What it's like to be a billionaire in Tel Aviv, one of the most expensive cities in the world, where old wealth and new tech money live side by side

kolderal/Getty ImagesA Bauhaus-style building in historic Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv is one of the hottest cities in the Middle East.

On top of its rich history, Tel Aviv is home to some of the coolest tech startups, whose execs help contribute to the city’s wealthy population. Additionally, the city boasts offices for American tech giants such as Google and Facebook.

Read more: McDonald’s, Nvidia and Salesforce all want a bite of the Tel Aviv tech crop. Here’s what you need to know about Israel’s bustling M&A scene.

Second only to Jerusalem in terms of population, Tel Aviv has recently seen an increase in tourism. The seaside location once again ranked as one of the world’s most expensive cities; this year, Tel Aviv tied for tenth place on the list with Los Angeles.

Billionaires in Tel Aviv include real estate mogul Eyal Ofer and heiress Shari Arison – the richest woman in Israel. Many billionaire homes and shopping centres are found in the historic Rothschild area, which features Bauhaus architecture and a booming real-estate market.

As The Wall Street Journal’s Ruth Bloomfield wrote in 2015, “Wealthy Israelis have long gravitated to Tel Aviv’s cosmopolitan atmosphere, but this old money has more recently been joined by young entrepreneurs who have made their fortunes in tech startups, a major growth sector in Israel.”

Keep reading for a look at luxury lifestyle in Tel Aviv.


Tel Aviv is a bustling, seaside city in Israel.

stellalevi/Getty Images

Founded in 1909 as Ahuzat Bayit, the city’s name was changed in 1909 to Tel Aviv, which means “hill of spring.” The city was recently named one of the most expensive cities in the world.


The city is located 43 miles from the capital city of Jerusalem, along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

The city is within driving distance of two major airports – international hub Ben Gurion International Airport and domestic-focused Sde Dov Airport.


Tel Aviv is home to approximately 430,000 people.

ShutterstockTenants prepare food at a marketplace in Tel Aviv.

The city is one of the largest in the country by population, second only to Jerusalem.


And about half of the country’s total billionaire population calls Tel Aviv home.

Karl Good / EyeEm / Getty Images

According to Hareetz, as of 2018, Israel was home to 106 billionaires with net worths averaging $US1.07 billion.

In 2017, The Times of Israel reported that over half of these billionaires live in Tel Aviv.


Roman Abramovich is currently the richest man in Israel, with a net worth of $US13.3 billion.

Vyacheslav ProkofyevTASS via Getty Images

Originally from Russia, Abramovich earned Israeli citizenship in 2018. The billionaire owns the Chelsea football club.

In 2015, he purchased the luxury hotel Varsano Hotel from “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot’s husband, Yaron Varsano, for approximately $US2.8 million.


With a net worth of $US5 billion, Tel Aviv resident Shari Arison is the richest woman in Israel.

Shahar Azran/WireImage/Getty ImagesArison speaking at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in 2010.

Shari Arison inherited a substantial fortune from her father – the founder of the Carnival cruise ship line. She currently has stakes in Israel’s largest bank, Bank Hapoalim.


Also among the country’s billionaires is Eyal Ofer, a real estate and shipping mogul, who has owned property in the Tel Aviv area. His net worth, according to Forbes, is around $US9.7 billion.

According to Forbes, Ofer has expanded his father’s shipping business since inheriting it in 2001. Additionally, Ofer owns shares of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines along with luxury property in Manhattan.


Stef Wertheimer — whose net worth totals almost $US6 billion, according to Forbes — also lives in Tel Aviv.

Wertheimer is the founder and honorary chairman of the Iscar Metalworking toolmaker company. He sold the company to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway holdings company in 2006 with a $US4 billion deal. He has since received the Oslo Business for Peace Award in 2010 for his efforts in Israel and Palestine.


Recently, Tel Aviv has also become home to a variety of startup tech companies, which is bringing in a new wave of fresh talent — and new money.

REUTER/ Nir Elias

Business Insider’s Sam Shead previously reported that Israel is commonly referred to as “Startup Nation.”

