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Housing in Israel
Everything You Need to Know About Finding a New Home
Accommodation in Israel includes cottages, villas, apartments, and more. While options are plentiful and varied, one problem an expat might run into is landlords who will only rent to tenants that follow a “kosher” lifestyle. Even some mobile service providers offer what is known as “kosher” cellphones, which prohibit texting and block premium sex hotlines numbers. Read more in our Housing in Israel section.
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If you are looking for houses and apartments for rent, you will find housing in Israel extremely competitive. You will need to act quickly once you find a home that suits your needs. Different types of houses and accommodation options in the Middle Eastern country include cottages, villas, penthouses, or apartments, but the prices of these will vary depending on size, location, neighborhood, etc. For example, a standard four-bedroom apartment in an upscale neighborhood could be up to 10,000 ILS (2,812 USD) a month.
If you are planning to buy a house, you can do so as a foreigner. The process may take a while though, and you will only be given a 50% (of the property value) lending rate if you decide to take out a mortgage. This is also possible to do as a non-resident.
No matter whether you choose to rent or buy, short-term rentals are recommended as the first living choice when you arrive in Israel. This will allow you to view your long-term housing options in person and explore different neighborhoods.
Renting a House or Apartment
If you are wondering how to rent houses or apartments in Israel, daily newspapers, notice boards, and online listings are an excellent place to start. You can also find places through word-of-mouth. The rental market is competitive so you will want to act fast when you find something that suits your needs. New places and openings will not stay on the market for very long. The use of real estate agents is also a popular option for finding a home if you are having trouble finding a place on your own.
Renting in Israel as a Foreigner
Online portals are a good option for expats who have yet to relocate to the Middle Eastern country. However, be aware of online scammers. It is always best to wait until you are in the country to view the house in person before signing a rental agreement. For this reason, checking into a short-term rental first is a good idea. Learn more about short-term rentals below.
If you are an English-speaking expat you may want to use the services of a real estate agent, as many of them speak English. You can also use the Home Finding service of InterNations GO! Whether you are looking for a short or long-term solution, we will help you find a home in your new country. We work with partners who are experts in local housing markets around the globe. We find the right option for you, according to your needs and budget. We can support you in contract negotiations, and guide you on the documentation related to renting properties, eliminating any paperwork-related doubts.
Some landlords will only rent to people who keep Shabbat, the Jewish Holy day, and those willing to maintain a kosher kitchen. You will find many places advertised as religious housing. If you are looking for roommates, you may stumble upon the same thing: some people prefer to live with those who keep a kosher kitchen and are religious. You will need to look for non-religious housing and roommates if you do not plan on abiding by this.
If you are an international student, seek assistance from your school, as many institutions have resources to help you find appropriate accommodation and student housing. Landlords in Israel will also typically rent to students for just the academic year.
When searching for your new place, advertisements in Israel might list “one-room” which refers to a studio apartment. “Two rooms” means a living room and bedroom, and “one and a half rooms” means when there is some partition in the room. A typical apartment in Israel is usually 85–120 square meters.
Average Rent in Israel
How much is the rent in Israel? Israeli rent prices on average depend on the city you live in and the type of home you choose. In pricey neighborhoods, it is not unheard of to pay up to 10,000 ILS (2,812 USD) per month for a standard four-room apartment. However, you can also find minimum apartment rental fees in Israel for as low as 500 ILS (141 USD).
The following is Israel’s rent prices for various accommodations across different cities:
|City||Home Type||Average Cost in ILS (USD)|
|Be’er Sheva||four-room apartment||3,500 (987)|
|Ashkelon||four-room apartment||3,500 (987)|
|Tel Aviv||four-room apartment||7,000 (1,974)|
|Tel Aviv||three-room apartment||5,500 (1,551)|
|Eilat||two-room apartment||2,500 (705)|
|Eilat||four-room apartment||3,500 (987)|
Rental Process and Rules
Rental leases in Israel are usually a year long, but you may negotiate a different period with your landlord. Your rental contract should clearly outline the responsibilities of the tenant and landlord. Your lease should also state the amount of the rental payment and due dates. Typically, rent in Israel is paid in shekels, but some landlords may allow tenants to pay in dollars or euros. Utility bill payments are not included in the rent and are made by the tenant.
