Where to Live? Jerusalem or Tel Aviv
Struggling to decide on where you should buy your next home? Should you live in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv? The city of the bible or the heart of start-up nation? We’re not going to sugarcoat it for you, the decision isn’t easy. Both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are incredibly beautiful, unique, and remarkable cities that have much to offer their residents. This blog post will walk you through some of the main strengths and weaknesses of living in each city, including food, culture, the people, apartment costs, and what type of place you can expect to live in. Hopefully by the end, you will have a better understanding of what each city has to offer, so you can take your next steps in building a home for yourself in the Land of Israel.
The Culinary Experience
Let’s start with what’s most important – the food of course! For starters, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are both incredible cities, filled with amazing restaurants and growing culinary scenes. You really can’t go wrong with either. However, both cities differ in style and each has something unique to offer. Take for example Machaneh Yehudah, also known as the Jerusalem Shuk. Over the last 10 to 15 years, it has grown from hole-in-the-wall falafel stands and cheap pizza spots (although it still does have a few if that’s what you prefer!) to modern burger joints, high-end steak houses, trendy street food spots, and restaurants that offer next-level gourmet cuisine. In recent years, the ‘First Station” (Tachana Rishona), Jerusalem’s old train station, has also become quite the scene for some of Jerusalem’s coolest restaurants, including a grilled cheese eatery, a cheeseburger spot, and an incredible hummus restaurant. Tel Aviv on the other hand, is home to Sarona Market, perhaps the coolest and most adventurous culinary market in the entire country. Sarona Market houses top of the line butchers, high-end cheese stores, hipster eateries, foreign food stalls, and delicacies from all around the world. And it also has really cool vibes. Moreover, Tel Aviv has become a top food destination for people from around the world. Home to thousands of bars and restaurants, you will find an assortment of bakeries, pubs, cuisines of all types, and restaurants ranked in league with some of the world’s best. Of course, whether you keep kosher or not may weigh into your choice of location as well. While both cities contain an assortment of both kosher and non-kosher restaurants, Tel Aviv restaurants are more often non-kosher, while Jerusalem restaurants are usually kosher. But like we said, both cities offer incredible culinary experiences, so you really can’t go wrong!
Tel Aviv is a young, modern city that differs pretty heavily from the rest of the country. The city is overall fairly secular, immersed in the high-tech scene, filled with bars, hip restaurants and clubs, is very LGBTQ friendly, is a city in love with arts and culture, and is home to some of the country’s most famous beaches. When it comes to nightlife, it’s fair to say that Tel Aviv takes the cake over Jerusalem and the rest of the country. Afterall, the nightlife in Tel Aviv is world-renowned. Ranging from crazy nightclubs to hipster and neighborhood bars, to beach bars and trendy pubs, Tel Aviv has it all. They say New York is the city that never sleeps, but with many clubs not even beginning to fill up until 1am and going strong until the early hours of the morning, Tel Aviv may give the big apple a run for its money. Jerusalem by contrast is where you go for spirituality and religious inspiration. The city of Jerusalem is steeped in thousands of years of Jewish history and has the ‘Old City’ as standing evidence. Filled with synagogues, mosques, and churches, the city is a magnet for spiritual and religious thinkers. There are also museums, art galleries, performance centers, bookstores, cultural gatherings and more. And of course, Jerusalem has its fair share of cool bars and even clubs too. During the Jewish festivals, the city absolutely comes alive with parties, events, religious ceremonies, and fun for families and kids. It’s a one-of-a-kind city that people come to see from around the world. What’s remarkable about these two seemingly polar opposite cities is that they are less than an hour’s drive away from one another. So don’t stress out too much, whichever you choose, you can always visit the other!
