Buying a home before moving to Israel

>>I have a question re: your aliyah to Karmiel . . . Did you buy a place?  I am asking because I spoke to a realtor, who mentioned a large family from the States that just bought; I am speculating that this is you.  If so, I would greatly appreciate some information about your purchase process. We’re getting a lot of mixed eitzah (advice) on this. Lots of warnings against, notwithstanding the fact of a really tight rental market. Not sure what to do.<<

Yes, we did buy an apartment.  Buying in a place one hasn’t yet lived in (or even visited) is unusual, so I’ll share what we did and why. 

The Israeli real estate market is the third hottest in the world.  Prices are going up constantly because there’s simply not enough housing.  The purchase prices in Karmiel have gone up about 25% in the last six months, and I believe they will continue rising steadily for a number of reasons.  Though the traditional advice to those making aliyah is to rent for at least a year before buying anything, I didn’t feel this was the best way for us to go. 

Firstly, in a year the purchase price in all likelihood would be higher, and in a year our money wouldn’t go as far.  (As it is, a year ago we could have bought a house or very nicely renovated large apartment for what we’re paying now.)  We were able to qualify for a purchase based on our current income; I don’t know when my husband will find a job in Israel and how much he’ll make once he does.  Due to our family size and the regulations governing how much you have to make, we’d have to make an additional 1000 shekels a month per child in addition to the amount we’d need to make for qualifying for the loan, we’d be looking at a monthly income that would be extremely high and more typical of two high earning spouses combined.  Not having that kind of income would necessitate getting co-signers for the loan, something I wanted to avoid.

Since the majority of apartments for rent are 2 or 3 bedrooms or large houses, it’s not easy to find a rental for a family our size, and not easy to find someone who wants to rent to a family our size.  (Actually, right now it’s not easy to find a rental in Karmiel, period.)  My kids will have enough transitions without having to make another move in the near future by leaving a starter rental for something else – I really wanted to start off in our own home to give them an added sense of stability.  And I didn’t want the pressure of worrying how much our rent would increase when it was time to re-sign the lease in a year.  (Rental prices have risen quite a bit recently, as well.)

I understand why the advice is given to rent for a year – to give people a chance to decide where they want to live and not burden them with home ownership.  Our experience as tenants in all the homes that we’ve lived in but one was that when something went wrong, we had to deal with it even when it wasn’t officially our responsibility.  To me, renting (in this scenario, not always) felt like all of the stresses with none of the benefits of home ownership, along with the additional pressures of renting.  
I anticipate that Karmiel is going to become a much more popular place to live – I may be wrong and we’ll be happy living there as it is – but that feeling gave me a push to move forward now while we had the chance.  What we did was very unusual, but it was very much a move based on looking forward rather than waiting for the future to hit us in the face.   This isn’t the right approach to everyone – but we feel it will simplify our aliyah process by allowing us to focus on starting our new life.

4 thoughts on “Buying a home before moving to Israel

  1. We did the same hing years ago, we bought a house in Canada before we emigrated and only saw a small picture of the house. Thirty years and 8 children later we still live in the same house, it was renovated a few times. We love living here and didn’t have to worry about renting

  2. Dear Aviva, I came across your blog as I´m researching in order to decide if making aliyah is the right choice for my family and I. In the community information that I have come across, Karmiel keeps coming up as a place that may be a good fit. In fact, I have already contacting people that are involved with aliyah in the area and they too agree based on our profile. I would love to get some more insight from you on what a move to Karmiel entails for all practical aspects. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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