Moving to Jerusalem 101
Jerusalem has always been a central part of Judaism and Jewish History. It is the spiritual capital of the Jewish people, it’s where the first and second temples were constructed, it’s where Jews have always traveled to pray and come close to God, and it continues to be the epicenter for Jewish spirituality today. Jerusalem is also an integral part of Jewish prayer, a central theme in the Torah (The Old Testament), and is a common part of Jewish songs and culture. Every Passover, Jews around the world conclude their Seder by saying ‘L’shana Haba B’Yerushalayim’ – translated as ‘Next Year In Jerusalem’ and every year, thousands of Jews move to Jerusalem to fulfill their Jewish dream. If you are reading this, you may be considering making the move yourself. In the article, we’ll break down for you some of the basics on moving to Jerusalem, answer some questions you may have about the process, and help you understand the reality of living in Jerusalem, so you can take the next steps to fulfilling this historic Jewish dream.
Is It Safe To Live In Jerusalem?
If all your knowledge of living in Jerusalem comes from watching the news, you may be a little fearful of moving to such a purported “dangerous” city. After all, most international news highlights stabbings, the Israeli-Arab conflict, and terrorist attacks. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Citizens living in Jerusalem have very little to worry about when it comes to safety and security, and generally feel completely at ease. The majority of locals walk and travel around the city and live a normal life. Police and military have a presence in most places, including shopping malls, transportation hubs, and on major roads. There are metal detectors before you enter buildings and proper measures put into place to prevent terror from occurring. Most of the country has served in the Israeli army, and in the rare event that crime or terror does occur, there are usually local citizens close by who come to your aid as well. The one exception is probably East Jerusalem, which is a heavily dominated Arab-Muslim area. However, even East Jerusalem is fairly safe most of the time. It is usually during times of conflict, that terror attacks or stabbings might occur there to those appearing ‘visibly Jewish’. Crime and bad things occur in almost every part of the world and Jerusalem is no different. However, locals of the city generally live their everyday lives in peace, with happiness, and safety.
Life In Jerusalem 101
Life in Jerusalem is incredible. It is a city filled with rich history, yet still modern and innovative. It is religious and spiritual at its core, yet open-minded and pluralistic. It’s deeply rooted in Israeli culture, yet hosts a mix of customs and flavors from all around the world. However, what makes the city amazing also makes it complex and difficult at times. With so many moving parts and different types of people it can be challenging to navigate. In fact, many feel you can’t really know and understand the city until you live there. Here are some of the basics of life in Jerusalem though, to get you started. After that you’ll have to move to the city and experience it for yourself!
- Culture – As mentioned above, Jerusalem is a complex and diverse city with so many moving parts, different types of people, and different cultures and flavors. It is a city rooted deep in rich history, many of which can still be seen today. In Jerusalem’s Old City, you can see walls and roads from ancient times, the Kotel (Wailing Wall), the City of David, historic churches, the Dome of the Rock, and so much more. At the same time it’s a city of business, technology and modernity, featuring growing high-tech companies and innovative start-ups. In Jerusalem you will see museums, music, sports, events, and celebrations. The Jerusalem orchestra has played all around the world and the Israel Museum attracts more than a million visitors every year. When it comes to spirituality, Jerusalem has it all. Whether you are Ashkenazi, Sfardi, traditional, secular, or even Muslim or Christian, you can find a place for yourself in the city. Jerusalem has no shortage of different types of synagogues or places of prayer. Within the city there are numerous neighborhoods that appeal to all different types of people. To learn more about the difference between them, check out our post ‘Our Guide To Jerusalem Neighborhoods’. Whichever community you are looking for, you are likely to find it somewhere in Jerusalem. You can read more about the culture and living in the city here!
