Thursday, November 28, 2013

Book Review: A Financial Guide to Aliyah and Life in Israel

When I decided to make aliyah (move to Israel) mid-summer 2012, I was happily, dually employed, able to pay my bills and put a bit away at the same time. Life was good. Financially I wasn't perfect, but I was getting there. When the aliyah approval came through, I didn't think I needed to sit down and figure out how much I needed monthly to survive in Israel. If I was getting by in Denver, I could get by in Jerusalem, right?

I tend to read books in moments of "hindsight is 20/20," and that's how things feel after reading Baruch Labinsky's A Financial Guide to Aliyah and Life in Israel. Oh where was this book before I made aliyah? Although, the truth is, you can take a horse to water, but you can't really teach him to drink. Without the motivation to really think about the financial reality of living in Israel, this book will never grace your coffee table, let alone help guide you.

With cheesy comics that aren't really funny, Labinsky walks the reader through how to use the book (it isn't one of those cover-to-cover reads, unless that's your style), how to understand taxes (which, let's be honest change constantly in Israel, so it's a moving target), how to plan for retirement, how to look at your assets, whether your savings will last, and so on. It's got all of the basics, complete with charts about just how expensive the basics in Israel can be.

Yes, dairy products in this country cost 44 percent more than other OECD countries. On the other hand, veggies here are happily inexpensive.

Although the book would have been a lot more helpful before I came on aliyah and lost both of my cushy jobs (oh why didn't I plan financially?), there are plenty of helpful anecdotes, like how negotiating at the bank is incredibly important. Find an advocate, Labinsky says, which is key to protekzia, or the ability to protect oneself by utilizing contacts and connections! Also, the bits on working for U.S.-based companies while living in Israel and the potential tax concerns is in my wheelhouse these days.

There's a lot of really powerful, conversational advice in the book that I know will guide plenty of potential olim on their financial journey into Israel. When you've got kids and a family or are a retiree, there's a lot to consider when making the big leap across the pond.

Also? The cover on this book is a huge win!

If you know someone considering aliyah, I highly recommend sending them this book. There are a lot more considerations when it comes to picking up and moving to Israel, even if you're willing to give up certain aspects of "comfortable" living for the fulfillment of a religious or personal ideal. If you're not a planner, take a chance with this book anyway. Believe me, you're going to need it!

Note: I received this book for review purposes, but my reviews remain honest, unbiased, and from the heart!