Written by: Laura Shaprio, UHIS Summer Intern 2017
So you are thinking of studying at the University of Haifa but you want to know more about living here… at around 300,000 people, the city of Haifa is not too big and not too small. The University of Haifa campus is gorgeous and has a great academic reputation.
It is just an hour train ride from Tel Aviv and has a lower cost of living. Also the beaches are amazing and the people are helpful and friendly. But I am sure you’d like to know exactly what the cost of living is like here in Haifa. That is what this blog post is all about.
The currency in Israel is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS or ILS). 1 USD is equal to 3.57₪ and 1 Euro is equal to 4.16₪*
*These conversion rates are from July 23rd, 2017
To get around the city via public transport most students buy a Rav Kav (bus pass).
The semester price for a student Rav Kav is 586₪ ($165.51 USD), or 1278₪ ($360.97) for an annual pass.
Compared to the other countries, groceries in Haifa could be more expensive than you are used to. One way to cut down costs is to shop local and only go to supermarkets for essentials. Buy your fruits and vegetables at a local grocer or the shuk (local farmer’s market) and eat as much fresh food as possible. Packaged products like cereal and foreign snacks can be pricey. I was craving American cereal the other day and just one box of Oatmeal Squares was 21₪.
When you need meat, my advice is to go to a local butcher. Meat is similar enough in price no matter where you buy it, so you may as well buy high quality!
Buy in bulk! As is the case most everywhere, buying in large quantity can save you money. A 48 pack of toilet paper is only marginally more expensive than a 24 pack so why not buy big? Look for these kinds of prices at grocery stores on non-perishables.
Everything from fruit to bread to nuts are priced out at local grocers and markets by the kilogram so it might be helpful to learn some Hebrew numbers and get familiar with the metric system.
In Haifa, most people natively speak Hebrew, Russian, Arabic or some combination. Obviously, Hebrew should be your first method of communicating but I have found that as an American with no Hebrew language skills I can get by with hand gestures and pointing. Many people also speak at least a tiny bit of English. In addition, much of it is self-serve. Grab a plastic bag from a dispenser or the shop owner, fill it up and then hand over some money. No language skills necessary!
I went to the supermarket Shufersal yesterday as well as a local grocer, butcher and pharmacy to see what prices were like. Here’s what I found in July of 2017:
|Item||Supermarket Price (Shufersal)||Haifa Shuk (Local Farmer’s Market)|
|48 pack of toilet paper||37.90₪|
|Large Ariel Laundry Detergent||39.90₪|
|Single Yoplait cup||5₪|
|Cucumbers||5.90₪ to 6.90₪ per kilo||4.90₪ per kilo|
|2 liter jug of milk||11.50₪|
|Bananas||15.80₪ per kilo|
|Plums||5₪ per kilo|
|Peaches||12.90₪ per kilo||4.80₪ per kilo|
|Green Grapes||9.90₪ per kilo||6.80 to 12₪ per kilo|
|Red Grapes||12.90₪ per kilo||7.80₪ per kilo|
|Tomatoes||5.90₪ per kilo||4.80₪ per kilo|
|Onions||4.90₪ per kilo||3.40₪ per kilo|
|Potatoes||4.90₪ to 6.50₪ per kilo||3.40₪ per kilo|
|Dried Dates||32₪ per kilo|
|Dried Apricots||28₪ per kilo|
|Almonds||40₪ to 55₪ per kilo|
|Sesame Knot Rolls||4 for 13₪||1 for 2.10₪ or 10 for 19₪|
|Giant Israeli Sesame Bagel||4 for 10₪|
|Bread Rolls||5 for 13₪||10 for 9₪|
|Soft Cheeses||3.50₪ to 13.40₪ per 100g||Between 2.99₪ and 9₪ per 100g|
|Pork/Beef Sausages||2.99₪ per 100g
(for hot dog like sausages) and up to 6.50₪ per 100g (for other sausages)
|Jar of Applesauce||14₪ unsweetened organic||8.90₪|
|Special K Cereal||17.90₪|
While my prices are accurate and specific, it doesn’t include everything you might be curious about. If you’d like a more comprehensive list with a less accurate ballpark prices for food, rent and clothing, click here.
Lastly, you might be wondering how much it costs to maintain a social life. Good question! To go see Wonder Woman with my friends at Globus Max theater in the Grand Kenyon mall my ticket cost 42₪. A bottle of water at the concession stand was 10₪. Thinking of going into Tel Aviv for the weekend? Half off for train and bus tickets if you’re a student. Roundtrip it should cost you 37₪
Check out this link from the University of Haifa about what to prepare for as an international student.
In the meantime pack your bags and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime…
*Note: The prices and costs expressed in this article are accurate as of July 2017.