Nine Snippets of Advice for Potential Expats in Turkey
These days, for many of the baby boomer generation, the dream of living abroad can realistically become reality. Thanks to years of hard work and frugal savings, they are in the ideal position to spread their wings after raising a family. The millennium generation also have high chances of living abroad as worldwide job and career opportunities are in abundance because of global trading and business conditions. While preparing for the move is exciting as you anticipate days around the pool and cool summer evenings, it is also normal to experience rushes of nerves and apprehension.
Are you doing the right thing?
What happens if it all goes wrong?
What happens if you end up miserable?
What happens if the whole dream of retiring abroad does not live up to your expectations?
We know that many potential expats to Turkey often ask themselves these questions when the dread and doubt starts to fill up their mind and our first piece of advice is to stop. Having doubts about anything we do is perfectly normal, but we do not have to pay attention to it.
Getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing to do. Human beings naturally fall into a life of routine and familiarity. Most of us avoid the unknown or play it safe. This drastically limits our experiences of which experts say are the most important thing for our internal happiness and wellbeing.
Accept and appreciate the fact that you are getting out of your comfort zone and the journey is easier because of less apprehension. What other things do you need to know about moving to Turkey?
More Advice for Potential Expats in Turkey
1: It is about Summer and Winter Living
Having dreams about living in a small, quaint, Turkish village, is good in theory but in many cases, not practical. During winter when the sun is not, shining, and electric cuts are frequent, and the roads are mudslides, it is quite impossible to maintain a healthy outlook on life. For this reason, we always recommend year-round destinations to our customers. Places like Fethiye and Antalya on the Mediterranean coast or any of the districts in Istanbul are perfect.
2: Get out of the Holiday Mode
If your reasons for moving here are the sun and a strongly emphasised laid way living style, you will certainly find that however sometimes, indulging in too much of the good life is a step backwards. Aim for a balanced lifestyle to avoid burning out physically and financially. The urban legends about expats who move here and end up on the booze all day, are true and it is not a pretty sight.
3: Get used to Dealing in Two Currencies
In the past, HSBC expat surveys have revealed the biggest hurdle is financial management. While your income/capital is in a foreign currency, you will spend in Turkish lira. Keep an eye on the exchange rate and do not compare prices of services or items to that of back home. The cost of living in Turkey is dramatically lower than that of the UK, so shop around to pay only the standard everyday prices.
4: Don’t Leave Any Loose Ends Back Home
Some expats move lock, stock, barrel, and leave no ties or assets in their countries of origin. Others prefer to keep their property and maybe rent it out. Either way, ensure that no loose ends are lying about waiting to pop up at inconvenient moments. Examples include making sure your rental property is managed properly, possibly by a company or family member. Some people keep cars in their home country, to visit friends and relatives when they go back, but is this financially viable? A car depreciates, and if you are only using it twice a year, your money is going down the drain.
5: Do Join Expat Groups
Some people move to Turkey and deliberately stay away from other expats with the view that they want to embrace the Turkish way of life. We wholeheartedly praise this attitude, however, do not bite your nose off to spite your face because other expats are sometimes a healthy source of up to date and relevant information for foreigners living in Turkey. Expat groups on Facebook are plentiful, and some are region specific. Join and maintain a silent presence to stay informed.
6: Be Aware of the Expat Syndrome
This variety of symptoms that affect foreigners living abroad is real and happens to the most resilient and strong hearted person. The UK Telegraph newspaper referred to it as the three-year syndrome because this is when it typically strikes.
The result is a build-up of experiences that have not gone our way, an intense sense of boredom due to having too much time on your hands and a combined feeling of helplessness because you don’t know the language. They all manifest into a negative outlook on life as an expat because the afflicted person adopts a half-empty glass attitude. Your mental health should be your number one priority at all times.
7: Do Keep an Open Mind about Culture
Perhaps one of the biggest shocks for new expats to Turkey is they discover the country that they experienced on holiday is not really, how Turks live day in and day out. What you see on vacation and what you experience while living here are two different things. Turkish friends will arrive late to meet you because it is socially acceptable to do so.
You may also meet Turkish people who invite you to join them at Kurban Bayram when they sacrifice an animal for religious reasons. Likewise, some Turkish women are fiercely independent and others whose primary role is as a wife and mother. Turkish culture is incredibly diverse and complicated. Keep an open eye and try to learn rather than stereotype.
8: Learn, Learn, Learn
One way to help yourself settle into daily life in Turkey is to learn as much about it as possible. Food lovers enjoy indulging in the cuisine whether sampling it in restaurants or even making it at home. History lovers have a gold pot on their hands thanks to the many historical sites scattered around the country. While travellers have, an impressive and cheap transport network to get around the country to explore the many diverse cities, towns, and villages. The more you learn about the country, the easier life will be.
9: Finally, let’s talk about the Language
This is possibly the biggest headache for expats in Turkey. Most expats have good intentions to learn the language but usually struggle thanks to an entirely different alphabet and the inability to retain information. It is a known medical fact that the older we get, the harder it becomes to learn a language.
So what is an expat to do? Well, the good news is that in most expat towns and cities, English is widely spoken. You can get by without knowing Turkish. This makes it easier to learn the language at a pace that suits you. Take it easy, make it fun, and just learn one word a day. By the end of the year, your vocabulary will be broad enough to enjoy daily conversations with your Turkish friends and neighbours.