Moving to Turkey is an exciting but nervous endeavour. People want to take advantage of the laidback, comfortable lifestyle, and gorgeous summer weather but at the same time, need to learn about the culture, language and navigating a system for day-to-day living that is entirely different from their home country.
Speaking to people who have already made the move, most say they were able to slot into their new life with ease, probably because of Turkey’s long-standing reputation as a popular expat destination, where English is widely spoken. Still, they remark of things they wish they had known and because we are firm believers in forearmed forewarned, we asked them for examples. There were many common answers between them all.
The Downside of Living in Turkey for the First Time
1: You Need to Rely on Other People
Even if you do research, the system for everyday legal issues is always changing, and procedures differ from region to region. Inevitably, it gets to the point, where you have to ask for help or rely on someone. This can be an unwanted necessity for independent people, and on the odd occasion, the Turkish language barrier ensures you have to seek out someone who is bi-lingual.
Expats who have been here a long time often remark on the good old days when they simply island hopped to get a tourist visa whereas now, they have a complicated residency system to get their head around. In the last 15 years, Turkey has embarked on a massive project to modernise the country and because of this; many rules and regulations have been tightened up. On many occasions, it feels like you take four steps forward and three back.
Solution: Here at Property Turkey, we always help our buyers whether it is a simple issue or complicated process such as car ownership. All our information on day-to-day living is also relevant and up-to-date. Many of our clients also join local expat groups where they can stay informed and make contacts or get recommendations.
The good news is that this phase of feeling like a fish out of water is temporary. Over time, you will build up a bank of knowledge and adjust. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice and one day; you will find yourself helping other people living in Turkey for the first time.
2: Sometimes, it is Hard to understand the Culture
No matter how open minded you are, at times, people just cannot get their head around the culture differences. They are not as evident when just holidaying in the country but anyone moving here will testify that some daily interactions are mind boggling or bewildering.
One of our customers often remarks on the late nights that Turks tend to keep. Children do not go to bed until the early hours of the morning, or her neighbour starts doing DIY or cleaning at 10 p.m.
Then there is Kurban Bayram when Turks sacrifice an animal for religious purposes. Although it now has to be performed by a professional, in urban areas, it does still happen, and city people who have always relied on factory farmed meat from the supermarket tend to stay clear of any places where they might see it in full force.
Turkish time keeping is another example. Turks are notorious for their lack of keeping appointments, but many foreigners remark that they cannot help but see it as an insult when someone is not on time.
Solution: Try to learn as much about the culture as possible but do not take things too seriously. The Turks do not! For 95% of the time, many circumstances including cultural differences will not affect you personally and on that occasion when bad timekeeping does disrupt your day, take it with a pinch of salt.
3 Joys of Living in Turkey for the First Time
Here is where it did get interesting because, from the people we spoke to, the pros of a new life in Turkey far outweighed the cons. There was too many to mention, but some of our favourites from British expats are…
1: The Change in Diet Instantly Makes You Feel Better
Healthy eating in the UK is particularly hard because fast food and frozen microwave meals are everywhere. Organic food is also expensive, and many people are far away from local farmers markets. Here in Turkey, it is easy to slot into a weekly schedule of buying delicious fruit and vegetables, cheese and olives direct from the farmer, at the weekly market.
The Turkish concept of mezes, appetisers made from vegetables also goes down well with our new clients, and they love visiting seaside restaurants to feast on freshly caught fish that is free from preservatives and additives. The high prices of fast food and microwave meals also lead them to cook more dishes using fresh ingredients. The result is that their health is ten times better.
2: They Instantly Embraced the Concept of Outdoor Living
The gorgeous weather helps people to spend as much time outdoors as possible, and Brits in particular love this. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are taken on the balcony or roof terraces, and al fresco dining quickly catches on.
People feel confined by the UK weather whereas in Turkey, especially in the coastal resorts, it feels great to spend as much time outdoors as you want. Think about long walks on the beach, and afternoon siestas by the pool to understand why outdoor living is so popular in Turkey.
3: The Mental Noise Drains Away
Pick up any newspaper or watch the evening news and it is most likely filled with doom and gloom stories that don’t personally affect people, yet make them miserable. Our clients living here rarely read newspapers or watch the news, and they mentally feel better for it because their heads are less cluttered with useless information.
Expat groups keep each other informed on the need-to-know information leaving people free to live purely for today. Some may say it is an unrealistic bubble or that ignorance is bliss, but most of our customers feel they don’t have to know everything that happens in the world or have an opinion on it.
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