28 best Aliyah & Israel relocation tips. Everything your need to know before moving to Israel.
Think twice about schlepping old, bulk, low-value furniture to Israel
We often turn to our wise and experienced Facebook group members for their input, advice and suggestions. We asked them to share some of their Aliyah tips in the hope that they would make ther relocation and absorption process easier on you. They came up with these:
1. Adaptability & Flexibility
The most important tip we can give Olim is to be adaptable and flexible. Be open to change and new ideas. Things are done differently in Israel, go with the flow and listen to the vatikim or old-timers.
2. Learn to Bargain
Don’t be afraid of bargaining in Israel. Don’t feel bad asking for a discount or a special price. Bargaining may not be acceptable in your country of origin where the ticket price is the final price. It is quite acceptable to 'figure a price' in many small stores, in the markets and even professionally - it is all part of the Israeli-Mediterranean culture.
You might have enjoyed the luxury of carpets throughout your home in the 'old-country' but think twice about putting them down in Israel. Although very cozy in the winter, carpeting makes an apartment hotter in the scorching Israeli summer. Bring rugs that you can roll-up in the summer months. If you do decide you want carpets, unless they are valuable oriental rugs, our advice is buy them in Israel. Rooms are smaller. Some towns and cities have large amounts of dust where floor tiles are easier to keep clean.
If you have the budget, have your apartment professionally cleaned before you move in.
Desktop computers and laptops will work in Israel as they are 110/220 capable. You will need to either replace the cable or use an adapter to switch the plug. With Desktop systems, be sure to switch the power supply to 220-240 before you bring it to Israel. You can then install the Hebrew language pack and get a Hebrew keyboard from any large hyper-store or office supply store. The price of computers has come down considerably over the years. It might be worth your while to buy in Israel where you can get a basic lap-top for around 1,000 NIS. Expect to pay very much more for a top-of-the-range gaming device.
6. Don't be afraid to complain!
Don’t hesitate to let your service provider know when you are dissatisfied. Occasionally, you may get better rates and compensation for the inconvenience. This is especially true with the mobile phone carriers and cable TV companies. If they are not willing to give you a discount, they may give you a value added service. Complain about bank charges too - it might work.
There is a lot of dust in Israel and heatwaves accompanied by dust storms (hamsin) often prevail. Remember this when packing your ornaments, books and other items that you will have to keep dust-free yourself.
8. Electrical Appliances
It is generally advisable to purchase small electrical appliances in Israel rather than shipping them from your country of origin. The only tax free appliances you can buy, with your oleh benefits, in Israel, are refrigerators and air-conditioners that have been manufactured in Israel. Most warranties are not valid outside the country they were originally purchased in. Be aware of the main differences between the power differences between North America and Israel. America & Canada uses 110, Israel and other countries have the same power supply – 220 volts (60 Hz).
Most international brands are available in Israel. Reasonable local brands for small appliances are Gold-line, Zachs and Hemilton. Zap is a local website (in Hebrew) where you can compare the prices of electrical appliances. Use Google translate to get the basic information in English.
There are no Oleh benefits for buying furniture in Israel. It makes no sense to ship bulky, low value furniture items like kids beds and case goods (cupboards, drawers, sideboards) etc. You can buy more appropriately designed items for the Israeli home, here. Bear in mind that homes in Israel are generally smaller. Remember that now you are moving, you family will be coming over for visits so a sleeper couch is a good investment. FYI - Ikea now has 3 branches in Israel and another is being built.
11. Household Maintenance
When entering into a rental agreement, remember to ask the landlord or the previous tenant to show you the location of all meters – electricity, water and gas. It is important to write down the current count on each meter. Take a photograph if possible of the readings for future reference. Also take pics of each room in the house.
12. Insuring your Shipment
Insure all your items at the Israeli cost so that if they are stolen or damaged en-route, you will be able to replace them without incurring a loss. You might need to ask a favor of a friend or family member, already living here, to price them for you.
13. Importing a Car
Olim are entitled to import a car into Israel up to three years after their date Aliyah. The shipment does not count as one of their three tax-free shipments. When importing a car from the US, one can only import a car that was manufactured in the US, Canada or Mexico. Imports from left-hand drive countries are not permitted.
