Throughout my quest I have observed Israelis lack the staging a home method of their American counterparts. As a twenty-something, never quite ready to purchase a home, I've done my fair share of apartment hunting in the States. Perfectly photoshopped, cropped and propped apartments almost gleam from the home pages. The masterfully manicured apartment complex with an equally manicured name, like Summer Oaks or The Estates at Stone Creek, entice you to come live the dream. Beautiful model homes with Martha Stewart kitchens and Pottery Barn bedrooms allow you to take a brief moment to imagine your flawless life in your flawless home.
Israelis, on the other hand, are a bit more...understated. Their apartments are named “2 room/small but good enough/no pets allowed”. Two scenarios usually occur in search of an apartment in Israel: either one will come across photos of the resident’s belongings strewn across their apartments or the apartment is still under construction with bare light bulbs hanging from the ceiling, a broom tucked into the corner and half- hung cabinets lying on the dusty floor.
I have seen condoms sitting on a bathroom counter, dogs sleeping in unmade beds, a family enjoying dinner in the unkempt dining room and piles of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. If you are a Nosey Ned at heart, then apartment hunting in Israel is the perfect place to get your rocks off.
My favorite is the amount of obscene photos I have unearthed. One apartment was perfect...minus the sofa-sized poster of a woman's bare chest hanging above the living room couch. And I found another gorgeous 2 room townhome in a great location featuring a perfectly nice photo of a dog in mid-poop in the backyard.
Word of advice, if you are ever in the market for an apartment in Israel:
- “2 rooms” means 1 living room and 1 bedroom
- “Fully furnished” has a variety of meanings from “the last resident left all his crap and now it’s yours” to “one built-in cabinet and a toilet in the bathroom”
- Few Israeli apartments include a stove, oven or refrigerator
- Arnona, a municipal tax based on size and location of your home, isn't usually included in monthly rent.
- Sometimes the Vad Bayit, or a building maintenence fee, isn't included either.
- Ask if the building has a dud shemesh, a solar panel on the roof that heats water, saves electricity and the environment!
- Storage space is very limited! You may end up using your safe room (if you even have one) as a second shoe closet.
It is just one example of a difference in Israeli attitude. No better, no worse. I may come to appreciate the honesty and authenticity. With Israelis, what you see is what you get and just maybe Israelis feel there are far more important things to worry about than what a stranger on the internet thinks of his humble abode. In fact, who actually lives like the picturesque, carbon-copy photos we see of American homes? It certainly doesn’t represent my house...with the dog fur on the bed and dust on the top shelves.
Although I do love perusing catalogs imagining a house better than mine with finer things than I have. Things I could own if I worked a little harder and reached a little higher. After all, isn’t that the American dream? Bigger, bolder and attainable for all.