The thought of moving to a country like Israel, with a strong national identity and yet diverse with many polarizing issues, can be daunting for most people, regardless of their nationality, age, and gender. However, a growing number of senior citizens from North America are choosing to spend their retirement years in this country, mainly because their families are settled here.The State of Israel also offers Jews a few benefits if they “Make Aliyah” which means to return home. If you are thinking about retiring to this country, here are a few tips that could make life easier for you.
Stay in Israel as a visitor for at least a month before deciding to move
People tend to prefer foreign locations when they are there for a short period of time. You may therefore love the country at first but after a while could regret your decision to move. In order to avoid this problem, it is best for you to stay in Israel for one to three months so that you can see its best and worst sides. If you don’t get homesick during your long stay, perhaps you could enjoy retiring to Israel.
Plan your budget and practice living within it while you are still home
As soon as you think about moving, look at your probable monthly income and prepare your budget. Try to start living within that amount while you are still in your home country. The cost of living in Israel is only slightly lower than the US and UK. The amount you require to live comfortably in this country may vary, depending upon your lifestyle and preferences, but it is best to ensure that you have at least US $3000 to spend each month.
Think about where you want to live
Israel is a small country; it is around the size of New Jersey, which is America’s fifth smallest state. While there are several well-populated cities, the most preferred destinations include Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa. Jerusalem, one of the oldest cities in the world, is a good example of East meets West. The most liberal and cosmopolitan city is Tel Aviv, as it is full of young people who lead a fast-paced life. Haifa is known as the “working man’s city” because of its industrial development.
You don’t have to know Hebrew to get around in Israel. However, if you hope to be integrated within the local community, this could be a huge advantage. Moreover, knowledge of the local language is important when it comes to understanding bills, application forms, and other similar documents.
Get accustomed to Shabbat
While the entire country isn’t as religiously observant as Jerusalem is, Shabbat or the day of rest is recognized everywhere. This begins just after sundown on Friday and goes on till after sundown on Saturday. Most of the businesses and services remain closed during this period.
Consider private health insurance
Not all health insurance companies in the US and UK will cover you if you choose to live in a foreign country. It is therefore best to opt for private health insurance with one of the local companies.
Look at National Insurance options
Besides your existing investments and pension, you could be entitled to receive Government Pension or some kind of financial assistance for certain medical conditions if you have spent a number of years in Israel. This is provided by the country’s National Insurance, Bitauch Leumi. However, these benefits are not necessarily available to all seniors, so it is worth conducting some in-depth research before your move.
Carry all your medication and medical reports
If you suffer from any chronic ailments, it is best that you carry all your prescribed medication, which should last you for at least three to six months. It could be a while before you can locate a physician with whom you are comfortable. Also, your new doctor should get a chance to review your medical history carefully before prescribing any new treatments or medication.
Opt for some volunteer work
After having worked all your life, you probably want to spend the first few months in Israel taking the time to relax. However, being at home could soon lead to boredom. Fortunately, Israel offers its senior citizens many volunteer work opportunities. This will not only make you feel great about doing something for society, but you may also meet other like-minded and interesting people along the way.
Explore the sights
Many foreigners move to Israel mainly because of its culture and history. For centuries, Jerusalem has drawn the interest of historians and religious people from across the world. Visiting prominent landmarks like the Red Sea, the Dead Sea, Baha’i Gardens, Caesarea National Park, and Masada could make your stay a lot more interesting.
Those are our tips for retiring to Israel. Have you moved there during your retirement years? Share your experiences in the comments.