My family made aliyah to Netanya 3 years ago, so I have a bit of
experience to share. The first thing is that unfortunately the nicer
neighborhoods are not so affordable. When we first arrived, we rented
a lovely apartment in the most desirable neighborhood for Anglos, on
Shlomo Hamelech, right by Young Israel, a block from the beach. It
was a wonderful place to live, but when our lease was up we decided
we'd rather own than continue renting. That apartment at the time was
$350,000. We ended up 2km from the beach, in a new apartment in an
old neighborhood for $180,000 instead. There are no other English
speakers in our current neighborhood at all. There is a shul (Lybian)
literally right outside our front door. The elementary school our
kids go to is a 20-minute walk (it was 10 minutes from the other
apartment). It's a 15-20 minute walk to the shuk. There is a bus.

Our kids are very happy where we are now, and we got an apartment we
couldn't afford anywhere else in Israel, except maybe in some of the
less popular settlements.

There are drawbacks. It's been difficult for my wife, whose Hebrew is
not as good as mine or the kids. I have friends from shul, she's just
starting to meet the people around us.

Interestingly, this is known as a "bad" neighborhood. I think it's
more reputation than fact, though. I don't see any crime. No drugs.
The car thieves don't come here, but our friend's car was stolen from
the Good Neighborhood. Our neighbors may be from a lower wage-earning
bracket, but they're good people as far as I can tell. Kids play
outside, people sit on the balconies and in their gardens and have a
good time. It's a neighborhood.

I'd suggest you rent an apartment in the area of the beach at first,
like we did, and take a few months to a year to learn the city. If
you're planning on buying, you should be aware that housing prices are
on the rise here, in all neighborhoods, including ours. (There's an
apartment in our building for sale if you're interested :) )

As for Netanya in general, we love it. The shopping is fantastic.
There are all the same mall stores as the rest of the country, but the
prices are lower. We have a shuk, which guarantees the lowest prices
on fresh foods. And we have the beach. The French come here for
vacation in the Summer, so Kikar atzmaut is a big party three months
out of the year. There are restaurants, street vendors, artists and
craftsmen, etc. every night.

The elementary school my son goes to won the National Prize this year
as the top Religious Public Elementary in the country.
The middle/high school my daughter
is going to has the highest bagrut scores of any religious public
school. For all the problems the Israeli educational system faces, at
least I know my kids are getting the best out of what there is.

August 2008

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