If you are moving into a furnished apartment, make sure every piece is specified in the lease along with its condition. Otherwise, you may be responsible for any damages or missing items upon move out. Be aware that most places in Israel are unfurnished apartments. You may also need to buy items that you would expect to be included such as an air conditioning unit, formal lighting fixtures, window dressings, washing machine, an oven, and even fridge. Keep in mind that many Israeli apartments do not come with built-in closets. Therefore, tenants will need to purchase freestanding wardrobes too. This also means that tenants will not have much storage space. If you require extra space to keep your things, consider InterNations GO!’s Moving and Storage service. If you need storage, our partners provide spaces in both your current and future overseas destinations.
Other things your rental contract should include are
- name of the tenant and landlord;
- address of the apartment;
- which party is responsible for maintenance fees and repairs;
- amount of your rental deposit.
Throughout the tenancy period, a lawyer should hold your rental deposit. It is returned to you after you have vacated the property.
You must read over your contract carefully before signing. If you are an English-speaking foreigner, there are Anglophone organizations that might be able to provide legal consultation but only to a limited extent. Therefore, it is recommended you hire the professional services of an independent lawyer, especially if your lease is in Hebrew, and you need help translating. InterNations GO!’s Settling-In Services can also help with this. We can arrange the services of professionals who speak your language such as doctors, lawyers, financial advisors, and translators.
Requirements and Documents for Renting
When renting a place in Israel, you will need the following:
- security deposit
- first and last month’s rent
- a guarantee in the event you do not pay your due rent (e.g., bank guarantee, guarantor, or promissory note)
Short-Term Rentals: Things to Know
Temporary rentals in Israel are rented by the day, week, or month. Types of apartments for rent that you can lease short-term in the Middle Eastern county include vacation or luxury apartments, holiday homes, or even a sublet.
Prices, of course, will vary depending on the type of place you rent and the length of time for which you need it. Costs range from 709 to 1064 ILS (200–300 USD) for monthly furnished rentals.
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Buying Property as a Foreigner
If you are wondering how to buy a house as a foreigner in Israel, this section will act as your guide to buying a home in Israel. It certainly is possible for a non-resident to purchase a home. However, be prepared for extra complications such as
- logistical and technical difficulties if you plan on buying in Israel from abroad;
- legal issues due to being a non-resident;
- language barrier if you do not speak Hebrew.
One of the requirements to buy a property is paying the purchase tax. The amount is calculated by the value of the property. If you immigrate to Israel within months of purchasing a home, you are entitled to either an immigrant purchase tax benefit or the purchase tax rate that is payable by an Israeli resident. This second rate is often lower than the first.
If you plan on buying from abroad, you can do so, but you will have to be extra careful during the process. Documents will need to be signed in front of an Israeli Consul abroad. A lawyer or agent may sign other materials on your behalf, but some will need to be signed by the purchaser.
Keep in mind that there are no laws that allow expats to buy a house in Israel for permanent residency, citizenship, or a visa.
Foreigners in Israel are able to take out a mortgage. However, many banks proceed with caution when it comes to dealing with non-residents. Therefore, the entire process could take longer. You will be asked for extra documents. Proof of your assets and income will undoubtedly be required, along with credit history reports, identification, and tax returns. You may also be subject to a lower lending rate (50% of the property’s value).
In Israel, there are different mortgage rates: prime, semi-fixed, and fully fixed rates.
With prime rates, prices are reevaluated on the last Monday of each month. There are no penalties for early repayment. The Bank of Israel limits the prime rate track to 33% of the total loan amount.
