Shalom to every one of our readers. We welcome you to a special edition of this week’s blog section: being poor in Israel. Today, we are going to be giving our readers an inside look on financial conditions of average households in Israel. Why? We have received a lot of questions asking us why it is so difficult to “make it” in Israel. So, we thought the appropriate thing to do was to show the breakdown of normal living standards and what it takes to live in Israel.

Before we get started, let it be known that the minimum wage in Israel is 4,774 shekels per month. The average salary (pre-tax) around the country is far less than the average salary in the greater Tel Aviv area. While Tel Aviv is no doubt a large city, it (and the immediate surrounding areas) contains less than 20% of the country’s population. So the majority of the country is “underperforming” significantly compared to Tel Aviv. Even for the middle class outside of Tel Aviv, the average household takes in roughly 12,500 shekels per month after tax. It is extremely difficult to live on this amount if a couple has just three children. Let’s take a look at the breakdown of the basic necessities and their expenses for a family of just five (2 adults, 3 children:

Mortgage/Rent 3000/month
Property Tax 300/month
Utilities 900/month
Food 2500/month
Transportation 500/month
Health Insurance 300/month
Cell Phones 300/month
Kid Schooling 400/month
Child Day Care (for 2 children under 3 years of age) 1000/month
Extra-Curricular Programs for Kids 400/month
Clothes 400/month

Keep in mind that the above chart shows the absolute bare minimum of costs for living in Israel. In fact, the above chart doesn’t even take into account medicine, tutoring or miscellaneous expenses. Two people making minimum wage salaries can’t even afford to live based off the chart above. The total expenses far exceed total income as shown in the chart above. The expenses listed above come out to 10,000 NIS. And again, they don’t take into account other unforeseen monthly costs which are certainties.

Moreover, if we were to look at expenses of a national-religious family in Israel, the expenses above increase by about 30%. The mortgage payment will be higher. The same goes for property tax, transportation (as they likely have a car), and child day care. Their “upgraded” salary then means little in the grand scheme of things, as they will be in the same boat as two people making minimum wage salaries. Essentially, even the middle class are suffering.

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