Tel Aviv Yourself Ep 1: Effortlessly finding an apartment in Tel Aviv
Welcome to Tel Aviv Yourself: a series about my life in Tel Aviv. Every once in a while, I will be posting short stories about my life in the city I now call home. Now, this series is very raw and unedited. As this is my story, as I have full ownership of this blog as my creative space, you are going to get my version if you choose to continue reading. Thanks, and enjoy!
If you are regularly reading this blog, I am sure you aren’t surprised about my impulsive decisions on finding an apartment in Tel Aviv. I never planned to do this nor imagined myself living somewhere but it happened so I am embracing it with every molecule in my body.
Coming to Israel unfolded many possibilities for me. It was a life event that up until today, I still can’t believe how or why am I here. How did I get here?! Everything went so fast, I lost track. I was invited by Vibe Israel, a non-profit organization igniting a new conversation in Israel by eradicating the negative connotations about the country. How they see the world is at par with my travel ethics so when they e-mailed me, I immediately said yes. A good friend of mine whom I met in Peru was also getting married so that was another reason to go to Israel. Experiencing an Israeli wedding? Why not!
I don’t use guidebooks. I’m a lazy researcher. When going to a new country, I always wanted to surprise myself by not knowing anything about it. That really got me into trouble when I arrived the Ben Gurion International Airport on a warm day in August. It was a Shabbat (Saturday) which means trains are not operating and the only way from the airport to the city is by taking a taxi. To be able to familiarise myself with the transportation system of a certain country, I am 100% anti-taxi but it seemed like I didn’t have a choice. This is culture I was debating with and I don’t think there’s another way out of that.
One by one, I asked every taxi driver about the price to ride to the city. Everyone said 160 nis. I didn’t have a clear idea about the currency conversion so I called a friend and asked. 160 sounded too much for me.
“What??? 32 euros? You are kidding!” She then explained that I am not being ripped off. It was really the default rate for airport taxis going to the city. That was the first surprise I experience in Israel: I did not expect it to be this expensive. “BlackLane might be cheaper. Try it if you don’t really want to pay the 160.” My friend said.
I did what my friend said and ended up paying a few bucks less. Still didn’t change the fact that Israel is an expensive country but it was a very comfortable ride. As we approached Tel Aviv, the sun was shining down at the skyscrapers that seemed to welcome me with ease. It felt so weird that I literally felt the city was talking to me.
After the media trip with Vibe Israel, I have a longer story on the many reasons why I moved to Tel Aviv but yes, for now, I am here. This is my home. This is my base.
Why Tel Aviv?
Ever since I had my studio apartment, I was never without visitors. (left – Mar, a friend from the Philippines; right – Eileen, another friend from Germany
The proper question should be, “why not?” I have no concrete explanation for this as everything in my life are based on feelings. My mother gave me ‘the ticking timebomb’ monicker as I always am full of surprises. “Ana Patricia, you are nearly giving me a heart attack” was her usual response. As the years passed, she got used to it and I feel very supported by her and my entire family.
“What do you mean you are looking for an apartment in Tel Aviv? Why? How? When? For how long?”
“I already moved. And I don’t know the answer to most of your questions, mum.”
“Oh my God, THIS CHILD! But okay.”
I don’t think I have to know. When I want something, I really have to be next to it. That’s how I felt about Tel Aviv. I was craving for it, it was like a drug — I have to have it. Ditching the original plan of traveling the whole Middle East (which I will still do but it will take time) made my whole community more confused about this so-called ‘scattered’ life.
Do I have to know? I don’t have to know. Life is disorderly. Life does not respect the timeline we made for ourselves because times change and we should respond to that change.
No matter what we do, we trip, we cry while chopping onions, we lose a leg, we get drunk, we fall off the bike from being drunk, we are stuck in traffic, we get into failed relationships, we fall in love over and over again, yet we end up being okay and at peace. We might not admit it consciously but we know there are a lot of things about life we cannot control.
I am not going to control my life. It’s tedious. It’s a lot of work. I don’t have to know. I like going after something I have strong feelings for and this is one of those unexplainably strong feelings — Tel Aviv. I really don’t have to know. Life is happening right now. Tomorrow is another day. Seriously, I don’t want to know, mum.
How I found my apartment
This is my studio before I re-arranged it. I freaked with the lack of space.
I was traveling around Mata and the Palestine territories when I had the sudden urge and excitement to look for an apartment in Tel Aviv. I never had one for a long time and I don’t know, maybe turning 28 in a city I fell in love with changed the way I looked at my life. My Israeli friends introduced me to many Facebook groups where I can look. Apparently, hopping apartments is a trend in Tel Aviv. I went to one group, saw a lot of postings with pictures of the apartment layout. It took me about 2 down scrolls to find one. Again, feelings. A studio apartment was posted there, published a few seconds ago, commentless, likeless. I think I got first dibs. I immediately sent a message to the person who posted it and well, everything was magic.
“I can’t believe you won’t even personally see that flat and you already put a downpayment. You are unbelievable, Trisha!” a friend who I was traveling with said.
“Feelings, mate. Feelings! I know it’s the right place for me. You will see.”
I did not have the time or energy to travel all the way to Tel Aviv from Palestine and go back just to see an apartment. The pictures were pretty clear and the girl I dealt with seemed to be a pleasant and trusted contact.
“Although I have to admit it’s a pretty cool catch. It’s very hard to find a studio in Tel Aviv.”
The Tel Aviv trend is sharing an apartment with roommates. It might be people you know, more often people you don’t know and I didn’t think I was ready for that. Having roommates would be really cool but this is a new chapter for me so I wanted to do it by myself. I need the space. I need the time to absorb the continuously piling crazy events in my life. It gets crazy by the minute, I tell you.
