Retiring to Protea Hills

by Brian on July 11, 2012

in A Parent in Israel,Only in Israel,The Old Country

It’s too bad I haven’t hit retirement age yet. Because when I do (and it won’t be for a good many more years), I know where I want to live: Protea Hills, a brand new retirement “village” in the final stages of construction high up on a mountain at Moshav Shoresh, about 20 minutes from the entrance to Jerusalem.

I went to visit Protea Hills recently my 80-year-old mother who has been dabbling with the possibility of moving to Israel. She’s already in a retirement community in California; Protea Hills is the closest we’ve found to her current digs.

We’d visited another retirement home before Protea Hills. It was located in a Jerusalem skyscraper with peeling paint and tiny bathrooms. Everything about it said “old.” Friends told us that other retirement homes in the capital were in similar states of disrepair. Protea Hills, by contrast, screams out hi-tech and state-of-the-art.

Protea Hills is meant for independent living. Everyone gets his or her own apartment, in the range of 60-80 meters depending on how many bedrooms. The more expensive ones have stunning views that stretch all the way to the Mediterranean on a clear day. Even the less costly units face a pretty courtyard with gardens and greenery. The apartments come with kitchenettes, two bathrooms, under floor heating, and panic buttons.

Beyond the living quarters, facilities include a restaurant, gym, pool, barbershop, movie theater, synagogue, mini-market, an enormous lecture hall…it’s a pretty self-enclosed ecosystem. There are films, art classes and shuttles to Jerusalem. And of course 24/7 medical care and a nursing facility if a resident needs it. Everything is bilingual and about 20% of the population so far made aliyah straight from overseas.

Pricing is the same as most retirement homes in Israel. You buy your apartment ($300,000 – $400,000) upfront. It depreciates 3% per year up to 12 years. If you leave or die, you or your heirs get back whatever is left (so after 12 years, you get back the buy-in amount minus approximately 36%). In contrast, at my mother’s place in California, there’s an immediate 10% depreciation the day you buy in, but that’s it. In both, if the price of real estate goes up, that’s not reflected in the amount you get back if you leave.

There are also monthly maintenance fees ($1,500 or so at Protea Hills vs. $3,500 at my mom’s place in California, but Protea Hills doesn’t include meals, so some of what seems like a big savings isn’t quite). Protea also charges for electricity and property taxes. All told, financially it’s about a wash between the two.

Will my mom move to Protea Hills and become a late blooming Sabra? I’d say it’s still somewhat of a long shot. But if she does come, Protea Hills is without a doubt her best option in the Jerusalem area. It may be ours too. And maybe when the time comes, there will still be a few units available with that spectacular view.

I first started musing about retiring to Protea Hills on the Israelity blog.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Ron Fox July 11, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Brian, what happens to the people when they get to the next stage of “Assisted Living” after living independently? If there’s no continuum of care, it doesn’t fulfill the ongoing needs of growing older.
Does one have to move somewhere else for ongoing care?


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