It tends to be a dream that most of us have buying real estate and moving to a new country, somewhere close to a beach and where the sunshine’s for most of the year. As a British expat I moved to Turkey almost 10 years ago full time and have settled nicely into what I call home. However, I have seen countless times foreigners arrive in Turkey to begin their new life and they find it difficult to get out of “holiday mode”. They go out for lunch and don’t go home until late in the evening and they spend and spend and spend as one would whilst on holiday.
We all deserve time out to enjoy ourselves but you couldn’t afford to do this in the UK for example on a daily basis, so how can you expect to do it in Turkey? This is the main reason expats go back to their country of origin, they have spent up and need to sell their lovely summer home.
What can you do?
Settle in to a routine
Establish a routine for yourself, get up and go to the bakery and buy fresh bread and enjoy a delightful breakfast on your terrace. A traditional Turkish breakfast is one of bread with a selection of cheese and olives, tomatoes and cucumbers, a boiled egg plus butter, jam and honey. Go for a walk along the beach or promenade after breakfast and talk to the locals, they are extremely friendly and slowly you will settle yourself into your new life.
Across Turkey in or near the popular resorts there will be an expat community and you will be welcomed with open arms. They arrange walks and fun days out plus lots of community activities, maybe a game of tennis here and there or trips to explore historic sites. You will have Turkish neighbours too and make friends with these people also, it will help you learn Turkish and feel more part of the community. Slowly everyday you will pick up Turkish words and the locals will want to speak English to you too.
Watch what you spend
You will more than likely have had to budget in the UK or wherever you are from and continue to do that in Turkey. Yes, the cost of living is much lower than in most European countries and your money will go significantly further. It means you can treat yourself several times a week to dinner at a lovely restaurant just don’t go overboard. Your utility bills are a lot lower and if you shop at your local weekly market you will find yourself pleasantly surprised.
Give yourself time to adapt
Turkey is not like home, it is different and everything is a much slower pace. Adapt and be willing to change your ways to fit into your new life. If you need a tradesman for example he could turn up at anytime, 9-5 working hours don’t really exist so don’t be shocked if you get a knock on the door at 8pm in the evening to have your washing machine fixed. In the summer adapt to how the Turks live, go to the beach at 8.30am and leave at 11am before it gets too hot. Take a nap in the afternoon and eat dinner at 8pm again when it’s cooler. Go out for a walk at 11pm its lovely to take a stroll at this time of night and you will see lots of families out and about at this time. It’s the Mediterranean lifestyle and it’s wonderful, trust me.
Learn to cook Turkish style
The market is a wonderful place and you will see an array of fruit and vegetables, fish, olives and cheese. Turkish cooking is simple and delicious and because everything is juicy and ripe, simple dishes are divine. Forget convenience foods, you can buy some of them but they are expensive and really its great to try new recipes. Your Turkish neighbours will love to teach you, meal times are very much a family affair in Turkey where they take their time and they talk and catch up on the day’s events. You won’t see everyone’s heads looking down at their phones which is a real bug bear of mine.
Above all else allow yourself time, they say it takes a year to settle in a new country, I think that is right. At first everything is new but you find yourself counting your lucky stars because you are able to live in such a beautiful location. My top tip is to invest in a villa as it gives you more space and freedom, apartments are great for holidays but to live full time, a villa will make it feel more like home quickly. Love your Turkish lifestyle!