This is from my Neighbor Bobby Weinmann
The following is based on my own experience. I am not a lawyer, nor an accountant, etc. But I’ve had a successful aliyah for 2.5 years now and these are things I did, and am glad I did, put together as a checklist.
**Pre-Aliyah Checklist for Americans**
* Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fee (Capital One is an example)
* Make sure you have a bank or credit union with no foreign transaction fee and no foreign ATM fee.
* You can use an ATM card for your American account up to 3000 or 4000 shekels per withdrawal. The upper limit depends on the Israeli ATM. Use only bank-branded ATMs in Israel (e.g. Bank Leumi ATM, or Bank Discount ATM)
* Check with your bank about the future ability to do large wires overseas.
* Get a friend/relative to get your mail
* Have same person install the mobile app of your bank(s)/credit union(s). That way they can mobile deposit checks that come.
* Change all your financial accounts to his/her address.
* I don’t recommend telling your financial institutions that you moved to Israel. You can tell them, “We’ll be overseas for a while.” They may not cancel your account, but why tempt them?
* Tell your credit cards that you’re going to Israel, so they don’t mark charges as fraudulent automatically.
* Charge big items in Israel on your American credit card, if possible. The charge-back rights are largely non-existent here.
* Do not move all your money here. Investment opportunities are much better in the US (partially due to US law), banks pay interest there and there is a 10-year tax exemption on passive income from foreign accounts.
* Set up Google Voice account, even if you think you might not use it.
* Make sure you have an unlocked GSM phone. You can buy one that’s never been locked, or have your carrier unlock yours. Most phones are now GSM, but some older ones from Sprint or Verizon are not. You can call the carrier to verify.
* Get your Israel SIM card while still in the US, so when you land, you already have phone and internet. I have Golan and got it from golanusa.net. Annatel is also very popular, because they have good English-speaking customer service, but they’re more expensive.
* Get the full Israeli cell phone plan that includes an American number and ability to directly call US numbers by adding “+1” ( e.g. +1-404-867-5309). This is 100 shekels / mo. on Golan. There are cheaper plans, but wait until you’re here awhile and know your needs better.
* Port your American cell phone number to Google Voice. Some port it to the Israeli cell carrier, but I feel like Google Voice is more “permanent” because it’s easier to change cell carriers or drop the American number on a cell phone without losing the number.
* If you’re a reader, I suggest getting an ebook reader (Kindle, tablet, whatever you like) and make sure you have a recent library card from your local US library. US libraries loan ebooks through a few 3rd-party companies, but your selection is based on your local library card.
* If you’ll want to watch TV, bring a Roku, Firestick or Chromecast. Your Netflix subscription will work here, but the selection varies by the country where Netflix thinks you are. Most other services will not work (or will be mostly useless, like Amazon Prime Video) if they think you’re not in the US. VPN or SmartDNS services change where it looks like you are, but which ones work well changes over time. These violate the streaming providers’ Terms of Service but are not “illegal”, per se. Mostly, they just don’t like it.
* You can piggy-back on a friend or relative’s pay TV account (Xfinity, AT&T, etc.) to use streaming apps like NBC, ABC, etc. This does not violate the Terms of Service, but there is a limit of users streaming at the same time.
* Bring as much of your over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements as you can. Prescription meds are cheap here, in general, but OTC meds, vitamins and supplements are not.
* Make sure your life insurance will still be valid if you live in Israel.
**UPDATE: This has taken off! This list is public domain. Attribution would be nice, but not necessary.**
Based on feedback, I made two minor additions about banks and credit unions:
1. Make sure there is no ATM fee when in Israel
2. Make sure you can do large wire transfers to Israel. You may need to go in person. Hat tip: Aaron Frolich of Adesco Currency (NOT AN ENDORSEMENT, I’ve never used them).