Green living close to the big city

Misgav offers pastoral views and rural living, only half an hour from Haifa.

misgav 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy Misgav Regional Council)
misgav 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy Misgav Regional Council)
Not many Israelis have the good fortune of living in the country in a house with a garden. As relatively small and crowded as Israel is, land in general, and land for building in particular, is at a high premium in this country. But there are still places where one can live in the relative peace and quite of the country. One of these is Misgav, located in the hilltops of the central Galilee, which is surrounded by open spaces, forests and greenery. Misgav is a regional council, a local government that includes a number of rural localities. The Misgav Regional Council includes 35 settlements, of which 29 are communal settlements and the remaining six are Beduin villages. A communal settlement is one which has an agreed-up set of rules by which residents must abide. These set rules are agreed upon by the community as a whole - or, at least, by the community of its original founders. A religious communal settlement, for example, may refuse non-observant members, or demand that members maintain a religious style of life. Others will only accept married couples below a certain age. In some ways, communal settlements are the suburban alternative of a moshavim a collective style of living in which the residents' livelihood is based on agriculture. In Misgav, agriculture as a means of making a living is minuscule. Misgav may be "out in the country," but in Israel that is often still close to the city. Haifa, with its job opportunities and shopping centers, is less than 30 minutes away, while Tel Aviv is a mere 70 minutes' drive away. Indeed, the majority of Misgav residents are employed in the surrounding areas, while some find employment in the local industrial park or in the local hi-tech incubator. Many of Misgav's 29 communal settlements are in a state of development, which means they are interested in attracting more families. (This does not hold true of the Beduin settlements, which are populated on a tribal basis. As a consequence, outsiders will find it very difficult of not impossible to adapt.) Some of the communal settlements are currently marketing plots of land for residential building purposes, namely: Atzmon, Lavon, Eshchar and Moreshet. Eshchar is a mixed community of 80 families, where "mixed" means that religious and secular residents live side by side. Fifteen 500 square-meter plots are on offer at NIS 280,000 each. The price includes local government dues, etc. Lavon is a secular settlement of 90 families. Fifty-six plots are on offer, ranging from 450 sq.m. to 1,000 sq.m. The price runs from NIS 198,000 to NIS 345,000, according to size and location. Moreshet is a religious settlement with 200 families. In this settlement, 48, 400 sq.m. plots are being offered for sale, at prices that vary from NIS 340,000 to NIS 400,000. At Atzmon, nine 500 sq.m. plots are being offered at a price of NIS 510,000 each. The plots belong to the Israel Land Authority and are being sold directly by it. Prospective residents are expected to build their houses by themselves, but plans must be submitted to the local authority, and their architectural designs must adapt themselves to the surrounding country side. The regional council does not allow high-rise buildings. Only single-family homes are allowed - a ground floor and a top floor, at the most. (In the Beduin villages, regulations are less rigid. Here three and even four floors are permitted, because Beduin families tend to live together.) All the settlements are built on hilltops, and at that altitude the air is nice and cool and the view is fantastic.