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Living in Israel as an American

This is going to be a deep dive into what it is like for me living in Israel as an American… the good.  The bad.  And the ugly.

Inside of this article, I will be sharing what I consider to be the best things about living in Israel.  I will also share what it is like living in Israel without speaking Hebrew.

You will learn about the cost of living in Israel.  And, you will get a few tips for going to the Misrad Hapnim (immigration) offices.

Firstly, I want to point out some of the best things about living in Israel.  Let’s start with the bright side of things.

My favorite thing about living in Israel as an American, is that Israel is NOT a violent place.

Compared to Los Angeles, California (which is where I am originally from) there is a lot less violence in Israel.  You won’t see any street gangs.  You rarely hear about random shootings happening.  And in addition, there is a lower number of robberies and burglaries per year.

Those were just three examples.

If you don’t live in Israel and have never visited here, you probably are under the belief that Israel is a very violent and dangerous place.  However, it’s absolutely not true.  Trust me on this.  I know the difference.

Another thing I like about living in Israel, is that the food is much healthier here.

In Israel there aren’t as many processed foods, and you won’t have so many chemicals in everything you eat.  This leads to healthier people, and less obesity.

If I was to examine the Israeli diet, overall people eat much healthier.  There is much more eating of salads, fruits, and vegetables.  Moreover, there aren’t a lot of bready substances consumed with every meal. As you probably know, Israel is the vegan capital of the world.

Oh, and you can’t forget the hummus.

And the third thing I like about living in Israel as an American, is that there is far less “Political Correctness”.

Israeli people are very, very straightforward and brutally honest.  If they have thoughts about racism, or sexism, politicism, or any of the “…isms” out there, you will hear about it from them.

Growing up and living most of my life in California, people have to filter through things heavily before saying them.  This happens in North America, and many European countries, because people are much more sensitive.

This is not the case in Israel.

In Israel, people have tougher skin about such things.  Moreover, because the way brutal truth works, there are fewer gray areas in conversations with people.

Your encounters with Israelis will be either very straightforward and truthful, or filled with clear, bold-faced lying.  So over time, you will get the feeling that you have gained the skill of seeing people for exactly who they are… and this is a good thing.

But by now you must be asking yourself, “ What it is like living in Israel without speaking Hebrew? “

Well, lucky for me and you most Israelis speak English.  However, I want you to know where most of these Israelis are.  It’s in the center of the country, and in the major cities.

For example: Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are the two cities that you will find the most people speaking English.

Note: If you are outside of the center of Israel, the percentages are going to go down on the number of people around you that know how to speak English, however the lowest they go is the 40% range.

And certainly, you are going to deal with government offices.  Let’s talk about how that’s going to look for you.

One of the offices that you are going to need to deal with living in Israel as an American, is the “Misrad Hapnim”.

M-i-s-r-a-d and H-a-p-n-i-m.  Translated, The Ministry of Interior.  Meaning, the immigration offices where you will handle getting a Visa, Israeli ID or Israeli Passport.

It’s an experience going in there, to say the least.  You will want to be prepared with all the required documents.  And I want you to know that inside of these offices they may or may not speak Hebrew.

So, how are you going to figure it out???

You will need to pre-meditate your plan.

My recommendation is to learn some valuable phrases that you are going to use with:

– Government Offices
– Doctors Offices
– Internet Companies
– Electric Companies
– Water Companies
– Etc.

You are going to be living in Israel without speaking Hebrew, but at least put the effort to know a few valuable phrases… you will be delighted you did.

Here are 2 Tips on Going to Misrad Hapnim in Israel:

1. Be Patient

At the time of this article, there is a global pandemic happening… the hours of Misrad Hapnim may be different.  Make sure to check out the links below for your best interest before just showing up to the office.

The process is slow and you need to be prepared to wait around for a bit of time.

Make sure that you book your appointment online at this website:

Have you ever heard of the word bureaucracy?  This is what you should expect.  It will not be easy.
Great news is that if you follow the tips in this article you will have a higher chance of having your trip to Misrad Hapnim in either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem… be much smoother.

2. Be Prepared

In order to gain entrance into the Misrad Hapnim offices, you will need to show proof of your appointment.  Meaning, if you want to take a chance at showing up at the offices without an appointment… you are gambling.

You will want to make sure that you have all of the required documents in order to make your life easy when visiting the Misrad Hapnim offices.

Make sure you check out all of the information here:

All of the above being said, I want to set you up for success and tell you a little about how and where to acquire the Hebrew language.

There’s a great few YouTube channels where you can learn how to communicate in Hebrew… if you want to.

YouTube learning is free! Here is a link to the best YouTube channel I have found to learn Hebrew:

Studying Hebrew before you move to Israel will benefit you immensely. With the craziness going on in the world right now, you will most likely have no option but to pursue an online education.

