How expensive is it to live in Israel?
Cost of living is a key factor to take into account when deciding on where to move. In Israel, the cost of living can reach some of the highest rates in the world. This article will breakdown the variation in cost of living from place to place, and offer ideas on how to reduce living costs.
Living costs in Israel by city
Israel’s most expensive city, by far, is Tel Aviv. In fact, Tel Aviv Real Estate is considered one of the most expensive places to live in the world! This is largely to do with costs associated with renting a house or paying off a mortgage, as Tel Aviv properties are in high demand and therefore come with a hefty price tag.
In terms of food, restaurants, and shopping, Tel Aviv prices can still be quite high. However, in this case, there is a more generous price range. Eating out in Tel Aviv could mean anything from a fifteen shekel (= 4 USD) falafel, to a fine dining experience from the kitchen of one of Israel’s most famous chefs, which would of course be much more than that. It bears saying that the food, nightlife and entertainment in Tel Aviv may be expensive, but being the biggest city, it also attracts the highest quality.
Jerusalem’s property prices are lower than Tel Aviv’s on average. Although luxury apartments are still expensive, there is a greater range, and it’s much easier to find a budget-friendly option by heading out of the center. According to resident surveys, rent in Jerusalem takes up about 30% of the cost of living, while food costs also come to about 30%.
However, beyond this, there is a way to enjoy life in Jerusalem without spending too much money. Seeing the sites of the Old City is totally free, meals at restaurants are relatively inexpensive, and even a ticket to a theater show can cost as little as 110 shekels (=32 USD).
Overall a more balanced option than Tel Aviv, Jerusalem is a great option for those who want access to the culture of a big city, but with less intense financial repercussions – and as Jerusalem is a city like no other, no matter what your budget is, you will never be bored.
How to reduce your cost of living
Grocery prices in Israel have been considered a serious social issue for several years. Moreover, you might come to find that the selection you get is not as wide as you’d be used to in America. Try to embrace this – the Israeli food scene is more connected to its seasons and the natural weather, and things grown in season tend to be far better anyway.
To reduce your overall bill, consider:
● Your supermarket choice. Rami Levy and Osher Ad are both known as Israel’s budget supermarkets, which can reduce the cost of your basket by nearly a quarter compared to the average supermarket. You can also buy larger quantities there.
● Markets. Sometimes, a local marker will have cheaper options per kilo than the supermarket. The produce also generally tends to be better quality.
● Altering your menu. Beef is one of the most expensive choices to put on your plate. Reducing consumption to once a week is far more environmental and cost-efficient. Likewise, fruits you might be accustomed to – blueberries or off-season pineapples, for instance – tend to be more expensive than local versions.
There are many ways to be entertained for free or for a low cost in Israel. In urban areas, picnics in city park a budget-friendly weekend option, while visitors to museums or theaters should always check for child, student, soldier and pensioner discounts, which are generously handed out.
For a dose of nature, some cities are located on the beach. But even for those which are not, Israel’s small size means there is often a beautiful hiking path just a bus ride away. Local Israelis tend to be adventurous hikers and see a free walk in nature as the pinnacle of health and pleasure.
Knowing your rights
Israel’s government knows that Israel’s living costs can be particularly high for new immigrants. A number of financial benefits are available to Olim Chadashim, from the sal klita (payments made to your bank account for the first six months after your arrival) to discounts for bank services, and even tax off a new vehicle. If buying your home, you are entitled to lower taxation rates, as well as assistance on a mortgage.