By Gedaliah Borvick
Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the capital of the Jewish world. For many of our clients, living there is a dream come true. However, Jerusalem is not for everyone, for a variety of reasons ranging from financial to quality-of-life issues, such as the desire for larger homes, more green space, and smaller, more intimate communities.
Where do people who want to be in close proximity to Jerusalem, but prefer the beauty and space that the suburbs offer, move to? And how have these cities’ real estate markets fared?
Many families end up in Gush Etzion, nestled in the Judean Hills to the south of Jerusalem, which include communities such as Efrat, Alon Shvut, and Neve Daniel. Another solid option is the Binyamin region in the southern Shomron, situated northwest and east of Jerusalem, whose 46 communities include Beit El and Kochav Yaakov. To the immediate east of Jerusalem is Maale Adumim, a picturesque community that has attracted many people who love the beautiful desert views and weather, and are desirous of a short commute to Jerusalem.
Two large cities west of Jerusalem that have become destinations of choice for many Anglo families are Modiin and Bet Shemesh. Modiin is a commuter’s dream, boasting a superior transportation infrastructure, and is a half hour’s drive to both the capital and Tel Aviv. Modiin is currently home to 100,000 residents and is poised to continue expanding.
Bet Shemesh is the country’s fastest growing city with almost 120,000 residents. With an influential and powerful new mayor, Dr. Aliza Bloch, who has pledged to unite and accommodate the city’s heterogeneous population, Bet Shemesh is enjoying a renaissance. Bet Shemesh residents have discovered a renewed civic pride. In addition to its suburb status—being a half hour drive to Jerusalem and forty-five minutes to Tel Aviv — Bet Shemesh, which includes Ramat Bet Shemesh, serves as the medical, retail, and academic hub for nearby smaller communities.
Some families who prefer to live in smaller communities but are desirous of being close to larger cities have chosen Tzur Hadassah. Located equidistant between Ramat Bet Shemesh and the outskirts of Jerusalem, Tzur Hadassah is a mixed community of religious and secular residents, and its population has mushroomed to 10,000 residents.
Other communities that lean on Bet Shemesh include villages such as Nechusha. Established in 1957, the moshav decided in 2007 to expand from under 60 families with 275 residents to 300 families and over 1,500 people. Similarly, Nes Harim, a community in which each family builds its own home — a program called “bnei beitcha” versus having a developer build tracts of homes — has expanded and has seen land values increase from 55,000 NIS per plot in 2007 to 1,250,000 NIS per plot in 2019.
Two decades ago, Israel’s population was under 6,000,000. Now, twenty years later, the country’s population is over 9,000,000, thanks to Israel having the highest birth rate in the developed world, with an average of 3.1 children per woman (the distant runner-up is Mexico at 2.2). The rising population has generated strong housing demand, and prices in most markets have risen since 2000 by over 100% in real value (adjusted for inflation).
It therefore comes as no surprise that we are often asked: What is the next big “success story” in Israel real estate? In which new community can we get in early, before prices pop?
One such exciting opportunity has just arisen: a new community in a rustic setting, half an hour from Jerusalem and minutes from Bet Shemesh. We are fortunate to bring this opportunity to our Anglo clients prior to the sales launch in Israel, and pre-sales are starting now.
Gedaliah Borvick is the founder of My Israel Home, a real estate agency focused on helping people from abroad buy and sell homes in Israel. To sign up for his monthly market updates, contact him at email@example.com.