The cost of having kids in Israel.

We ‘have’ kids. Sounds so passive, doesn’t it?

Isn’t it more like, we find someone to have kids with, settle in with them, work at it for a few months to a few years, attempt to save money to cushion the initial shock, bring forth a baby into the world with extreme amounts of energy, and work every single second of our lives thereafter to ensure their health and safekeeping?

Costly KidsHere’s an infographic courtesy of Early Childhood Education. It’s absolutely addressing data based in the United States. Which blows my mind, just to see the college figures.

Israel runs a totally different show; not to say raising kids here isn’t costly, it’s just costly in different ways. Our salaries are lower, our cost of living is higher (our standard of living is high). Import tax makes goods more expensive than they’d be elsewhere. Small population, less choice/less supply/higher prices. I’m no economist, and I can’t really, ahem, afford to wax philosophic about it all.

But I feel like shedding a little light.

There’s a good breakdown of costs for a family of four in the context of what to expect when you make aliyah. Note: I take no responsibility for how off this is in Tel Aviv. That’s your fault for living there ;)

But these are relevant to where I live, Tzur Hadassah, a 1500-family yishuv 20 minutes outside Jerusalem.

Numbers in Israeli shekels:

  • Housing (rent or mortgage): 4000-5000
  • Arnona (annual property tax): 300-500 (roughly 5,000 a year – very dependent on where you live)
  • Water: 120-250
  • Electricity: 250-500

…and so on (cell phone, gas, car, petrol, TV, va’ad bayit). But I digress. Children-related expenses, on a monthly basis, look a little like this – for my community, anyway:

  • Daycare for babies until 3: 1500-2500 (lower number reflects range in Beitar Illit, an option)
  • Gan 3+: Free as of 2012/2013, but parents provide ‘aruchat eser’
  • Tzaharon (after 2:30pm): 800+
  • School fees: up to 1050 a year
  • Tin of formula: 50+
  • Acamol/Nurofen: +/- 30-40

Clothes are expensive unless you shop at deep discount stores like Bazaar Strauss and whatnot. Toys are ridiculously expensive – look at for what a deal is here, and then consider the everyday price. I paid for a toy at Shilav with gift certificates equaling 350nis that costs about $36 in the States.

Books are actually decent; I find book stores here hold sales like 3 for 100nis quite often.

Then there’s the issue of weekend activities… A movie ticket is about 35nis. A museum entrance for a kid can be 25nis and up. The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo costs 38nis for a kid above the age of 3. A fast food kids’ meal runs between 25-40nis.

Considering chugim, like swimming lessons or music class? That can start at 40nis a lesson.

Know Hebrew and want to get a sense of food prices? Check out Shufersal’s online storefront. Prices here can be on the higher side, but it’s pretty much reality if you live in a city or popular area (non-charedi).

Keep in mind the average salary in Israel is around 9,000nis (as of March 2012).

I’m not painting a complete picture here, but I figured I’d give a start to the way of thinking when it comes to children expenses here. But it doesn’t stop us from having them: in 2010, 28% of Israel’s population was aged between 0-14. The average size of the Israeli family is 3.7 persons… which I actually find hard to believe while looking around here.

I haven’t included a lot. Add whatever comes to mind in the comments.




4 responses to “The cost of having kids in Israel.”

  1. Victoria Avatar

    Do you have to pay for medicine? And what about travelling? You and your husband both have family abroad. And diapers and wipes?
    But yeah, having kids is expensive. I guess it balances out no matter where you live: you pay more for toys and fun, but daycare is cheap/free, and we pay more for daycare and housing, but most museums and Central Park are free here. But man! Classes seem to be expensive everywhere. I guess the business owners know that if you’re looking for swim lessons, for ex, you’re willing to pay the price?

    1. Liz Avatar

      Good points –

      Medicine: If it’s covered by the kupah (insurance company) than we pay (generally) with a 15% reduction. The common medicines are covered with that discount.

      Travelling: if you mean abroad, yes, it’s expensive. Pretty much what it would cost vice versa, meaning a ticket from NY -> Israel and Israel -> NY are usually the same. But shekels don’t go as far in other places, depending on how it’s doing, etc.

      Diapers: you can survive on deals of 3 for 100nis when you can get ’em, but on average they’re anywhere from 45-60 a pack (depending on brand, store, etc). Wipes usually come in bundles of 4 or 5 for 20-30nis (70 a pack).

      I think it’s definitely all relative…

  2. Random Girl Avatar
    Random Girl

    When comparing Israel to the US the issue of health insurance is huge. Most American Israelis who live in Israel at the moment are unaware of how much costs have risen in just the past few years, not to mention 5 and 10 and more years ago. Employer provided insurance includes a monthly payment that ranges from $200-$1100 a month. Usually closer to the low end, but not always. Copays every time you see a doctor are around $30-$40. Deductibles and “co-insurance” (Israelis don’t even know what thatis!). And private insurance for a family of 4 is easily $1000 a month, significantly more if anyone is not completely healthy and thin.

    Pregnancy and childbirth, with good insurance, cost us thousands of dollars just for pure medical services. Not including anything private or optional like a doula or childbirth education classes. Need a c-section? You pay more!

    The cost really is rising. If you had a kid 4 years ago and are pregnant with your next one prepare for a surprise. So I think Americans in Israel need to factor this in. It was not this expensive for our parents and even for people who have birth not so long ago.

    And if G-d forbid a child (or adult) is sick, it could mean losing all your savings, or not making mortgage payments, or going into debt or bankrupt. For normal people with health insurance.

    1. Liz Avatar

      Hey… Thanks for the rundown. Like you said, I have no idea, and I was also never really an independent adult in the States. I’m definitely not comparing the US to Israel here… two very different beasts with different challenges.

      Not to mention, if you’re interested in a Jewish education for your kids abroad – yeah, a whole other beast.

      A word on Israeli health care: I have been very impressed, though thank god haven’t needed anything extensive. But from people who have, it’s a whole different game to the US.

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