With semi-fixed rates, interest rates will vary every five or ten years. It is composed of a base rate, calculated depending on bond market conditions plus a profit margin for the bank. The loan can be paid at the end of each fixing period without penalty.
With fully fixed rates, the interest does not vary. These mortgages usually have higher interest rates and are for a maximum period of 20 years.
All banks in the country can lend in euros and US dollars. Some even lend in Swiss francs, Canadian dollars, and British pounds. Interest rates vary, and monthly repayments must be made in shekels according to the exchange rate on the day of payment.
Process and Steps for Buying a House in Israel
Step 1: Hire Professional Services and Sign a Zichron Devarim
Once you have found a home you wish to purchase, you will sign a Memorandum of Understanding, a legally binding document obligating both parties to fulfill a transaction. This document should include
- address of the property, size, and number of rooms;
- price and conditions of payment;
- date of transfer of ownership;
- terms of compensation should one of the parties violate the agreement;
- statement of the owner’s duty to free the property of any mortgages within a set period;
- signature of both parties.
As a foreigner who is unfamiliar with the process and the language, it is advisable to hire a professional to help protect your interests when signing this critical document. With InterNations GO!’s Home Finding service, we can manage your contract negotiations, and all the documentation related to purchasing properties, eliminating any paperwork-related doubts.
Step 2: Pay your Application Fee
To reserve your property, you will be required to pay an application fee to the builder until the contract is prepared.
Step 3: Apply for a Mortgage
Figure out how much you will need, including upgrades, improvements, and renovations to the property. Once you have this estimate, you will apply for your Ishur Ekroni: the bank’s general approval along with the amount they will lend you. Obtaining this approval usually takes between three to ten days, and is valid for three months with an interest rate for twelve days. If you do not take the mortgage before this period, you will need to update the application.
Step 4: Sign your Contract
Once the contract is prepared, you must review it carefully and have a full understanding of the legalities of the purchase. Once more, we recommend hiring the professional services of InterNations GO! to assist you with this before signing.
Step 5: Finalize your Mortgage
With your signed contract in hand, you can return to your bank to open a file. They will then contact you within a few days when your loan contract is ready for signature. If the apartment is new, this is the only thing they will require along with approval from the seller. For secondhand apartments, they will ask for proof of registration as well.
Step 6: Registration
It is best to have a lawyer take care of the registration of the property and transferring of deeds under your name. Ensure that the previous owner has paid all debt, taxes, and utility bills before the property is officially transferred to you.
Step 7: Pay your Taxes
You will be responsible for the payment of several taxes once you have purchased your new property. These include property acquisition tax, city tax, and maintenance/property tax.
The property acquisition tax is usually payable within 50 days of signing the contract of purchase.
The city tax you will pay depends on the location of the property and the size of your apartment. The fee is higher in more exclusive areas.
Finally, maintenance fees are a requirement in all apartment buildings. These fees could be expensive if your building requires an external management property or needs many repairs. Make sure you are clear on what these fees are before signing your contract.
Step 8: Move in
After you move into your new place, you have a specific length of time to inspect and ask the developer to fix any problems. This is especially true if the apartment is new. Make sure to take advantage of this time frame before the period expires.
Types of Property
Here are the different types of property available in Israel:
- cottages—houses with gardens attached to two neighboring cottages
- duplexes—two or three-story apartments in a block of other duplexes or apartments (some have balconies); walls may be shared with neighbors to the right, left, above, or below
- apartments—one-story apartments surrounded by neighbors (some have balconies); the most common type of residence in the country
- penthouses—found at the top of apartment buildings and they take up the entire floor, meaning you have no neighbors above or beside you; this is the most expensive type of apartment
- villas—free-standing home with a garden and often a balcony; no property or walls shared with others; costliest kind of house in Israel
- medurag—construction on a mountainside where homes have been built at various levels to accommodate height and slant of the mountain; accessible by stairs and/or elevator from top or bottom of the complex
Israeli House Prices
The Middle Eastern country’s most expensive area to purchase a home is in Tel Aviv. The average price being 2,176,700 ILS (617,780 USD). The next costliest is Jerusalem at 1,882,400 ILS (534,240 USD). To buy a home in the Center District is an average of 1,746,400 ILS (495,663 USD). The North is the cheapest area with an average price for a house being 927,500 ILS (263, 220 USD).
