Exploring expat life in Turkey. Part 2: living in Fethiye
Sunny Fethiye is a firm expat favourite. In fact the Mediterranean city and its surrounding region is so popular it’s thought around ten percent of the population hails from abroad. Favourite expat areas include Calis Beach, Fethiye Town, quiet Uzumlu, Ovacik, which is located in the hills above Oludeniz Beach, and bustling Hisaronu.
Brits make up a high proportion of Fethiye’s expat population, with many owning Fethiye holiday homes and retirement homes in the area. Cynthia Benson from Hull is one of the many British retirees who have moved to Turkey for low cost of living and sunny climes.
“I’d always dreamed of living abroad,” Cynthia says. “But children and life got in the way so I thought I’d better wait until retirement.”
With children all grown up and moved out, and newly retired from her job as an bookkeeper, Cynthia decided a move abroad was now or never. Originally, she had her eye on France, but was put off by the stagnant property market there. “I wanted the security of being able to sell up quickly and move back home if I needed to.”
While she’d never been to Fethiye or even Turkey, it was on her radar after a couple she knew moved there a few years ago. “My friends raved about living here. They kept sending photos showing them living the life of Riley, so I thought I’d better go out and see what the fuss was about. I was attracted to it because although it’s a tourist resort, it’s also a working town. I didn’t want to live somewhere that shuts up shop every November.”
One visit in 2011 was all it took. By the end of her first week in Fethiye, Cynthia had put down a deposit on a two-bedroom duplex apartment in Calis Beach. Three months later, she packed up a few things and relocated.
“Because I have friends here I found it fairly easy to adjust,” she says. “I expected a certain amount of stress but it hasn’t been that bad. The community here - both Turkish and expat - is very friendly and welcoming, and I had no shortage of help. My agents helped me with the nitty gritty of moving in - setting up utilities, my bank account etcetera, so it was a relatively easy transition.”
One thing she did find frustrating was getting used to the laidback lifestyle. “I’m all for relaxed, but I did find it difficult to begin with when I was waiting for workmen to show up or when I’d arrange to meet someone and they would be late. It annoyed me at first but then I realised I had to let it go if I wanted to retain my sanity.”
A full schedule
“There’s so much to do here: car boot sales, charity drives, dinner events, hiking trips, day trips to explore the region - my life is very full, exhausting even,” Cynthia says. “There are some active Facebook groups where you can keep abreast of all the goings on and everyone is welcome.”
“I’m also trying to learn Turkish, which takes up a lot of my time. Most people speak English here, so it’s easy to get by without Turkish but I think it’s good to make an effort as it helps make local friends.”
Cynthia now has a few firm friends with whom she explores the region. “We love our food and we try to visit a new restaurant each week,” she says. “Fethiye is just superb if you like seafood, and fresh vegetables. It’s very different than ready-meal Britain! We always say we’ll live to be 100, the way we eat here.”
Better lifestyle - all year round
Cynthia says healthier food is just contributing factor to an overall healthier lifestyle. Warmer weather means she’s able to walk everyday, and proximity to nature means there are plenty of options for great local walks.
“I am definitely much healthier here. It’s a combination of food and exercise. I feel better than I have done in years. During off-peak months it’s definitely cooler but nothing like back home. I still get out every day.”
“Living in Calis Beach is easy because it’s handy to everywhere. The Sunday Market is within walking distance, I go every week. Fethiye Town is just a few minutes away by dolmus. Within half an hour from my door I have three medical centres, a hospital, two or three large supermarkets and lots of other shops.”
Cynthia has compulsory health insurance as well as private health cover. “Depending on what I need - whether it’s a routine appointment or something more specialised - I use public or private health facilities. So far, I’ve never had to wait. All the doctors I’ve seen speak English perfectly and the facilities are modern. Health care is a big factor for many retired folk who move here.”
“I do miss my friends and family back home,” she says. “Believe it or not, I hate flying and try to avoid it, which makes expat life somewhat difficult!” She says she goes home every two years. “So yes, I do miss people back home, but many have come to visit. My children come twice a year, or whenever there are good flight deals. We’ve had Christmas out here once or twice, which was a lot of fun.”
“I do miss home: the villages, the pubs, the rolling hills. The things every Brit loves almost unconsciously.” However, Cynthia says that you can get “just about everything” in Fethiye: from Cadbury’s chocolate to British TV.
Advice for would-be retirees to Fethiye
“I would say to come out and have a look: try before you buy,” says Cynthia. “When you know it’s the place for you, try and tie up all affairs back home. Update your will, and decide what you’ll do with all your belongings. Don’t leave everything in a state of limbo. And make sure you get extra health insurance.”