Newcomer's Guide to Israel

Israel is one of the most important and historic countries in the world. To date, over 8 million people call Israel home and an estimated 200,000 of them are expatriates. As an expatriate yourself, you will be pleasantly surprised at what Israel can offer in terms of culture, cuisine, adventure and opportunities. With a rate of urbanization at over 90%, Israel can be your new home away from home. Here is a brief newcomers guide to Israel that you may find useful:

Where to Live

Most expats live in Israel's largest cities - Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem. Tel Aviv, the capital, is more cosmopolitan and liberal-minded, being the economic center of the country while Jerusalem and Haifa tend to be more conservative. As one can expect, real estate prices tend to go up in the larger cities, so it pays to do your research when looking for a house or an apartment. Food, groceries and clothing, however, tend to be affordable.

Getting Around

Traffic jams in the 3 most popular cities in Israel is common, so owning a car may be impractical for some expats. There are, however, excellent public transportation options available, including trains, buses, taxis and subways. Your current driving license is valid for use in Israel for one year after arrival, after which you may have to obtain an Israeli license.

Culture

Israel has a very rich and very old culture and heritage. Jerusalem itself has a history that goes back a few thousand years. There are many historical sites such as ruins, buildings, temples, mosques and other structures that dot the landscape. Many of these structures have religious significance to the locals, so it is imperative that visitors follow the required decorum to avoid offending anyone or attracting too much attention.

Job Opportunities

Many of the jobs available in Israel are in the big cities. With Israel's booming market economy, expect to find job vacancies in the finance, tourism, agriculture, export, IT, health and electronics sectors. Finance and agriculture are particularly strong industries, specifically for professionals who have the skills and knowledge for finding, building and creating alternative sources of energy and water conservation. Job hunting is made easy with the availability of want ads online, although many recruiters might appreciate a more proactive approach, such as calling the HR department of the specific company you want to work for to inquire and ask for an interview.

Places of Interest

Israel is home to numerous sites and buildings of historic and cultural significance. From ancient ruins to holy places, expats will be able to enjoy discovering Israel's past, present and future.

Safety

Probably the most restrictions you will experience in Israel is at immigration. Once you have passed through, you can begin to settle down to a more relaxed lifestyle. However, you do need to know that certain places in the country are hotbeds for conflict and it is best that you are aware of the security situation at all times. Try to avoid big crowds, street demonstrations, military installations and groups of military personnel. Never go to certain areas in the West Bank and those near the borders without a guide.

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