Saunders 1865 | Moving to Jerusalem

Moving to Jerusalem

Are you moving to Jerusalem? Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and largest city, although it is not recognised internationally as such, with most of the country’s government institutions and branches located here, with the exception of the ministries of Agriculture and Defence.  Very few diplomatic expats are based here as the city hosts no embassies, which are all in Tel Aviv.  However, there is a growing young Anglo community, with lots of English and Hebrew speakers in this very cosmopolitan city with great cultural activities.

Our free, in-depth Moving to Jerusalem report includes info on:

• The best areas to live
• The good schools
• The average monthly rental prices
• The excellent public transport system in the city

Putting Jerusalem on the Map

Located on a plateau between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea in the Judaean Mountains, Jerusalem is 37 miles east of Tel Aviv and the Med, and on the opposite side of the city, 22 miles from the Dead Sea. Transportation is excellent, making Jerusalem a leading logistics hub.

  • Ben Gurion International Airport is the closest international airport, located 24 miles north-west of the city. It serves around 13 million passengers per annum.
  • A new shuttle bus connects the city and the airport, running every hour, 24 hours a day for six days of the week, excluding Shabbat.
  • A new high-speed rail service, connecting the capital with the airport, is expected to be operational in March 2018 but may be delayed until the end of 2018.
  • Buses are run by Egged bus lines with a huge route network, all surrounding the Jerusalem Central Bus Station. Many routes duplicate each other in the city centre but fan out towards the suburbs.
  • Better known as The Tram, the light rail runs along one line between Pisgat Zeev and Mount Herzl. There are park-and-rides in some neighbourhoods.  Tickets can be bought at all bus stops, and include a 90-minute transfer window for use on the bus or the light rail within this timeframe.
  • Both the buses and the light rail shut down on Fridays at around 30 minutes before sundown until after sunset on Saturday evening. No public transportation is available in Jerusalem during this time of Shabbat, with the exception of taxis.
  • A well-developed intra-city network makes it easy to travel from town to town, connecting the city to much of Israel.
  • Within Jerusalem, however, the roads are the primary transport mode, despite crowded roads, frequent traffic jams and a dire shortage of parking.
  • The use of a foreign driving license is limited to one year, after which you will be required to exchange it for an Israeli license.

Cycling is popular here, despite the hilly terrain.  The more central, flatter routes are easy to cycle, while electric bikes are available to hire for those willing to tackle the hills.  There are many short-cuts in this city, where town planning was never given much importance.  There are dedicated cycle paths from Sacher Park to Herzog Road, from Harakevet Road in Baka and in the Jerusalem Metropolitan Park on the outskirts.

The Areas

Although Jerusalem is a small city, the different neighbours are defined by their own socio-economic make-up, foods, history and restaurants.

Image result for map of jerusalem neighborhoods

TALBIYA

This affluent area is characterised by elegant houses and mansions with Moorish, Arab and Renaissance influences, surrounded by picturesque gardens and trees.  Many foreign consulates were housed here before they all moved to Tel Aviv.

Talbiya was renamed Komemiyet, the Hebrew name, however, this never really caught on.  This is one of the most authentic modern suburbs, offering a quieter, less busy atmosphere than the more tourist-oriented areas.  However, there are plenty of excellent restaurants and some lovely green spaces.

RECHAVIA

Along with Talbiya, Rechavia is up-market and exclusive.  Although it borders on the busy city with its hectic traffic, these streets offer a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.  The tree-lined streets, neat gardens, palatial homes and green parks make this an excellent family area.  It is purely residential and a number of immigrants have made their homes here.

BAKA

During the ’70 and early ’80s, Baka saw an influx of middle-class professionals.  The existing mansions were renovated or converted into luxury apartments.  There are a number of good schools, along with Pelech, a religious girl’s high school.  The longest bike path in the city, the Train Track Park, runs along Derech HaRekevet on the western edge of the neighbourhood.  Mainly secular Jews, English and French-speaking immigrants live here.  The main commercial street is lined with coffee shops, restaurants, designer boutiques and shops.

THE GERMAN COLONY

One of Jerusalem’s most prominent neighbourhoods, the name The German Colony has become a misnomer, as English is the most common language spoken there.  Beautiful landscaping, manicured pavements and stately manor houses attract moneyed, upper-class Americans and Israelis, including families, singles, tourists and immigrants.  With a steady injection of capital, the Emek Refaim is lined with high-end boutiques and high-class restaurants, a classy and cosmopolitan shopping district.

RAMOT

One of the larger suburbs, Ramot, which means heights in Hebrew, is one of the most diverse.  Separated into six sections, all very different from each other, the population comes from a variety of backgrounds.  Ramot is one of the newer areas, with construction commencing during the 1970s, with different architects handling different sections.

Ramot Aleph was built for middle-class families and features mainly apartments.  Ramot Bet boasts streets of spacious single-family homes, which is pretty much a luxury in Jerusalem.  Because of this, Ramot Bet is known as a prosperous area, inhabited mainly by Modern Orthodox and secular Jews.  Many immigrants choose to live here, especially those looking for something similar to their own hometown.  Ramot Six is also private homes, but are terraced and smaller.  The remaining districts offer variations between these two extremes.

