Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 4

Today was our second full day in Tel Aviv. Yesterday we awoke, ate breakfast at the hotel lounge (included daily thanks to Dan's platinum status), and met our local guide/consultant, Mazi, at 10am.  She's an Israeli who lived in Los Angeles for nearly 10 years, returning in 2008, because her two sons, now 20 and 21, wanted to do their mandatory military service. 

With her we drove to southern Tel Aviv first, to an up and coming area called Jaffa.  This area is becoming more culturally mixed.  We met a real estate agent who showed us 3 places, and it became clear that this area still has several years or more to go before it truly arrives.  We saw a couple older places badly in need of some upgrades, and one new construction surrounded by construction sites. 

Next we went into downtown Tel Aviv and saw three places.  These started to feel a bit more livable.  However, we discovered that even at our rather posh budget, it doesn't go that far in a city that has continued to see the real estate market jump by 35% year over year despite the world economic recession. Two are new construction, missing all appliances, closets, curtains, etc.  Of those, one had a very strange layout, with the entrance coming onto a floor with the bedrooms and living room, and stairs up to the top floor with the kitchen and porches.  Not sure how that's supposed to be functional?!?  And the real estate agent said the owner ran out of money while building so he isn't interested in any additional work (or for that matter, able to pay for repairs, etc).  So that one isn't hot on our list. 

The other new construction is in our top three.  Trouble is, it's priced quite a bit above our budget, and the agent isn't confident we can negotiate him down that much.  It's also a bit further east and on an intersection, so there's more road noise, and less of a neighborhood feel to it. 

Finally, we saw one in town on a cute side street that is currently occupied, but it was also a split level (they call two story apartments duplexes here) where the upstairs had the two additional bedrooms and patio.  I'm wary of having the outdoor space up a flight of skinny stairs from the kitchen, as I think we'll take advantage of it a lot less.  The master bedroom is right off the main room, with sliding pocket doors, which also limits privacy.  The baths are older and the kitchen is small as well.  So that was it for Tel Aviv.

We went to north Tel Aviv next, and saw the last of our top three.  It was a great building with a great view, but not walking distance to anything.  So, if we could pick this place up and move it to one of the side streets in central Tel Aviv we'd be happy as clams.  Any suggestions on how to get this accomplished? 

Today we walked around town for several hours, trying to get a feel for the neighborhoods, and then drove to the place in north Tel Aviv again.  Unfortunately, it didn't help us decide.  It just reaffirmed our general feelings of the pros and cons of each. 

We also went into a few grocery stores to price check and survey variety.  The only item I could think of that I couldn't find were tortillas.  Most groceries appear to be about a 10-20% premium over US prices.  They have three different categories for toilet paper, by the way - single, one and a half, and double.  Oh the choices!

This evening we went out to Uncle Igor's.  We visited Grandma Aranka (she's nearly 93) and then went to a mediterranean dinner with Igor, Nechama, Maya and Tom.  Absolutely amazing hummus (and different than in the US), eggplant salads, spicy olives, kebobs, pita with sesames, and israeli lemonade (with mint in it).  This is the way to eat!

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