And the tech boom is minting millionaires across the country, Business Insider’s Hillary Hoffower previously reported, which, in turn, is fuelling a demand for luxury houses and apartments.


Tech giants like Google have also opened offices in the city.

Itay SikolskiThe Google office in Tel Aviv.

The Google offices also feature themed floors, including one with beach chairs and an in-house slide.


Facebook, too, has an office in the city.

Facebook

Facebook, Microsoft, and Intel use their Tel Aviv offices for research and development.


With this influx of tech, neighbourhoods have expanded. Business Insider’s Hillary Hoffower previously reported that Israel’s real estate prices have doubled in the past ten years. In Tel Aviv in particular, prices are rising because of tech and tourist industry success.

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According to Hoffower, “The rise in luxury hotels, apartments, condos, and homes in these areas has ultimately been sparked by economic growth as well as an increase in overseas buyers and travellers.”


One of the most desirable areas in the city is Neve Tzedek. According to The Wall Street Journal, an apartment in the seaside neighbourhood averaged between $US1.5 million and $US2 million in the seaside neighbourhood in 2015.

Oren Kfir / Getty Images

Israeli business news source Globes reported in 2015 that Neve Tzedek is home to over a dozen billionaires.

Known for its restaurants and boutique shopping, Neve Tzedek is considered one of the most in-demand areas in the city. The area claims the title of Tel Aviv’s first neighbourhood.

The Wall Street Journal also noted that the “Golden Kilometer,” a half-mile of seafront reserved for luxury apartments, is one of the city’s prime housing spots.


And then there’s the White City, home to Bauhaus architecture.

Marton Tordai / EyeEm / Getty Images

Named for its mostly white buildings, Tel Aviv’s White City features the architectural style first popularised in the 1920s and 1930s. The older section of the city is now home to countless multimillion-dollar homes.


On the dining front, Israel has gained attention as a global food hub and has, over the years, boasted a variety of restaurants with Michelin-star chefs.

Hareetz previously reported that 11 of Israel’s restaurants were honored at the exclusive French “La Liste” ranking last year, including Tel Aviv’s Manta Ray.

Celebrity chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Eyal Shani both applauded Tel Aviv’s culinary scene in a 2018 Bloomberg article. A restaurant roundup published by Elite Traveller included Ottolenghi’s Herbert Samuel restaurant, along with Yoezer wine bar and Catit, both of which are located in restored mansions. Messa also made the list, and also was named one of the most beautiful restaurants in the world by Wallpaper magazine.

Home to several micro-breweries, the average cost of a beer in Tel Aviv is $US2.94.


It also has a bustling nightlife scene.

israeltourism/Flickr

According to the Lonely Planet, Speakeasy rooftop bar is one of Tel Aviv’s “most exclusive addresses” and requires reservations to enter; the venue is also used to host private business parties.

In Tel Aviv’s Florentin neighbourhood, Satchmo offers a selection of 70 types of whiskey. Tel Aviv is also home to a Soho House location.


One of Tel Aviv’s most iconic streets and a major draw for the city’s wealthy residents and tourists, according to Tourist Israel, is the ritzy Rothschild Boulevard. It’s lined with luxury shops.

Wikimedia CommonsRothschild Boulevard towers in 2014.

Named after a member of the French Rothschild banking dynasty, Rothschild Boulevard remains one of the city’s most well-known streets. The area is full of high-end designer storefronts, along with several luxury high-rises.


Rothschild Boulevard is also home to some of the city’s luxury hotels and spas.

The Rothschild Hotel / Facebook

The Rothschild Hotel is considered Tel Aviv’s first luxury boutique hotel. The hotel features rooftop terrace suites with starting rates of $US1,000 per night.

Meanwhile, The Norman boasts a rooftop infinity pool. A penthouse suite (booked one month in advance) costs$US2,400 a night.


Members clubs are also scattered throughout the city, offering exclusive access for the superrich.

Located in the center of the city, Morfium is one example of a private member’s club. The club features VIP access and private bars.


But not everything in Tel Aviv comes at a great cost. The coastal city makes good use of its location: It has 13 beaches.

Popular beaches include Jerusalem Beach, Mezizim Beach, and Frishman Beach.

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