MUSRARA

An old suburb, Musrara is central whilst being off the beaten track, near the Old City.  19th-century homes line leafy alleyways, with an abundance of art galleries and arty people.  This is in total contrast to its violent history of conflict with Jordan.  Musrara is now in high demand.

HAR HOMA

Located with a birds-eye view of the rolling Judean Hills and Bethlehem, this is a new suburb and is popular with both Israelis and immigrants, mainly due to the cheaper real estate.  Before the establishment of the State, a Jewish group bought a tract of land here and planted a forest, making the area scenic and peaceful.  Har Homa means Wall Mountains after a wall that was built on top of the ruins of a Byzantine church.

Who Lives and Works in Jerusalem

With a population of 865,700, most expats employed in country’s major economic sectors: health and welfare, education, tourism, high-tech industries and industrial manufacturing – the local diamond industry is a world-centre for diamond cutting and polishing.  Israel is relatively poor in natural resources and relies on imports.  This may change after discoveries of natural gas off the coastline, along with solar energy playing a major role.

The highly-educated workforce is visibly bolstered by well-educated relocated personnel and immigrants.  However, large-scale industry has been hampered by the preservation of the historic character of the city, which prevented growth.  The city’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site brings in countless pilgrim and tourists, especially the Old City with the four Quarters, Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim as a particular highlight.

The high-tech boom is a direct result of a highly educated and motivated populace, along with its excellent university education.

International business leaders such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Donald Trump and Carlos Slim have invested heavily in the country, praising Israel’s economy.

The Best Bits

The city can be divided into three: East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem, and the Old City, with its ancient stone walls.  Access to the Old City is via seven gateways, where you’ll find Jerusalem’s most prominent attractions.

  • The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or the Kotel. This is the most historic site for the Jewish faith.  It is a remnant of King Herod’s Second Temple, dating back to the first century BC.
  • The Dome of the Rock. Jews believe this is the resting place of the Divine Presence and Muslims that Muhammad’s ascent to heaven took place here.  The Dome is distinctly Muslim, and encased in the golden structure is the rock where Muhammad prayed with Gabriel.
  • West Jerusalem, outside of the Old City, is brimming with lively markets, shops, restaurants, and bars, especially Jaffa Road and Ben-Yehuda Street.
  • East Jerusalem is the thriving hub of the Arab community. It is nowhere near as modern as West Jerusalem, especially just outside Herod’s and Damascus Gates.
  • The Mount of Olives, situated in East Jerusalem, is a 20-minute walk east of the Old City. Once covered with olive groves, this is the primary burial grounds of Jerusalem, including the graves of Absalom and Zechariah.
  • Mahane Yehuda, a pulsating market, is the place to buy aromatic spices, and almost anything else. The smell of fresh falafel, along with the voices of the 250 merchants, the market is busy every day, but especially Fridays when Jews are stocking up for Sabbat.
  • This green city has a multitude of parks from Independence Park in the city centre to the huge, sprawling Gan Sacher. There are 1,578 public parks and gardens.
  • There are 60-plus museums in Jerusalem and, for theatres lovers, a vibrant, rich theatre scene.
  • The wall around the Old City measures two and a half miles.
  • The Montefiore Windmill was built by English Jewish philanthropist, Moses Montefiore. There is not enough wind in Jerusalem to turn the blades consistently.
  • A 14-year old tiger in the Zoological Centre in Israel underwent acupuncture after antibiotics did not cure an ear infection.
Bringing the Kids

The Israeli School System consists of four sections: Mamlachti or secular state schools, Mamlachti dati or religious state schools, Hinuch Atsmai or independent Haredi schools, and Arab Schools, where Arabic is the language of instruction.

Pre-school is mandatory for one year, followed by six years at primary school, three years of lower secondary, then three years of upper secondary school.  State schools are free of fees.

International and private schools are recommended for older children or short-stay expats.  There are three international schools here, but they have long waiting lists and are quite expensive.  St Georges School and St Georges College are two private schools in the city.

Homeschooling is legal in Israel, but one would need to get permission from the Ministry of Education.

There are a number universities and dozens of colleges in the city.  Jerusalem is world-renowned for its university education.

Relocating to Jerusalem

The capital of Israel, with its strong cultural and religious background, has more than its fair share of historical monuments, along with proximity to both the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.  With strengths in education, tourism, industrial manufacturing and the recently discovered natural gas, and great choices in accommodation and areas, this is an ideal place for working expats as well as families.  This incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its unique, diverse areas, a strong economy and a superb standard of living has a low crime rate, but it can appear daunting at first.  In order to settle your family into a new, very different way of life, the service of a relocation specialist will help quell your fears.  From enrolling the kids into schools, to lease negotiations, furniture removals and spousal support, make yours a stress-free move.

ABOUT THIS AREA

City Centre
Family friendly
Good Schools
Great Transport
Restaurants
Suburban Living Near City
Average Monthly Rent - Jerusalem
1 bed, city centre 4,192 ILS (£885)
1 bed, outside of city 2,420 ILS (£510)
3 bed, city centre 7,865 ILS (£1660)
3 bed, outside of city 4,593 ILS (£970)
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