By Sybil Kaplan
(Photo by Barry A. Kaplan / Jerusalem)
Pt.1 The practical side of making Aliyah for seniors
So you’ve decided to move to Israel, possibly Florida, Palm Springs and Arizona don’t have the same appeal. Maybe the kids and grandkids are already in Israel? Maybe you were touched by a visit and see yourself or yourselves getting older in Israel, although not really ready yet to retire one hundred per cent?
We’ve done it, and we want to pass on some helpful hints, based on our experiences in Jerusalem, to make the move easier for those who come after us. Those going to other places will have to adjust the comments.
Forgetting the Zionism, the first issue of practicality for us was if we could make it financially? We wrote to all our friends of comparable age and asked them to share their expense details. The received information went into a spread sheet to come up with average costs. Most Americans have a budget in their minds, if not on paper. However, if one is moving to Israel and depending on American social security and savings, then knowing what things cost is essential.
Setting up a Budget
What kind of things go into an Israeli budget?
Housing is the first thing on a budget. We had decided immediately not to purchase an apartment. This is an area that differs with each couple. Some people already own apartments but only use them intermittently on visits. Some rent a different place each time they come or stay with family.
We were not planning a “pilot” trip to find housing but decided to find a temporary place to rent on the internet, while our furnishings were in transit, and use the lift waiting time to find a long-term place to rent. And yes, there are long-term apartments available and more now than before.
Other expenses on the spread sheet include:
Arnona is a property tax levied on residents regardless of whether they own or rent. Olim receive a 90% discount the first year. But wait until the second year when it hits you, whammy! You only receive a 25% discount because of age.
Vaad habayit is a house fee paid to the building where you live to cover cleaning halls, maintaining the yard, etc. If the building does not have independent heating and hot water, that might be included. This differs greatly, depending on the services and size of building.
Other expenses include utilities such as water, electricity, and gas; food; land phone; cell phones; internet; cable TV; international phone (if you decide to set up a plan); health insurance and prescriptions; monthly bus passes; Isracard (or Master or whatever credit card); newspaper; and entertainment. You may have other expenses such as life insurance or appliance warrantees; if you have a car, then gasoline, insurance and maintenance must be added.
This spread sheet can then be set against your income. If one or both people plan to work, then local income will just offset converting dollars
If you see that you can make it financially, then the moving plan can go into effect. See you in Part Two coming soon.
Sybil Kaplan is a journalist, book reviewer, food columnist and feature writer
Check out her remarkable walking tours of the Jerusalem shuk