Bet Shemesh is a popular destination for English speakers moving to Israel. About 20% of the city residents speak English as their mother tongue, but the percentage is much higher in certain neighborhoods.
The city of about 80,000 residents is located in a hilly area 20 miles (30 km) west of Jerusalem. Due to its elevation of 718 feet (219 meters) – much lower than Jerusalem — the summers tend to be hotter and the winters milder than in the capital.
Housing is more affordable than in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, but prices are rising rapidly, especially in areas favored by English-speaking olim. The city is growing, adding new housing and new neighborhoods, such as Ramat Bet Shemesh Gimel.
Some of the most popular areas for English-speaking olim are the “Sheinfeld” community in the Givat Sharet area, Nofei Aviv, Givat Savion, Migdal Hamayim, and Nofei HaShemesh.
Ramat Bet Shemesh is a suburb of Bet Shemesh popular with haredi olim. Most English speakers live in RBS Aleph. The neighborhood has about 40 percent native English speakers. The RBS areas with the most English speakers are Habesor, Luz, Maor, Refaim, and Shimshon.
Bet Shemesh has a stop on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv railway line, offering convenient access to both cities. The time by train to Tel Aviv is about 46 minutes. A trip to Jerusalem is about 43 minutes. The train ride from Bet Shemesh to Jerusalem is scenic, with views of a rushing stream, trees, cliffs, and wildlife. Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo is a popular destination for Bet Shemesh families and has its own train station. Buses and private shuttle services are also available. Most residents own cars.
Several high tech and other businesses are based in Bet Shemesh or in the nearby Har Tuv industrial park, but most residents commute to the Tel Aviv or Jerusalem areas.
The English speaking community of Bet Shemesh has many opportunities for religious learning, sports and recreation. The hills and valleys are ideal for hiking and biking. Community centers offer Hebrew ulpan classes for both adults and children, cultural programs, youth groups, English libraries, and a swimming pool.