Whilst making plans to return to Holy Land Central (HLC), I googled, searched Foreign Ministry websites, queried Israelis on e-mail lists and generally put out feelers to glean as much information as possible about what to expect on the other end and how to best prepare for getting there. I wanted details on shipping, packing, school registration, apartments, health laws, costs of living, the job market and on and on and of course, a single entity couldn’t address all of that.
Underlying the search lay the core, elusive question: Will I be happy & is this the right decision? – that, unfortunately, no one can answer; you’ll ONLY find out after taking the leap. Isn’t life fun that way?
I am, however, a great believer in the gut. If it feels right you know it. Believe and follow suit, brother. Hallelujah. If you’re feeling depressed, agitated and angst-ridden, that ain’t for nothing. Heed the call and retreat. Or at least duck and cover. Do what it takes.
That said, preparation for the big move is possible and advisable…So on the continued theme of “Stefanella Preach Week”, once again, fresh off the pulpit, some of the most useful tips I can conjure for crossing the divide:
1) Plan in advance. Take a year, two years, whatever you think you need, unless you’re 18 or a Tibetan Monk and all your worldly possessions fit compactly into a rucksack. Major moves require major planning
2) Save $$. There’s no rule about how quickly work will be found but accrue enough to live half a year without just in case. How to estimate the budget? Tap into housing websites for rent figures and ask around on e-mail lists for monthly bill figures for your choice destination then get out the calculator
3) Avoid Relatives. Not literally, just the live-in part. Try to get a temporary or vacation flat, ESPECIALLY if you’re a family, while you settle in. As it is, the pressure’s going to be on. Do you really need to add to it by squeezing into the in-laws’ place?
4) Get Rid of It!. Unless you’re a diplomat moving on company budget to a sprawling villa which can accommodate bulky, U.S.-standard(assuming this is your jumping-off point) furniture, ditch as much and you can and start anew. My 4-poster, wrought iron, curtained Out of Africa-era bed back in the Edwardian, San Fran bedroom? Wouldn’t have fit, literally, here. Use the cash from your garage sale over there to get what you need on this end. There are Web lists for used goods, friends or family for hand-me-downs and IKEA and wholesale to upscale shopping zones for all your needs
5) Send Sentiment. That said, don’t get rid of the bits and pieces you hold dear and that goes for books too. It’s super reasonable to ship via USPS and it’s loads of fun to open up and look at your stuff when you’ve been here two months, reminiscing about your former, HUGE place that all of these chachkes used to fit into. One word of advice: Be CERTAIN to get an in-person explanation of measuring or you will be sent home to re-pack – in our case 18 boxes – to adhere to U.S./Israel size regulations.
6) Do It There. Anything that can be taken care of on that end, from Interior Ministry to Absorption Ministry paperwork to registration of a child born outside Israel, etc. DO IT THERE! Get in contact with your nearest Israeli consulate and schedule an appointment. Don’t forget to get an Apostille seal for official documents like Birth and Marriage Certificates and to bring about 5-10 extra passport photos. You’ll be delighted you took care of it in advance
7) Get On Lists. Tap into e-mail lists (see below) in your intended area and watch what people talk about and how things are couched. You’ll learn a tremendous amount via observation. Ask questions, too. Don’t be shy. Remember: Almost everyone here is a transplant so they’ve been in your shoes. And think about it: Who doesn’t like offering advice?
8) Brace for Post-Honeymoon. It WILL happen so be ready for it: The taxi driver who seemed so adorable when he unabashedly asked your salary two months ago, now seems a cheeky, meddler. The elderly woman at the supermarket, so endearing when she last advanced in the cue because I only have two things is now that pushy, line jumper riding the coattails of seniority. The honeymoon will fade and life will become normal just like it is anywhere. Bills to pay, work to do, illness to attend to, meals to cook…Try not to sink. Take walks, keep it fresh and remember what brought you in the first place. If it still applies, ride out the wave
A few resources to consider:
AACI Americans and Canadians in Israel. Great resource for info and jobs
Nefesh B’Nefesh Leave politics aside; The website is an excellent resource
Taanglo, Jaanglo or Raanana List: e-mail discussion groups in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Raanana among Anglos in English covering everything from hiking to book clubs to garage sales to jobs. Get on by signing up at yahoogroups.com
Homeless If you read Hebrew, this is a MUST resource for temporary apartments, used furniture and appliances, apartment rentals, etc. Covers the entire country
Good Luck and See you When you Get Here!