FAQ-list regarding the cost of living in Israel
1. Q: What is the cost of living (col) index?
The COL index measures and updates on a monthly basis the price of a "typical" basket of goods and services purchased by an "average" consumer. The basket includes clothing, food, housing and entire chulent of goods. The basket itself is quite sophisticated and is constantly updated to reflect changes in buying habits.
2. Q: How does it effect me?
In two ways - your salary and your mortgage (see *Q* 5)
YOUR SALARY - Most salaries are made up of a number of parts. First is your base pay (Meshulav). This figure is usually unbelievably low but is increased from time to time by your "Tosephet Yoker" (COL increase). The increase is made up of a percentage of the cost of living.
In the old days your salary went up each month approximately 80% of the COL index which definitely didn't help to lower inflation. Today in order to keep a handle on inflation, you are now only compensated for part of the COL rise and that only once every three months. If the rate is low then you get no tosephet yoker. Once you get your tosephet Yoker it then goes into your base salary. By the way, another way of increasing your base salary is if you go up a level (darga) - see next question.
3. Q: WHAT ARE WAGE LEVELS?
In the public sector ( and some private), salaries are determined by your salary level and your experience (veteck). There are two types of levels, one for non-academic and the other for academics. Most positions have a floating level. For example, a supervisor of a division may be between a 8 and 10, while a departmental director may be between 9 and 12. Most workers get a raise in their level once every few years although you can sometimes get a jump after a year and a half this is called "kitzur Pazam." Many Government departments have their own rating of levels.
Once you have risen your maximum level you can only get a higher level if your job description changes. There are some organizations which offer you a higher level but it is considered private (ISHI) which means it doesn't go for your pension. The other parts of your salary which are negotiable are car allowance and overtime.
For example, what level "Ramat Nayadut," and how many kilometers you are allotted. This determines who pays for your insurance and test. At some levels you may be offered a car. In many departments you can share a ride with someone at work and still both claim the "Kilometerage."
Needless to say you must own a car if you want the allowance and your spouse cannot claim allowance for his/her job on the same car. "Shaot Nosaphot," overtime hours, can increase your salary greatly. There are "minor" additions such as clothing allowance, telephone etc.
In many salaries the Perks can equal or actually be higher than your base pay. By the way, if you receive a refund for travel you must save the bus ticket stubsso that you will have to pay tax on that as well.
4. Q: What else is in my paycheck?
You also have something called additional pay (tosephet sachar), which includes raises given to whomever your sector is linked to i.e., engineers used to get a raise every time the teachers would because their wage agreements were linked. Believe it or not!
There is an additional benefit which some employers add called "Gmul Hishtalmut." This is given in order to encourage workers to continue their education. Once you have completed 400 hours of study you get an additional sum each month in your salary (though this is not included in your pension or final compensation.)
5. Q: How does the COL affect my Mortgage?
The other way the COL index effects you has to do with your mortgage. Upon receiving your Mortgage, the bank calculates your monthly repayment of principal and interest over the loan period (today it is 28 years.)
Now comes the COL increase - at the beginning of each month (actually at the end of the previous month) the bank will add the COL increase on to both your monthly payment and your principle. The lower the inflation rate the less difference you will see. In other words, your loan will go up each month.
6. Q: What if I earn a dollar income?
A problem arises for someone who has a dollar income when the COL is greaterthan the deva luation rate of the shekel. In such a case the monthly dollar payment as well as the outstanding balanced calculated in dollars would rise. Thus, it is conceivable that after several years of repayment you may find yourself owing more in dollars than the original dollar value of your mortgage. This is when people start screaming.
Remember that for most olim there is only an 80% linkage to the COL index + 4% interest. Ironically, as far as your mortgage is concerned, the higher the inflation the better off your are. Single people and older Olim have their loans totally linked.