When I initially moved to Israel, I enjoyed the luxury of having a bit of money saved up.  Therefore, upon arriving in Israel I was able to sign up and go to a language school for learning Hebrew.

I went to what is called “Ulpan”. It was not terribly expensive, and it was incredibly valuable. So I always recommend that if you can, go to an online language school to learn the Hebrew language ASAP.

Here are 2 additional tips for living in Israel as an American without speaking Hebrew:

1. Use Google Translate

If you search for anything about living in Israel or moving to Israel on the internet, most of the search results will come back in Hebrew (with a VERY limited amount of information in English).

You will want to avoid depending on anybody to help you understand things… so depend on Google.

Install the Google Chrome Language Translate extension to make your life easier.  You will need to use it often if you don’t speak Hebrew.

2. Don’t Stress Out!

Once you start learning Hebrew, you will want to employ it.

What you will discover is that many Israelis will switch into English when they perceive you struggling in Hebrew.  This happens in order to make life easier for everyone in the conversation, and to move faster along.

Don’t stress out about it, but try not to speak English when this happens!  Continue to practice your skills and inform the other person in the conversation that you are trying to learn Hebrew.

Keep pushing along until the Hebrew language becomes easier for you.

And YES, it is possible for you to fulfill your dreams while living in Israel without speaking Hebrew… but I don’t want to sugar coat anything.

So now I want to talk about the struggle that I go through living in Israel as an American.

Struggle #1 that I deal with in Israel is Racial Prejudice

Yes, I experience racial prejudice in Israel.  As an African-American living in Israel, I can tell you I have experienced prejudice many times.

Most of the “minorities” that you’ll find in Israel are Africans, Filipinos, and Indians.  I promise you that if you meet any one of these ethnicities here in Israel, they will have a story of how they’ve experienced racial prejudice at some point.

I am 100% sure of this.

A majority of the living in Israel are light-skinned and the “minorities” I just mentioned above are not light-skinned in that way.

Don’t get me wrong, I have experienced prejudice in America but it is a completely different ball game in Israel.

In Israel, “minorities” are very, very few and far between. Meaning, you are able to go for large periods of time without seeing any “minorities” when you travel throughout the country.

Fact:  I have been called a “nigger” in Israel.

Struggle #1.5 that I deal with living in Israel is Religious Prejudice.

Israel is a Jewish state and the majority of people who live here are Jewish.

Quick Side Note:

No, I’m not Christian but I have read the New Testament of the Bible.  Nope, I’m not Muslim but I have read the Quran.  In addition, I’m not Jewish but I have read the Torah.

I have read these religious texts word for word.  Moreover, I have also read other texts including the Book of Mormon, The Dhammapada, and various other Hindu, Buddhist, and Daoist writings.

I choose not to take any religious stance and yes, I have experienced backlash in Israel because of this.

When I give the response that I’m not Jewish upon questioning, I can sense a deep disconnection of a preferable commonality.  I’ve been asked questions about my religious beliefs during border crossings and job interviews which is uncomfortable for me.

I had many religious discussions in the workplace, as religion is a major factor in the country of Israel.  So, the fact that I am not religious in a very religious country remains a struggle of mine.

Struggle #2 Living in Israel as an American is the loss of holidays.

Whenever people are born and raised in a certain location (in my case California), they get used to that lifestyle.  They get used to their holidays. I lost Christmas, I lost Halloween, and I lost Thanksgiving.

These are great holidays in the US because there’s a sense of bonding amongst the civilians inside the country when these holidays happen.  The decorated stores and houses, and TV advertisements exist of beautiful messaging of unity.

Part of my struggle is missing out on the holidays and every time they happen, I think back to when I was living in the US enjoying these holidays with my family and friends which leads to the…

The third hardest thing about living in Israel as an American is that I live super far from my family.

I can’t blame it on anybody else as I voluntarily moved away from my family… but part of the struggle of living in Israel is that I miss them a lot.  Icing on the cake is that because they are in the West Coast, there is a massive and extreme time difference between the two countries.

Although I am not super close with my family, I miss them.

So now let’s shift a little bit into the cost of living in Israel as an American.

The Cost of Food in Israel:

Firstly, I want to talk about is the cost to feed yourself in Israel.  Please note that the examples I will use below are just a few of the many differences in the prices of consumables in Israel.

The Cost of Bread:

Bread is 1.5 times as expensive.  For Example: Let’s say that it costs $1.25 USD for a loaf of bread in America. Plan to pay $2.00 USD for a loaf of bread in Israel.

The Cost of a Coca-Cola (beverages):

I don’t drink 6-packs or 12-packs of soda, but I just wanted to use Coca-Cola as an example because you are familiar with the brand name.

Upon research, I found that the cost of a six-pack of Coca-Cola in Israel is the same cost (converting NIS to USD) as a 12-pack of Coca-Cola in the U.S.A.

Here is another example I can relate with living in Israel as an American:  Buying any beverage from a corner store.

