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Moving to Antalya with kids

When Beatrice and Adam Solberg moved to Lara, Antalya in 2005 they were, in Beatrice’s words “young, free, adventurous - ready for anything.” Nine years and two children later, they’re a little more settled, but still with the adventurous spark that brought them to southern Turkey. 

The couple have learned a great deal since buying their property in Antalya over the past decade and have agreed to share some of their knowledge.
 

What brought you to Turkey?

Adam: I was transferred here by my company. It was meant to be a year-long contract but we liked it so much that we kept extending. After three years we bought a home and decided to stay.

Beatrice: We hadn’t been together long when Adam was offered this opportunity. I was between jobs and we just thought, why not? It was only for a year and it would be a new experience. We knew nothing about Turkey!
Antalya
 

Do your children go to school?

Beatrice: The children are five and three, the eldest goes to a Turkish kindergarten and will be going to a private school next year, and the youngest is still at home with me for now. The school system here is generally good, but you need to do some work to find out which school is best. There are Turkish state schools and private schools here. There are a lot of expats who can help you decide what’s best for your children.
 

What’s it like where you live?

Beatrice: we love it. We’re right on the coast, although there is not a beach at Lara. There are lots of cafes and restaurants, and a promenade that follows the shore which the children can ride their bikes along. There are regular buses into town - although we have a car it’s easiest to catch a dolmus into the centre - and to nearby beaches. It’s quite lively in Lara, with lots to do, and our apartment complex has gardens and two swimming pools, which the children love.

Konyaalti is very nice too, it’s a bit quieter, with a pebbly beach. We lived there when we first moved here but decided to buy in Lara as it’s a little closer to Adam’s work.

Adam: It’s very safe for children, there are lots of kids in our complex and they all play together.
Beach in Antalya
 

Did you find it difficult to adjust to having children here?

Beatrice: we both had different experiences. Because I was at home with the children I was the one attending baby groups and taking the children out during the day. It was hard at first but I soon made a network of friends. There is not the “baby infrastructure” like there is back in Sweden, with local playcentres, but there were always people who wanted to get together.

Adam: a big difference we noticed is that people love small children here. You can’t go more than a few metres without someone stopping you to ask about your children. Name, age, sleeping habits, that sort of thing. At first it was a bit strange - that does not happen back in Sweden! But after a while you get used to it and you accept that a quick trip to the supermarket might take a little longer. Our children grew up with it and know no different, so they’re confident and happy to talk to just about anyone, which we think is wonderful.
Children in Turkey on beach
 

Can the children speak Turkish?

Adam: our eldest is five and he can speak Turkish very well. He goes to a Turkish-speaking kindergarten and adapted brilliantly. We speak Swedish at home but a bit of English too. Most Swedes know English, and it’s the most important global language, so we think it’s important for our children to know both, as well as the language of their adopted country. So they will grow up trilingual, which gives them so many advantages
 

What do you do with your children at the weekends?

Beatrice: there is so much to do here, I don’t know where to start! Firstly, you can stay local and go to the beach, or the aqua park, or a park. Or you can go into town, to museums - of which there are many - to restaurants. If you would like to explore there are some fantastic spots that you can reach by dolmus or by car.

Kemer is to the west and that’s really beautiful, very green. We like to go off season as it’s quiet. You can also go to Side, which has a really lovely beach, that’s about an hour away. It feels like a proper seaside town. Our children are still a bit small but in a couple of years we’d like to start taking them on hikes, horse riding and sailing. There is a sailing club here for children, sailing is very big here. And of course, being Swedish, we love skiing! The ski fields here aren’t as good as Swedish ones of course, but still quite decent, and very cheap. The ski industry is still being developed here, so that’s something to watch for.
Sailing in Turkey
 

Do you travel back to Sweden regularly?

Adam: we go back about twice a year. Travel links from Antalya are very good - it’s one of the reasons we decided to stay here. We would like our children to know their heritage and their extended family so we make an effort. It can be difficult living so far away from family at times, but we are close knit and stay in touch as best we can. We usually get one or two sets of family members coming out each year to stay.
 

What advice do you have for others wanting to make the move to Antalya with their children?

Beatrice: just do it. Absolutely, it’s a fantastic place to live with so many opportunities. Antalya is a diverse, exciting place to bring up children, with people from all over the world visiting. To me, it’s the perfect city: not too big, but large enough to have everything you need, from the practical side of things like medical facilities and schools, to the social side.

Adam: I would say that like with any big life change it can be hard going at first trying to understand a new culture, but it is so worth persevering and making a life here. You should try and learn some Turkish before arriving, definitely. And reach out to other expats for advice on the internet, there are lots of resources out there. 

Make the most of living here by making Turkish friends, but don’t forget there is a wealth of expat knowledge that can help you.
Antalya
 

Any downsides to living here?

Adam: aside from missing family, not really. I think the culture shock was difficult to navigate, but that’s only temporary. One of the differences that I found problematic at first was the “problem yok” [no problem) philosophy. Sometimes it’s refreshing to approach life that way but at work I found it difficult at first. You will need patience to adapt to a different way of life.

Beatrice: It gets very hot in July and August, which is annoying when you have very small children who want to play outside. I try to go back to Sweden with the kids at this time.
 

What are the upsides?

Adam: Oh, so many. The food is amazing, really fresh and tasty, and cheap, too, if you buy local goods. The endless sunshine is a definite plus! Being able to get outdoors every day really is fantastic.

Beatrice: The history. Turkey’s history is so rich and varied, with many civilisations making their homes along the coast. It’s such an incredible education for the children, to see these historical sites for themselves instead of in a book or on the internet. 
Side Ruins Antalya

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