Moving to and Living in Turkey
By Colin Guest
After buying a house in Hartley, Plymouth, England, an area where we had always wanted to live, I had no idea that a short time later we would be moving to live in another country: Turkey.
This all came about after accepting a contract to work as Finishes Advisor at a five-star hotel complex down on the Turkish Mediterranean coast. After previously working in several countries, I thought this posting would be the same as them. However, for the first time, my wife would be joining me.
At the time of her arrival, I was living in what was then the small village of Kemer, situated on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and approximately one hour from Antalya International Airport. The late President Ozal once said this region was the “Monte Carlo of Turkey.” Without doubt, it is the most popular area for the hundreds of thousand of tourists visiting Turkey each year. My wife was so impressed with the country and friendliness of the Turkish people that within weeks of arriving she suggested we buy some land and have a house built. This came as quite a shock as we had been planning to move to Spain, but we agreed Turkey was better for us.
After deciding to have a house built, we were introduced to a Turkish man named Ahmed, who also wanted to build a house. As it happened, he and his two brothers owned a small construction company, with one brother an architect. On his finding a plot of land surrounded by fruit trees with beautiful views of the mountains in Kuzdere, a village only a ten-minute drive from Kemer, we agreed to buy the land between us. We were pleased to hear that Ahmed had already checked the plot number with the Belidye (council) to check the plot was legal, and found it was. After Ahmeds company designed and obtained all the necessary permissions, they built our houses. After our moving in, it was like a dream come true. We now lived in a house with beautiful mountain views from most rooms, plus, after selling our house in England, had no mortgage or debts. Another bonus, with no pollution and over three hundred sunny days per year, plus eating a Mediterranean diet, we found ourselves more relaxed and healthier than when living in England. Also, despite only a handful of English people living permanently in the Kemer area, we made a number of very good Turkish friends. The only problem we encountered related to living in Turkey, apart from the language, was getting various items (non furniture) from our house in England into Turkey. The removal company promised us delivery within two weeks of collection, but this turned into over two months, after being held up by the customs in Istanbul.
Since those early days, Kemer has become a popular resort town. Although not large, it has numerous excellent five-star and smaller hotels, with many English and Norwegians owning holiday homes both in town and in the surrounding villages. There are numerous restaurants, several night clubs and bars in town, with the pedestrian street leading down through town lined with souvenir and boutique shops selling all manner of clothing. At the bottom end, are two beaches separated by a well-sheltered marina. One beach is pebbles, the other known as Moonlight Beach, is sandy, with several restaurants and a dolphinarium, set out among the pine trees lining the beach. This area is ideal for many outdoor activities, including walking, cycling, trekking, mountain climbing, swimming and diving. Also, due to a low crime rate, it’s quite safe to go walking around. Turkish people are so friendly and hospitable; you’re sure of a warm greeting and made to feel welcome wherever you go.
Although you need a residence permit to live in Turkey, these are relatively easy to obtain. As for healthcare, after having three operations here, I can only say it’s excellent. However, if you intend on living here, it’s best to have a private health insurance policy. Driving here is not difficult, but although the roads are good, due to poor driving standards one has to be extra careful. If you have a residence permit, you are not permitted to drive on a U.K. driving licence, instead, you need either an international or Turkish driving licence. Transportation is inexpensive, with frequent air-conditioned buses running between Kemer and Antalya, the forth largest city in Turkey, from where you can fly to many countries.
Without doubt, moving to Turkey was the right thing to do; more than twenty years later, I’m still living here.
[Images courtesy of Colin Guest]
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