From Happiness (#79):
Q: Is the mitzvah of settling in Eretz Yisrael applicable today? If it is, who is obligated and who is exempt?
A: Whether the mitzvah of settling in Eretz Yisrael is applicable today is a question in the Rishonim (early Talmudic commentators). It’s a machlokes (dispute) whether there is such a mitzvah from the Torah or not. But everybody agrees it is a mitzvah d’rabbanan (rabbinic commandment). However this mitzvah d’rabbanan (or mitzvah d’oraisa) depends on the circumstances. It’s permissible to forsake Eretz Yisrael for great purposes such as learning Torah getting married.
He told him go someplace else where he could make a living
If somebody is in chutz laaretz (outside of Israel) and he feels that he has a better neighborhood to bring up his children or he has a better opportunity to study Torah, whatever it is, it’s a mitzvah for him to stay right there. A long time ago a man asked Rabbi Yisrael Salanter if he should he go to Eretz Yisrael, and Rabbi Salanter said no. In those days Eretz Yisrael was kulo kodesh (totally holy), and still he said no. Listen to the reason of a gadol: He said, “Because you won’t be able to make a living there, and you’ll have to become a kabtzan (beggar) who goes and asks for nidavos (donations).” In other words, you’re not able to live that kind of a life. So he told him go someplace else where he could make a living.
So we see here is a psak (ruling) from a gadol (Torah sage) that we find certain exemptions from settling in Eretz Yisrael. I’m not able to tell you if the exemptions apply to you or to you, but there certainly is such a thing as exemptions. Because why didn’t the Chofetz Chaim go? The answer is he was needed. If somebody is needed that already is another exemption. So you see there are exemptions.