Wealth or Aliyah?
BY NADAV ELLINSON
We stand on Rosh Hashanah and reflect. “Who will become poor and who will grow rich?” For those considering Aliyah, it’s a reflection that often leads to stress and even fear. “What kind of job can I hope to find when I’m not fluent in Hebrew?” “How will I afford a house on a lower salary?” It’s only natural to be anxious about moving across the ocean.
That being said, knowledge is power. I am here to tell you that it’s possible to not only make a living in Israel, but also to build wealth in Israel! Financial planning and a better understanding of Israel’s economy and financial system will give you the confidence you need to walk into the offices of Nefesh B’Nefesh and begin planning your Aliyah.
Here are four financial facts about Israel that can go a long way towards making your dream a reality:
- Several critical goods and services are cheaper in Israel. The cost of education, transportation, clothing, and communication are at or below the OECD average (based on purchasing power). Jewish education, in particular, is a game changer! Healthcare costs are also much lower than those in the United States, and are not dependent on having a job the moment you arrive.
- Most young Israelis will have comfortable retirements. Since 2008, every employee must deposit 6% of their salary to a retirement fund, with a 2.5x match from their employer. Together with a 4x match on a tax-free “hishtalmut” investment fund, offered by many employers, Israelis’ automatic savings rate can easily reach 30%, without lifting a finger.
- There are wonderful employment opportunities for English-speaking employees in certain sectors. The standout is obviously high-tech, where salaries are among the highest for the sector in the world, but companies in a large variety of fields value English speakers.
- Olim benefit from a 10-year tax break on foreign income. Olim from many countries can completely avoid paying capital gains tax to both Israel and their home country.
Israel is not only our homeland and a great country. Living here can be a smart financial move. This year, when we say “who will become poor and who will grow rich?”, may we not only feel humility and reverence, but also a quiet confidence that we can support our families and achieve financial success in Eretz Yisrael.
Nadav Ellinson is originally from Melbourne, and now lives in Modiin. He was the Merakez of Bnei Akiva Melbourne and, after Aliyah, co-founder of the high-tech company Intelligo Group and the nonprofit Maaglei Nefesh. Today he is a personal finance consultant and the founder of moneyby.design, helping families with budgeting, financial planning and investment education. More finance content and tips can be found on his blog at moneyby.design and on his social media channels.