Southeast Jerusalem is a favorite place for diaspora Jews to put down roots in Israel’s capital city.
The south of the city offers a mix of housing options, from single-family homes with gardens to high-rises with spacious terraces and underground parking.
What are the Prices Like in South Jerusalem?
Apartment prices vary widely, but start at around range from around 1 million shekels for a simple one- or two-bedroom apartment to more than NIS 6-10 million for a luxury penthouse (some with a pool) or multi-level stand-alone home with a generous back yard.
Prices tend to be lower in Jerusalem neighborhoods (or parts of neighborhoods) beyond the Green Line – the 1949 armistice line that the international community considers Israel’s border with the Palestinians. Israel has annexed these neighborhoods (Har Homa, Armon Hatnatziv/East Talpiot, parts of Talpiot/Arnona) and consider them an inseparable part of the city.
New Projects on the Horizon
Over the coming decade tens of thousands of homes will be built in the area thanks to the municipality’s decision to encourage the construction of ultra-modern high-rises and light-rail lines that will serve the growing population and ease traffic and pollution.
Many of these residential high-rises and commercial spaces will be built in or near Derech Hebron and the Talpiot industrial zone, which is now a colorful collection of streets (check out the street art and sitting mini-parks) that house everything from printing presses and car garages to restaurants and gourmet bakeries.
Some of the planned construction will replace old buildings slated to be torn down in the Pinu’i Binu’i urban renewal program. Tama 38, another urban renewal program, offers brand-new apartments atop buildings that have been refurbished and strengthened against earthquakes.
It is possible – and often more financially savvy – to buy an apartment in these buildings while the construction is taking place.
The Appeal of South Jerusalem
Like native Israelis, immigrants and investors are drawn to the area’s diversity: people of all ages and all levels of religious observance feel comfortable here. The typical apartment building houses families with children, young single people and empty nesters.
A variety of schools serve secular, traditional or Orthodox children, while local community centers offer preschools, after-school programs and classes for active seniors.
Another draw is the shopping. In addition to the sprawling Hadar mall, which has dozens of stores and a terrific and varied kosher food court, the area boasts some of the largest and most affordable supermarkets in the city.
Another advantage of living in the ‘hood is AACI – the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel. Located in the Talpiot Industrial Zone right opposite the Hadar mall, it has numerous programs for English-speakers, theater performances, an extensive English-language library as well as a library (also in English) for the blind and visually impaired.
While green space is at a premium in the Jerusalem, southeast Jerusalem has a variety of playgrounds and parks – often with free outdoor gyms - where children can play while their parents exercise.
South Jerusalem includes several popular neighborhoods:
The German Colony
Established by German Templers in the 1800s, this neighborhood has historic residential homes as well as 4- to 6-storey buildings. Called the “Moshava” in Hebrew, the neighborhood’s main street is Emek Refaim, which is packed with restaurants, cafes, bakeries and boutique shops that sell clothing, jewelry, soaps and more. The Lev Smadar, just off Emek Refaim, is the oldest movie theater in Jerusalem.
A long walking-bike trail serves as the dividing line between the German Colony and the neighborhood of Baka. Walking toward town the trail leads to The First Station, a lively restaurant and entertainment hub for the entire family.
Unlike most of southeast Jerusalem, the First Station has some non-kosher restaurants and other businesses open on Shabbat.
Bordered by the bike trail and Derech Hebron, Baka has a real neighborhood feel. Derech Beit Lechem is the place to go for Friday morning brunch, boutique clothing and fresh produce. Known for its stately Arab-built homes and mostly low-rise buildings, the neighborhood is being transformed by Tama 38, which is turning decrepit buildings (called shikunim) into luxury buildings.
Baka has an assortment of schools, a community center with an English-language library and Park Lifshitz, which is a favorite picnicking spot, especially on Shabbat.
Jerusalem residents consider Talpiot and Arnona have a somewhat different character. Some of Old Talpiot’s homes date back nearly a century. Arnona, which was developed in the 1980s onward, offers American-sized homes popular with immigrant families.
Local residents are fortunate to live near the Ramat Rachel Kibbutz, which sells memberships to its country club.
The Talpiot Industrial Zone on the other side of Derech Hebron is a lively shopping and cultural district. The Yellow Submarine features live musical performances several nights a week.
Armon HaNatziv (East Talpiot)
A short walk from Talpiot/Arnona, Armon HaNatziv is a vibrant working/middle class neighborhood that has become a favorite destination for English-speaking singles and families priced out of adjoining neighborhoods. It has parks, new schools and a beautiful new sports facility with a swimming pool. The neighborhood is linked to Talpiot/Arnona by the Tayelet, a sprawling promenade and park that affords heart-stopping views of the Old City and new city.
One of the newer neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Har Homa is filled with families seeking three- and four-bedroom apartments with big terraces, elevators and private underground parking at an affordable price. Some have gardens. Homes offers views of nearby Bethlehem and the surrounding desert.
Although every neighborhood in Southeast Jerusalem is unique, each one offers both a close-knit English-speaking community and, at the same time, the opportunity to be an integral part of larger Israeli society. The best of both worlds.