If you’re planning a new life in Turkey, you’ll likely feel a mix of excitement and apprehension. You can’t wait to live in beautiful Antalya – the climate, the delights of the area and the wonderfully friendly people are all you’ve dreamed about.
At the same time, you know Turkish culture is very different from that of your home country, so you might be wondering what to expect. Don’t worry. Keep an open mind, be willing to accept new norms – and be aware that the following might take you by surprise!
You’re expected to haggle
Whether it’s goods or services, haggling is a way of life in Turkey. Kitting out your stunning sea view villa in Kalkan with new furniture and accessories? Don’t take the price tag at face value, especially if you’re buying several items from one place. The custom is to look unsure or disappointed over the price and make a counter offer of up to 50% lower. You’ll then go back and forth until you reach a sum you’re both comfortable with. And, if it’s more than you want to pay, don’t feel bad about walking away. The same applies if you’re arranging for your new home in Antalya to be decorated or trying to find someone to look after your pool. (Obviously, though, we’re not suggesting you barter over the cost of groceries from the supermarket.)
Horn honking is a celebration
You might sometimes be aware of car horns blaring loudly and incessantly. While they are used in general driving far more than in some countries, in Turkey they are also a form of expression. If someone is getting married or a young man is about to leave for his military service, processions of vehicles will parade around sounding their horns. They might also be accompanied by a drummer and/or other musicians. For weddings, there’s often coloured tulle fabric tied to the mirrors and draped around the car.
Terms of endearment
You might have noticed your neighbour calls you teyze (tay-zeh), amca (am-ja), abla (ab-la), abi (ar-bee) or some other name. These mean aunt, uncle, older sister and older brother, and are used as respectful terms of endearment. You might have noticed Turkish acquaintances answer phone calls with ‘Effendim’ (eff-end-im), even if they know who’s calling. Literally, it means ‘my master’, but it’s used liberally rather than saying the person’s name.
Oil wrestling, or yağlı güreş (yah-luh goo-resh) is one of Turkey’s traditional sports but can come as a surprise to newcomers. It dates back to ancient Mesopotamia but was popularised by the Ottomans, with an annual tournament held in Edirne since 1362. Wrestlers wear heavy leather pants, called kipset (keep-set) and are doused in olive oil. Traditionally, they fight until a loser is declared – the one whose navel is facing the sky. However, there is usually a time limit of 40-45 minutes on modern bouts and winners can be declared on points, as previously fights have been known to last for days.
Being circumcised – sünnet (soo-net) – is a major milestone in the life of any young Turkish boy, marking the first step on the road to manhood. It’s a cause for celebration – he gets to wear a flashy costume with a cape, hat and sceptre, and there’s always a big party. Of course, the procedure itself is less exciting; if you have Turkish friends with young sons, you might see photographs on social media of extended family groups in hospital, surrounding the young boy who often looks rather uncomfortable.
Health and safety are optional
If you’ve come from a country where safety rules are strictly enforced, you might find this something of a shock. There are regulations in many cases, but they seem to be regarded more as guidelines. The workman who comes to replace tiles on your dream villa in Alanya will climb up on the roof without scaffolding, a harness or any safety equipment. You’ll see whole families riding on a single scooter, not wearing helmets, and maybe even with a sheep on board for good measure. The driver is probably making a call on his mobile phone, too. It will get your nerves jangling, but that’s life in Turkey!
Water fountains as memorials
You’ll find plenty of water fountains around Antalya, but you might be struck by how ornate some of them are. These are memorials to dead relatives, provided by the families in the hope that those who drink there will pray for the soul of the deceased. As well as intricate carvings and decoration, there’s also usually a placard or engraving bearing the person’s name and other details.
Interested in buying property in Antalya?
Our team has a wealth of experience when it comes to Turkish real estate and finding the right property for our clients. Our extensive portfolio features everything from exclusive custom-built homes in Belek to luxury apartments in Side.
We can advise on the best area for you, depending on whether you want to live in Turkey full-time, invest in a buy-to-let property, or own your own holiday home in Antalya.
We’ll help you navigate every stage of the process, making sure everything goes smoothly. Just get in touch for more details, or with any questions you might have.