Who are you?
My name is Katie and I am a Brit, married to an israel, living in Israel with 3 small children.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
We moved to Israel in 2004 after years of a long distance relationship followed by a few years based in the UK.
What challenges did you face during the move?
Saying goodbye to my family and friends was the hardest thing, still is on very trip home. Packing and shipping and throwing lots of things away that I now regret was a nightmare.Once we’d decided to move we really just wanted to get on and go which meant our organization was not the best. Add to that the fact that due to visa issues my husband had already returned to Israel a week after we were married in August leaving me to close up in the UK. I moved in December.
How did you find somewhere to live?
To start with we stayed with my husband’s friends. He had also never lived in Tel Aviv so it was new to both of us after figuring out which area best suited our needs – walking distance to park and sea, and space for my parents to visit, I had to then enlist help from everywhere to decipher the Hebrew house listings to rent somewhere. By this time my chef husband had started working very long hours and I was very much alone. Not an easy time!
Are there many other expats in your area?
Where we live now there is a large expat community. One of the reasons we moved is so I could hear English spoken! However the actual area we are in is all Israeli and we have very little contact with the expat community.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
Very good, we are a mixed family so my children are basically Israeli as is my husband. I am the odd one out but as my language skills developed I found dealing with people much easier.
What do you like about life where you are?
The weather, the weather, the weather. There is also a great can-do attitude here and family is very very important.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
Not seeing friends and family, living in a foreign language and the cultural differences.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
People are not as polite as the English; shouting is an every day occurrence and doesn’t mean anything. Obviously as a Jewish country, Jewish calendar and Sunday to Thursday week has taken some getting used to and the holidays are still very different for me.
No Christmas here!
How does shopping (for food/clothes/household items etc.) differ compared to back home?
When I first moved here it was cheaper here than the UK, now everything is much more expensive, especially clothing, household items. Food is comparable to the UK in terms of cost of meat, fish, dry goods but the fresh fruit and vegetables are much cheaper here than the UK.
What do you think of the food in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
The food is fantastic; fresh and everyone cooks so no convenience food culture. Falafel, hummus and salad are particular favourites, not so keen on the ‘Jewish’ delicacies like chopped liver and gefilte fish, luckily they only make an appearance at holiday dinners.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Be prepared with all your paperwork before arriving, if you are not Jewish it’s a long and drawn out process getting work permits and eventually ID cards. Bring a lot of patience and try not to be upset too easily by the brash manners here.
What are your plans for the future?
Who knows? I always have one eye to the UK but we may even move to a new country.