Israel is a fascinating destination for aspiring PhD students. A country with a rich history and a booming technology industry, Israel has many places to explore and much to offer the adventurous doctoral student.
We’ve gathered some useful information in this guide to cover what you need to know about living in Israel during your PhD, from accommodation to living costs, part-time work, transport and opening a bank account
Studying for a PhD in Israel will give you the chance to experience everything this diverse country has to offer. Israel, with a fascinating blend of cosmopolitan cities, ancient heritage sites and stunning beaches, will make your time working for a doctorate unforgettable.
Combined with the country’s exceptional educational system, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Israel is the destination for many PhD students wishing to study abroad.
Visitors to Israel do not need to look far when it comes to cultural attractions. From the beautiful beaches, Bauhaus architecture and thriving nightlife of Tel Aviv, to the sacred sites and ancient monuments of Jerusalem, Israel is a country overflowing with culture.
The cities of Israel are also home to many impressive museums. From modern art galleries to museums dedicated to important historical events, there will be a museum for you no matter what your interests.
Outside of the cities there are other major landmarks to explore such as the Red Sea, the Dead Sea and the Caesarea National Park. You will also find Israel has plenty to offer in the way of scenery with everything from sweeping desert landscapes to lush forests in the north.
Something that occasionally catches out newcomers to this country is that as a Jewish country, Israel celebrates Shabbat, a religious day of rest that begins Friday afternoon and extends to Saturday evening. During this time much of Israel, especially Jerusalem, shuts down – public transport stops operating, and many markets and shops close early on Friday.
Sport plays an important part in Israeli life, the largest sports being football and basketball. You will also have the option of plenty water sports including diving, surfing and kayaking as well as plenty of great hiking trails, such as those running through in the Ein Gedi nature reserve.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking to relax, then look no further than Israel’s beaches. With its population centres strung along the coast of the Mediterranean, you have quite a number to choose from and they are among the most beautiful in the world.
There is plenty of food to try in Israel and you’ll have to try quite hard to have a bad meal. From simple fresh veggies, fruit, fish and meat the food in Israel has a reputation for having great flavour.
Among the most recommended dishes for those visiting Israel is hummus. Probably the most prevalent dish in Israeli cuisine and definitely among the most delicious. The many varieties of hummus sold in Israel are typically served with hot pitta bread.
As a student in Israel you will have the choice of living in university managed dorms or privately rented accommodation. Most international PhD students will opt for university accommodation initially as mitigates many of the difficulties associated with moving countries.
If you are studying a PhD full-time then you will likely be eligible to apply for university provided housing. This accommodation is typically on-campus but some universities also offer off-campus apartments that you may be eligible for in some cases.
In many cases you are not guaranteed a room in university accommodation due to limited space, and priority will often go to first year research students.
University accommodation will typically cost around USD $800 a month and this will normally include utility bills as well as other costs such as city taxes.
There are a huge range of options for those wishing to rent privately. Private accommodation can cost more than in university managed dorms and typically the advertised price does not include bills or fees. Of course, living in the city centre is more expensive but living further out can mean long commuting times especially in busy cities like Tel Aviv.
Private rentals will cost around ILS3,500 (USD $1000) a month in the city centre and ILS 2,700 (USD $775) a month outside of the centre.
The cost of living in Israel is higher than many European countries especially in major cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem – but if you budget carefully and look for the best bargains you should be able to afford to live relatively comfortably.
The average cost of living in Israel is around ILS 3,200 (USD $920) a month not including rent. You largest besides rent will probably be food and if you know where to look you’ll be able to find a lot of ways to save money.
This table should give you an idea of the typical student expenses.
|Restaurant Meal||ILS 100 (USD $29)|
|Cinema Ticket||ILS 40 (USD $11)|
|Monthly Travel Pass||ILS 213 (USD $61)|
|Monthly Utilities||ILS 680 (USD $195)|
|Based on crowdsourced data published by Numbeo.|
Unfortunately, you will not be able to look for work in Israel while on a student visa, so you will need to be able to support yourself financially by other means. Luckily most universities offer a range of scholarships and maintenance grants to help with this. For more information about possible funding routes why not have a look at our study abroad guide for Israel.
Although not essential, it can be a good idea to open an account with a local bank to avoid paying fees for day to day expenses. Having a local bank account also makes any scholarship payments faster to process and less of a hassle to organise.
Unfortunately, many banks won’t allow non-resident students to open a bank account because of the temporary nature of the account. However, there are still a few banks where you will be able to open a student account.
In order to open a bank account you will need the following documents:
Alternatively, most ATMs in Israel that accept international cards, you may be charged for withdrawals depending on the bank you have an account with
Israel has a great transport network which makes getting around the country quickly very straightforward. The country’s road network is modern and well maintained and it has efficient bus and rail connections between major cities.
Be aware however that most public transportation in Israel doesn’t run from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening.
Rail travel in Israel has recently undergone extensive modernisation and is now a solid option for getting around the country, especially the coastal plain. There are train links between all major cities and all trains are air conditioned which is a blessing in a country where temperatures can reach 54⁰C.
Students are also eligible for discounted rail travel (33% discount). To apply for this, you’ll need to provide a student card valid for the current year.
Israel major airport is Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv and is used by most international flights to and from the country. Internal flights also operate from Eilat to Tel Aviv and Haifa which is the quickest way to get from the centre of Israel to the Red Sea.
Buses are the major form of public transportation in Israel and as a student you will be able to enjoy discounts on most journeys. Bus stops are marked on the road by a yellow sign marked with the stop number.
In order to travel on buses in Israel you will need a Rav-Kav card, as in January 2019 the government removed cash from bus transportation. These are similar to other reloadable travel cards found in many other cities around the world (eg Oyster Card in London). A Rav-Kav card can be purchased from most major train and bus stations.
Last updated - 01/11/19