3.5 Rooms for your 2.2 Children

The average number of children per Jewish household in Israel is apparently 2.2 , so where are you going to put that extra 1/5 of a child? In your half room, of course!

No, not really. But today I want to post quickly about something that mystified me before I came to Israel-- how Israelis calculate room numbers in apartments.

In the US, our current apartment would be considered a two-bedroom apartment, because... well... it contains two bedrooms. Simple enough. Here, though, it's considered 3.5 rooms. The living room (but not the huge kitchen) counts as our third room, and the little nook in the picture above-- officially a "dining nook" or pinat ochel, but for me it's an office-- as a "half" room. Our closed balcony, which we actually use as a dining room, and the separate toilet room and bathroom, and the "michpeset shirut" where we have our washer and dryer-- none of those count as rooms either. Nope, this apt. boils down neatly to 3.5 rooms, and that's that. (Btw, this means that a "one room" apartment in Israel is an efficiency, containing ONLY one room. Plus maybe a bathroom or balcony or kitchen.)

In about a year we'll start looking for an apartment or house to buy, and already I've been lusting over real estate and figuring out some more oddities of Israeli terminology. For example, a "cottage" (that's actually how you say it in Hebrew-- 'קוטג) means a house attatched to another house... which in the US I'd tend to call a duplex. A "duplex," on the other hand, which is also a term used in Hebrew (דופלקס), means a house or apartment with two stories. Then there's the difference between a "villa" and a "bayit prati," which I still don't understand. Except that maybe a villa is bigger.

Oh, and an Israeli "first floor" apartment is actually on what would be the second story in the US. (The ground level in our building contains parking and storage lockers.)

Check out Israeli real estate listings here, if you're interested!

The moral of this post? Don't assume that you know what terms mean-- just because words sound like English doesn't meant that they carry the same meaning.

P.S. Yesterday, for the first time, over 100 visitors came to this blog in one day! (We've been right up at about 90 visitors for a while.) That's so exciting! Thanks, everyone! Oh, and er, don't ask me how many of those visits were me checking back. I'd prefer not to know. ;)


  1. P.S. I just checked, and there were 98 unique visitors. So it wasn't all me! Woohoo!

  2. I should point out that Maya actually uses an Israeli version of an American word herself: dryer. What we have in the Mirpeset Sherut is a washer (Ie, a washing machine) and what in America is called a "drying rack" - a metal frame with strings for hanging your cloths. There are Israelis with "dryers" in the American sense (machines to dry your cloths) but frankly, in a land with so much free warm sunlight, it seems quite silly.

  3. In NYC, two floor apartments are called duplexes. Plus, I think the reason some pronunciations and words exist in Hebrew that sound strange is because they came into Hebrew via Russian - like your post about the jellyfish and this pronunciation of cottage.

  4. In Israel, a duplex is a two floor apartment. A cottage, according to the Hebrew Wikipedia, is a house one of whose walls is on the property line, whereas a "villa" is surrounded by land. Villa is the same as a "bayit prati" (detached house) except that "villa", I believe, is gradully falling out of use.

    A "half room" is a space with all the attributes of a room (i.e. has a window and a door, or a door can be easily added to it) but smaller than a "full size" room. A standard room should be at least 10 sq. m, a half room could be 6-8 sq. m.

  5. The israeli way of numbering how many rooms you have is much more logical than the american one - knowing how many rooms total is more useful than knowing just how many bedrooms.....


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