You don’t really need a pilot trip before aliyah to Israel - opinion

Here is why I think a pilot trip is unnecessary and may even be hindering many people from potential making aliyah.

 NEW OLIM receive their ID cards. (photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
NEW OLIM receive their ID cards.
(photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)

The most common advice you hear about making aliyah is to do your research and then plan a pilot trip. Research different communities that align with your needs and then plan a trip to visit a few of them before making the big plunge. Seems reasonable, right? I disagree with this very logical sounding piece of advice. You don’t actually need a pilot trip. We made aliyah without a pilot trip and without ever having visited the community we chose to live in.

You may ask, but what about checking out the community to get a feel for it? How do I make the right choice about where to live without going in person on my carefully-thought out and well-planned pilot trip? How do I just get up and move across the world without thinking through every possible scenario and all the tiny details?

Here is why I think a pilot trip is unnecessary and may even be hindering many people from potential making aliyah.

If you are clear about your values and your priorities, you should be able to find the right area to move to in Israel. Once you decide what you need in a community, you can narrow it down. Decision fatigue sets in when we have too many choices.

First, decide that you definitely want to live in Israel, and narrow it down based on priorities and needs. Do you need to live near a certain area for your industry? If so, you’re limited to an hour or less drive from a big city. Do you need a certain location, certain schools, or a specific type of community that will make or break it for you? 

A nighttime view of Tel Aviv from the municipality building (credit: TEL AVIV-JAFFA MUNICIPALITY)A nighttime view of Tel Aviv from the municipality building (credit: TEL AVIV-JAFFA MUNICIPALITY)

Pick a location first – north, south, near Jerusalem, near Tel Aviv.

Choose based on weather and surroundings if those are essential to you. Maybe you want more rural desert, bustling city, quiet suburb or like us, an orchard.

Next, decide on the type of community  What size community speaks to you? Do you want to be part of a huge community with tons of resources? Do you want to be an adventurer and seek a small community just starting out? Something in between?

Is an Anglo community a must or do you want to immerse yourself in a Hebrew speaking environment and plan to acclimate as quickly as you can? If you need to be in an English speaking area, you’re more likely to lean towards Ramat Beit Shemesh, and if you’re looking for a Hebrew speaking community, you might choose Pardes Hanna like we did. 

Thirdly, research school options for kids or retirement options for empty nesters. Look into any other factors that are vital for you personally. Maybe you need access to hiking, biking or a specific hobby like yoga or pottery that might not be available in every area, but  is something you sorely can’t do without. Perhaps you need to be able to have access to restaurants or have space for a garden or really desire being close to the beach.

Another tip is to rent and not buy right away. Research real estate prices for renting. Rent only because you want to confirm by living there before committing. This gives you more options and less of a sense of needing to know 100% if a community is ideal for you.

Lastly, choose a place where you have at least one friend who can virtually show you around their city. (Don’t have any friends in that area? You can easily make them in a community Facebook group.) Research community interests: Arts, music, cultural, etc. Whatever is essential for you is what you need to research. Everyone is different and everyone’s needs are varied.

As long as you are clear about your needs and wants, your preferences and must-haves, your would-be-nice-to-haves vs your I-cannot-live-withouts, you can make an educated and research-based decision without needing to wait for the coronavirus to end so you can finally make your pilot trip. Don’t spend money and time waiting for a pilot trip, that would unnecessarily delay your eventual aliyah. Make your dream a reality, make aliyah now.

You should have a ton of clarity and blessings in your adventure to your new home – Israel! And when you arrive, come visit us!

The writer is a professional dating coach, author, speaker, and an expert in soul mate clarity. She helps marriage-minded singles in a relationship go from uncertainty and overwhelm to finding the clarity they need to confidently determine whether this is the one or if they should be done.