If you have decided that Tel Aviv is where you want to live, then you need to know exactly how to go about finding an apartment and negotiating a rental agreement in Israel. It can be a tortuous and frustrating process, if you don’t have some guidance, so here are some tips on moving to Israel to help you get started:
1.Lay the groundwork
Israelis know that the best way to find an apartment anywhere in the country is to go through online sites such as Yad 2 or Homeless.co.il on which people post their apartments for sale and rent without having to go through an agent. (By the way, Yad 2 – which means “Second-hand” – also offers a lot of other useful stuff you can buy, like cars, second-hand furniture, lists of professionals and trades people, even pets, and more)
TIP: Find an Israeli friend who can translate the site for you and guide you through it.
2. Find an Agent
Being new to the Tel Aviv scene, it’s probably best to find a reputable agent who can act as your guide and interpreter. The agent’s commission (usually one month’s rent + 17% VAT) may well be worth it as you will have a resource that can save you a lot of running around, misunderstandings, and frustration. An agent will also ensure that your potential landlord is trustworthy. Agents have immediate access to a wide range of up-to-date listings. The right agent who understands your needs can provide you with a lot of information to make an informed decision.
Give yourself at least two months before you need to move in. Don’t expect last minute deals, because you could end up with an apartment you don’t really like because of time pressure. Vacant apartments are available immediately while occupied apartments will usually be available within 30-45 days.
If you’re relocating for work and plan on visiting Tel Aviv to check things out before your move, try to come for at least a full week. Access to apartments and agents is limited on weekends. Don’t expect to find an apartment immediately, as the process might take longer than anticipated, so make sure to give it the proper time needed. Have all your paperwork, guarantor’s (if necessary) and funds accessible in local bank. Israeli homeowners don’t deal with foreign banks and won’t accept foreign checks.
Check here more hints on renting an apartment abroad.
If you find an apartment that appeals to you, act fast. Rentals in Tel Aviv are in high demand and thinking about it for even just 24 hours may risk losing it altogether. So if you find an apartment you like, take it. Your agent should have all the details and documents ready in his file, so there shouldn’t be a protracted process to go through.
3. Know your budget:
Know the maximum you are prepared to pay, but work within a price range. It’s very unlikely that you will find an apartment at exactly the right price, so be flexible within a range. There are also additional monthly charges you will need to take into consideration.
“Va’ad Bayit” is a monthly maintenance fee and “Arnona” is municipal taxes. The “Va’ad Bayit” is based on maintenance requirements and if there an elevator and/or parking, either in the building’s parking area, or underground. The newer towers and fully-serviced complexes will have higher monthly management fees because of the amenities these complexes offer e. g. gymnasiums, swimming pools, front lobbies, and more. These all add to the “Va’ad Bayit” charges.
“Arnona” is calculated on the location or neighborhood and the apartment’s actual living area. An average two-bedroomed apartment in Central Tel Aviv can range between 450 –700 NIS a month, and is billed every two months, as is water and electricity.
TIP: Make sure you ask about all these add-ons when you are given a monthly rental price. Sometimes these can be included in the rent and sometimes they are not. Don’t complain afterwards that the landlord or agent didn’t tell you about these add-ons at the time – they’ll just respond, “You didn’t ask” – so ASK!
4. Know what you want…but be flexible
Don’t let your expectations get the better of you. Apartments in Israel are generally smaller than in other parts of the world and designed differently. You may find the master bedroom very small but the salon and living areas much larger. If you are looking for a balcony, make sure it has a decent view – onto a leafy street or even a sea view if you can get it, but prepared to pay more. Check that the apartment has air-conditioning and that it works. Newer apartments will almost definitely come with central air conditioning, but older buildings will most likely not. If you are going to live in Tel Aviv, especially over an Israeli summer, you MUST have air-conditioning. If the apartment doesn’t have it, and you are planning on a long-term lease, come to an arrangement with the landlord about installing an air conditioning unit…otherwise don’t take the apartment, no matter how attractive the location or price (unless you enjoy living in extreme heat).
5. Inspect the property thoroughly
Especially if the apartment is old, you should get a reputable building engineer to check the likely appearance of mold and dampness on the walls, leaky faucets and toilets, and the electricity and wiring. If you are renting a furnished apartment, check the state of the furniture and appliances; consider photographing the apartment and furnishings before signing and list everything you find. This will avoid arguments – and possibly even forfeiting your security deposit – at the end of your tenancy.
6. Get to know your new location
If you are looking for the quintessential Tel Aviv experience get a feel for the area first. Stroll down its streets – particularly on a Friday morning when most people don’t work (Israel’s six-day week has become a five-day week in recent years; Friday is the shopping, coffee drinking, meeting friends day). The vibe on a Friday in Tel Aviv is intoxicating. If you can find an apartment in an area that really rocks on Fridays, you will indeed be a happy camper.
Find out about access to amenities; where the nearest bus stops are – check what route you are on and how convenient it is for where you need to be every day. If you have a car, check out the parking situation – is there parking on your block, a nearby parking lot, or do you have to rely on finding street parking, which can be very tricky in Tel Aviv.
TIP: It’s worthwhile getting the Pango app to ensure that you are not fined and that your parking charges remain at a reasonable level.
7. Be prepared for change
Renting in Tel Aviv is not like renting anywhere else in the world: in fact, LIVING in Tel Aviv is not like living anywhere else. It is a totally unique and exciting experience, but it does have its pitfalls. The most important tip for living in Tel Aviv is…enjoy it, absorb it, know that most Israelis are warm, welcoming and great friends.