Israel for Digital Nomads
Facts About the Israel
Israel lies on the Mediterranean Sea and borders Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza. It was proclaimed a representative democracy in 1948. Geographically it belongs to the Middle East, while geologically it is still part of Africa. There are different classifications of the regions of Israel, but my information, which comes from the Israeli Tourism Board, is: There are eight regions, namely (1) the Golan Heights, (2) the Galilee, (3) Haifa & the north coast, (4) Tel Aviv, (5) Jerusalem, (6) the Dead Sea, (7) the Negev desert and (8) Eilat. Israel is undoubtedly a great country. Although I have often read that it is a good country to start with for backpackers, I wouldn’t agree with that 100%. What makes traveling difficult, for example, is that not everything is always written in English on the signs. One is therefore dependent on asking, since no dictionary helps with Hebrew writing. Fortunately, almost everyone here speaks English. I also find it quite intimidating for a start that all the young people are walking around in military uniforms and many even have their machine guns with them. In addition, the infrastructure is fine, but not necessarily well suited for backpackers. You have to change trains or buses often and have to deal with long waiting times, where you have the problem with the Hebrew characters again. For digital nomads, however, who stay in one place as soon as they feel comfortable somewhere, it’s different though. I can very well imagine enjoying the inspiring Golan Heights for weeks or even months, strolling through the multicultural city of Jerusalem every day, or finding my place in the heat of the desert.
Information About Entry and Departure
Israel has an agreement with many countries for visa exemption. Check on the website of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs whether your country has one, too. If you are exempt, you’re allowed to stay in the country for 90 days. Please note that you will get an arrival card, which needs to be returned when leaving and which states that you’re not allowed to work. Furthermore, you will have to show it when checking in at a hotel. At least that’s what I had to do at Abraham Hostel. Just a few words regarding immigration: I’ve been three times to Israel now and, to be honest, they gave me hard time every single time. And it’s not getting better but worse. So be prepared to have several checks of your backs, to take out everything, to find your checked back being opened, and lastly being interrogated for up to three hours. I’m not going to lie: It’s no fun. So, maybe it’s wise to plan longer trips only that compensate the effort of getting in the country in the first place. If the country where your passport was issued has no exemption agreement with Israel, there are several other possibilities. The most probable one is for you to get a so-called visitor’s visa.
During my whole time in Israel I felt always safe and comfortable. but I don’t want to conceil that it it can become dangerous in some way.
In the south you should keep away from the border to Gaza. There the rocket attacks become more frequent. Due to the good missile defense system some people even live there.
The currency in Israel is the Shekel (NIS). The abbreviation NIS is derived from New Israeli Shekel. 1 Euro is about 4.3 shekels. One shekel is divided into 100 agorot. I’ve heard that there are 1 and 5 agorot but the only thing you see all the time is the 10 agorot coin. Pretty much every ATM accepts withdrawal by credit card. Normally, you’ll have to pay a fee, in most cases, maximum 10 Shekel.
Although I found several sources saying that internet in Israel is 30 Mbits download speed on average, I can’t confirm that from my experience. Maybe this is for internet via cable only. The fastest Wi-Fi I have tested in Tel Aviv, for example, was 28 Mbits download. But I have to admit that in terms of availability, Israel is showing best practice. There are free Wi-Fi hotspots all over the cities, almost every café offers free internet access, and on the trains, there is Wi-Fi, too.
There are three historical network operators in Israel that offer prepaid:
- Partner (formerly Orange)
In addition, there are 5 MVNOs offering prepaid options:
- Hot Mobile (rebranding in Altice)
- Rami Levy
- Golan Telecom
- 012 Mobile
Hot Mobile and 019 are longer part of the market and therefore easier to find. I had Cellcom during my first two stays in Israel and have 019 at the moment. I paid 83 Shekels for unlimited calls, SMS, and 20 GB of data. The speed test is showing me around 30 Mbits for download as well as for upload speed. But to be honest, Youtube videos are very often not loading and calls over WhatsApp are not the best. As for now, I would be hesitant to recommend this place for somebody who is dependent on very fast and stable internet.
Another possibility for mobile internet access is a MiFi device, which creates a WiFi network for you. I have tested the GlocalMe device and think it’s a really useful addition of my travel equipment. You can either use it as an ordinary wireless router with up to two SIM cards (very useful if you work with mobile TANs, you want to be available on your local number or if you want to use the social networks with a 2-factor authentication) but you can also use it without a physical SIM card but with the built in cloudSIM technology (which is of course more expensive) in over 100 countries worldwide. Apart from that it’s also a 6000 mAh powerbank, which is never bad to have with you.
Living in Israel as a Digital Nomad
I spent most of my time in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Both locations are great for digital nomads who are looking for a good infrastructure, prefer to work in coworking spaces or want to go to a different café with Wi-Fi every day. Other places are definitely no less beautiful, but often offer little or no opportunities to bring variety into the home office or the work-life balance.
There are numerous coworking spaces in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Chains like Mind Space and We Work have settled here and offer you a workplace in the heart of these exciting places.
12 important words/sentences in Hebrew:
|Hello||Shalom (on Fridays and Saturdays: Shabbat Shalom)|
|Where is …?||Eifo …?|
|My name is …||Kor-im li …|
|I don’t speak Hebrew.||Ani lo modvr / modvrt evrit.|
|I’m German.||Ani esrach germani.|
|I need …||Ani rutseh bewakascha / ani rutsah bewakascha …|
|How much is this?||Kam auleh?|
The Numbers in Hebrew