When it comes to renting/apartment sharing, Tel Aviv has it’s own dictionary. These are the things I learned along the way and nobody really explained me this when I first moved here.
Sublet (Verb: “subletting”). Can be short term or long term but it is usually renting a place in which the contract is not under you. The real owner of the room/apt/studio might be traveling for 2-3 months. It’s like Airbnb but on a long-term basis. This word was so foreign to me but it sounded really beautiful I often used it.
Rooms. Now read this carefully. In Tel Aviv, all apartments have different layouts so the living room (common area) is always counted as a “room.” When you see a posting that says, “3-roomed apartment,” that means 2-bedrooms and a living room.
Bills. Often the open rental ads don’t include the bills in the total cost of the rental. For example, mine was posted at 3,000 nis ($776 USD). I got so excited, said yes and didn’t even ask if the electric/water bills are already included. On top of the 3,000 nis, I have to pay extra 300 nis for the bills depending on my consumption.
Facebook groups where you can easily find an apartment in Tel Aviv
- Secret Tel Aviv
- Apartments/roommates in Tel Aviv
- Tel Aviv area apartments, rooms, and apartment stuff
- Roommates in Tel Aviv and surrounding areas
- Tel Aviv cool rooms and apartments
- Tel Aviv – rooms for rent, roommates, and short term sublets
- The Sublet – Tel Aviv
- Tel Aviv Apartment Available
- Tel Aviv Apartments
- Looking for an apartment in Tel Aviv
- Tel Aviv Apartments – Buy/Rent/Sell/Trade!!!
Choosing the area you want to live in
I tell you, every apartment in Tel Aviv is artistically rich. This is a friend’s shared flat in Florentin.
This is tricky most especially if you are not familiar with Tel Aviv. Most people I know who moved to Tel Aviv have visited at least once, hence the decision. For those who got jobs here (probably with a multinational company) and have not visited prior, Tel Aviv is divided into 3 main areas namely South, Center and North:
The South of Tel Aviv consists of Yehuda Halevi and Harakevet streets. Though close proximity, the famous Jaffa is also in this area but it is considered as a separate entity. After deeply exploring the South for the past few weeks, I really am looking for an apartment here where I can move in June. This time, with roommates. The roommate sensation have ignited my curiosity and interests ever since I started hanging out in friends’ apartments. I think it is pretty cool to have roommates!
Florentin is one of the most iconic areas of the south as it is home to artists and hipsters a like. An abundant work of art, street graffiti, sleek cafes where people are often spotted smoking weed, tattoo shops parade this area. This is a really cool terrain for artists! The famous Levinsky Market is also in the south and I am truly obsessed with this scene!
The Central Bus Station and the Haganah Train Station is also housed in the south. These are the main transportation means in and out of Tel Aviv.
The center is known to be the most accessible in terms of shopping malls, supermarkets, and the lively party scene. Dizengoff, Rothschild, Allenby and Ben Yehuda are the main avenues from South to North and this full stretch has everything in its center. It is also close to the beach (about 2-10 min walk max) so this is where I actually chose to live! The beach is one of the most important routines I do on a daily basis so if you are a beach person, the center is for you. It is also close to many restaurants, cafes, and popular bars/clubs. Rent is a bit higher in this area and I’d like to say you’re paying for the accessibility and efficiency if you choose to live here.
Considered as a more upscale part of the city, the north has many residential areas, several neighbourhoods and business hubs. Anything north of Ben Gurion Boulevard and West of Ibn Gabirol Street is considered the north. The Hayarkon Park and River is also located here. Ramat Ha’Chayal, a business area is flocked mostly by the work force and young professionals.
Wherever you choose to live in Tel Aviv, note that busses are the most efficient way in commuting from one place to another. Rush hours can be really stressful so it is better if you have a bike and/or live closely to the area of your interest (i.e. work, lifestyle, hang out places, etc).
3 weeks living in Tel Aviv and I am loving every minute!
It has always been backward for me: “life gets easier as I grow older.”
The first time I was finally out of the house, living out of my parent’s radar, I was so excited to get furniture for my apartment, invite friends over for a housewarming, buy everything I see in the mall as long as it’s related to home decor. We all passed this stage of being excited and declaring, “Hey mom! Look at me! I’m an adult! I’m buying a freaking furniture!”
But if you haven’t and is itching to live on your own, well… Don’t rush.
After the honeymoon stage with your new life living by yourself, things will be difficult if you think this is all play. No one will be there to pick up the bags of potato chips you left on the floor from last night’s party with your friends. As you open the shower getting ready for work, water won’t come out because you will realise you forgot to pay the bills. Seriously, why won’t the bills just go pay themselves?! You open the fridge to have something for breakfast but there is nothing. It’s empty. You had a party, remember? Without showering, you get ready for work only to find out that you don’t have a clean underwear. Plan B: wear bikini bottoms.
These are just small things… But major things happen. Of course, you don’t want to call home and ask for help. It will defeat the purpose of you trying to be independent. An adult. You don’t want to prove your mom right. But deep inside, you want to say, “Can you just please take me back!”
There’s no denying it tho. I miss how I can just sit down and wait for food prepared by mum. Then eat, and eat and eat. I miss the high-end washing machine (that does things by itself, btw). I miss the fridge and cupboards that I can always hack for munchies — FOR FREE.
But what got me through is not getting past it but swimming through it. It was a hell of a ride and now that I am back in having my own place again, I feel like a better person and have surprised myself a lot of time,
“Wow, man, I am really good at this.”
And believe me traveling the world for years had nothing to do with it.
If you have additional tips on finding an apartment in Tel Aviv, please feel free to leave your thoughts on the comment box below!
Love interiors? Hover on the image below to pin on Pinterest!