Things to Consider before Moving to Turkey - what and how?
For many, their first holiday in Turkey is the start of an enticing dream to live permanently in the country. They fall in love with the laidback lifestyle, healthy Mediterranean diets, local hospitality and of course, the vibrant summer months.
While some storybooks and travel guides advocate selling up and moving onto the place of your dreams on a whim, in reality, it is harder than that. To prevent financial mistakes and unsuitable lifestyle choices, taking a step back from the dream to answer important and vital questions relating to your planned move is a wise decision. After all, good planning and research will pay off in the long run to make your transition from country to country as smooth as possible
What are Your Reasons for Moving?
If it is because you really enjoy your annual two week holiday, be careful because not only is sustaining a holiday lifestyle expensive but it is also a false perception of reality. Once you move to any area of Turkey, inevitably you will need to deal with laws, regulations, and requirements such as residency permits, financial budgeting, electricity, gas, neighbourly relationships, health insurance etc.
Tales of expats sitting on the beach everyday drinking afternoon cocktails are exaggerated and living a permanent holiday lifestyle is also extremely unhealthy and can easily lead to mental and physical burn-out. Moving to Turkey because you have fond memories of the country is unrealistic. Base your reasons for moving firmly on the future, not the past.
Are you Prepared to Change your Views?
Depending on the area of Turkey that you want to move to, an understanding of Turkish culture and religion will fair you well in the end. Multi-culture practices are evident in places like central Istanbul or cosmopolitan Izmir but look closely into any neighbourhood and you will discover certain practices that you may not agree with.
Kurban Bayram also called the sacrifice feast is one example. It is the annual ritual of slaughtering an animal for religious purposes. You may or may not see it happen but will definitely meet people or make new friends that believe in this religious festival.
Likewise, in some areas, parents still have an active voice in choosing their children’s marriage partner and neighbours often knock on each other’s doors to visit unannounced. Stereotyping the culture is hard because every region is different but you will definitely encounter situations where Turkish culture can conflict with your own emotions or points of view.
The red tape and bureaucracy of offices are no exception. Expats have a well-known joke among themselves that the left-hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Processes are often long winded and communication is ad-hoc. The government is making an effort to streamline processes but it takes time, so getting angry and demanding good customer service will get you no-where. Tact and diplomacy in situations that do not always make sense goes a long way instead.
How will the Move Affect Family Ties?
Every family is different and while some are happy for mum or dad to live out their days in the sun, other people miss their grandchildren or resent the fact that they cannot just hop on a bus to see them. From the UK to Turkey, it is roughly a four-hour flight and ticket prices are not as cheap as they used to be. Sit down with close family members to discuss how the move will affect everyone. This ensures everyone is certain of what to expect and family arguments are minimal.
In the Long Term, Can I financially sustain the Move?
For many years, expats in Turkey have put money into savings accounts and withdrawn the monthly interest as a means of income. For the long-term expats, though, this had a knock-on effect on their net worth when exchange rates rose, therefore, diminishing the amount of UK pounds they originally had. This, in turn, has delayed any plans to return to the UK, as they wait to try to recoup as much of their savings as possible.
Likewise, the exchange rate now is at an all-time high and expats in Turkey who are receiving a monthly UK pension are now wealthier than before, but exchange rates can and probably will go down. Have a safety net in place or some leeway to lose money during currency exchange trends.
Where is the Best Place to Buy Property in Turkey?
This is a personal choice but the decision should consider factors such as how well you speak Turkish, and what is your budget for buying property and monthly living? Do you want to be with other expats, and how do you plan to spend your days?
Golfing enthusiasts should choose the Antalya region, because this is the golfing capital while resorts such as Didim have some of the cheapest property prices in Turkey. A move to places in the Black Sea or Southeast would be extremely hard if you do not speak Turkish and are not prepared to settle into their cultural lifestyle because they are not as westernized as other places. As mentioned before, if you want to buy property based on an area that you often use for summer holidays, visit it in the winter. Many of the seaside resorts close down then and life is drastically different without the summer sun.
Well, some expats tell stories of selling up lock, stock, and barrel and everything goes to plan, others still maintain strong roots in the UK by keeping property there, or splitting time between the two countries.
To make the right choices, this is an ideal time to be self-aware and make decisions based on your lifestyle rather than what others have done. While it is helpful to learn from other people’s experiences of moving to Turkey, every decision made should be a personal choice and not a necessity.
Turkey for the last five years has seen drastic changes in the cost of living and lifestyle preferences as they attempt to bring the country more in line with EU practices. These changes look set to continue as the country steams forward to an era of modernization and international connections so be prepared to accept change and adapt.