You’ve decided to make aliyah. Isn’t it amazing how one decision opens the flood gates to so many more decisions? Where should we live? Should I rent or buy? Which home is right? What are the options for schools, jobs etc.
Once you’ve picked the neighborhood and secured your first home in Israel, it is time to decide what to bring with you. Traditionally when people made aliyah from North America, the common practice was to send a lift. Israel has come a long way in the last 20 years and there are many places to purchase beautiful furniture and household items here. The savings on lift fees may make the option worthwhile.
Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding what furniture to bring with you:
1. Know the size of your new home. Homes in a yeshuv or moshav may have more space than city apartments. As a general rule, Israeli homes are notoriously smaller in scale. Not only are the rooms often smaller, but so are the hallways and doorways. Even if furniture appears to fit in a room when looking at it on paper, it is important to make sure it can make it into the home and around all the corners.
TIP # 1– Ask for the plans of the home to allow you to make informed decisions. Whether you are renting or buying, ask your real estate agent to provide you with the apartment plans in PDF form. If they don’t have them, all municipalities have the plans on file. Reach out to them and request the plans .
NOTE The plans you will receive are in centimetres, not in inches! Pick a measurement system to work in and stick to it, to avoid confusion down the road.
Once you have the plans, measure the furniture that you currently own and are considering bringing with you. There are lots of free apps and websites that can help you with the layout. Play around with different layouts and see what fits. Whatever doesn’t fit, should not come with you. A lot of Israeli furniture stores now have online shopping and offer (free) delivery, so you can even start browsing before you arrive.
TIP # 2 Ask the real estate agent, friend, or family member to send a video walk through of the home, in addition to photos. A video provides a better sense of space and layout, and will help you get a better feel for the home . An interior designer can also take videos and guide you in the purchase of new furniture.
2. Be Selective. Space and storage are valuable real estate in Israeli homes. Once you’ve figured out if the furniture will fit, make sure it is an efficient use of space. Bulky furniture, dark and heavy wood, or thick frames will make the room feel smaller and darker. Keep in mind that big, grand furniture will take up valuable living space and won’t feel proportionate to the scale of an Israeli home. Be selective in what you bring. Unless something has significant sentimental value, leave it behind.
TIP # 3 Look for multipurpose pieces. Furniture that serves multiple functions in one are great assets in smaller homes. Coffee tables that double as a seat and storage. Nestling side tables. Benches that lift up and have storage. Beds with storage underneath . These are just some examples of tricks to use in a smaller space.
3. Be true to who you are. Keep things that are a part of who you are. When making aliyah, so much of your identity and daily comforts change. Your home should be your safe haven, where you feel grounded and relaxed. It is important to bring things with you that remind you of where you come from and who you are. Making aliyah is a new chapter in your life, but it is also the continuation of your story. When so much is new and foreign to you, having items that are familiar in your new home will help you and your family feel more grounded .
TIP #4 If certain furniture items do not make the cut, consider what part of them can still come with you. For example, if your couch doesn’t fit, consider bringing the throw pillows. If your dining room chairs won’t all fit, consider bringing 1 or 2 as side chairs. If an entire bedroom set is too large, consider bringing one piece, even if it’s just the armoire mirror or a nightstand. Each of these pieces will contribute to the feeling of retaining your identity and familiarity.
Throughout the process, an interior designer in Israel can be a great asset. They can help you draw up the plans and create an optimal layout with what you have, thereby facilitating a smoother process as you embark on your move. Additionally , an interior designer can create a clear list of what you should bring and what to buy in Israel (and where). Some designers can even assist in the purchase and delivery prior to your arrival. This will save you the extra cost associated with unnecessary furniture shipping and facilitate a more enjoyable and smoother move to Israel.