So you’re moving to Tel Aviv. Great! In my second of the series for those of you actually wanting to settle in Tel Aviv, at least for a while, here are five answers to common questions. Hopefully it will help you find yourself a home here. Feel free to comment and ask more questions about any aspects of moving to Tel Aviv.
Is Tel Aviv expensive to live in?
Tel Aviv is an expensive city and you’ll be shocked at the prices. Even utter dumps are going to stretch your limits unless you’re very well off. You need a fair bit of luck to find somewhere nice and places often come up on the market last minute and disappear fast. Your best bet is to start off with a sublet and do your search for a long term place when you’re already in town. Information on how to find sublets (and also long term flats and rooms) is available in the full DIY Tel Aviv Guide which you can download here.
In case you’re wondering, pretty much everything else is expensive in Tel Aviv, too – food, alcohol, toiletries, etc.. Cars and petrol (gas) are also expensive, so don’t plan on owning one unless you have a really good job. Public transport is actually not too expensive.
How Safe is Tel Aviv?
Tel Aviv has a real burglary problem. The Southern neighbourhoods are worst for it, but nowhere is immune. Ground floor flats are the worst for burglaries so avoid getting one unless it’s got bars on every window and a solid door (they call them “pladelet” doors here. Ground floor places are actually sometimes cheaper, but you may well pay for it by getting robbed. The good news is that bars are usually enough to stop burglars. Patio doors, even those accompanied by metal gates you can lock, will increase the security risk.
When out and about, Tel Aviv is generally much safer than other big cities. With the exception of terrorist attacks (which are actually pretty rare in Tel Aviv), violent crime is uncommon. While some muggings do happen in the south of Tel Aviv, they are not very common at all. Pickpockets operate in some crowded areas like the Carmel Market. They are also active on the beach, stealing from people’s bags while they are swimming. Don’t bring valuables to the beach if you’ll be leaving your bag unattended.
If you are a woman, get ready for some sexual harassment on the street. This is more often than not annoying, but not outright dangerous. Rape cases do happen occasionally, though, so follow they usual safety rules of avoiding dark, deserted areas, etc. Also beware of leaving your drink unattended in bars and clubs. Cases of women being dosed are not unheard of.
What are summers like in Tel Aviv?
If you are going to spend the summer in Tel Aviv, air conditioning is a must. Flats that don’t have it are often cheaper and there’s a reason for that. Summer in Tel Aviv without A/C will be your worst nightmare. Make sure there is A/C and that it works before signing anything.
What are winters like in Tel Aviv?
Although winters in Tel Aviv are usually relatively mild, visitors and new residents often complain about how cold it is. This is because flats in Tel Aviv have no central heating. The A/C will help, if you can tolerate the high electric bills and the dry heat it produces. Locals often opt for various types of space heaters or radiators instead, which you can buy at various electrical stores or even at big branches of various supermarkets.
What should I consider when looking for a place to live?
Remember that Tel Aviv is actually quite small and if you have a bicycle (which you should really get, if you’re moving to Tel Aviv) then you can be anywhere in the centre of town in a very short time indeed. With this in mind, don’t get stuck on a particular neighbourhood when you’re searching for a place. Students can benefit from the 25 bus that goes all over the city and there is even easy access to HaHagana train station for those living in Florentin (handy for when the train is actually working). It makes more sense than living in Ramat Aviv by the University, as more interesting stuff happens in town. For more info, see my Tel Aviv neighbourhood guide.