The people of Jerusalem are often characterized as more religious and spiritual, while the people of Tel Aviv are considered traditional and even secular. The people of Jerusalem are often thought to be warm, soft and welcoming, while the people of Tel Aviv are more fast-paced, busy, cynical, and harsh. But if you spend a significant amount in either city you’ll find the cities to be a bit more complex and nuanced than that. In reality, both cities are extremely diverse and filled with a wide variety of people.. You’ll find all types of religious Jews in both cities. For example, a considerable amount of charedim (ultra-orthodox) live in Tel Aviv and its surrounding areas as well. You’ll find both traditional and secular Jews, as well as atheists, Christians and Muslims in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Both cities have a mix of sabras (native-born Israelis) and Olim (immigrants). You’ll find poor neighborhoods and affluent neighborhoods, depending on what area you visit in either city. You will also come across all types of people, both kind and rude, fast-paced and mellow, wherever you go. The land of Israel isn’t as black and white as many make it out to be. So how do you choose Tel Aviv or Jerusalem? If there is a particular type of community you are looking for, you can probably find it in either city. Don’t let the picture that others paint determine where you want to build your next home. You never know, maybe you will learn a thing or two from a place that is a bit different from what you’re used to.
Putting aside fun and culture, a major factor at play when deciding where you want to live will likely depend on the city’s cost of living. While both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are fairly expensive, Jerusalem is undoubtedly less costly than Tel Aviv. The most distinguishable factor is the cost of property. On average, apartment prices are 35% higher in Tel Aviv than in Jerusalem. Renters have quite the disparity in costs as well, with average monthly rent being more than 25% higher in Tel Aviv than in Jerusalem. But it’s not just housing that’s more expensive in Tel Aviv. Grocery shopping & fine dining are significantly more money on average in Tel Aviv, basic utilities are higher, clothing and shoes cost significantly more money, and childcare could cost anywhere between 25%-50% more.. Tel Aviv may have more bars open at night and a fun beach-vibe scene, but you definitely pay for it. According to recent data, Tel Aviv ranks as the 7th most expensive city in the world to live in! On the upside though, average salary is also quite higher in Tel Aviv than in Jerusalem, so hopefully you will have a little bit of an easier time affording all of those costly expenses. And when it comes to cheap living, Jerusalem isn’t necessarily an example to learn from either, as they’re ranked 33 on the most expensive cities to live in. But of course, you often pay for what you get. Both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are incredible cities with much to offer in terms of culture, people, food and general life. These are unique experiences that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. So while they may cost a pretty shekel or two, they may be worth it.
When you are deciding between living in Jerusalem versus Tel Aviv, you may actually want to give some thought into the home you will be living in! How are the apartments in Tel Aviv compared to Jerusalem? Both cities have pretty eclectic architecture, neighborhoods, and types of apartments and housing available. It’s even pretty common to find vastly different types of apartments in style and price right next to each other. One may often even see luxury homes fairly close to old and nearly run-down apartments, and everything in between. However, some areas are known for their affluence or unique style of apartments in contrast to others. In Neve Tzedek for example, a popular, cool and hipster area of Tel Aviv, potential renters are known for bringing their checkbook when coming to see an apartment. They know apartments in this area don’t stay available for long. In Jerusalem, apartment styles differ pretty significantly from neighborhood to neighborhood too (read more in our blog post here). Apartments in Nachlaot are known for their personality and are often unique looking and quite old. Katamon has its own style of building, and in other areas like Talpiot and Baka, newly renovated and luxury buildings are being built constantly. If you’re not familiar with Israeli housing or the different neighborhoods in the city, we recommend you consult with a professional. Asden manages some of Jerusalem’s more beautiful neighborhoods and assists locals and foreign buyers in finding the home of their dreams. We can’t tell you whether it’s best to live in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, a Kibbutz down south, or anywhere else in the rest of the world, but if you want to set up your new home in one of the many areas that ASDEN manages, we can help you fulfill your dreams and more. With both cities being such incredible places to live in, we know you won’t only love your new home, but that you will undoubtedly also love the city you live in.