Thursday, February 7, 2013

Life in Israel (Part 1)

It's been quite a while since I posted anything on this blog. Part of that is because I've been busy, but I think part of it is that I also know that there's a much higher liklihood that someone I know in Israel will read the posts. In El Salvador I felt like I had a fair amount of online anonymity because I felt like, at most, my embassy friends would read it.
However, I'm not in El Salvador anymore. I quickly realized that once we got to our high rise apartment in Tel Aviv along the beach. We can drink the water. We can walk almost everywhere without fear of being robbed. Most people that we meet speak English well. Life is different here.
As I said in my last post, I got a job in the "local economy" working as a software engineer for Klarna. They're a Swedish company who enables online payments centered around "try before you pay" and they opened an Israel office about a year before I started.
So far it's been a great experience. I think I was a bit naive when I was doing my job search at the beginning. I assumed that employing me would be easy peasy, so I was looking at a large breadth of companies. Looking back, I think that it would have been hard to work at some of the smaller places because, well, they really didn't seem to have well functioning HR departments and, like it or not, I'm an anomaly. Not being an Israeli presents all kinds of weird annoyances to working here.
First, there's the national ID. It's a 9 digit number where the 9th digit is a checksum digit. This means that every system where you enter your ID will deny you if your 9 digits don't check out. Of course, US passports have 9 digits, so I figured I could use that in most places. Nope. This means that the insurance agent does things like... making up a random number that involves my birthday and passes the checksum validation and then uses that on the official documents for me. What could possibly go wrong with this? This debacle has also meant that I have been unable to get an Israeli credit card through work... they just can't wrap their head around the fact that a non-citizen would want one of those.
The other thing is taxes and pensions. While I felt reasonably secure in El Salvador that I was paying the correct taxes, I have no such feeling here. Hopefully the tax people (yes, plural) will assuage my fears.


  1. A long-awaited blog post! I know what you mean about having to navigate HR/paperwork stuff at work as an anomaly, although so far in El Salvador it hasn't been TOO complicated and I'm not the only person who has ever done this. I even managed to open a local bank account which I had been dreading.

    Filing taxes for 2013 next year will be interesting though ...

  2. Grrr...I just realized that I somehow managed to lose 3 or 4 paragraphs from this blog post. Sorry it ended so abruptly...