Why So Many Young Israelis Are Leaving the Holy Land

Reluctantly relocating abroad, young Israeli families say they don’t want to leave, but can’t afford to stay.

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: Cost of Living
Israelis protest the rising cost of living, in particular housing prices. Many say they don't want to leave, but soon won't be able to afford to stay.
Israelis protest the rising cost of living, in particular housing prices. Many say they don't want to leave, but soon won't be able to afford to stay. Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

Israel is expensive. We’ve written about this problem a number of times. And those of our readers who’ve visited any time in the past 10 years have no doubt experienced it.

The average income in Israel, even in higher-paying industries like hi-tech, is fast being outstripped by the cost of living.

The price of housing is the most obvious problem, with fewer and fewer young families able to purchase a home in the center of the country, where all the jobs are located.

But the problem is broader than real estate, and manifests itself everywhere, from the gas pump to the grocery store to the after-school daycare most families require because it’s simply impossible unless both parents work full-time.

Just last month both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem made the list of top 20 most expensive cities in the world published by ECA International.

Tel Aviv had been on that and other similar lists for a number of years.

According to ECA, the only cities that are today more expensive to live in than Tel Aviv are Hong Kong, New York City, Geneva, London and Tokyo.

The problem for Israelis is that in each of those cities, the average income is far higher than in Tel Aviv.

And this is fast becoming apparent to Israelis. Armed with foreign passports, they are leaving the Land in droves, as reported this week by Channel 12 News.

One couple, Oded and Vered, said they and their four children have no choice but to leave. They live in the north of the country, which is already much cheaper than Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and are still struggling to make ends meet, let alone purchase a home of their own.

Vered told Channel 12 that as a school teacher its more economical for her to remain on extended leave following the Corona pandemic than return to full-time work and need to pay for daycare for her children.

“I end up making more money [from welfare payments] by keeping the kids home with me than sending them to daycare, which costs more than I make as a teacher,” she lamented.

Oded said the family will soon move to Portugal, which recently granted citizenship to the descendants of Jews pushed out of the country during the Inquisition. There, they can almost immediately buy a home and end each month with a bit of savings. “It hurts that we have to leave to be successful,” he told Channel 12.

Another young Israeli named Eliran said he already left earlier this year to live in India, where despite the average income being relatively low, he manages to save 6,000 shekels (~$1,800) each month after expenses. In Tel Aviv, he ended each month with only about 500 shekels ($140) in his bank account.

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