Immigrating to another country is always tough, especially when one isn’t familiar enough with the country he or she is moving to. Language, cultural and financial barriers are obvious road bumps when transitioning to unknown territories — and that’s only the beginning. Making an Aliyah, on the other hand, requires a somewhat different approach — Israel is close to the heart for many of those who decide to leave a comfortable life in their native countries, as in their case, the question of moving to Israel isn’t “if”, but rather “when”.
Although the numbers aren’t as high as the early 1990’s, more than 26,000 Jews made an Aliyah in 2014. In this day and age of global instability and anti-Semitism, especially for non-American Jews, those are promising numbers, showing a prominent desire to return to the “promised land”.
Yet, making an Aliyah isn’t a walk in the park, as it also demands a set of tools given to each immigrant – a cushy landing, finding a new home, settling in a decent workplace and taking care of the family as well. Another item on that checklist is financial organization – handling with the red tape and knowing the Israeli banking and social security system, which can be frustrating for those unfamiliar with the latter. There are many tips for how to get by in Israel. Saving money is crucial when moving to a new country, especially in Israel. In order to get by in a new reality, here are a few tips for making Aliyah much easier.
Get smart with mobile money:
Once you’re over the jet lag and settle down, it’s time to take care of business and handle your money. Israeli banks often offer various deals and bargains for newcomers. When it comes to credit cards, the Israeli companies are in line with their foreign counterparts, as they offer online services, especially on their mobile apps. For example, Leumi Card, one of the leading credit card companies in the country, also offers a digital payment system in the Leumi Card wallet app, which is similar to Google Wallet and Apple Pay, providing an alternative for the more traditional forms of money management and credit cards. Digital services like these are highly convenient for Israelis, who love their smartphones and do almost everything with them, including money related actions. Being Israeli is being somewhat hooked to your smartphone, but it doesn’t mean you can’t rely on it for daily tasks that can ease your life in a new country.
Plan your budget:
If the landing was smooth and you already located to a temporary housing (or even better, have relatives to host you until you move to a place of your own), now is the time to plan your budget. The prices aren’t always similar to those in the homeland, not to mention calculating the day to day expenses, the utility taxes and the transportation fees (public or by personal vehicle). When you’re done with those, then comes quality time for yourself or your family, which also costs money. Being unfamiliar with the local scenes, it’s highly recommended to check if there are any bargains or discounts before you take your wife and kids to a quality restaurant or invite a date to the local multiplex. There are various discounts and bargains for leisure and free time out there – ask around what the best options are, check the dedicated websites and apps for that matter (including the aforementioned digital wallet) – those can always be useful. Hence, when planning your month ahead, take notes and calculate your budget. You never know what expenses you’ll might have to deal with.
Check the fine print:
Israel has a different kind of bureaucracy, especially when it comes to its banking system, social security and health care, or even when signing a contract for an apartment. Even though these things are usually somewhat complicated in most countries, in Israel it’s important to know what you’re signing for. Therefore, it’s crucial to read the fine print or ask for immediate translation before signing the papers. Ask for a person who’ll accompany you to bureaucratic institutions and go over the lines, from the top to bottom, including the dotted ones. Don’t be shy to ask for assistance. Use any help you can get, otherwise you’ll find out along the road that you signed for more than you should have and spent unnecessary money, becoming obligated to contracts you wished you wouldn’t sign in the first place.
Language and a local mentality different from yours may sometimes act as obstacles, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared when organizing your new life in Israel. Things will eventually end up the way should be, but Israel is a special place, for better and for worse. Once you’ll know how to get by, especially financially, things will be much easier.