Nefesh B’Nefesh has always recommended taking a pilot trip to Israel prior to Aliyah. A pilot trip allows Olim to check out different communities, network, and be able to visualize their lives in Israel. Taking a pilot trip has not always been a viable option for everyone. For some, it was too expensive, while others could not take the time off work or take their kids out of school.
So many things have moved to virtual – including pilot trips! Though you cannot come to do your research in person, with Facebook groups, LinkedIn, Zoom, and other virtual means of communication, you can successfully map out your Aliyah without ever stepping on a plane.
One of the most important aspects of your pilot trip is finding the right community to fit your needs. Among other things, you need to consider what climate you want, whether you are looking for a city or a small town, what educational opportunities are available, access to work, whether you are looking for a large Anglo community, demographics, and other specific needs such as access to medical services, local groups and activities, and volunteer opportunities. You might even want to consider the topography of an area – take into account that some cities in Israel have quite steep hills.
Start browsing the Nefesh B’Nefesh Community Guide and join Facebook groups such as Israel Communities for Anglo Olim to connect with other Olim and learn more about various communities all over Israel. Once you have narrowed down a few communities that you are interested in, join the local community Facebook groups to ask questions about your individual needs, and connect with people who live there. Once you have figure out where you want to live, secure a short-term rental (check out AirBNB) to test out the community upon arrival and to use as a home-base while you search for a long-term accommodation. Yad2 and Madlan are Israel’s leading real estate websites, but neither are available in English. That is why we created step-by-step guides in English for navigating these websites: Yad2 Real Estate Guide and Madlan Guide.
One of the main goals of your virtual pilot trip is to research job opportunities in your field, network, and make connections with professional colleagues in Israel. It is highly unusual to find employment before actually moving to Israel, but you can jump-start your search by building up a strong professional network and conducting extensive market research – all of which is possible from abroad with the help of Facebook and Linkedin! If you have any trouble making professional connections in your field, please reach out to the Nefesh B’Nefesh Employment Department who will be happy to assist you.
NBN Job Board – to see professional opportunities in your field
Nefesh B’Nefesh – Jobs in Israel – Facebook group, connect with other job seekers and employers
Nefesh B’Nefesh Linkedin Group – to connect with fellow Olim who have moved their careers to Israel.
For those who are planning to find a job after Aliyah, you may not be able to work immediately upon arriving in Israel – don’t worry, that is normal. It is therefore important to plan out your budget for your first few months of Aliyah. Check out our article on Budgeting your First Year of Aliyah.
Make sure to join Living Financially Smarter in Israel on Facebook to learn about the current conversations regarding finances in Israel, to ask any questions you may have, and connect with financial professionals who can help you map out your Aliyah.
If you are making Aliyah as a retiree, you may want to specifically look for a community with other retirees who lead active lives. Most cities have community centers, sports facilities, volunteer opportunities, and English-speaking clubs. It is also important to investigate the financial ramifications of retiring in Israel and what will happen with your American funds and pension. We recommend joining our Facebook group English Speaking Olim 50+ to connect with other Olim in a similar stage of life who are encountering the same issues that you are so you can make friends and learn about the process you are about to go through.
Ready for your virtual pilot trip? Please reach out with any questions and our experts at NBN will be happy to assist you!
Check out our upcoming community webinars:
Communities in Israel: Mateh Binyamin Regional Council
Communities in Israel: Ramat Gan
Communities in Israel: Beit Shemesh and Ramat Beit Shemesh
Communities in Israel: Netanya
Recently recorded community webinars:
Netanya for Retirees and Empty Nesters
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for Young Professionals