For those of us who have already moved to Israel, the following sentence probably sounds very familiar: “I’d love to live in Israel, and I’d move there tomorrow. But –”
What are the usual reasons for your family and friends to postpone moving to the Jewish State?
1. The economy is so fantastic in America. This sentence is usually accompanied with a sigh and statements like, “I need my creature comforts. I just couldn’t live without my Starbucks coffee or Trader Joe’s.” Well, perhaps you know something that Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke doesn’t. After all, he was the person who recently said that the “U.S. economy is expanding moderately, but there are still clouds on the horizon.” Now compare that to Israel, where the IMF (International Monetary Fund) anticipates a growth rate of 2.8% in GDP during 2012 and the possibility that Israel may become a major gas exporter due to recent gas discoveries. Indeed, there may be reasons to think the American economy is gradually improving after the economic crisis of the past few years; after all, it has improved corporate earnings and lowered unemployment figures. But still remember that Israel is not a third-world country. And by the way, the quality of life has improved so much in Israel that the perception of needing to bring over essentials like washing powder and soft toilet paper or popular American consumer products is twenty years out of date. Indeed the influx of refugees across Israel’s borders show that it is one of the most desirable countries in the region.
2. I love paying day school tuition. These days, sending your child to a Jewish day school in Manhattan can cost you more than $30,000 per year. If, like many Jewish families, you have more than one child, this can become prohibitively expensive. Compare this to the relatively low tuition that we pay for schools in Israel that teach both Jewish and secular studies. This includes any kind of school that you want, from a secular Israeli day school to a Talmud Torah. Indeed, tuition costs and the quality of education has been a major factor for many families when considering whether to make aliya.
Moving to Israel involves many considerations, including financial. If you’re seriously considering moving to Israel, or if you already live in the Promised Land, make sure you know about living in dual currencies and investments/pension plans that straddle the ocean. There are two tax codes to consider, and different forms of accounting. Make sure you get advice, pre- and post- aliya, from professionals who are qualified to handle your investments. For a broad introduction to personal finance and investments, as well as specific information pertaining to the Israeli financial scene, read my book, Building Wealth in Israel.