Herzliya Pituach, Israel Report of what it's like to live there - 09/21/21

Personal Experiences from Herzliya Pituach, Israel

Herzliya Pituach, Israel 09/21/21

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This is our first post but have dived into this life headfirst.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

It takes around 16 hours via direct flight from Newark.

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3. What years did you live here?

2019-2022.

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4. How long have you lived here?

Two and a half years.

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5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Embassy housing in Herzliya is for families and can vary but standard is 3-4 bedroom 3.5 bath with a decent sized yard. Leased housing can range greatly.

Communte to embassy during high traffic times;
Personal Car: 30 - 45 minutes
EBO Bus: 30 - 45 minutes
Public Bus: 30 - 45 minutes
Electric Bike: 30 minutes

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

This is a highly debated topic here but overall I have found that we really don't lack much and can order from Amazon/Sam's Club/Costo, etc., what we need. Items will cost two to three times more than what they cost in the States.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

We have on monthly subscription;
toilet paper, paper towels, baby wipes, brown sugar, powdered sugar, instant Carnation breakfast and favorite snacks

Personal choice but we would've packed four big tubs of Peter Pan peanut butter. You can get Jiff and local brands at the store.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Wolt is your go to service provider for food and some household grocery delivery.
You can find pretty much any cuisine you'd like from a wide range of prices but all more than what you'd pay in the US.
Layam the duty free store does deliver to your home as well but doesn't always contact you about shortages.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Roaches, spiders and ants love to invade the homes. I've found the ultra sonic emitters and diatomaceous earth to help eliminate all my issues.

Mosquitoes are persistent here but respond well to whatever deterrent your family prefers.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Local post can take up to six months and is not generally recommended.

US embassy DPO and pouch are generally reliable, but can be impacted by local events. During the start of the pandemic and the 11 day war, no flights came or left which naturally impacted delivery. Typically DPO takes around two weeks, sometimes faster. Pouch takes a month or longer. Letter mail varies.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Local help is expensive. From nannies, cleaners to gardeners, you will pay $40+ an hour.

There is a large Filipino community here and can take about a month to get the work visa figured out with the Israel and Philippino embassies. This route will be the most cost-effective route.

Some workers here already will offer once a week cleaning help to supplement their income

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are a few options but all classes will be in Hebrew. Teo Community Center/Conservatory has pilates, yoga and dance.
There are several personal trainers in the area that do yoga/pilates/HITT classes in English.
The gyms will vary in prices based off of time of year and current membership. Some do offer classes but will be in Hebrew.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes, widely used and accepted. Most are touchless; Israelis have to use the chip for anything over 300, but American credit cards are limitless for touchless purchases.

Most online purchases will require an Israeli CC which you can get at the post office as a refillable card

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Limited.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can usually find someone that speaks some level English. Being about to read Hebrew letters helps at the grocery store since most things are spelled out in English but written in Hebrew.

The EBO has a great intense course that will set you up great. OPLIM this is a course set up by the government for new people to Israel. A great way to meet locals.

There are many other options from private tutors, DSI has free classes and IWC.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Most homes are not ADA complaint and have several stories. Sidewalks are not maintained or even built with disabilities in mind. Plenty of people do make it work though.

Mental health services are amazing here.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Busses, taxis (Gett) and trains are very affordable and easy to use with Apps here.

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2. 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?

The bigger your car is, the harder it will be to find parking in the cities. Our Subaru Outback barley fits in our garage. I can find it difficult to navigate parking in the city.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

High-speed and great quality is available here. Most social sponsors with the EBO will help you have it set up before you arrive.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Local service is cheap. I have 3 plans with unlimited everything for $68. You'll find that WhatsApp is your best friend here.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes. There are plenty of vets so that you don't have to settle for one you don't like.

No quarantine needed to enter Israel

Plenty of adoptable cats and dogs here. Stray dogs are not a problem here in the cities. Stray cats are everywhere and people feed them. Contact your local municipality to spay and neuter cats that don't have a clipped ear.

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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?

EBO has openings. Can be difficult to get a work visa here but will be paid well if you can.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

So many! The Community Liaison Office (CLO) and WBAIS PTA have great suggestions.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Very western styles here. Only need shoulders and knees covered for mosques and synagogues.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Be aware - if bomb siren goes off, follow the locals.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Amazing health care here. Keep an eye on invoices from HMC, it seems they can double-bill.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Air quality is good here.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

My personal allergies got better (allergic to hardwood trees) though some people do have seasonal during the spring.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Anxiety with bombs during the 11-day war but school counselors handled it well.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot and humid near the beach - dry and hot inland. Rains only in the winter. Snow only on the mountains to the north.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Few options. Post recommended school is WBAIS. Treehouse is hard to get into and located in Herzliya. French and British schools in Tel Aviv.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

You'll need to enquire with the school counselors to see if you can be accommodated. Unfortunately, it seems most have not found help with the post-recommended school WBAIS.

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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?

Like everything here, it is expensive.

Few options in only English like Island Gan and Treehouse.

We sent our daughter to the local preschool because it's free. It runs 8am-2pm with an option to pay for afterschool care until 5pm.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Sticker shock is real here. There is plenty to do and find locally. Most things cost more than the US. Summer programs are $300 plus for a week.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

It's a great community and people are super friendly.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

DSI - Diplomatic Spouses of Israel
IWC - International women's Club
PTA - WBAIS has active clubs
CLO - EBO has many fun things to do

Parent MeetUp WhatsApp Group

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Herzliya is more for families. Amenities, rec center, closer to the school.

Tel Aviv more for singles - night life, city life, food.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

Yes, some of my best friends here are Israeli.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes! Many are here now and haven't experienced any issues.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

To me, it appears that Israelis seem racist.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Old man in the sea in Jaffa
National parks pass is a must - just pick one every weekend, you won't regret it

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Yes, so many neat local artists. The CLO has a great list available.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Kids are safe wherever you go.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

If you're invited to something, go!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Bring what you want!

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, beach gear , grill, and heat gear.

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