Living in Israel Guide

Living in Israel Guide

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Feb 13, 2020

Summary: Expats, global nomads and retirees living in Israel talk about meeting other expats, befriending locals, the local culture, diversity in Israel, international schools, crime and more.

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People living in Israel share their experiences making friends, adjusting to the culture, what expat life is like in Israel, healthcare in Israel and more.

Deciding Where to Live in Israel

When we asked expats living in Israel to offer newcomers advice about choosing a neighborhood and finding a home, they replied:

"Ra'anana was suggested to us. Within the city, we decided that it would be worthwhile living as close to the highways leading to Tel Aviv as possible. We were looking for an attractive neighborhood with mixed housing (apartments as well as single-family homes)," said one expat living in R'aanana, Israel.

"I found an amazing relocation service through a guy named Rani. He found me accomodation and a job and helped me with everything, including opening a bank account, acquiring a credit balance, access to free medical aid, he even took me to the grocery store to familiarize me with all the products. Then he had referred me to a 5 hour Hebrew training crash course where I learned basic Hebrew," mentioned another expat in Israel.

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Meeting People in Israel

Expats living in Israel talked about meeting people in Israel and local clubs and organizations:

"Haifa is a very laid back city with a population of about 300,000. There are about permanent English speaking families and many temps who are studying at the universities or working in hi-tech. The young English speakers (up to age 35), have lots of pub evenings and outrings an they are well organized. There is the Anglo-list on Facebook which has about 2000 members and a smaller grou p - Haifa Young English Speakers too. There is a weekly walk on the beach, there is an English speaking branch of the Freemasons, Rotary, BNI and other similar networks. There are lots of volunteer organization who want English speakers to participate in their activities. There is a large Russian community in Haifa as well. A large Bahai and Filippino community live here too," said one expat living in Haifa, Israel.

"I highly recommend a small French restaurant in downtown Jerusalem called "Cavaliere". They offer a great selection of wines from all over the world as well as great food. It's a bit pricey but a special business lunch menu is available. Also I recommend "Sakura" restaurant for Japanese cousine lovers. It's a small place but offers a great selection of sushi, maki etc as well as salads and other lapanese dishes. In my opinion this is the most authentic japanese restaurant in Jerusalem," mentioned another expat in Israel.

Expat Life in Israel

What is it like living in Israel? Here is what people had to say:

"Haifa is a family city. The beach, the forests and nature trails are big attractions. It takes less than an hour to get to Tel Aviv which is the main commercial center. There is a huge hi-tech center in Haifa which employs many expats and it is close to another major hi-tech center - Yokneam. THe city of Haifa is focussing on the younger generation, students etc., and are working hard to improve facilities and housing options for them," said one expat living in Haifa, Israel.

"60% of the population is very religious and places close on Sabath (on Friday around 3 pm till Saturday's sunset). You may not be able to find a grocery store that is open around this time, so buy food before Sabath," mentioned another expat in Israel.

What Expats Appreciate about Their New Culture

We asked expats in Israel what they appreciated about their new culture. Here's what they had to say:

"Warmth of family and friends. Openness. Large number of smart people. A feeling of being home after 2000 years. Love of children. A feeling that we are all relatives," said one expat living in Raanana, Israel.

"The people here are so warm. They will not trust you at first, but when you prove to them you are a nice person, they will open up to you. Most people have learned English from an early age here, and are often eager to speak to you in English. This was so helpful and crucial when I first came here," mentioned another expat in Israel.

The Most Challenging Aspects of Living in Israel

Then, we asked expats in Israel what was most challenging about their new culture. They replied:

"Finding someone that speaks english, you can call anytime if you have questions about anything. Most people here grew up together, so they are not as quick to make new best friends. If you can find a nice group of friends it makes life 1,000 times easier. Also if you don't speak the language, employment can be difficult in more rural parts. Closer to the city, easier to get a job in only english. And not feeling "dumb" because you don't know something. A different country can be a different world," said one expat living in Kfar Saba, Israel.

Diversity in Israel

We asked expats about diversity in Israel and whether locals are accepting of differences. They said:

"Haifa is super-tolerant of religious and cultural diversities. In fact Jews, Christians, Moslems, Bahai, Druze all co-exist, live and work together in mutual respect and harmony," said one expat living in Haifa, Israel.

"I wouldn't recommend wandering through religious neighborhoods of Jerusalem on Shabat since you may be spit on or even bitten. In the Old City of Jerusalem and all arab areas it's not advisable to walk around in a shirt that doesn't cover sholders," mentioned another expat in Israel.

International Schools in Israel

"We love the fact that the Treehouse staff have always been very open and honest about our children. I can understand that there is a temptation at schools to simply tell the parents what they want to hear about their children and to sweep things under the carpet to maintain a facade. This is not the case here and we credit the school for helping us raise amazing children who are happy and behave beautifully outside of the home and out of our sight as well as when they are at home. The treehouse staff have exceptional core values and have been indispensible in helping us raise our children," said one expat whose children attend Treehouse International School in Herzliya Pitoach.

"GO for it! and just make sure your child has other afternoon classes in the neighborhood. There is great options in Herzliya Pituach: Tennis, music, dance, Hip-hop, surfing. This way you get it all. The academics, the calmness and the social responsibility of the children at that school are just remarkable features that I have not seen anywhere else," added another expat with kids at Treehouse International School in Herzliya Pituach.

"our children have attended this school for many years. not only does it have an excellent staff and academic programme but the values which infuse the environment are fantastic. our children are happy, well rounded, socially outgoing and have a deep sense of responsibility to those around them due to the education at this school. They not only excel inacademics but they are curious about the world and driven to always learn more. we thank the school and its wonderful dedicated staff every day," commented one expat when asked about Treehouse International School in Herzliya Pitoach.

"Go to the American School, that is where our son is now, and he is much happier and is getting the support that he needs," remarked another expat living in Herzilya Petuach with children attending TreeHouse International School.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and 5 Best Places to Live in Spain. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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