15 Top Tips on Retiring in Israel

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retiring in israel
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Last Updated on October 26, 2021

Retiring in Israel – 15 Top Tips.

Hebrew: פנסיונרים בישראל

You’ve made a decision to retire in Israel.  You’ve done your research and made all the necessary calculations. You are reasonably sure that you have enough money to live on. You’ve discussed your retirement in Israel with your friends and taken the advice of your family.  You’ve consulted a financial planner, a specialist in the Israeli market, and your pretty sure that your savings and investments will carry you through. Now it is just a question of putting it all into practice.

Here are some tips veteran olim (‘vatikim’) have shared that ought to help you through:

retiring in israel
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Tip 1 – Your Aliyah Budget

Prepare a budget and start living it.  If you have calculated that your income in Israel is going to be US$5,000/month for example, start living according to that budget right now, before your Aliyah.  Remember that national health care in Israel is much cheaper than in the U.S.A. or South Africa, for instance, and that will help to improve your monthly cash flow in Israel.  Prepare a monthly budget based on the Israel cost of living figures and the average supermarket prices, we list in this website.

Our olim agree – you will need an income of between US$3,000 and US$5,000 a month to have a fairly comfortable life-style in Israel.

Tip 2 – Bituach Leumi – National Insurance

In addition to your existing pensions and investments, you may be entitled to a government pension and possibly other financial assistance due to existing medical conditions from Bituach Leumi – Israel’s National Insurance.  Government pension, retirement age and financial entitlements are outlined here.

Always check with your Aliyah emissary and visit the Bituach Leumi English website for the most up-to-date information. 

Tip 3 – Transport Costs

Take transport costs into consideration.    Allow between 1,500 –  3,000 shekels a month if you are planning on buying, insuring and running a car.  Should you wish to drive, you will require an Israeli driver’s license.  If you need lessons (recommended – Israeli drivers make their own rules) budget for  at least 120 shekels per lesson.  It’s wise to familiarize yourself with local driving conditions and road etiquette, even if you’ve been driving for 40 years.

Pensioners, in Israel, pay only 50 per cent of the standard public transport costs.  Israel has an excellent public transport system and you can get almost anywhere by train, bus, sherut or special taxi.  Jerusalem’s new light-train and the Carmelit in Haifa are excellent transport options if you are living in these cities.  The Tel Aviv light rail is still under construction.

Tip 4 – Downsize before you move

Take the time before you relocate to downsize your living space.  Your monthly disposable income will improve significantly when you reduce your housing costs.   When you move to Israel you may want to consider moving directly into a retirement village. The all inclusive costs, levies, health care, activities etc. make them an attractive option. There are many retirement housing options that cater to the needs of English speakers and offer different levels of living, health and specialized care.

Tip 5 – Will you be able to supplement your income by working part-time?

You may be able to find some part-time work.  Try think out of the box.  You may be able to give extra lessons to young students, do editing work or even work as freelancer in your field via one of the many international on-line workplaces. 

Tip 6 – Your Aliyah Shipment

If possible try to bring new appliances to Israel.  This can be a problem if you are relocating from the United States where you use 110 volt appliances and not 220, like in Israel.  By bringing new appliances, you won’t have the hassle of dealing with costly repairs and repairmen who may take advantage of your limited Hebrew skills.

Know the dimensions of an average Israel apartment and avoid shipping over-sized, heavy furniture.

Tip 7 – Medical & Health

With increased life-expectancy, retirement living can be a long race, so get yourself in shape. That means eating well, watching your weight and staying active. When you feel good, it’s easier to stay positive and open to new experiences.  It is important, before your Aliyah, to familiarize yourself with the 4 health funds in Israel and the medical system.  It may be necessary for you to opt for one of the superior, supplementary health plans or even take out an additional, private, health insurance policy.

Tip 8 – Medication

Try to bring sufficient medication, for your chronic ailments, to last you at least 3 months and if possible, try bring a 6 month supply. It may take a few weeks or so, before you find a doctor or specialist that you feel comfortable with.  Similarly, it is important to bring your medical records and your medical history with you, so that your new doctor is completely in the picture.  Your doctor even if he is a native Hebrew speaker, will understand the English medical reports.

Tip 9 – Medical & Social Services

There are numerous organizations providing assistance for the elderly in Israel. A list of  social services, can be found here and medical support services, here.

Tip 10 – Take time to travel Israel

Who doesn’t want to travel?  Now is the time.  Israel has so many wonderful places to visit and there are some inexpensive ways of doing it.  While roughing it or camping may not be your thing or it may be physically impossible, there are some wonderful guest houses, hostels, holiday villages and kibbutzim that offer comfortable and affordable accommodation.  

Tip 11 – Volunteer

After a life-time of working you probably would just like to indulge yourself, take it easy and do the things you’ve dreamed about for years.  Volunteering in Israel is an excellent way of doing something for the community, meeting interesting people and integrating into Israeli society.

Tip 12 – Learn Hebrew

Don’t expect to get by with English alone. There are government subsidized ulpanim, run by Misrad Haklitah – the Ministry of Aliyah & Integration, that cater to older students. There are many private ones too. Try to learn Hebrew as fast as possible it is vital to your absorption and successful integration.  You may even want to consider an on-line course, to get you started, before your Aliyah.

Tip 13 – Hebrew English Resources

Understanding your household bills and other documents will eliminate some of the stresses associated with Aliyah and relocation.  We have numerous translations as well as a Hebrew English transliterated dictionary of useful words and phrases.

Tip 14 – Make a pilot trip

Before you make the final move, you may want to consider making a pilot trip to Israel.  Retiring in a foreign country presents many challenges, it might be worth your while to make this preliminary trip to Israel with the express purpose of investigating all aspects of your retirement; arranging meetings with various consultants, visiting potential communities, investigating all of your housing options, checking out a potential job market and start building your social and professional network  in Israel specifically for English speakers.

Tip 15 – Ask an expert

Ask a friend, ask a relative or ask this website for tips and information to help you along the way.. Consult with a team of experts for financial and legal advice.

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