10 Factors for Finding our Home in Israel
Where to make Aliyah to? When we first started planning Aliyah there were no easy answers as to exactly where. For some people it's simple – they have close family who already live in Israel and so they decide to move close by. But not so for us. Where to begin?
So we made a list of what we thought would be important to us when choosing a community (in no particular order):
1) Torah Observance/Religious Life
For us this was key: we needed to find a place with a sizable Shomer Shabbat group. What specific flavour of observance is a bit more complicated. What types of Shuls are within walking distance? What are the community customs like?
2) Affordability of Housing
Housing in Israel is known for being particularly expensive. Fortunately we have some savings in our own house, but savings can be consumed quickly. Cramming a growing family into a tiny two bedroom apartment isn't our first choice.
3) Employment Opportunities
Being able to get a job is one of the first concerns on lots of people's minds. While I'm planning to continue my remote work, and my husband may be able to work remotely, we still need to have some alternate possibilities.
Israel has almost every type of climate and geography. From desert to seafront and hills or plains. Most of it is a bit on the "hot" side.
Making aliyah with children means that putting them in school will inevitably be part of the adjustment process. Some schools are more used to Olim wile others are not. But what stood out to me were the different terms between one type of school to the next and what exactly they mean with regards to religious affiliation.
6) English Speaking Community
I've read that in some cases Aliyah is easier when you move to a place with a large "Anglo" English speaking community. But in other experiences I've read that people were more successful moving to places with a smaller Anglo population because they were forced to practice their Hebrew. Overall, community can play a large part in making a successful transition to a establishing a new life in Israel.
7) Kosher Food
It seems like a bit of a contradiction to have Kosher food listed as a type of selection criteria. However, with so many variances in Kosher not all certifications are supervised the same way. Also, when you add in the observance of laws like Shmitta, Terumah and Maaser, following kashrut becomes even more complex
8) Conveniences and Services
Not all of the places in Israel have the same amenities as once might be used to from a Western country. Even in larger communities the drive to a hospital might be considerably far or there may only be one local mall. How far is the trip to a grocery store? How large is it? Are there restaurants? Playgrounds for kids? Etc.
9) Transportation Accessibility
Cars are typically expensive and considered a luxury in Israel. When people own a car, it's usually just one car for the family. Many places that may have more affordable housing incur the additional difficulties and expense of needing a car to get around. Other locations have a variety of public transportation options including high speed commuter trains to cities like Tel-Aviv or Jerusalem. Note: I can't comment yet about how efficient the public transportation is.
10) That Intangible Feeling of Home
Finally, there's just that feeling that "this is it". Sometimes it just doesn't feel right and other times you can see yourself living there.
After going through our deciding factors, we put together a short list of places to visit on our family pilot trip.