Sunday, August 17, 2008

Six days

Not the war. How much time we have left here. Six days.

This morning I took Barak up to the kanyon, otherwise known as the mall; we took the bus, did a big grocery shop at Mr. Zol (literally, Mr. Cheap, but it isn't at all--Sheffa Shuk was a lot less expensive), and I am pleased to report that I successfully managed to order grocery delivery in Hebrew. I wasn't totally sure it would arrive, but it did. Barak left his hat in the store, but we went back and got it, and then took the bus back home.

We spent, just for the record, a little over NIS 500 on groceries today. It was what I would consider a normal week's grocery shop, not counting fruit, vegetables, milk, or bread, which I usually buy daily. That's around $150. There were some expensive items in there--a pack of diapers, a five-pack of wipes--but those are normal components of our grocery tab. I did not buy anything along the lines of paper goods, cleaning supplies, shampoo, or anything like that. I also did not buy any meat, although I did buy some extra things to take back to the States, which probably balanced that out. This means that I can reasonably expect to spend around $800 a month on food here--about a quarter of what I could expect my monthly take-home income to be. And our kids aren't even eating that much yet. And we have all boys.

How do people do it here? The food costs more. The housing costs the same. Transportation, so far as buses, is slightly cheaper and much better, and maybe clothes are cheaper, but the quality is lower so they don't last as long. I know that part of how expensive everything feels is the weak dollar, but even with the dollar being weak American salaries are still way higher than Israeli salaries. How in the world does anyone buy an apartment here, let alone a house or a car? I feel like I've asked everyone in the world this and the most common answer is a shrug and a gaze off into the middle distance. I've had a few people tell me that they rely on nissim, which is one approach I guess but it's not one I'm entirely comfortable with myself.

Yes, tuition is much lower here. That's huge. But we're not really paying that yet, so we're not feeling it as much.

I'd better go help Abba get the kids out of the bathtub. More later.


crunchygranolamom said...

Well, most Israelis I know seem to have a different view of "overdraft" than we Americans do....I think everyone is in perpetual debt and, b/c "everyone" is doing it, it's fine. Thank goodness no one is jumping off a bridge!

Enjoy your time there, U-I!

shanna said...

I would imagine that health care (socialized) is cheaper. That's probably a significant chunk of things.

Yasmin said...

I think I missed why you had to move to a new apartment. Do you like it? Were you just test-driving a different neighborhood?

The boys sound like they're really into everything and that it's been a great experience for them. Reassuring, isn't it, given your hopes for future homes?

My aunt lives half the time (the cooler half) in Israel. I think she has an apartment in Tel Aviv. She's retired so I don't imagine there's a whole lot of disposable income; now I'm curious how she does it, but it seems a little tactless to ask if she's living off her 2nd husband's retirement pay.

LC said...

Speaking of health care in Israel, I keep hearing about "private" doctors - so is Israeli socialized medicine only good if everyone's healthy and you just need routine exams anyway? How does the system work?

Israel Mom said...

I was thinking about what you said about grocery bills and such, and thought to myself "how exactly ARE we living here, anyway?" and came up with this:

- Tuition is cheap

- Health care is cheap

- No car (meaning, no gas, no insurance and no car maintenance)

- No extras. We visit America about once a year and buy clothes there - mostly in second hand stores - so we don't do a lot of clothes buying here. We don't really go out to eat or play or things like that. We use buses (not taxis) and do free activities, like the park and kotel.

- The biggest thing is that we own our apt without a significant mortgage every month. If we were paying over $1000/month for rent I don't know if we would be so ok about the money situation.

So I guess I'm in the "sigh and look towards heaven" category too ... :)