19 questions you should ask before renting an apartment in Jerusalem and the rest of Israel
After moving apartments several times in Jerusalem, I’ve started keeping track of all the questions I ask during each apartment hunt. Here’s a helpful guide for how to find an apartment in Israel with lists of different apartment websites.
Here’s a translation of an apartment notice from one of the best flat hunting sites Yad2:
- Price: Price range is usually the first thing that narrows down my apartment search. If the price is in dollars, make sure you feel comfortable with the conversion solution which typically is either a)whatever the rate is on the first of each month or b)setting a rate at the beginning of the contract. I prefer the second option so I’m not nervous about what the rate will be each month.
- Entrance Date: One of the first questions to ask each apartment is if it’s relevant anymore (actuali in Hebrew). And if so, when is the move in date?
- Location: Will you feel safe walking around at night? Are there lots of busses nearby? Is it near things that are important to you (friends, supermakets, kindergarten, etc.). To help find the street before you head over, you can use Google Maps which takes english or hebrew street names.
- Number of Rooms: Be wary of the 2.5 rooms – what exactly will that .5 be and will it actually make a difference in adding space to the apartment.
- Size: How many square meters is it? Sometimes an apartment will sound big in square meters but it may not be set up in a very user-friendly way
- Arnona: Depending on the size of the apartment, you’ll have to pay a certain amount of municipal property tax.
- Floor Number / Elevator: Find out what floor number it’s on – and whether the building is on a raised platform or not. If it’s a high floor, is there an elevator? Shabbat elevator?
- Vad Bayit: The maintenance fee for each building differs slightly and can range anywhere from 40-300+ shekels per month. The lower range usually covers someone who cleans the building once a week. The higher range usually means that there is heating (hasaka) for the building during certain times of the day.
- Dud Shemesh(solar panel for hot water): For me, this is really a dealbreaker and I try to only look at apartments that have a dud shemesh. Mainly so I can just say dude a lot, but also because there is so much unbearably hot sun during the summer that it would be such a shame to let it go to waste, and a dud saves electricity costs.
- Daytime/Nightime: Is there plenty of warm sunshine during the day? Is it scary at night. I recommend checking out an apartment both during the day and at night so you get the full picture.
- Balcony (mirpeset) / Closed balcony (mirpeset sherut) If an apartment has a balcony, find out if it’s open or closed. Also nice to know if it is sukkah-friendly.
- Furniture: Does the place come with a stove, fridge, built-in closets, washing machine, couches, etc? Sometimes landlords just happen to have an extra closet laying around. On the other hand, we went to see an apartment that didn’t allow gas stoves so be sure to ask, ask, ask about any details you can think of.
- Landlords: Does the landlord pace the apartment every 2 seconds? Are they nice on the phone but then shady in person? Pay attention to the landlord’s behavior – you don’t want to be handing your hard earned money over to a scumbag each month. Make sure to ask about repairs, and the landlord’s responsibilities to you.
- Pets: What I’ve found with pets is that there’s usually a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. The landlords usually don’t care as long as you keep the place clean and it doesn’t cause trouble with the neighbors.
- Parking: If you have a car, make sure there is either a designated parking area, or at least lots of little side streets nearby with ample parking
- Heating/air conditioning: Find out what kind of heating system there is. Also, you can ask the current tenants how the apartment fares during the summer and winter.
- Roommates: If you’re looking to live with others, you’ll have a whole new list of questions – do you want to live with religious people, people that you know, Israelis, etc. Make sure you get a good, friendly vibe when you’re choosing roommates because you’re gonna see these people plenty.
- Agent: Check to see if there is an agent. If the apartment is going through an agent, the fee is typically one month’s rent. You can find plenty of apartments without an agent so only use one as the very last resort.
- Storage: Does the place come with a separate storage space?
Good luck with your apartment hunt!
If you have anything to add, please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.