israeli- You will always have to file taxes but unless you’re making in the 6 figure range I believe, you won’t have to pay anything if you live out of US. But (unless Obama changes this), you still get child tax credit.


    intellegent: good point there about the tuition, and don’t forget insurance (which anonymouse1079 just mentioned)

    When we moved last year, we saved nearly $30,000 in these 2 departments alone. Of course there are some other expenses that you don’t have in USA (arnona if you rent, car/gas if you plan on getting one) – but for the most part, it’s much cheaper to live in EY. And I recently heard from an Israeli whose son works on the financial sector of Switzerland (we’re talking big $$$$$$), that although his son earns 3 times as much as he does, the sone rarely “makes the month” – but his father living in EY never has this problem.

    So definitely, besides for Dollars and Shekels, you need to carry some Emunah bills with you while living here – it’s worth it!


    “Mamashtakah, no disprespect but The Shomron??? This is not usually the first choice for those wishing to live in EY and I was referrng to the main cities / localities such as Eilad, Ashdod, parts of Yerushalayim, Petach Tikva, Bayit Vegan, etc.”

    Yes, the Shomron! We picked a place that we knew we could afford, and wasn’t so big that we would be “swallowed up.” Look at it this way – Ma’ale Adumim had over 40 families making aliyah there this past summer. When we came – the summer before – we were the only family making aliyah directly here. There was one family, the summer before we came, that made aliyah directly here. That’s one family per year, instead of having to divide the available resources among 40 families.

    Out yishuv is smaller. There is a high level of Torah learning here. Some of the streets are closed on Shabbat. We have a hesder yeshiva. The place is small enough that we have met many, many people, and large enough that we have amenities as well (a shopping/strip mall, offices for all the health plans, a library, a pool/health club, etc.). Many people commute to Tel Aviv and the surrounding hi-tech areas. We’re only an hour from Yerushalayim by car.

    The Shomron is beautiful, and it’s not as far out as you think.



    While of course it’s much, much less expensive to live in EY that only helps you if you’re earning an american salary.

    If you’re working locally 99 percent chance you’re earning peanuts & in the same exact situation as the kid in Switzerland.


    “If you’re working locally 99 percent chance you’re earning peanuts & in the same exact situation as the kid in Switzerland.”

    Except, of course, there is a mitzva is to live in Israel. The Torah does not mention Switzerland.


    notpashut, it’s not poshut what you’re saying. It all depends on your line of work. Many if not most olim from North America come with white collared experience, and earn on the higher level of EY salaries. And of course, with the falling Dollar, it doesn’t help all that much to earn American salaries

    And besides, I think you missed my point about Switzerland. What I was saying is that, granted, in EY you don’t earn as much as elsewhere, but you automatically get EMUNAH points while living here (or at least they’re easier to acquire here), and they’re “???? ?????” (as written in this week’s parsha Chayey Sarah).


    mammashtakeh – I don’t know what you want from my life. I’ve got nothing against living in EY, I live here myself.

    I’m merely trying to HELP people by making them aware that moving to EY is not all that easy & the cost of living factor does not help if you’re going to be working here.

    No Gedolim held that a person should risk ruining their life to move to EY.

    I’ll repeat this yet again, I’m not saying don’t come, I’m just saying don’t fall into this Nefesh B’nefesh induced Pro-Aliya delusional fantasy that just because you’re making “ALIYA” life in EY will be wonderful & rosy.

    Make a well thought out, rational decision.


    “I’m just saying don’t fall into this Nefesh B’nefesh induced Pro-Aliya delusional fantasy that just because you’re making “ALIYA” life in EY will be wonderful & rosy.”

    If anything, I would say that NbN was pretty convincing that making aliyah would NOY be easy; I never got the impression from them that life here would be one big party.

    “Make a well thought out, rational decision.” For sure, for sure . . . coming on a whim, without any research, is the worst thing anyone could do.

    Shabbat shalom!


    Moving to a new culture, lifestyle, and dealing with the children’s issues and the language barrier is not for the faint of heart. Married couples who have a strong positive relationship can make it work. And you have got to laugh a lot, because there are so many silly mistakes you will make! Come on aliya and be prepared to work hard to succeed. Find a Rov right away to give you guidance, give your children unconditional love and be their best advocate, and be friendly to everyone. Be prepared to give your wife support as she deals with her issues, and be prepared to give your husband a lot of respect. It isn’t always so easy on men to go to a new shul, and gain a new chevra. A wife has to give up her parents and close friends. Build a reputation as a fine family and you will have good friends in no time. They will become your support system. And people here are allergic to new olim who kvetch-restrain yourselves! After you are here long enough you have the right to kvetch in public, and it won’t sound silly.

    As a teacher in a school that has many olim I want to state a very important overlooked fact. The education system in Israel places the responsibility for the child’s learning directly on the parents. Instructors teach their subject to classes of over thirty students at a time. There is not a lot of personal attention. If your kid gets it, great. If not, then it is up to the parent to give it over. An oleh parent, whose Hebrew is limited, can not help with most subjects-(try translating Gemarah into Hebrew, math is done differently, Hebrew literature, science, etc…) The amount of perakim covered in one month in Israel equals what an American kid does all year! Few schools have resource rooms, and few of them have “help for olim”. (or computers, science equipment, libraries). Parents here have to pay for all the school books, and in some schools that averages about 15 books per child at an average cost of 30 NIS. You can buy used for half the cost) School is six days a week-no Sundays off.

