Herzliya Pituach, Israel Report of what it's like to live there - 03/24/22

Personal Experiences from Herzliya Pituach, Israel

Herzliya Pituach, Israel 03/24/22

Background:

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

Our first experience with FS, three other posts military/government contractor.

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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?

DC area home base. Easy direct flight from IAD 11 hours.

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3. What years did you live here?

2019-2022.

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4. How long have you lived here?

Three 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?

Leased housing, very nice and well maintained. Some people live in older government owned houses that are large but have constant maintenance issues. Many homes need to be rotated out of the housing pool. Some houses are gorgeous with pools. Luck of the draw.

There are three main locations in Herzliya. 45 minute + commute to Tel Aviv during typical work hours. Bus is easy to use or EBO shuttle.

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

Groceries are very expensive and quality can range from awful to boutique. The bigger stores in Pituach/Bet have lower quality meat and produce so you have to shop around. Plus they are dirty and unorganized. Many butcher stores with great, pricey meat. Small family stores have the best produce with prices that can be cheaper than big chain grocery stores. Organic is not as prevalent as European and other Middle Eastern countries.

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

We use Amazon for items we can’t find here.

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

Wolt is a delivery service for groceries to restaurants. Easy to use, great service but very expensive.

Good cafés, many bakeries. Most restaurants are overrated in my opinion with high prices and spotty service.

Best places are in Tel Aviv.

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

Cockroaches can be a big problem if you have gaps under doors or sewer access/manholes in your yard. Facilities will treat in the spring/fall if you ask. Ants were not an issue for us but have been for others. Mosquitos are a problem especially if you don’t have screens.

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Daily Life:

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

We use DPO which is great.

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

We have not used any because it is expensive.

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

There are a couple gyms but don’t know much about them. It is easy to exercise outdoors free of charge. Many trails, parks and beach for exercise.

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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?

Credit cards are recommended. Have used a couple local ATMs but the cashier at EBO is easier.

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

My understanding is not many.

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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?

The basics really go a long way with the locals but not necessary. So many different languages spoken here. Classes through the Embassy aren’t as easy or readily available to sign up for but maybe due to COVID restrictions.

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

Sidewalks could be a challenge in most areas due to uneven bricks, trees and other objects blocking the way. Plentiful handicapped parking and elevators at main beach. Some national parks have accessible trails.

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Transportation:

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

Busses, train and cabs are easy to use. All have apps to link to credit card. I find them affordable compared to paying for parking. Very limited free parking at EBO and throughout Tel Aviv/Herzliya.

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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?

A midsize to smaller car is better but bigger makes you feel safer. Plan on leaving with a few scratches and dings. Air conditioning is a must and have a good spare in the boot. Car batteries seem to go fast. Many good options for maintenance and local EBO staff technician. Just be prepared for crazy, unpredictable drivers and aggressive buses. Once you get the hang of the flow it’s ok.

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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?

Internet is fast and cheap compared to the States. Bring VPN routers and extenders for the different floors in houses. Brick walls slow it down. Easy set up through EBO instructions.

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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?

We used a local provider through the EBO recommended company that gives a virtual US number, too. Super cheap compared to the States. Easy billing.

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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 good, English-speaking veterinarians. No quarantine upon entry but rabies vaccine requirements. The Community Liaison Office (CLO) has all the information.

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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?

The international school is always hiring staff and teachers with required education/certificates. In my opinion, the choices at the EBO are slim pickings.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many opportunities you can get information from the CLO and IWC.

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

Pretty casual dress code at EBO. Very casual on the streets. If yoga pants are your thing, you’ll fit right in. Bring good comfortable shoes, rain boots and sandals. Clothing is expensive and not good options unless you want sweat pants, sweatshirts and yoga pants. Bring a couple dress outfits for special events.

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Health & Safety:

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

Pretty safe on the streets in Herzliya. Walking alone even at night in the neighborhoods is a common thing. Bus stops safe. There are problems with petty theft of locked bikes, unattended cell phones on beach, car break-ins. The big cities you have to watch for pickpockets like most foreign countries. Rockets can happen from time to time. Houses have shelters and you’ll be briefed. The 11 day conflict in 2021 was stressful but we were safe at home.

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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?

Allergies can be an issue for some, especially mold in the houses. Health care is great, many specialists, many US-trained. Health unit is for basic needs and referrals. Dentists are great, very good prices, and not pushy like the States. We canceled dental insurance even with orthodontist visits.

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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?

Good air quality some sandstorm days.

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

Sesame seeds are on a lot of breads and chicken dishes for children, be aware for allergies.

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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)?

It is super sunny most of the year, except winter January/February so no winter blues.

