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Expat Exchange - 10 Things to Know Before Moving to Israel
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10 Things to Know Before Moving to Israel

By Joshua Wood, LPC

William Russell
William Russell

Summary: If you're planning a move to Israel, here are 10 things expats living there wish they had known before moving to Israel.

Moving to Israel - 10 Things to Know Before Moving to Israel

Israel, a country rich in history and culture, is a popular destination for expats from around the world. Whether you're drawn to its vibrant cities, stunning landscapes, or the opportunity to live in a place of deep historical and religious significance, moving to Israel can be an exciting adventure. However, like any major move, it's important to do your research and know what to expect. Here are 10 things you should know before packing your bags and heading to the Holy Land.

1. Understanding the Cultural Diversity in Israel

Israel is a melting pot of cultures, with a population made up of Jews from all over the world, Arabs, Druze, Bedouins, and more. This diversity is reflected in everything from the food to the languages spoken. While Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages, you'll also hear Russian, Amharic, French, and English. Embrace this diversity and use it as an opportunity to learn about different cultures and traditions.

2. The Importance of Learning Hebrew

While many Israelis speak English, learning Hebrew can make your transition smoother and help you feel more at home. It's used in everything from road signs to supermarket labels, and knowing the language can help you navigate daily life more easily. There are many ulpans, or intensive Hebrew language courses, available for new immigrants.

3. The High Cost of Living

Israel is known for its high cost of living, particularly in cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Housing can be expensive, and so can groceries, dining out, and other everyday expenses. It's important to budget accordingly and be prepared for this aspect of life in Israel.

4. The Vibrant Food Scene

Israel's diverse population has resulted in a food scene that's a mix of cuisines from around the world. From the street food staple of falafel and shawarma to high-end dining, there's something for every palate. Don't miss out on the local markets, or shuks, where you can buy fresh produce, spices, and local delicacies.

5. The Significance of Shabbat

Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, is observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening. During this time, public transportation is limited, many businesses close, and the pace of life slows down. It's a good idea to plan ahead for Shabbat, particularly when it comes to travel and meals.

6. The Mandatory Military Service

Israel has a mandatory military service for most citizens over the age of 18. However, new immigrants are often exempt, depending on their age and personal circumstances. It's worth researching this topic to understand how it might impact you or your family.

7. The Warm and Direct Israeli Culture

Israelis are known for their warmth and hospitality, but also for their directness. Don't be surprised if a stranger strikes up a conversation or if people speak their mind openly. This directness is a part of the culture and is not intended to be rude.

8. The Excellent Healthcare System

Israel boasts one of the best healthcare systems in the world, with high-quality medical facilities and a wide range of services. All residents are required to have health insurance, with coverage provided through a variety of health funds.

9. The Importance of Security

Security is a major concern in Israel, and there are often security checks at public places like shopping malls and train stations. While this can be disconcerting at first, it's a part of life in Israel and is intended to keep everyone safe.

10. The Beautiful Natural Landscapes

From the beaches of Tel Aviv to the desert landscapes of the Negev, Israel is a country of stunning natural beauty. There are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, from hiking to surfing, so be sure to take the time to explore.

Moving to a new country is always a big step, but with some preparation and understanding, you can make the transition to life in Israel a smooth one. Whether you're drawn to the bustling cities, the rich history, or the diverse culture, Israel has a lot to offer.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


William Russell
William Russell

William Russell
William Russell

SJB Global
SJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

SJB GlobalSJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

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William Russell
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