TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) – Residents of the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv have complained for years about the cost of…
Tel Aviv, Israel (AFP) – Residents of the coastal city of Tel Aviv in Israel have complained for years about its high prices, with the cost of living taking a large part of their salaries.
Now a new report confirms their quirks. Tel Aviv has emerged as the most expensive city to live in, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, a research group associated with The Economist. The city, which was once the fifth most expensive city, has now overtaken other expensive places such as Paris and Singapore.
Economists attribute the jump to the strong appreciation of the shekel against the dollar. The Economist Intelligence Unit also noted in its report on Wednesday a rise in groceries and transportation costs. The report did not include housing prices – another common complaint among young professionals and families trying to live in the bustling city.
“It’s really hard to live here. You pay the rent and you pay for a little thing and you live, like, paycheck to paycheck, so it’s really hard,” said Ziv Toledano, a transplant member from northern Israel. His expenses almost doubled in Tel Aviv, he said. .
Israeli news agencies constantly compare the prices of basic goods in Israel with other Western countries, touching on the public what has been clear in their wallets for years: that the country is much more expensive than others.
Tel Aviv is the financial and cultural center of Israel. It features a thriving high-tech scene, world-class restaurants, and a stretch of Mediterranean beach lined with glamorous new hotels and apartment complexes.
The shekel is one of the strongest currencies in the world, the value of which has been boosted largely by massive foreign investment in the domestic high-tech scene.
Dan Ben-David, head of the Shoresh Institute for Social and Economic Research and an economic expert at Tel Aviv University, said that goods and services in Israel in general are more expensive than other countries. Tel Aviv is more expensive because it is the country’s economic hub, with high-paying tech jobs attracting talent from across the country who drive up food prices and rents.
“Israel is expensive, and in this regard, Tel Aviv is more expensive than other places in Israel because there are good jobs,” he said.
The city is attracting more and more Israelis who want to live near its vibrant cultural and social scene. Exacerbating the problem, Ben-David said, is significant congestion leading to the city and insufficient transportation to its suburbs and surrounding cities, sending more people wanting to stay in the city. This, along with foreign buyers, has significantly increased real estate prices, which makes buying an apartment in Tel Aviv almost unattainable for the average Israeli. Even modest apartments in sought-after areas can cost NIS 4 million or more than $1.2 million.
A decade ago, hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets to demand a solution to the rising cost of living.
Successive Israeli governments have struggled to create better job opportunities in other parts of the country, and attempts to extend public transportation continue, but are slow.
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