Living the Israeli Dream Without Busting the Budget

According to a recent poll, most Israelis yearn for a private house with a garden. That's eminently achievable, but you'll have to make geographic compromises.

Where would most people in Israel live if they had their druthers? Our dream home remains, as it has long been, a private house with a garden in a small community or country environment.

About 75% of 305 respondents in a Panels survey of a representative national sample on behalf of TheMarker said they would live in a single-family home if budget wasn't a factor - and 56% of those said they preferred a rural village or small town. The dream, apparently, isn't far out of reach: Over 90,000 detached homes have been built in recent years. The problem is they're not always geographically within reach.

Situated 200 meters from the Hasbani river in the north, this detached house will cost you NIS 1.6 m

Penthouses - a luxurious accommodation usually dominated by the upper crust - were preferred by just 12.5% of respondents. Third place went to average, ordinary apartments, apparently chosen by those whose dreams aren't characterized by the type of housing they occupy. Coming in fourth with just 4.3% were luxury apartments in exclusive high-rises, despite all the eye-popping ad campaigns.

Do we realize our dreams? Sadly we do not, according to records of property transactions.

The first analysis was performed by MNA Real Estate Research and used the Israel Tax Authority database on property transactions in 2011 - the best source for this type of information, despite its frequent inaccuracies. The data indicates that 96.3% of homes purchased last year were regular apartments; 2% were garden apartments; 1% were detached houses; and the remaining 0.7% were penthouses.

This data is flawed, in that many houses aren't acquired ready-built: they're built independently on land previously bought for this purpose, so further examination requires taking into account the number of building starts. A recent report from the Housing and Construction Ministry shows that between 2006 and 2011, construction began on over 92,000 single-family homes. This number accounts for an impressive 44% of all housing units built during the five-year span. The largest number of these, 37,500, was built in the north of the country, while only 3,738 were built in the Tel Aviv area.

It may therefore be concluded that a detached home is an affordable dream, but the main problem in fulfilling it concerns finding the right location. Compromise is apparently the key, and what this entails varies between different individuals.

In the examples shown here, we tried finding ways to fulfill some ideas of an ideal home, setting ourselves the ambitious goal of identifying suitable properties within a reasonable affordable NIS 1.5 million budget. These obviously don't include a beachfront penthouse in Tel Aviv or a large house in the Sharon region, and require some measure of compromise

European dream in the Galilee

Property: Detached house adjacent to Kibbutz Hagoshrim

Price: NIS 1.5 million - NIS 1.6 million

Description: Ampa Malibu is offering dream homes in the Galilee panhandle at Kibbutz Hagoshrim - detached houses on 700 square meter lots, close to green spaces and rivers. The developers will also build a swimming pool in the yard for an additional NIS 100,000.

Several streams pass through the kibbutz, which is situated between Kiryat Shmona and Kibbutz Dan. They include tributaries of the Hasbani and Dan rivers, which, along with the Banias River, constitute the sources of the Jordan River.

Mavo'ot Tal is partnering with Ampa Malibu on the project of 89 detached homes, which are 200 meters from the banks of the Hasbani.

The project includes two types of properties costing up to NIS 1.5 million: 195 sq. m. houses on 700 sq. m. lots; and smaller 125 sq. m. homes, but with a higher quality finish and tall 3.2 meter ceilings. The design meets green construction principles, with broad expanses facilitating air flow and energy savings. The exclusive properties also feature external shutters, pergolas and high-quality flooring.

Buyers must factor in the great distance from employment centers. On the upside, the properties here are unlike anything available in the center of the country.

The great advantage - aside from having a detached house, lawn, pool (for those willing to pay extra ), local attractions and natural surroundings - is living next to a kibbutz. The residents can enjoy services like the dining hall, the kibbutz swimming pool and even a kibbutz education for the kids. The main drawback is the move-in date - which isn't scheduled for at least two years. (Ranit Nahum-Halevy)

Ten minutes from Rothschild Boulevard

Property: New 2-room apartment in the Florentin quarter of Tel Aviv
Price: NIS 1.5 million
Description: On the 5th floor of a new 8-story Florentin apartment building, a D. Rotshtein Real Estate project slated for occupancy in December, this 2-room unit has 40 sq. m. of living space and a 40 sq. m. balcony, an unusual configuration for such a small apartment. The price includes a reserved underground parking space.
In recent years, the seedy neighborhood of Florentin has morphed into a trendy, vibrant city quarter. New pubs, restaurants and coffeehouses are sprouting side-by-side with older businesses, like shoe repair shops, maintaining the neighborhood’s air of nostalgia.

The small apartment is mainly targeted toward singles or couples. This is also a good deal for people working in the city center a stone’s throw away, eliminating the daily need for a car. The relatively high floor within the building helps muffle the noise coming from the street and the large balcony offers a nice view of the city landscape.

The unit is, however, quite small and the area doesn’t offer any green spaces or nearby schools. And even though the buyers receive a parking spot, they are likely to find themselves frequently stuck in traffic behind trucks unloading their wares on the narrow streets of the neighborhood. Despite its revival, Florentin remains a “southern” neighborhood with a noticeable presence of foreign workers. (Nathan Sheva)

Southern breeze

Property: Detached house in Meitar
Price: NIS 1.5 million
Description: This 2-level house on Ein Mor Street in the town’s northern neighborhood stands on a 700 sq. m. lot and includes 270 sq. m. of living space. The main part of the house 200 sq. m. in area features five bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms, while the other 70 sq. m. could be closed off as a separate rental or granny unit. The house is about 20 years old.
Buyers may want to renovate the dated kitchen. The bathrooms have already been redone.
The area features abundant greenery and a view of the desert landscape.
One major advantage this property offers is the possibility of renting out the spare unit as a 3-room apartment at a current market price of NIS 2,500 to NIS 3,000. This sum could provide substantial assistance in repaying a mortgage. (Nimrod Bousso)