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Finding the right community in Israel can be a challenging experience; there are many factors and questions to consider before deciding where to buy or build your home and put down roots. When the time comes to decide where you are going to settle, it is extremely important that you are equipped with as much information as possible. In this article, we will present important questions and issues that will help you on your way to finding your future community. Word of mouth is just as valuable as the points written here, so be sure to seek information and advice from as many people as you can. It is advisable to ask the same questions to several people, so that you will get a better picture of what is involved from their broad range of answers.
Food for thought
The questions that you should ask yourself when deciding where to settle can be narrowed down and prioritized in the following order:
1. Where in Israel would you like to live - center, North or South?
2. Which type of community life appeals to you most - city, yishuv, moshav or kibbutz?
3. Which type of people do you most identify with and want to live amongst - English speakers, Israelis, secular, religious, or a combination of the above?
4. What is on your list of essential community amenities - shops, parks, schools, synagogues?
1. Location, location, location
The first step in finding your community is to figure out where in Israel you want to settle. Here are some questions that should help you during the decision-making process:
A. Which part of the country would you like to settle in - the center, North or South?
B. Where do you work? How easy it will be for you to commute to work from your desired location?
C. Do you have family or close friends in Israel who you either want to live close to or visit often? If, for example, you have close relatives in Jerusalem, you might want to think twice before deciding to move up north.
2. Which type of community most appeals to you?
Which type of community do you prefer? Ask yourself the following:
A. Do you prefer city life with its public amenities, broad range of entertainment and vibrant, fast pace?
B. Perhaps you have a growing family and would prefer to raise your children in the tranquil atmosphere of the suburbs or the more rustic lifestyle of a yishuv or moshav?
C. Or maybe you identify with the kibbutz ideology and prefer to adopt a communal lifestyle?
3. Community dynamics
Now that you have decided where in Israel you would like to settle, you should ask yourself what type of community you would feel most comfortable in. Consider the following:
A. Would you prefer to settle in a homogenous or heterogeneous community? Would you feel more comfortable living amongst like-minded individuals with the same beliefs and goals? Or would you enjoy the diversity of a heterogeneous community, in which people with different values and ideals co-exist?
B. Would you prefer to settle in a predominantly English-speaking neighborhood, and live amongst individuals who speak the same language as you and share a similar mentality and background? Would you prefer to integrate more fully into Israeli society by living amongst Israelis? Or perhaps a mixture of Israelis and English speakers is the best alternative?
C. Are you secular and only want to live amongst like-minded people? Are you religious and prefer to live amongst people with the same level of religiosity? Or would you choose a more colorful option and settle in a community where there are residents of different religious beliefs?
D. Is it important for you to find a close-knit community that offers a strong support network? Is the community friendly? Do people get together on weekends or keep to themselves? Are you looking to meet new people and form new friendships and would benefit from a broad range of social activities and communal events?
4. Community essentials
Ask yourself which of the following are must-haves in your future community:
A. Is it important for you to live in close proximity to hospitals, health clinics, supermarkets, large malls, movie theaters and government offices? Bear in mind that the cost of living - from rent and property tax to groceries and entertainment - might be more expensive in some areas, so you should consider your budget.
B. Do you have children who are of schooling age or plan to have children in the future? If so, it is advisable to gather information about the educational system and the range of schools available in this community. The cost of education - from daycare to high school - might be more expensive in some communities, so factor that cost into your equation.
You might also want to consider whether there are parks in the area and activities and facilities for children, such as gymborees, libraries, etc.
C. Would you like to participate in communal and social events? If you are religious - whether Ashkenazi, Sefardi, Dati Leumi or Charedi - you should find out if there is a synagogue that will accommodate your religious level and background.
A rewarding experience
Now that you have asked yourself the all-important questions, sit down, get a cup of coffee and think about your list of priorities. Although it is very important that you find a community which offers you what you need, it is equally crucial that you do not expect your long list of criteria to be fulfilled in any one community, because such a community might not exist. It is for this reason that organizing your priorities is extremely important, so that the community of your choice accommodates your most essential needs. If you carefully research information about different communities, with your list of priorities in mind, you will find that searching for the right community can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Good luck!
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Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal or professional advice but rather a discussion of general issues. Readers are advised to receive professional advice before making any decisions or entering into transactions.