Friday, March 04, 2011

Lessons learned, part 3 of 4

9. Everything costs more here. Everything. My tendency when packing is to be minimalist, but I really wish I had packed more of those little random things—needles and thread, first aid items, sippy cups. School supplies here? Three times the price, if you want good quality. Barak desperately wanted a backpack like his classmates’, so I bought him one, but oh do I wish I had stocked up at Target the previous August. There is no such thing here as a $1 pack of crayola markers. A pack of good quality pencils is $4. Bring it. Yes, you can buy everything here, but you’ll pay more and it won’t last as long.

10. Leave room in your budget for the unexpected. For us, there were two huge unexpected expenses: transportation and food. We did not expect to be paying about NIS 800 a month to get children to and from school, and we did not know that the cafeteria food would be so soy-laden that two of our kids couldn’t eat most of it. It threw an extra NIS 2000 onto our monthly expenses. When you thought you’d be able to manage the first year on your sal klita, that’s a huge difference.

11. NBN grants are not what they once were. The economy is down, their fundraising is down, and the days of $18k grants are gone. I did not know this when I applied and it was a very big shock to get our grant letter. Obviously any gift is wonderful, helpful and appreciated; I am very grateful for what they gave us. But don’t count on the money, or even on any ballpark amount that you think likely. As I was told, "we give away as much as we have," and what they have changes month to month.

12. Ask for help. Forget that American thing of self-reliance. You can’t make aliya without other people. Try not to call the same person every time, but get over the not wanting to call. You have to. When someone offers to help, put their number in your cell phone.

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