I think I have made it quite clear over the last few months how I feel about my move to Turkey. In 3 simple words – I LOVE IT. It has quite possibly been the best thing I’ve ever done. But, is it the same for everyone or have I just been lucky? To find out I thought I would interview another expat, Pauline, who moved here from Liverpool 2 1/2 years ago:

Hi Pauline, thanks for joining me for lunch and talking to me about your experiences since moving here.

First of all, why did you choose this part of Turkey? That was an easy decision, my sister was already living here so I knew the area and I knew that she would be around to support me while I settled in.

009Speaking of which, how are you settling in? What challenges have you come across? Due to my sister living here I found it all relatively easy. The biggest struggle, which I guess is quite an obvious one, was trying to build a new life in a country where English isn’t the main language. Finding out how to do things, where to go to do these things, how simple tasks like sorting out your electricity and water are difficult with the language barrier. Often it takes time to get these things sorted, not because the Turks are slower at getting stuff done, far from it, but because it can be a problem trying to express what it is you are after.

How are you involved with the community? I recently started up a Fethiye Neighbourhood Watch scheme – unfortunately with the summer season now upon us burglaries are more common. I have enlisted a number of area co-ordinators and the plan is to educate locals and tourists alike on how they can protect their belongings, their property and themselves. Unfortunately, with the heat, it is highly tempting to leave doors and windows open throughout the night but, even if you are a few floors up, this is not advised. Luckily you hear about very little violence in the burglaries. Most thieves are opportunistic but as soon as they are faced with a person (or a big dog!) they will run.

Other than that I have also written articles for the local expat paper, the Land of Lights and I also support Zentara which is a women’s co-op to raise awareness & funds for employment & training for women. Saying that, I don’t like to fully commit to anything because retirement is meant to be a release from commitment. What is the point of giving up work and moving to a different country for a more relaxed way of life if you just find yourself running around everywhere!

How are you finding the cost of living? Overall it is a lot cheaper than the UK. Electricity can be expensive in the winter but if you spread it out over 12 months it is not that expensive, and besides, you have the same problem in the UK. Water can be more expensive too when you have to pay water bills and buy drinking water too, and petrol is incredibly expensive – in fact I think it was announced recently that it was the 2nd most expensive country for petrol.

What about food? Fruit and veg is incredibly cheap especially if you go to places like the Tuesday market where the farmers from the local villages bring their produce to sell on. Meat is more expensive and if you want to buy those beloved and missed food items from the UK you will pay more because they are imported. Overall our food bill is less because you tend to only buy the food you need and not all the extra snacks and convenience foods that the big UK supermarkets tempt you with that you don’t really need.

P1000016How are you coping with the summer heat? In the summer it is hot, hot, hot – an average day sees it hitting around 40 degrees. You need to plan your day, pace yourself, do tasks first or last thing but, most importantly, if you don’t do something remember there is always tomorrow! I think people in the UK are conditioned to do tasks there and then because they have to fit them round work so it takes a while to realise that you can take your time, no-one is going to give you a hard time if there is a mark on your floor, or the ironing hasn’t been done all week.

What do you think of the Turkish people? I think like with any culture, if you are pleasant and polite you will get the same back. Although I have found that the Turkish will say yes when you ask for something because they don’t like saying no and then sometimes not see things through – this is not bad practice, but them just being polite and none confrontational as is their culture. On the other hand a shop might offer to deliver some furniture for you and turn up at your house with it before you even get home. It is something you get used to. You also very rarely see Turkish people get angry – with their kids, with the heat etc. Plus Turkish drivers have a bad reputation among the English but if someone wants to get in line they let them, if someone cuts them up they simply slow down. I think Turkish driving is done more by instinct than by following the rules whereas the English drive by the rules (we love rules don’t we!) so we can often get frustrated by it.

What would you say to others looking to emigrate? You absolutely must do your research. Visit the place a few times during different times of year, get to know the area, maybe visit a few different areas. Learn the basics of the language, embrace the culture and embrace the lifestyle. Unlearn your British attitudes and don’t expect it to be a little England. You may not like the way some things are done over here but you have to accept them as part and parcel of your decision to move. Also, join local facebook pages – I started up Fethiye Friends group and also belong to the Fethiye Area Expat Zone – both of which are good for getting to know people, good for finding out how to do things, and also good for venting your frustrations if need be. Get involved with the type of groups you wanted to get involved with in the UK but just didn’t have the time, maybe take up a hobby, support a charity, go to local quizzes – the opportunities to meet people are endless as long as you are willing to put yourself out there.

Any final thoughts? I’ve found that the longer you stay away from home and from your family the more they seem to be able to get on without you. This isn’t them ignoring or forgetting you but they need to get used to you not being around all the time. At times this has made me feel a little sad and neglected but I know that my grandkids will always need their grandma no matter how far away I am which gives me comfort.

Thank you Pauline, it’s been great talking to you. In my next interview I’ll be getting the story from the other side and interviewing a local restaurant owner to see how he feels about all the Expats in the area.

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