Israel’s Hardest Working, Safest, Most Cultured Cities

The Central Bureau of Statistic releases a snapshot of life in 14 localities.

Daniel Bar-On

Thinking of quitting your hometown for a better life somewhere else in Israel?

The Central Bureau of Statistics is here to help. Preliminary data from their Society in Israel report released on Tuesday offers a quick guide to which of Israel’s 14 biggest cities had the most employed, the most high-tech, the safest streets, the greenest habits and the most physically active residents. It also points to where you can hope to live the longest – or at least have the longest-living neighbors – in 2013.

Rishon Letzion was the hardest-working city in the country, with 69.8% of the working- age population holding a job. But if you are in high-tech, the places to be are Rehovot and Petah Tikva, where 20.8% and 18.3%, respectively, of all employed people work in the sector.

If you don’t’ care where you’re working so long as you can get there quickly, look to Bnei Brak, Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv, where between 39% and 53% of working residents say they enjoy a commuting time of less than 15 minutes.

Keep clear of Bat Yam and — if you’re counting on a high-tech career as well as an easy trip to the office — Rehovot, too: 50% and 44% of their working residents say they have to spend 15 to 30 minutes or more to get to work.

And about that short Bnei Brak commute: That could be because a mere 44.6% of the working age population has a job at all, the lowest percentage in the country, presumably keeping the streets clear for the morning rush hour. In Jerusalem, which like Bnei Brak has a large ultra-Orthodox population, only 47.6% of working age residents had a job.

Oddly enough, residents of the cities with some of the lowest income levels – Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva and Bnei Brak – reported the highest level of satisfaction with their take home pay, between 60% and 66% of those surveyed. Only 43.5% of Bat Yam residents were satisfied with their income, but at 6,854 shekels ($1,864) a month, the third lowest of the 14 cities, that is not a surprise; what is is that only 57.3% of Tel Aviv residents were satisfied with their take-home pay, even though they were the top earners at an average of 11,801 shekels.

The most cultured cities in the survey were Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv, Petah Tikva, Rishon Letzion and Holon, where more than 70% of the residents said they had been to the cinema, theater or another cultural activity in the past year. Some 56% of Tel Avivians said they had been to a museum or art exhibit.

The safest cities were Holon, Ramat Gan and Rishon Letzion, where 78% of the residents said they felt safe going out at night. The fittest cities were Rehovot and Ashdod, where 44% and 40% of the respondents said they engaged in some kind of physical activity three times or more a week. The flabbiest were Holon and Bat Yam, where only a quarter claimed they met the standard.

As for green credentials, the city that recycled the biggest percentage of its trash in 2012 was Holon (10.3%) while Petah Tikva does the least (3.6%). On the whole, the record for recycling in Israel has improved a lot, with cities like Be’er Sheva increasing its recycling to 9.8% of all waste in 2012 from just 3.3% three years earlier.

At 83.9 years, Ramat Gan residents have the longest life expectancy by a wide margin. But not far away, Bat Yam residents have a mere 80.6 years, the lowest among the 14 cities.