11 Things About Living in Israel You Learn Only By Moving Here

There are things you find out about living in Israel only once you already … actually live here

Enjoying a wonderful outdoor lunch at Motza Cafe near Jerusalem. Israel likes to brandish its Western credentials, but its Mediterranean nature is one of its major pluses. Photo: author.

1. Everything — No Really Everything — Runs On WhatsApp (Or WhatsApp Groups)

If you’ve never heard of — much less used — the instant messaging app known as WhatsApp (not WhatsUp which appears to be Anglo baby-boomers’ favorite mis-appellation for it), then all that’s about to change.

2. Almost Nothing Runs Precisely On Time

For those who like to stretch the concept of being fashionably late to its limits, this is probably good news.

3. The Customer Is Not Always Right — Sometimes, In Fact, You’d Be Led To Believe That They’re Always Wrong

There are things that Israelis do well — refreshing honesty.

4. Many Israeli Websites Look Like They Were Built By A Stoned Teenager Some Time In The 1990s When MS Paint And Popups Were Enjoying Their Heyday

One of the strangest paradoxes of life in Israel.

This is an official Israeli government website for paying taxes. Replete with some random guy and a superimposed ‘chip’.

5. There Are Basically Two Technology Stores: KSP And Ivory. No Wait, EVERYTHING Is Vaguely An Oligopoly/Monopoly.

For those into tech — and I’m one of them — you’ll quickly learn that there are two major national technology chains, KSP and Ivory.

6. Amazon Doesn’t Really Deliver Here. Instead, People Use Something Called Zap. And This Crazy Chinese Site Called Aliexpress. They Also Go Justifiably Nuts Whenever Amazon Puts On A Promo.

Firstly, it’s not actually true that Amazon doesn’t deliver to Israel.

One avid Israeli online shopper, who totally isn’t me, sent in this pixeallated image of one of their old order hauls.

7. It’s Really Hot For A Really Long Time. Like It’s Hot Half The Year.

If you’ve never lived in a hot climate before, then checking the climate graph for whatever city you plan on living in in Israel is probably worthwhile.

  • The daily average high is at or above 25 degrees celcius (rounded) for six months of the year. That’s half the year!
  • For five months of the year, there is negligible precipitation.

8. Realtors Will Still Insist You Don’t Need Air Conditioning. Politely Ignore Them.

One of the greatest things about Israel:

  • Realtors are often sketchy people who will tell you anything to make a sale
  • Government workers commonly go on strike
  • Banks appear to open to the public only when it’s convenient to them and still charge you exorbitant sums for the privilege of doing “business” with them

9. Driving Here Is Sort Of Crazy. But Public Transport Is Really Good.

Perhaps this is common knowledge among Jewish immigrants who grew up taking summer holidays in Israel (note: my family never did this), but Israeli drivers are by and large lunatics with engines, wheels, and horns at their continuous disposal — the last of which they use very liberally indeed.

10. The Postal Service Is Kind Of Rubbish

Israelis love to make fun of how bad the postal system is here although I’ve actually been really impressed by how little of my prodigious online ordering they’ve lost. Really. They’re not fast. But they rarely seem to lose things.

11. Israelis Still Love It Here In Spite Of All The Above

Israel is a crazy country. That much you probably already knew.

  • It’s a Mediterranean country. Tempers can be frayed during the hot summer months. But on the plus side there’s plenty of good weather during the summer and it’s sunny enough to eat outside for a decent chunk of the year.
  • It’s a Middle Eastern country. My cultural impression of the Middle Eastern aspect of Israel’s culture is something like this: rules aren’t the conventional things that we conceive them as in the West. There’s something vaguely spiritual about the way in which Middle Easterners try to swim their way around them. The common description is that rules here are conceived of as recommendations rather than strict edicts. That comes pretty close to depicting reality.



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Daniel Rosehill

Daytime: writing for other people. Nighttime: writing for me. Or the other way round. Enjoys: Linux, tech, beer, random things. https://www.danielrosehill.com