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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 summer that lasts from June-October. Beautiful March-June and October-December days, shorts weather. Rainy and chilly in winter but just need a good lined rain jacket and waterproof boots. Gorgeous climate.

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Schools & Children:

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

WBAIS is a 30 minute drive north of Herzliya. Most kids attend this school but a big homeschool community too. Great campus, outdoor spaces, safe community. We have liked the school but as with all schools, in my opinion, you have a few bad eggs. Communication is key and persistence. Great opportunities for field trips, Week Without Walls, extracurricular travel opportunities (if COVID isn’t an issue), after school sports/activities. Sports are available but not up to US competitiveness for some families.

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

Accommodations are case by case depending on the needs and severity. Pre-existing, known needs will be scrutinized and extra testing required before admission. The school has been known to turn down some kids. They don’t have to take children with special needs, but they do have one on ones that have educational requirements, unlike the States. They have a sensory room and many opportunities for wiggle breaks. Middle school has a resource class that helps kids stay on track. These things are available to all not just kids with special needs. There are a couple therapists that work with the school that are available off campus.

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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?

The local kindergartens, Gan schools are used by expats. WBAIS early years is expensive.

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

Local sports are available but expensive and mainly Hebrew spoken. Not too warm to the expat kids. Good surf schools, though.

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Expat Life:

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

Large, spread out expat community. The morale is tough to judge because most tend to gloss over problems. Some love it some hate it. It really can depend on where you live in Herzliya whether you are pulled into the crowd. Families in one neighborhood seem to form little bubbles that can seem a bit exclusive and, in my opinion, feel cliquey to other families in the other neighborhoods. Luckily now that COVID restrictions are better and there are more PTA groups to join, the inclusion feeling has changed for the newer folks.

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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?

The IWC is a great group with many social activities from book clubs to cooking classes, language, exercise, local culture activities. DSI has some sporadic activities. The PTA has many new groups for stay at home spouses. The CLO has some great trips, during non-COVID times.

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

Tel Aviv would be better for younger, single couples.

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

Herzliya/Tel Aviv is very inclusive for LGBTQ expats. Huge Pride month and parade too.

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

Being friendly with locals is ok but not advised to be really close. The prejudice against Arabs is very evident. The constant friction in Jerusalem and surrounding areas can be unsettling and quite shocking. In my opinion, Israelis are very difficult to deal with most of the time. They can be rude, not good with personal space, cut in line, and aggressive driving. That said, you will find locals that get to know you and go out of their way to be very nice.

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

There is a constant friction between people of the Jewish and Muslim faith, especially in Jerusalem. You don’t feel it so much in Herzliya. Rockets and violence happens and you just need to be very aware of your surroundings when traveling.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The highlights have been our weekend trips around the country. AirBnBs are cheaper than hotels and plentiful. So many parks for kids with great equipment. Using the public transportation and trains can be really fun especially to Haifa and Jerusalem. The beach, even though can be very dirty from time to time, is the cheapest and easiest attraction. Travel outside Israel unfortunately wasn’t easy for about two years due to COVID.

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

-Nora’s cafe in Kfar Shmaryahu
-Café Gan Sipur Herzliya park
-The beach just south of the marina for morning walks with free street parking
-Fresh pomegranate juice from fruit stand by Rainbow Beach Square
-Blend Cafe has great vegan food
-hiking trails on the coast by Apollonia National Park

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

The CLO has sales with local vendors many times throughout the year. Jewelry, olive wood, textiles, ceramics. Great wine, olive oil, and hummus throughout the country.

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

Family friendly and beach access.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I’ve never gotten used to Shabbat. Friday-Saturday will not be like the states where you get stuff done, or go out to eat. If you do find places open it’s a madhouse. Sunday will be the best day for everything!

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

If there was an easier country on your list, with less political problems and a better school, I would skip this post.

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

Expectations of Christmas and Easter being a wonderful experience. Other European countries have better markets and experiences for Christmas. Easter/Passover can be challenging due to food limitations.

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4. But don't forget your:

Beach everything! Umbrella, chairs, wagon, beach towels, coolers, boogie board, spray sunscreen.

Outdoor furniture! Most places have space and it doesn’t rain for months so cushions don’t get wet. Bring covers for sun.

Hiking clothes. Long sleeve, floppy hats, Teva sandals.

Apple accessories! Extra chargers, ear buds.

Bring your own mattresses. Queen and singles for kids.

Patience.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Lonely Planet or Rick Steves travel books

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Israel has some high highs and low lows. Just know that and expect it. Say Shabbat Shalom to the locals on Fridays and you’ll get a big smile and warm reply.

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