How much?

Cottage cheese in the supermarket (The Marker)

In their continual research about the cost of living in Israel, business newspaper Globes recently published an article — “We’re Overpaying For More Than Just Cottage Cheese” — that has locals up in arms — at least on Facebook — about how much we spend in our daily lives. The cottage cheese part comes from its high ticket price that launched a Facebook revolution of its own.

The Globes followup is not new news, but seeing it in print is a bit overwhelming, particularly when they tell us that the Israeli consumer pays two to three times more than others worldwide in monthly expenditures, while Israeli salaries are considerably lower compared with the rest of the world.

In fact, it’s somewhat gratifying, even satisfying, because it makes me feel better about my costs, my overdraft and my complaints. Read this:

However, if you take into account the average salary of an Israeli compared with those who live across the ocean, the picture is bleak: the average salary in America is about NIS 13,000 a month, and in the large cities about NIS 17,000 a month (according to the federal government website,) data from the European Union show that the average salary in Britain is about NIS 15,000, in France about NIS 16,000, and in Germany about NIS 12,000. Here, the average salary is only NIS 9,000 (and this does not take into consideration the large gap between the rich and poor).

The difficulty in making ends meet is felt heavily in all aspects of the family budget: “I can easily fully clothe my children for $100 a child,” said an Israeli living in the US, “whereas in Israel it would cost me much more. In the US, there is a huge market for good quality children’s and adult clothing at reasonable prices — prices that you will find in Israel only at the bazaars, where the quality is extremely low.”

Target, Walmart, and The Children’s Place are examples of these types of stores; even chains that “made aliyah” like American Gap or Swedish H&M, sell at prices that are 15-30% more than across the sea.

Here are some more aspects of the family budget that it is worthwhile to know how much we are paying for compared with other countries — a painful reminder of reality that starts with cottage cheese.

In brief, because you can read the article here, it comes down to cottage cheese, fuel, college tuition, mobile phones, cable and satellite, cars and apartment rentals. All are expensive, sometimes prohibitively so, and the prices end up affecting your life in a myriad of ways, from struggling with one car to

Sure, health care is cheap and great, as is bread — not the artisinal sourdough kind — tomatoes and cucumbers, milk and falafel. But not a whole lot else. As we compare our cost of living and style with our friends in the States, it’s astounding what a 6,000 to 7,000-mile difference can make. They’ve got two cars, we have one. They have savings, we do, sometimes. They don’t think twice about certain kinds of shopping sprees, we do. And more often than not, we’re in similar professions or at least careers that would have similar salaries if we lived in the same place.

But, then again, we get to live where we live, which has its benefits. Even if we pay through the nose for the the privilege, and can’t afford more than two containers of cottage cheese each week, or go into overdraft because of it.

The Outfitters were here

January 9, 2011 - 4:22 AM by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Business, design, General, Immigrant Moments, Israeliness, Life 

We have H&M, American Apparel, the Gap, Topshop — have I forgotten any other major U.S. or UK retailers gracing our shores? — and of course, I always say shop blue-and-white, it’s overall a better deal for the buyer.

But now Urban Outfitters, that bastion of, yes, urban chic that is perfectly fitted for the city college student and possibly high school senior, is, no, not coming to set up shop in Israel, but came to do their more recent photo shoot on the shores of Tel Aviv. Much as some of our local fashion bloggers would love to have Urban Outfitters selling over here, it’s not quite yet to be. They’re too busy considering buying J. Crew, a label, which, by the way, is often available in stores selling private label items sewn by Delta Galil.

According to their Facebook page,

“We were craving some warm weather, so we headed to sunny Tel Aviv with photographer Marlene Marino to shoot our early spring catalog. Here’s a peek at her beautiful photos as well as some snapshots taken by the models themselves.”

At the beach...

With the hotels in the background...

Against some Bauhaus windows

Looks like the TA Museum of Art

H&M to open store in Israel

December 10, 2008 - 6:30 PM by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Israeliness 

I was first introduced to the wonders of H&M by my far more fashionable wife a few years ago during a trip to New York. It’s a bit embarrassing to say but if there is an H&M in a country we are visiting, we seek it out. We like big savings, what can I say? The Swedish company is known for its fashionable yet incredibly affordable clothing (though the quality varies from garment to garment) and currently has more than 1,600 stores in 34 different countries. This week they announced that they will be expanding into the Israeli market, the first store to open in 2010.

Israelis have been yearning for H&M for some time now. A very popular Facebook group called “Open an H&M store in Israel!” led the rallying call:

This group is open to all people living in Israel who want great clothes for a cheap price right around the corner. You know what? We don’t even mind driving an hour or two to get there, as long as we don’t have to wait until we go abroad or ask someone else who’s going to get H&M stuff for us (and you know they never get it right!). And we definitely won’t settle for that chain which goes by an almost identical name… We shall not be fooled!

I guess I’m not the only one who goes on a H&M shopping spree when I am abroad. There was also instant backlash to this Facebook group. A counter-group was created called “DO NOT open an H&M store in Israel” not created with a message of hate, but rather love. They believe that if H&M comes to Israel, it will no longer be special and unique because everyone here will be wearing their fashions. (my wife informed me just now via instant messenger and her Facebook status that she agrees with this). In my opinion the real issue here is whether H&M will be able to keep their costs down here. Taxes are very high and nothing is really cheap (except maybe a bowl of good soup). That’s the real challenge and will be the key to their success in Israel. And hey, we’ve got the GAP coming too so you can always shop there – that is, if you don’t care about originality.


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