- Transportation – Depending on where you are coming from, you may be used to driving everywhere, taking the subway, or not even needing to veer too far from your home. So, you may be wondering how people get around in Jerusalem. For many locals, buses are a very common choice of transportation. They are fairly cheap, convenient, and come regularly. And you can probably get anywhere you want to in the city, as long as you have your Rav Kav (Bus/Metro Card). The Jerusalem Light Rail is a similar great option, but only goes to specific areas of the city. It is also really common for locals to just walk. Jerusalem is a beautiful city, often with great weather, and most of what you need is probably not too far from your home. If you are thinking about bringing over your car or purchasing one here, those are definitely options as well. However, many local residents refrain from traveling by car as the roads often get congested and parking isn’t always easy. Of course, if you are commuting outside of the city, that may be another story (although the recent completion of the high speed-train from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv could prove helpful). Cabs are also an easy go-to option and are easy to find, but they get pretty pricey as a mode of transportation if you are using them often. Lastly, electric bikes and scooters continue to be on the rise as they are affordable, convenient, and a great way to bypass a lot of road traffic. They are pretty fun too, as long as you are careful. Feel free to research more into whatever option you choose, but you definitely have many options!
- Working – The fear for many before moving from abroad to Jerusalem, is what they will do for work. This makes sense, since having a good job and making a living is really important. Fortunately, Jerusalem has a growing business and high-tech sector with many positions available for Hebrew & English speakers. Jerusalem’s Har Hotzvim area, the Jerusalem Technology Park, and JVP host some major companies including Intel, Teva Pharmaceuticals, IMB, Mobileye, OurCrowd, Johnson & Johnson, and many others. Plus, numerous small companies and freelancers work out of workspace centers, like Wework, dispersed throughout the city. And if you are in the medical field, Jerusalem is home to a number of hospitals and medical offices with nursing and doctor positions often available. After all of these, if you still can’t find something in Jerusalem, your commute isn’t too far away from Tel Aviv, Israel’s financial capital, where even more companies and businesses are located. There is no guarantee that the transition will be easy. The business culture is likely very different from where you are coming from, careers and skills have different values than abroad, and salaries are probably very different from what you are used to. There are many services in Jerusalem and throughout Israel, like Nefesh B’Nefesh, who help olim with their transitions into the Israeli workforce and into working in Israel in general. For your specific queries, we recommend you taking advantage of them.
Buying A Home In Jerusalem
Probably your most important decision before moving to Jerusalem, is where you are going to live in the city and figuring out which home you would like to purchase. As we mentioned before, Jerusalem can be a very complex and diverse city. There are a range of different types of neighborhoods that cater to different types of people. Some neighborhoods in Jerusalem are more Haredi, some more Dati Leumi, some secular, and some a mix of everything. Some neighborhoods are mainly native-born Israelis and some have more expats. Some are cheap and simple, while others are fairly more modern and even luxurious. We are not going to go through all the different neighborhoods in Jerusalem here, but we suggest you check out our post on ‘The Best Neighborhoods In Jerusalem: Our Guide To Jerusalem Neighborhoods’ to learn more. You will also have to learn how to navigate the complex process of purchasing a home in Israel, which is significantly different from buying a home abroad. We recommend looking into average prices for real estate in your neighborhood of interest, tax benefits that may be applicable, and the process of buying an apartment as well. We won’t run you through it all here either, but you can similarly read our blog post ‘Our Guide To Buying A Home In Israel’ for the full rundown. Buying a home in Jerusalem is an incredible investment. You will be purchasing property in one of the oldest and most historical cities in the world, which is simultaneously one of the most popular and fastest-growing cities in modern times. Whether you are buying an apartment or house to have for visits during the holidays or your future apartment post-Aliyah (immigration), you are ultimately buying more than a brick and mortar building; you are buying a home. In order to help you navigate the real estate market in Jerusalem and find a beautiful home in a neighborhood that suits you, you are always welcome to contact Asden. At Asden, we manage numerous luxury apartment complexes and help olim from all over the world realize their dream of moving to the holy city of Jerusalem. Moving to Jerusalem can be scary and overwhelming at times, but with the proper guidance and instruction, it can be a rewarding, special, and an unforgettably amazing journey.