One of the constants in my line of work as a real-estate broker has been working with the many clients who are preparing to make aliyah to Israel. Most are looking to find a new home in Israel while selling their home here in the U.S.
I find it fascinating that in the excitement of planning their move to Israel — with all the different aspects of change, such as employment, schooling for their children, lists of what to buy here and bring or what to buy there — choosing their neighborhood of residence in Israel is mostly relegated to the “not sure yet” category. “Maybe Jerusalem, or maybe Beit Shemesh, or maybe Modi’in, or maybe somewhere up north…”
Often I listen and think to myself, “If you are not really sure where you will be happy, how are you looking for employment? And what on earth are you going to do with all these things you are buying (that others who have made aliyah have told you are “must-haves” to bring) when you are not sure what kind of house or apartment you will have and how much space there will be?”
It’s funny — when people here move, they usually know they want a house near a specific shul, or close to mutual friends or family, or, at the very least, they figure parameters for themselves such as living within walking distance of town or the train station. But as soon as they decide to move to Israel, picking the right location and home that will work for them becomes something to be worked out down the road.
For example, I recently had a conversation with clients who told me that they were planning to move to Jerusalem. Now, Jerusalem is not the small town it was 30 or 40 years ago. It has become a metropolis with dozens of different neighborhoods, all with a different vibe and different elements.
What works for one person in one neighborhood may not work for the next person in that same neighborhood who has different requirements that need to be taken into consideration when looking for the right fit — just like finding the right shul that works for each person.
For instance, how many check out the available shopping options in each neighborhood? Do the supermarkets in the specific areas where they are contemplating purchasing an apartment carry the types of items they might need on a regular basis? Have they taken the time while shopping for apartments to stop into the local shops and see if they carry the inventory necessary for their lifestyle?
In most Israeli neighborhoods today, the local supermarkets carry products based on the makeup of the local population; the supermarkets with inventories more suited to a certain lifestyle will also most likely be in a neighborhood whose residents share a similar lifestyle and outlook.
Prospective olim should consider the available transportation from the areas they are contemplating to the central business sections, which would create better access for employment opportunities as well as social services they might need — especially at the start of their new adventure into aliyah.
When asked by those who are not really firm on where they specifically want to live and are floating between a lot of different options open to them, I have come to advocate for taking a detour before purchasing a place if they haven’t really looked into the neighborhood to see if it’s the right fit.
The alternative and less-risky move is to consider renting a furnished apartment for a few months in several different locations while putting their stuff in storage for the present.
This option leaves them free to try out different neighborhoods and even different cities for short time frames so they can get a feeling of what works best for them before they take the plunge and purchase a place of their own.
There are lots of furnished rentals available in Israel today. Utilizing this option of trying out several locations gives olim the freedom to see which location is the one that makes them feel the best, so that they can eventually buy in a neighborhood that is the right fit for them!
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and a licensed N.Y.S. loan officer (FM Home Loans) with over 20 years of experience offering full-service residential, commercial, and management real-estate services as well as mortgage services. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa@AVCrealty.com.