Why Tel Aviv is expensive

Emigration: What does it cost to live in Israel?

1. Why did you go to Israel and what keeps you there?

I moved from Berlin to Tel Aviv with my Israeli husband in 2010 to work as a journalist there. We now have two children and, luckily, as a writer, I am still incredibly inspired by this country and its people. I am both a German and an Israeli citizen myself and see Tel Aviv as my home, which I do not want to leave, at least in the foreseeable future.

2. What can Germans learn from the Israelis? And possibly the other way around?

I learned a lot from Israeli culture: Israelis are incredibly fearless, which may be due to the special situation here in the country. This fearlessness that may be at the heart of life "Middle East Conflict" was born, carries over into all areas of life: Israelis are much less afraid of failure than Germans.

Reinventing yourself is fine here and is not interpreted as disorientation or weakness. Israelis are less afraid of being "real" and themselves, that is, yelling when they are angry and laughing when they are happy. All of this also leads to the fact that, although they live very passionately, they do not always plan everything precisely in advance. There is a lot of improvisation and thus a lot of new things are invented, and things are also regulated in a more uncomplicated way (which was just shown in the Corona period with an incredibly successful vaccination campaign: Almost two thirds of Israelis have already been vaccinated) - Germany could do this really cut a slice sometimes.

3. What 3 tips would you give a German who also wants to emigrate to Israel?

Keep up. It can be really difficult at the beginning. Israel is Middle East, the culture is different. It's rougher, louder and more stressful. You first have to develop this Israeli style, get used to the fact that hardly anyone can use the words "Sorry" and "You're welcome" and "thanks" used and the fact that everything for God's sake just not to be taken personally.

Learning language. Many Israelis speak very good English, but you don't really get into society with it. And Hebrew is not easy because it is such a different language than German. On the other hand, Israelis are much more generous with language beginners, because it is a country of immigration and many of the Israelis were once language beginners themselves.

Have a financial plan. Israel is expensive. And even if there are many jobs for newcomers, especially in the start-up sector; in many other industries it is more difficult. The salaries are lower than in Germany, but the cost of living is significantly higher.

4. How expensive is life in Israel compared to Germany?

Much more expensive. This applies to almost everything related to the cost of living: rent, groceries (whether in supermarkets or restaurants), clothing, vehicles - everything has to be added at least 20 percent compared to Germany. Childcare costs more in Israel than in Berlin, for example. Children up to three years of age have to be housed privately, so a private daycare center costs around 700 euros a month. After that, the after-school care must be paid privately if the child is to be looked after until 4:30 p.m. (and not just until 2:00 p.m.) per child about another 200 euros.

5. Health insurance, taxes, pension insurance? How is this handled in Israel?

Health insurance is one of the few things that are cheaper than in Germany - I pay around 75 euros per month as a self-employed person and get almost everything that you can get in Germany with statutory health insurance. All Israelis have to have health insurance, if you are new in the country that can be a bit complicated at first - depending on your visa. But it is possible. Taxes and pension insurance are comparable to Germany (VAT is slightly lower at 17 percent). There is a tax agreement between Germany and Israel, which makes it relatively easy to continue making money in Germany. Social benefits (such as unemployment benefit, child benefit, parental benefit) are sometimes significantly lower or are paid out over a significantly shorter period of time (parental leave, for example, is only three months).

6. Which secret savings tip did you discover for living in Israel?

None if I'm honest. Tel Aviv is just damn expensive. But I am very fortunate to be able to earn my living as a writer mainly in Germany, where you can still make a living from writing. For me it's like living in New York, you can get upset about the cost and how little you get for so much money, but that's what you live in one of the greatest places in the world.

7. Which product is particularly expensive in Israel and which product is very cheap?

I am always appalled at how expensive cheese (eight euros for a piece of Manchego can be) and bread (4.20 euros with ease) are in Israel. Even drugstore items such as shower baths, deodorants, etc. are beyond the scope of German prices. During the Corona period in particular, I noticed again that hotels in the country are also extremely expensive and that for the cost of a short break in Israel you can get ten days in the best hotel on a Greek island with a flight. Local transport is inexpensive and quite good, although trains and buses do not run on Shabbat. Medicine is also cheaper overall.

8. Do you have any advice on finding a job for immigrants in Israel?

In the high-tech sector, if you have the right qualifications, you can also find work relatively easily in English. There are many international projects in the country and because there is so much media interest in Israel, there is also quite good work for journalists. But you may have to be prepared to earn significantly less than in Germany and / or to do something that is less in line with your own qualifications.

9. What is your new everyday life in Israel like? What has changed here most from the old life?

Israel made me extremely advanced. It has always inspired me to write stories and I have my first book here "Good morning Tel Aviv" written and meanwhile nine other books. I have become more relaxed and have found a new freedom to be myself. That being said, despite the high costs, I think Tel Aviv is an excellent place to live here with children. We have the sea, lots of playgrounds, children are very important in Israeli society and are welcome everywhere. Tel Aviv itself is an extremely exciting, diverse city that is still in the making. You can grow very well here - even as an adult.

10. What role does money play in society in Israel? What would you say?

I would say it's a big role. Israelis talk a lot and openly about money. However, many Israelis, especially in the expensive cities, hardly have the opportunity to build up reserves - you always live so close to the credit line, but unlike in Germany, that doesn't bother anyone. What is bad is that Israel has one of the highest levels of child and old age poverty in the OECD. Social justice definitely needs to get better here.