Herzliya Pituach, Israel Report of what it's like to live there - 04/01/06
Personal Experiences from Herzliya Pituach, Israel
1. How long have you lived here?
2. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:
12-14 hours to Newark.
3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Spouse works for U.S. Embassy.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Families live in large homes approximately 20-30 minutes north of the embassy; couples without children and singles live in apartments in Tel Aviv.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
You can get almost anything you need here, but everything is very expensive. (US$5 for a jar of peanut butter, US$7 for American shampoo, US$5-7 for Aunt Jemima syrup, etc.)
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Toiletries, baking supplies (flour, brown sugar, chocolate chips, baking chocolate, baking powder, etc.)
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
McDonald's, Burger King, local schwarma and falafel stands, many good (but expensive) restaurants.
1. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Readily available, about US$10 an hour.
2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
You can use them everywhere, even McDonald's. As mentioned in another report, often you cannot add the tip to your credit card, so you have to be sure to have some cash on you when eating out.
3. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Very few in our area; only one Protestant and one Catholic option available.
4. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
International Herald Tribune and two good, local papers; expensive cable TV (we pay US$60 a month)...lots of English, but most shows are from several years ago. Several English news channels (Fox, CNN, BBC, etc.). Most children's' programs are in Hebrew.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
You can always find someone who speaks English, but everything in stores is written in Hebrew.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Tel Aviv seems to be suitable for someone with disabilities; Jerusalem and other tourist areas would be difficult.
1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?
2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
We are not allowed to take buses; taxis seem to be safe and are not too expensive.
3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
I'd say the smaller the better! The drivers here are absolutely insane and parking is limited with small spaces.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Good, cheap -- we pay $15 a month for cable internet.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Everyone has them and uses them constantly, very easy to get here.
3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?
Direct from home; just a few cents a minute.
1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
Excellent. English-speaking vets who really love our animals and provide excellent care.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
No - not unless you speak Hebrew!
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Very casual -- even at formal events.
Health & Safety:
1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?
Good -- difficult for those with allergies.
2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
We are not affected by the terrorism, but there has been a definite increase in home break-ins since we arrived two years ago. Since our arrival, several embassy homes have had successful or attempted break-ins.
3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Medical care seems to be good, just very expensive.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Beautiful spring and fall, rainy winters, HOT summers.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
WBAIS -- we have been very disappointed with this school. There is absolutely no discipline; students are allowed to say whatever they want, do whatever they want, act however they want. The school has many good policies on paper (dress code, foul language policy, PDA policy) but none of these policies are enforced. Every day our children are exposed to foul language, inappropriate clothing, and horrible behavior.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
The embassy preschool seems to have a very good reputation.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. Morale among expats:
Not very good -- Israelis are really unpleasant people to live with. It is hard to imagine that this is such a big deal, but having to live in this culture for several years is emotionally exhausting. We aren't stressed out by the terrorism, we are stressed out by dealing with rude, pushy, abrasive people every day.
3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
There is so much to do in Israel, we don't spend much time together as a community. Everyone is always busy traveling within Israel or visiting places like Egypt, Turkey or Jordan.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
I think there are things here that everyone can enjoy; historic/biblical sights, the beach, great restaurants, interesting museums.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Prejudice against Arab Israelis, Muslims and Christians (foreign, Arab or Messianic).
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Great nature parks, historic/biblical sights, the beach, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea...lots to do here.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Pottery, jewelry, carpets, furniture, lots of stuff to buy here!
9. Can you save money?
No way; everything here is incredibly expensive, the COLA is a joke!
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
No way...living among Israelis has been truly horrible; also unhappy with the lack of choices for schools and churches.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Common courtesies, big cars, dreams of celebrating Christmas and Easter in the holy land.
3. But don't forget your:
Patience, good walking shoes, cameras.