Utility companies include the following providers for the various services.
- Amisra Gas
- Super Gas
For a full directory of water companies, click here.
- Israel Electric Corporation
- Arava Power Company
- Chevrat Chashmal
To set up utilities, some of the things you may be asked for include
- latest meter reading;
- rental contract and date your lease begins;
- credit card information for standing order payments;
- passport number.
Things to Know
The energy sector in Israel is yet to become fully competitive and is mostly dominated by the state. Israel Electric Corporation is state-owned and is the country’s largest supplier of electrical power. It is exceptionally reliable and provides high-quality electricity. For gas transmission, many rely on the Israel Natural Gas Lines Company, which is the leading provider in Israel and also government-owned.
Gas is needed for central heating, stovetops, and to power hot water tanks in some apartments. Most apartments have a central gas tank, which is replaced by the gas company automatically. Other places have private tanks and you will need to arrange for these to be refilled. Gas bills are bimonthly.
Tap water in the country is generally safe to drink. If you are in a more rural area, though, it does not hurt to be cautious and drink bottled water. Each area of Israel has its own water supply company. Some are private, while the local authorities run others. In some apartments, the water bill is part of the municipality tax, while in others, it is sent separately. The bill is comprised of personal consumption, shared consumption, and sewage. Personal consumption refers to what is used in your apartment. Shared consumption is split evenly among all apartments in a building. Sewage consumption is utilized as wastewater.
The electricity system in the country is 220-240v. Adaptors are widely available should you require one. Electricity bills are made up of a monthly fee and a Kilowatt-per-Hour rate, based on usage. If you are transferring an electricity bill from a previous tenant over to you, you will have to pay a one-time transfer fee. This will show up on the subsequent utility bill.
For all utility contracts, only one person can be the primary name.
Keep in mind that you will also have to pay the Arnona, which is the municipality tax. This is paid bimonthly. The bill will depend on the size of your apartment.
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Internet and Mobile Phones
If you are wondering how to get a phone number in Israel, local prepaid SIM cards are available from Cellcom or Partner. This is ideal if you do not wish to commit to a cell phone contract. You will get an Israeli phone number and you will not need to purchase a new phone if you already own one.
The country also has four major cell phone providers:
They each offer various packages and deals, including a flat rate for unlimited calling and different text messaging plans. Some mobile providers in Israel offer “kosher” plans which disallow text messaging and blocks sex hotlines. Contracts are a minimum of 24 months and up to 36 months.
If you wish to install a landline, there are six major telephone providers:
If you are moving into a brand new property, you may need to pay for the telephone infrastructure. Bezeq and Hot are the leading providers of this. Visit one of their locations or borrow someone’s phone to get in touch. Once you do this, you should have your landline installed in a few days. Bezeq offers an international package so you can make calls abroad for cheap while other providers like Smile, Netvision, and Xfone offer long-distance calling.
For internet, some of the providers you can contact are
To set up your internet does not require much documentation. In general, you should just have to show your ID. You can choose to pay for your internet access per hour, week, or month, or you can purchase unlimited.
For Israel television, you can reach out to
- Hot (cable);
- Yes (digital).
You can choose between cable or digital satellite. Service is not the best for either but with Yes you get better programming and reception. If you are wondering how to watch your home country’s TV in Israel, you may want to look into Virtual Private Network options. Israel also broadcasts English shows and series from other Anglophone countries.
Egyptian films are also broadcast along with Arabic and Russian-speaking shows.
Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!
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