The food is quite good, as is the gelato. Don’t forget the Libyan, Ethiopian, and Yemeni offerings.
Poverty is more evident than I had expected, and one wonders whether extreme Israeli income inequality is a harbinger of a broader global future. A simple, small bottle of mouthwash costs about $10. It is surprising, for this American, to see beggars wearing yarmulkes.
How much of the high cost of living here is from inefficient retail and consolidation? How much from “the Island effect”? Since the locals feel the high costs too, we cannot rely on the productivity of the tradeables sector as an explanation. As for the rent, when it comes to construction permits, Israel ranks #137 (!, pdf) on the World Bank’s Doing Business Index. Yet the quality of the construction is often somewhat ramshackle, although I expect the Wall and the Iron Dome to last for some while.
Cost of living aside, I imagine living in Tel Aviv as quite pleasant, and I prefer it to most of the other Mediterranean cities I have visited. The Israel Museum in Jerusalem displays its collection wonderfully.
I am basing this following comment on a limited sample, but so far I have found this country to have a disproportionately large share of taxi drivers who are Jewish, at least compared to anywhere else I have visited.
Sometimes the security question consists simply of “Do you have a weapon?” I do not.
Against my expectation, Jerusalem is a more populous city than Tel Aviv.
Natasha cannot pass for an American here.