A beverage at a 7-11 or AM/PM probably costs you about $1.00 USD in America.  When you come to Israel, plan to pay the equivalent of $3.00 USD for that same exact drink.

I know it’s not healthy, but I love McDonald’s.

The cost of McDonald’s in Israel is about three times as much as it would cost in the United States.  Whenever I take my daughter to go for lunch or dinner at McDonalds… it’s a pain in the ass (and pockets!).

For Example: If you were to go to a McDonald’s in the United States, you would pay around $5.00 USD for a meal. In Israel, would pay the equivalent of $15.00 USD for that same exact meal.

The Cost of Clothing in Israel:

Firstly, we are not talking about the same brands that exist in the United States.  There are completely different chain stores that you’ll see in the malls around Israel.

Plan on shopping at different places, and plan on paying twice as much for the same clothing items. I am referring to the cost of sweatshirts, t-shirts, shoes, pants, etc.

Automobile Costs in Israel vs America:

Keep that in mind that if you move to Israel and you are living on a budget, the public transportation here is great.  Public transportation in Israel is very efficient, and you can get most places in the country using the Dan, or Egged bus systems.

However, if you are the type of person who needs to have his/her own car… I recommend saving up a lot of money.  Why?  Because having a car is a luxury in Israel.  The cost of buying a car is close to 4x as much as you would pay for the same car, in the United States.

Incredible right?

If you are thinking about moving to Israel then I hope this article helped you in some way and if you already live in Israel and you read this article to this point, I hope you were able to relate and enjoyed it as well!

And to all of you, have a great day, and please feel free to contact me with any questions. Take care.

About the creator of Living in Israel as an American…

My name is Claude Lee Massey, I’ve been living in Tel Aviv for 10+ years… and what an adventure it has been!  I remember the day I arrived in Israel, I had NO money – NO friends – and NO job.  So, how exactly did I become a life coach and career counselor in Tel Aviv, Israel?

Here is my story…

About five years ago (after 15+ years of soul-searching), I had a realization:  That I was put here on this planet to teach and to share the knowledge I have.  Along with that powerful revelation, I had a powerful insight: “I want to open my own consulting business”.

As the start-up capital of the world, Israel has plenty of new companies with growing English speaking sales teams.  Therefore, with my 15+ years of experience in the field of sales, I decided to open a sales training/consulting company.

I never thought that I would open my own business in Israel…but I did!

At once, I went to an accountant to file the proper paperwork to legally operate my NEW sales consulting company.  Afterwards, I began to use all of my spare time (at this point I had a full-time job for a high-tech company) after work and before work creating materials and trying to acquire clients.

Most importantly, I knew what I had to do and whom I wanted to target. 

SalesDevelopmentIsrael.comI started cold calling companies in Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Ramat Gan, Jerusalem, Bat Yam, and Holon.  Moreover, I was working like a madman.  I was sending emails and doing everything in my power to try to generate momentum in my business. 

It was, and is brutal being an entrepreneur, but great news!  I was able to find my first few clients!

Something I immediately noticed, was at the conclusion of my sales training workshops (where I focused on selling through telling stories, and teaching specific sales techniques), two things would happen consistently happen:

Firstly, I would receive feedback that the sales training workshop provided massive value.  Secondly, one or two of the students in the course would privately approach me. 

They would speak with me about their struggles, not only in sales but also in life.

Then one time, a female student offered to pay me for a one-on-one sit down session outside of the office.  She asked me to help her figure out a better career path.  As a struggling entrepreneur, I accepted.  

Another student, at another company, approached me and offered to pay me for my time to help prepare him for a job interview.  Yes, he was planning to leave the sales job that he was at.

Similarly, another student from another workshop, at another company me to help them work with their confidence and being able to communicate efficiently.  This would happen again, and again…

Each person with his or her own challenge.  They knew I was not certified or professionally trained.  Still, they would approach me and offer to pay me for my time.

To sit with them and help figure things out, and to give them my guidance.  These first clients called me their “Life Coach” or “Career Counselor“.

Moreover, I was able to help them!  At the conclusion of our 3 to 5 one-on-one sessions, they each had taken took massive steps forward towards the results they wanted.

Eventually, enough people paid me to sit down with them, and called me their Career Counselor or Life Coach… that I began to call myself a “Career Counselor” and ”Life Coach”.

Most people set out to become a trained and certified life coach or career counselor before ever having a client.  However, I never said I wanted to be a life coach or a career counselor,

This interesting and fulfilling profession came to me, literally.

And that is the super-short story of how I began life coaching and career counseling in Tel Aviv Israel.

Now 5 years later, I can say that I’m happy to say I have helped thousands of people just like you.

<—  Contact Me Today for a FREE consultation  —>

 Phone: +972-052-413-5562



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Living in Israel as an American – Claude Lee Massey – Life Coach and Career Counseling in Tel Aviv Israel