The Dream of Your Own Apartment in Israel

House prices have risen by 11.3 percent over the past year. Owning an apartment will remain a dream for many Israelis

Plenty of new apartments being built. But a dwindling number of Israelis can actually afford them. Photo: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90

Israel is an expensive country, unfortunately that’s nothing new. The issue of the high cost of living always hits the headlines when we’re not dealing with a national crisis, like an operation against Hamas in Gaza or the fight against Corona. In the face of such threats, the nation comes together and refrains from complaining about everyday life. But now that Corona and the Omicron variant are saying goodbye to us, we have time again to complain about these “normal” problems.

Here in Israel it has always been customary for a young couple to buy their own apartment after their wedding, usually with the help of their parents. Renting was almost a taboo subject in years past. And that’s also the reason why we don’t have any real public rental projects to this day. Only in the last few years have people started to pay more attention to the construction of rental apartments. But by many, especially the older generation (which I’m beginning to count myself among), this possibility is still viewed with a critical eye. Most rental apartments are still privately-owned today, and the owners have a free hand when it comes to raising prices. They can also throw the tenants out of the apartment without any problems after the lease expires, there is no real rent protection, yet.

In the past year, house prices have risen by 11.3 percent. Buying an apartment is no longer an option for many young people. It has become almost impossible, because even we parents can hardly help today. When my wife and I bought our first apartment, in 1995, we were fortunate that my father had saved the inheritance from his parents’ house, which enabled us to pay the 30 percent down payment needed to get a mortgage for the rest.

Our eldest son will be moving into his first apartment with his wife in a few weeks. And no, I couldn’t help with the purchase of the apartment, we were lucky that the young couple works in hi-tech.

How our daughter or our youngest son will later get their own apartments is still a mystery to me at the moment. And we are not alone in this, on the contrary, we are in the majority. For this reason, more and more young people today are turning to rentals. Either that or they live with their parents for a period of time after the army in order to save money and then maybe get a place of their own.

Will the protests against the high cost of living help? Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

But don’t think now that renting an apartment is cheap. Here, too, the prices continue to rise. We have a real problem. So far, no government has managed to stop the rise in rents and housing prices. Some prefer it this way. I admit that as a property owner, I wouldn’t like it if the value of our apartment suddenly went down.

Unfortunately, the high housing prices are not the only problem. A visit to the supermarket or a look at the electricity and water bills is enough to understand this. Municipal taxes have also increased this year.

A week ago our government presented a program to combat the high cost of living. Unfortunately, I am not sure that this will solve all problems. Even so, I’m not looking at Europe with envy. Despite all the problems, I am happy to live here in Israel. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

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