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Britain's enduring love affair with Fethiye

Fethiye, Turkey

British expat Nicola Wilson traded her life in Wiltshire about 16 years ago for the sun, good food and the relaxed lifestyle on Turkey's Mediterranean. 

The businesswoman and mum of two now calls Fethiye home - a tourist town with an excellent marina and good nightlife. 

Fethiye is in the Mugla region, on Turkey's southwestern Turquoise Coast. It's home to the majestic Fethiye Rock Tombs, plenty of boat trips, beautiful beaches, local markets, ancient ruins, parks, beautiful Fethiye villas and so much more

For the past six years, Nicola has lived in Fethiye and helped those expats wanting to move here to find their feet; she works for a company that assists expats like her to relocate to Turkey. She also runs her own business here, alongside her mother. 

She tells Daily Sabah after living in other parts of Turkey, Fethiye is her "favourite area to live in. There is so much to do and see and everything is close by. Kayakoy, Fethiye, Calis, Hisaronu and beautiful Oludeniz Beach all offer a totally different vibe." 

Oludeniz, Fethiye

A permanent home to expats

Fethiye's population is approximately 150,000, and about one out of every 20 people in the area is a foreigner who has made a permanent home in the area. The majority of foreigners residing in Fethiye are from the UK, which is around 5,200 British expats. 

The population increases dramatically during the high season when off-shore residents spend their summers at their second homes. While the summers are hot, winters are far from what you will experience in the UK, with temperatures around 14-20°C. 

Fethiye has long been a beloved destination for Brits, be it for a holiday, relocating for work or retirement. A report by the Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism revealed that British people prefer the Mugla region of Turkey, where Fethiye is, for tourism, real estate investment and expat retirement living. 

The report said of about 2.5 million British tourists coming to Turkey annually (before COVID-19 at least), about 1.5 million of these tourists prefer to spend their time in Mugla. The region receives a substantial number of British tourists from the North London area and Manchester. 

The chairman of TURSAB, the Turkish Travel Agents Association, found Brits tend to go back to destinations, often holidaying in the same town for many years before they are eager to explore further afield. 

The chairperson of the Calis Tourism and Promotion Association said roughly 3,500 Brits live in the Fethiye area. They have mainly been attracted by the cost of living, ideal weather climate and friendly nature of the local Turks, they said. 

Fethiye, Turkey

Beauty and rich history

This love Brits have of this area goes back more than 20 years. Expat Nicola points to the beauty and rich history of Fethiye for luring foreign residents to its shores: 

"Fethiye has a great climate and is a truly beautiful area, nature and mountains are stunning. The beaches are beautiful such as Oludeniz and Kidrak, and there is lots of history in the area. Fethiye has an ancient amphitheatre and lots of rock tombs scattered around the town and carved into the mountains. 

Nearby, Kayakoy has a fascinating history, and you can walk around the ghost town. If you are looking for excitement, you can go paragliding. If you want peace and tranquillity, you can charter a private yacht. There really is something for everybody, so you can never get bored in this area. Each part of Fethiye offers something totally different." 

Sailing on the Mediterranean

Making a new home

Although prices for homes in Fethiye have risen steadily over the last few years, it's still an affordable place to buy. Bargain villas (resale homes, older style) start at around £70,000, while newbuild properties with private pools and landscaped gardens in modern complexes start at about £130,000.

Property Turkey director Cameron Deggin said lower land prices around Fethiye keep housing prices down. "Especially if you're willing to go a little further out of town." But you don't need to go far to find well-appointed properties, he said.

"There are some beautiful suburbs, not far from Oludeniz Beach, where you can find well-positioned and decently priced villas. It really is a lovely place to set down roots, especially for families. It's safe, and quiet, and the surroundings are beautiful," Deggin said.

He puts Fethiye's popularity down to its sunshine, ease of living, and good connections for expats. "It's just an easy place to live. Everything's on your doorstep, people are friendly and it's easy to make connections here."

Becoming part of a community

It's no surprise Fethiye is known for catering well to the expat community, with organised events, special interest clubs, sports and shops selling foreign items. For those missing a taste of home, there are also restaurants catering to British tastes, like EY's Cafe Bistro serving up traditional English dishes and comforting baking. 

Most locals speak English in Fethiye and are used to dealing and working with foreigners. Still, it's always good to learn the local language when you move countries, so luckily, there are plenty of Turkish lessons available for all levels here. 

Retiring in Fethiye can also mean avoiding the harsh UK winters; with this seaside area's comfortable climate and laidback nature, its low cost of living also means retirements funds will stretch further. 

While Fethiye is popular for British retirees, there are also good business opportunities for expats, including in hospitality, property and retail. There are also opportunities to volunteer in the local community, with several British-run charities in the area which help local children and schools, street animals or help clean up the area. 

Fethiye is also easy to get to from the UK, with plenty of options for direct flights from the UK to the Dalaman International Airport. From there, it is an easy 32 kilometres to Fethiye via private taxi, car hire, or public transport.

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