Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ask Chaviva Anything: Advice Before Making Aliyah

Here's a doozy, but one that's shockingly simple for me to answer at this point in my life. I know my answers probably sound grumpy and jaded, but less than two years in Israel made me more of a realist than I was before.
What are your top 5 pieces of advice for someone considering making aliyah?
1. Save money. Save lots of money. Make sure you have enough money on hand to live for at least a year (that means rent, childcare expenses, grocery expenses, healthcare incidentals, buying a car, insurance, you name it). My biggest mistake in going to Israel as a single woman in her late 20s was that I didn't have a dime saved. I went with a nice income, but that income disappeared almost instantly. Not having anything saved put me into a nice amount of debt, which is no fun. 

2. Buy lots of clothes in the U.S. before you move. Why? Because if there's one thing Israel doesn't have, it's any kind of clothing that will withstand more than a few washes in Israel's harsh water. Also? It's crazy expensive to buy something that will last. I know it seems superficial, but it's a good idea. I don't know many people in Israel that buy their shoes, electronics, or clothing in Israel. 

3. Make sure you understand the impact of your U.S. bank accounts, especially if you're going to be transferring money back and forth. It can cost quite a bit of money to make transfers (e.g. Chase charges $40 for international transfers), and it adds up. If you have a U.S.-based income, have a plan in place for regular transfers. 

4. Decide whether you really want to pay all that money for a lift. Moving stuff to Israel can be crazy expensive, especially when there's a readily available market for used furniture and appliances in Israel with all of the olim (immigrants) moving back to the U.S. and selling their entire property. If you can't live without it, take it with you, but make sure you really can't live without it. 

5. Believe in the mission. If you make aliyah based on a dream or with expectations that life will not change much except that you'll be living in Eretz Yisrael, then you're going to be sorely disappointed and experience a huge shock. Make aliyah because you believe Israel is going to be the best home for you and your family, make aliyah because you believe in the nation and its principles and the understanding that Israel is home for the Jewish people. Don't make aliyah because it's going to solve all of your problems or provide you with a "better" life or fix things. Be realistic, but be passionate. 

Will I be financially prepared when we return to Israel? Probably not. But it's not the reason we're back in the U.S. I'm not here to make my fortune so I can return to Israel sitting pretty by any means. It would be nice, but, like I said, I'm a realist. 

Ready to ask a question? Be nice and ask away!