Sunday, 9 November 2014

Renting in Israel: What to Consider (Realistically!)

For those choosing the option of renting in Israel, there's really a lot that needs to be considered. Of course, purchasing an apartment in Israel has its own numerous considerations - a topic for another post. The ideas in this post can assist in giving a few ideas for both - with an emphasis on those wanting to get a start in Israel, but who lack the funds to purchase their own apartment.

Lets make it clear from the start. This post is for those who are "strapped for cash" but (probably like everyone else) need to live in a contraption that has four walls and a roof. Lets also make it clear - from the start - certainly when it comes to lower rental units, the apartment one is looking for, is usually a lot smaller than what one may be used to from other countries. Not only the apartment itself, but even the way it looks and the condition it is in. It's usually safe to say that the cheaper the rental - the more likely the apartment would have been less cared for!

There are no general rules about what the landlord is required to do to make the lessee happy. In fact, it will ultimately be up to the lessee to do his/her own homework in making sure things are in the best of conditions that he/she can cope with. That's not the discussion for this post.

What is the discussion relates to who you are. It's a fact that may be overlooked when you arrive. Advice about renting from social networks and those who do not know you as a real live person who has a life of their own, will include points such as taking the cheapest place - if that's all you can afford. Advice may also include living in an area which is also cheaper (even if you really feel uncomfortable about it!) It sounds right - after all. If you cannot afford to live in Jerusalem (probably the most expensive area to live in, sharing this title with Tel Aviv,) you may need to move elsewhere!

Ideas may be suggested such as Tzfat, Beer Sheva - the Northern and Southern areas of Israel. If these areas do not appeal to you, you'll be lead into the next general choice - the Gush - a section of Israel known as Yehuda and Shomron (Judea and Samaria,) that by world standards is subject to dispute regarding Jewish ownership. As a result of world politics, not everyone wants to live there. On the other hand - those with strong Zionistic tendencies often choose to live in these areas specifically.

One of the highlights in living in these areas is the opportunity to hear the Muezzin which produces an awesome sound at least five times every day. Though not found in the towns themselves, they come from the very close Arab villages. Do see Judea and Samaria Area (especially bottom of page under municipalities) for more information regarding the cities found in the Israeli West Bank Settlements.) Indeed you will find rentals cheaper in all these places, and you should not feel you are lacking anything by being in any of these places. It is all Israel.

With all this - and really the focus of this post - a word of caution. Don't forget to be realistic to yourself. You see... you probably know yourself better than anyone else in the first instance. In the second instance, you may have a certain type of lifestyle that requires you to live in a particular place for whatever reason it is. Following the crowd - because you lack the financial ability to rent centrally may not always work. When it doesn't, you may even find yourself considering returning to your country of birth (or anther place on the map - somewhere!) To explain:

Let us assume you rent in the center of Jerusalem because your work is there. After much research, you'll probably find that if you need to seriously increase your income, you won't necessarily find it easy in Tzefat. That is just how it is! Jerusalem - being central - is expensive. But don't forget, now that your work is there, as a result, your transport will be a lot cheaper than having to live in an outside area in the Gush - which may be very cheap, but lack adequate transport to get you to work on time - let alone the additional cost of travel! In addition, the constant and lengthier travel will take its effect on your health (especially if this is important to you,) and will actually add to your financial expenses. It's something one only ever gets to understand after doing this type of routine oneself!

Let's take another example: Again, your health may be important to you. You may need to be close to a hospital - or at least be able to get to the hospital in a hurry (for whatever reason.) Living in certain areas of the Gush will not afford you the luxury of a bus when you need to travel. In addition since you are already strapped for cash - you probably won't have your own car! The only way you'll get to the hospital is via ambulance - an expense of some 1000 shekels. You'll need to pay that money upfront - before being treated - don't forget! Being in Jerusalem and closer to easier transport means you could take a taxi (many times) to get to a hospital, instead of paying the ambulance. Again - only those who know the urgency of such matters, value and appreciate the importance of having easy access to transport facilities when it counts most!

Here's another example: You may live in an area in the Gush which has one or two stores for food and general things. The price of the food may far exceed what you pay if you lived in a more expensive area which has its own supermarket which actually charges far less for basic food (and other!) items. As a result, you may as well consider living in the more expensive area - if in fact it meets your requirements better!

Are you still trying to purchase furniture (of any sort) for your home? Living in an outside area will mean paying a lot more for transport to get the things you need to you. It may sound like a once-off purchase! But all of a sudden, it's a heater in winter (often not available in certain cheaper areas), two fans in the summer, a large garbage bin - or maybe even a fridge, stove or cupboard! Not only will it be more expensive in transport - but there are many companies who will not even come out to your area because they do not consider these areas as a part of Israel!!! You'll be forced to using an outside moving company who will charge you double and triple the amounts the store would charge if you were situated in an area which is politically okay!

Are you religious? Do you fulfill the laws of Family Purity and need a Mikvah nearby? Don't forget, you may find yourself living in a cheaper area - at the expense of being far from the Mikvah. Is it important to you to live close to a synagogue? Are you prepared to compromise on a cheaper apartment (wherever it is,) and lose out on being able to pray with a Minyan on a regular basis etc. 

Have you considered the advantage of living near a post office? What of living close to your Kupat Cholim? Though it's not the hospital - if you're not well, it can be imperative that you live close by. Are their specialist doctors who frequent your Kupah? If you need a specialist on a regular basis - and find yourself renting where it's cheaper but much further from the specialist - have you outweighed the realistic costs of time and expense when it comes to visiting the doctor?!

There will always be people to criticize the concepts in this brief post. It's not for them. The post is here to show you how so many factors need to be taken into account before making a choice of where you will live. Relying on those who prefer to "shake you off them" with an approach of always going where it's cheaper, will not always bring you to your goal - a long term one of settling in the country.

While the actual cost of rent is vital - don't forget to add in the costs of your life! Don't forget your general transportation costs as well as the costs of food and items at nearby stores (places you will frequent.) Will you really save by living in the "cheaper" area after all? Do you know what type of lifestyle you will have by living in the cheaper area? Are you going to live there just because it's cheaper - or because you really want to live there?!

Did you know - for example - that many people travel to the Rami Levy superstore in Beitar Illit, from all areas of the Gush and even other outside areas too - just to do their shopping there because the prices are so much cheaper?! But consider this: If you are Torah observant, and money is tight - that by living inside this area, you would have immediate access to the store - and save on a daily basis!

Did you know - for example - that many people travel to the Kupot Cholim in Beitar Illit, from all areas of the Gush just to make a visit to a doctor or dentist - because they lack various medical specialists in their own areas?!

It may look like it's cheaper when moving to an area that seems cheaper - but don't forget to be realistic to yourself, because you know yourself best! Don't forget to ask yourself - are you actually saving money when you take your entire lifestyle into account?! Will the initial lower rent actually save you money, time - and even your health - when it comes to all your activity in Israel?!

For assistance in understanding the importance of these concepts in a more comprehensive manner and to make a detailed accounting of an area you are interested in - as opposed to another area, contact us directly and we would be happy to assist you to do a chart of comparison to assist in giving you a better idea of some things to consider. Our approach is centered on your lifestyle. It is clearly not a real estate approach to finding your ideal home.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very good article and has good advice. But I will add one thing...many native Israeli's view Olim(English speaking especially) are friers(chumps) and will take advantage of them. If you can buy a place, do not rent. After years of questionably sane and or ethical landlords...I bought a small place. Not the best, but better with dealing with people who are out to cheat me.



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