Here are a few questions to ask yourself before making the decision to pack your bags:
1. Do I have a way of making money?
Financial stability makes a massive difference to the peace of mind and lifestyle you’ll be living. I moved 10 times in 4.5 years, primarily so that I could afford going to school full time while paying for basic expenses. I worked up to 5 jobs at a time, and for 6 months as a maid, just to get the basics covered.
Working a low paying job at an office or babysitting is actually decent money for a single woman living with roommates. I did that for 6 months and was able to save 1,000 shekel a month while paying for college (which is much cheaper if you study in Hebrew), rent, necessities and some extras. My job required no training and was 35 shekel an hour. Jobs like that abound, and lots of them are posted on Janglo.net. However, if you are a couple, family or single person renting a place on your own, you’ll need more than that to pay the bills.
If you already have a profession, you may be able to establish it in Israel as well. That really depend which field you’re in.
Many in the medical field prefer to work privately or in their home country for a portion of the year since medicine is socialized in Israel and medical professionals who take insurance do not make big bucks. That being said, some prefer to integrate into the system and have a more reliable salary, in which case, they may be able to either transfer their degree or take the necessary tests/courses to be certified in their field in Israel.
Networking is everything when it comes to the job market, and if you are well networked, working privately/self-employing is likely to make you more money than working under salary, just as it will in most places.
Know your priorities when it comes to working. What motivates you? Do you need to be social to get things done? Do you work best with direction? Do you work well on your own? Do you need to feel passionate about your work or is making money enough of a motivation? The answers to these questions will dictate what type of work atmosphere you are looking for.
My personal opinion is that working remotely is your best option. If you can work your current job in Israel over the phone or internet, you’re likely to make a greater salary than if you were doing the same job in Israel (with exception.) If you are in the job hunt, you may want to search for a remote job to begin with so you won’t have to make the transition from in-person.
Israelis are transparent. You could ask them how much money they make or who they’re voting for, and they don’t really care, which is great when it comes to researching your options for money making. I encourage you to ask around and see what you discover!
2. Do I have a support system?
If you don’t know anyone in Israel, you’re not doomed, but you’ve got some work ahead of you. No one can live well without people who are there for them. I’m talking emotional and physical support. You’ll need people you can turn to when things get tough, people with cars to help you when you miss the bus and forgot your wallet, people who have lived in Israel long enough to be familiar with the systems and friends whose couches you can crash on when you just need a little comfort and a night of sleep.
Most people don’t go to Israel with this type of support system, but it’s very possible to build. Start by posting on Facebook and WhatsApp groups and reaching out to anyone you know in Israel asking them to make some introductions before you get on the plane. Once you’re in Israel, consider joining shabbat.com and seeing who is hosting shabbat. You can join local events and, if you have the energy, hosting like minded people for events you create yourself. You can also visit your community center and see what resources they offer. Particularly in Jerusalem, there is a big effort to help olim with resources they are unfamiliar with.
If you truly feel lost, you may want to consider starting off your Israel experience in a yeshiva or seminary or on a moshav, live-in ulpan or kibbutz. All of these options offer inborn support systems and are great ways to build your community, especially if you are single. Besides living with roommates for a few years, I was also a madricha (RA) for 5 different places at different times, which minimized living expenses and gave me supportive surroundings, for the most part.
In my opinion, if you are married, it’s good to prioritize moving to a place with likeminded people, or at least people who speak English. I always thought this was a cop out – why would you move to Israel to continue speaking English? – but the truth is, there’s plenty to get used to when you move, and you can chose a more Israeli neighborhood in the future. Be nice to yourself and do what will make you feel comfortable, because you are more likely to stay in Israel if it feels like home.
3. How is my health?
This one is a subcategory of the last one, but as someone who went from doctor to doctor in Israel trying to find someone to help me, only to be properly diagnosed and treated in the US, I realize how important having the right contacts are. I never bothered getting referrals for good doctors or asking others how dealt with things. I found it difficult to learn a new medical system, so I always went to the doctor who was closest or available soonest. Referrals and connections are important.
If you have a preexisting condition, create a list of the types of doctors and medications/supplements you need, and find out how you can get the right medical attention once you’re there. Send me a message through the contact page if you’d like to be added to a whatsapp group called ‘Doctors in Israel,’ where people often ask for and offer recommendations of good doctors. There are also Facebook groups you can search up with similar titles.
4. How badly do I you want to go?
You may be looking at your decision as a logistical question, but the truth is, that’s only half of the equation. There’s no way to anticipate what your personal experience in Israel will be like. Israel is a country which exists on emunah (faith in G-d) and miracles. Its holiness is often is direct proportion to its physical discomfort, though its landscape and beauty are unparalled. My feeling living there was that my soul was rejoicing while my body was exhausted. If and when I go back, I plan to do things differently, prioritizing comfort. Had I done that the first time around, I’d probably still be there.
In my opinion, the most important trait to adopt before making aliyah is learning to let go of control. If you can brush things off, take them lightly, be ok with mistakes and having to repeat things numerous times before getting them right, take the unexpected with grace and be patient, you will do marvelously there. Israel is a training ground for humble people; its divine nature is obvious, leaving its residents with only two choices: fight against the circumstances or believe that G-d is running the show. It’s heaven or hell, and it’s your choice.
If you’ve answered these 4 questions and are ready to move forward with your move, remember that you are one of the luckiest people on earth. You live in a rare time in history when Israel is a free, first world country. You have the opportunity to live in the holiest place on earth, where the land itself bears testimony to our Creator.
Wishing you lots of success on your journey! Let me know if I can be of any further help!