Pro: The high expat populationWhen the couple began to research potential destinations to raise their young family, they discovered to their surprise that expats make up around 10% of Fethiye’s population. “While we were determined to try and integrate into the Turkish culture, it’s always useful having people who have been there, done that to help smooth the road,” Geoff says. Through other expats, the couple arranged playdates, navigated red tape, made contacts and forged friendships. “Unlike other places that are more holiday-focussed the expat community is very settled. The holidaymakers come and go but there is always this core of people who have made Fethiye their home, and they’re very proactive and inclusive, organising events that expats as well as the locals attend.”
Pro: Mortgage freeNatasha says one of the biggest pluses for the family was property prices. “We sold up in Scotland with the aim of getting a smaller mortgage here. But we quickly realised that we could buy a property in Fethiye outright, which has made a huge difference to our day-to-day finances.” The family lives in a four-bedroom house with a pool and large garden. “The kids absolutely love it. They spend all afternoon in and out of the pool, always with a gang of friends. There’s lots of space for us all, as well as an office for Geoff and a spare room for guests.”
Con: WorkGetting a work visa in Turkey can be very difficult says Geoff. He runs an engineering consultancy from home and travels for his job. “Being mortgage free means our costs are low and we can survive on my income.” Natasha spent the first few years bringing up the children, but now they are both school age she is looking to return to work as a teacher. “We are fortunate that our jobs allow us to either work remotely, and that we have transferrable skills, but not everyone is so lucky.”
Pro: Location, locationAs well as their immediate location, a quiet street where the children can safely ride their bikes and play with their friends, the Moore family says the attractions on their doorstep, coupled with the ease of getting around, has been “life changing”. “We’re a five-minute drive from Oludeniz Beach, a short walk to the nearest shops, and Fethiye Town and school are 15 minutes away,” says Natasha. “There is little traffic, which means no stress.”
Cons: learning the language.While local Turks are used to foreigners and many people know some English, the language barrier is still very real, Natasha says. “The kids have picked it up very easily as we moved here when they were small, but Geoff and I have struggled.” The pair have language lessons twice a week and try to engage with locals as much as they can to practice. “The great thing is that Turks are very friendly and endlessly tolerant with language mistakes,” she says. “And you will be rewarded for your efforts. Turks are so appreciative when you try. It doesn’t matter if you’re not pitch perfect, just that you’re giving it your best shot. But I have reached a point where I’m past the basic learning stage and I am struggling to make the next leap, which is to converse on a deeper level. That is proving difficult.”
Pro: Bilingual childrenBecause the Moores moved to Turkey when their children were aged three and under, the kids grew up with the language, Geoff says. “They are both fluent, and it’s come so naturally to them. They’re lucky: knowing two languages is not only good for developing brains but when they are older they will be more competitive jobs wise, and learning additional languages will come easily.” The same Turkish tutor who teaches Geoff and Natasha spends an hour a week with the children, helping them consolidate the teaching they receive at school.
Pro: SafetyAs well as quieter streets, the Moore family likes the fact that crime is much lower. “The Turks don’t have the same drinking culture that was so prevalent back home, and while drug problems exist everywhere the rates of drug use are much, much lower than they are where we’re from.” Geoff says. “It feels a much more wholesome place to bring up a family. In Scotland we were concerned about what would happen to our kids as adolescents in a place where drinking and drug use were seen as almost normal. Here in Fethiye the lifestyle is so very different, and kids can be kids for much longer.”
Pro: Family values“People like children here,” says Natasha. “You don’t get eye-rolling or loud sighs when you go into a cafe with your young kids, and you’re not on edge worrying if they’ll make a noise or a mess. The Turks enjoy children, and they’re part of life, as they should be.” Family time is very much valued, says Natasha. “It’s very normal to see families out in the parks playing football, riding bikes together - family time is just a way of life.”
Pro: Weather and outdoor lifestyleFethiye enjoys 300 annual days of sunshine, which is great when you’re an “outdoorsy” family, says Natasha. “Swimming, sailing, hiking - that’s us at the weekends. We spend so much time outdoors in the sunshine now, we’re so thankful the kids are getting all these new experiences.” As well as what she dubs “Mediterranean pursuits”, Natasha says there are lots of organised sports and both her children play tennis and football.
Pro: SchoolingBoth the Moore children currently attend a Turkish state school. “The curriculum is varied and interesting, and they love the school,” Natasha says. In the future, however, they will aim to send their children to a private school where there is more of an emphasis on the English language and getting ready for university. “That’s a long way away though, who knows what might happen before that point.”
Con: Distance from family“The children miss their grandparents, uncles, aunties and cousins,” says Geoff. “We talk on Skype all the time but it’s not the same. Fortunately flights are more and more frequent so it’s easier to go back to the UK, and there is always someone wanting to come and visit, which is what happens when you live in a holiday destination!” The hardest thing they’ve found, says Geoff, is knowing that there is no return. “I don’t know if we’ll live in Fethiye forever, but after really seeing and experiencing the difference between life in Scotland and life in Turkey, it seems very unlikely that we’ll ever return. I don’t know if that’s a positive or a negative, but our eyes are open now to what life could - and should - be like.”
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