    Some suggestions are: 1) Get involved in your child’s school, 2) get Hebrew language classes (note: that some chadarim frown on ulpan-your child will not “pick it up”-get lessons!) 3) prepare money in advance for tutors. (My neighbor paid $10,000 in tutoring in one year for three kids!!!) 4) Visit the school with your child before you enroll him/her. (we visited a highly recommended place, and my son was turned off to it because the Rosh Yeshiva made an awful impression). 5) Remember that you made the decision to make aliya, not your kids. You are pulling them away from all that is familiar-it could be their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, best friend, a teacher they were looking forward to having, and the English language. It is vital to your children’s welfare that you involve them in their new life, and share how much you love it here and why. Constantly.

    After all this, I still say come! Yes it is a challenge. You will grow not only in your avodas Hashem but in your bein adam lechaveiro. You will become a better spouse, a better parent, and a great letter write/emailer. You will figure out how to save money and find new ways to make it. And ask an adom gadol for a bracha for hatzlocha and discuss with him your concerns. There is open siyata dishmaya here, and there will never be a replacement for the Kotel in anyplace in the world. We are here six years and don’t regret it. All our children speak both languages fluently, and have Israeli friends. It takes a ton of tefilla and a lot of hishtadlus.


    “Remember that you made the decision to make aliya, not your kids. You are pulling them away from all that is familiar-it could be their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, best friend, a teacher they were looking forward to having, and the English language. It is vital to your children’s welfare that you involve them in their new life, and share how much you love it here and why.”

    It is also vital that you not drag them across the ocean kicking and screaming, especially with older kids. If the kids seriously don’t want to come, then perhaps you should wait, as painful as it may be. One of the worst things you can do is force kids to make aliyah against their will.

    Also, not all schools are six days a week. That may be true for boys. I have a girls in middle school and 10th grade, and they have school Sunday-Thursday. My oldest, in 11th grade, has 1/2 days on Fridays once or twice a month (mostly for bagruyot classes).


    22oldgold, I brought this up for you. I am really impressed by your seeming willingness to work with the situation. I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be for you to just pick up and move your whole life to Israel, at this point. I see from your question that you have chosen to have a positive attitude about it. “If you don’t like it, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Don’t know where this quote came from but it’s for you. Good luck with everything, and I hope the transition goes easily for you and your whole family.



    Would it be realistic for a couple to move to israel nowdays without financial support?


    RoshYeshiva, what kind of couple are you talking about? Kollel? Young marrieds? Are either (or both) working, or planning on working? And what do you mean by “without financial support?”


    thanks anonymisss, it’s not really like that. My parents aren’t really sure if we’re moving. We would move to Ramat Beit Shemesh, and be living near family. My sister is the one who’s raising all the issues. We would come back every summer and I don’t have that much school years left.

    When I think of moving, I don’t think of it in the permanent sense.

    Is the Israeli mindset that different from the American? I’m talking about the American Israeli.


    22OG youre still in school? how did you end up with a name like 22? 🙂


    One important big thing…

    Make friends when you get here. Your family will be back in the USA and when you need some help it is nice to have a friend or neighbor to call. We live here in Ariel (which I love) and after my wife had a baby last week our neighbors have been nothing but wonderful in helping us with all sorts of thing.

    Really having friends can be the difference between loving life in Israel and hating it.

    Oh and if you make Aliyah make sure to tour the country Israel is a wonderful place.

    Mazel Tov and much naches. YW Moderator-72


    It seems that people posting here come from all types of backgrounds and it’s really nice that we have a place to share ideas with each other. This also means that each of us would have a very different aliya experience. In Israel, there are certain nuances that separate different streams within the Orthodox/Chareidi community. As an example, were I to make aliya I would want to live in one of the very chareidi neighborhoods in Yerushalayim. This means my experience would be very different from Zach’s or from MamashTakah.


    Zach is 100% correct. Making friends can be a huge difference. We have no family here at all, so our friends have become our family. We got some names when we came on our pilot trip, so we were emailing people well before we came. These were the people who were the most friendly when we got here.


    Mod-72 Thank you.

    Joyous, in some ways our Aliyah experience would be very different, no question, I’m not Charadi and when I got here I was single (I met my wife about 2 weeks after Aliyah as it worked out). One of the nice things about Israel is there are many different kinds of places you can choose to live, What a Chareidi neighborhood in Jerusalem, you can do that. Want to live in the country and see the mountains, you can do that too. In the US with a very few exceptions almost all orthodox communities are urban or suburban.

    Oh one other bit of advice, when dealing with Israeli government offices bring a book or something to do. Long waits are common. Thought in my experience when I have something to read the wait is generally quite short.


    One thing I’ve noticed about American Olim. They think that moving to EY means moving to Yerushalayim. There are other places. Just the other day I was looking at a friend’s Yated. I still can’t read the articles, but I can usually get through the ads. I noticed the prices for apartments in Jerusalem was about 4 times what it is in Haifa. I am constantly amazed by how inexpensive items are here as compared to what I paid in the US. I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to live here.

    Of course there are difficulties. But that would be true just moving to a different neighborhood in NY. Keep a positive attitude and it isn’t so bad.

    And btw, contrary to popular (US) opinion, there are chareidim, and plenty of them, here in Haifa.

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