14. Leases & Contracts
When purchasing or renting an apartment in Israel, get an English speaking attorney or good friend, fluent in Hebrew, to act on your behalf and look over the contract. Your friendly landlord might have stuck in a clause to his benefit.
15. Leather Upholstery
Leather furniture and upholstery needs to be properly packed for shipment. If the hides are not properly tanned, and you are not careful with maintaining the leather, the harsh Israeli climate can affect and damage it. Be warned, leather is cold to the touch in the Israeli winter and sticky in the summer. Stain repellent fabrics are best.
16. Cash Refunds
Don't fall into the trap! Not so honest shopkeepers might tell you that you cannot exchange or get a refund. But there is a refund law in Israel which came into effect in October 2010 that allows for a refund under certain conditions. You will be surprised how many locals still get caught out, even now.
17. Know Opening Hours
It will seem like every shop, institution, or public office has its own opening hours. It can be terribly confusing and impossible to keep track of them all. Before going to the various government offices or ministries in Israel, check their opening hours - each one has its own schedule. Use the myVisit appointment app to pre-arrange an appointment.
Some small stores still observe the old traditional afternoon "siesta" and are closed between 2pm and 4pm. This siesta is not observed in shopping centers.
18. Packing Up
Start downsizing at least six months before and stick to the 'one-year' rule. If you are packing some boxes yourself, pack creatively and use linens and clothes as packing materials.
19. Plumbing & Electrical
Before you buy a home, get your plumber and a licensed electrician to do an inspection of the water and electrical lines. The cost of this consultation can save you thousands in a bad-buy, or can give you important leverage in negotiating the selling price.
Recycling is done after refuse removal - no 3 bins here (glass/cans, paper & food). Plastic water and soft-drink bottles are thrown in huge metal cages near the municipal garbage cans. They are then collected for recycling. Glass drinking bottles are returned to the supermarket for a small refund. Most municipalities have depots for disposing of other materials; paper, electrical, batteries etc. Check with your local school. They may have some collection facilities.
Renting an apartment in Israel: You will probably be asked to put down a deposit generally equivalent to one months rent. Some landlords may even ask for more. You may be asked to provide a security deposit for the value of the contents of a furnished apartment. Years ago it was common practice to give your landlord 12 post-dated checks. When the shekel was weaker it was common for rent to be quoted in dollars and paid in shekels on the date of the transaction. Don't let you landlord talk you into this. It is now against the law.
22. Shop Around
Before signing up with any service provider: telephone, cellphones, cable TV, internet etc. shop around and ask for recommendations in order to get the best price and service available. The 2012 price-war between mobile phone carriers in Israel, has done wonders. You can now get great packages at great prices. Just because a provider or carrier has been around for a long time, it does not make them the best.
23. Solar Water Heater
Most apartments in Israel have solar water heaters and they do save on your water bill. When moving into your new residence, ask the current owner to show you the exact location of your “dud shemesh” (solar heating system) on the roof. Make sure it is in good working order. If you have purchases your own place, consider installing one. Nine months of sunshine, cuts your electricity bill down considerably.
Public transport in Israel is well organized, there are buses, trains, taxis and sheruts (shared taxi) to just about about every single destination in Israel. You can get by without a car for the first few years. If you are considering importing your car to Israel, we suggest you investigate this very thoroughly first.
The Rav Kav pre-paid, multi-transport, smart-card, season ticket is worthwhile especially if you use public transport everyday.
Ensure that any warranties you may have on new appliances will be recognized in Israel and that spares parts are available. For small electrical appliances, it may be worthwhile to purchase them in Israel rather than shipping them from your country of origin. Your 10kg washing machine and dryer probably won't fit into your living space and you might not have any luck trying to sell it locally.
Don't inherit someone's bugs. Before moving in to a new apartment it is advisable to use our extermination tips or bring in a professional.
27. Learn the language
Do not kid yourself and think that you can get buy on English alone. You have to learn the Hebrew language
28. Ask an Expert
Something you want to know? Ask us and our panel of experts will try to help you.