Many times I am asked about the experience people tend to have living as an expat in Israel. This blog is about my observations and experiences both as a two-time immigrant to Israel, and also in listening to and learning from the experiences of others.
Before we get started, we are financial advisors serving US expats, with a focus on Israel. We’ve written these blogs on expat finance that you may wish to read:
Some observations from the perspective of an expat in Israel
Firstly, please note that Israel is not the fifty first state. There is no Starbucks here – in fact the coffee is far better and unlike the Seattle-based franchise the beverages have simple names.
Please realize that things work differently than in the US. Most people you encounter in Israel are very friendly and helpful, but every so often you may encounter someone with a bad attitude. Don’t let that stop by from getting help; just seek help from another source and/or consult with internet resources (we’ll issue a word of caution about those in a bit, though).
Look at the move to Israel as a challenge. Encounter each situation as if you are in a competition of sorts and award yourself points for how well you fared. For example, you go to get a local driver’s license at the Ministry of Transportation office. Most likely the person helping you has limited English. See how much you can plan for this – and have all necessary documents in place. If the instructions on their website are only in Hebrew, then ask a friend to translate for you.
Online resources can be immensely helpful – but remember to take them with a grain of salt. Someone else’s experience isn’t necessarily going to be your own, and somebody may have hidden intentions for taking a particular view on an issue. It would be best to, for example, ignore people venting frustration in Israel-focused Facebook groups about minor things such a monthly bank charges of a few dollars. Yes, this is free in the US if you maintain a minimum balance.
But on the other hand, some things are way cheaper here, such as village and local taxes, and most healthcare.
Our blogs on expat investing and finance may be helpful to read.
Living as an expat in Israel can carry certain financial, tax, and legal complications with it. Make sure you get sound advice from processionals when it comes to taxes, financial planning, investment advice, insurance, buying a house and other personal legal issues, such as wills and if applicable, divorce (sometimes one spouse acclimatizes here better than his or her partner). There are many outstanding professionals here – so avoid looking at free advice on various immigrant online and offline forums. Often the advice there is simply wrong.
These case studies document a few examples of financial issues faced by US expats and the measures that were taken to remediate them.
Finally – approach everything with a smile and a sense of humor. I highly recommend attending a Comedy for Koby performance where US stand-up comics perform here in Israel twice a year for charity.
Concluding thoughts on an expat’s view of living in Israel
We are fortunate to work with people who have just made Aliyah to Israel, as well as Israelis returning from the US after many years. We are here to help you navigate the local financial system as well as have access to and information on your US financial assets, after you have moved here. And we are happy to share our experiences as immigrants here, to help you ease your Aliyah.
We are a financial advisory boutique with advisors in the US and in Israel and serving expats globally. If you are moving to Israel or another country and don’t know where to start when it comes to the financial side of things, please contact us.
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Norman H. Chait, CFA, Managing Principal, Nardis Advisors LLC, March 11th, 2022
Disclaimer: Nardis Advisors LLC (“Nardis”) is a Registered Investment Advisory Firm regulated by the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission in accordance and compliance with applicable securities laws and regulations. Nardis does not render or offer to render personalized investment advice through this medium. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial, investment or legal advice. Investment advice can only be rendered after delivery of the Firm’s disclosure statement (Form ADV Part 2) and execution of an investment advisory agreement between the client and Nardis.