July 17 2006
-Where were you born?
-Are you living alone or with your family?
I am currently living with my French husband.
-In which country and city are you living now?
-How long have you been living in Turkey?
One year and counting...
-What is your age?
I'm 28 years old.
-When did you come up with the idea of living in Turkey?
After my husband and I got married, he got a good job offer to move to Hong Kong. From there, we've traveled and lived in three countries, Turkey being the most recent.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
My visa here in Istanbul was arranged by my husband's company. I do feel, though, that I have become a PRO in handling visa procedures for myself. Since I hold a Philippine passport, I practically need to get a visa in most countries we go to and it's not a walk in the park.
-How do you make your living in Turkey? Do you have any type of income generated?
Currently, I am a lady of leisure. I have a resident's visa here in Istanbul but I need to find work to be granted a work visa. I do volunteer work at the moment teaching English and basic Math at a refugee school under the umbrella of the United Nations.
It is quite difficult to land a job over here since I am not fluent in Turkish. Most Turks are bilingual, if not trilingual (Turkish, English, and German). I've met quite a number of expatriates who work here as English teachers. You do need to have TEFL or TOEFL certification and to be a native English speaker in order to be considered for the job.
-Do you speak Turkish and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
I speak enough of the local language to get by. I can carry small talk with the locals and haggle for prices in the market!
I think it is very important for expats to speak the local language. It opens up a whole new world that is totally different from the "coated surface" that we see. Whichever country I live in, I try to learn the language and respect the local customs and traditions. I never undermine their culture and try to understand it as I discover it. After all, we are the foreigners in their country, not the other way around.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
OH, YES! I do miss home and my family. I also found out that I miss speaking my native tongue (Tagalog) whilst abroad. Thank God for the technology of the Internet. Friends and family are just a chat and VoIP away!
-Do you have other plans for the future?
Being such global nomads, my husband and I only have short-term plans for the future. I wish, though, that in the end we could settle in one place after all the country-hopping.
For now, we just go where the wind takes us!
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
Here in Istanbul, our housing is part of my husband's "expat package." Normally though, apartment rentals here vary between $1,000 USD to as much as $6,000 USD depending on the size of the flat/house, location, and the view.
-What is the cost of living in Turkey?
I used to have the tendency to convert the price of everything to Philippine Pesos, but I end up not buying anything!
$1.00 USD = 1.50 YTL (New Turkish Lira)
€1.00 Euro= 2.00 YTL
Alcohol can be very expensive over here. The local beer in an average bar is $5 USD. Dining out is cheap compared to Europe but quite expensive compared to Asia. Imported products tend to have higher prices due to high importation taxes.
Transportation is relatively cheap. The flag-down rate for a taxi is $1.00 USD. The cheaper alternatives are the usual public transportation (buses, dolmus, ferryboats, tram, Metro). Normally, you can buy an Akbil card and get discounts on most of your public transportation fare.
You can live comfortably on a budget of $600-900 USD a month (not including your rental and utility expenses).
-What do you think about the Turkish people?
I have only but praise for the locals here in Istanbul. They have been very accommodating and helpful. They do not see us just as foreigners but as friends who have come to discover the joy of living in their beautiful country.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Turkey?
If you are into discovering the rich history of the past, Turkey has a lot of things to offer. It is a mixture of the old and new world.
If you are used to having things done in a jiffy, then this country is not for you. They have a very laid-back culture. No one needs to hurry. Everything falls into place. Traffic can also be another problem.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Turkey?
Turkey…you will either love it or hate it. There is no in-between. It all depends on how you want to live your life. Before you decide on going to live in Turkey, it will be good to visit the country as a tourist and see if it is the place for you and your family.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Turkey?
Confessions of an Expat's Wife (http://suncatcherph.com)
My blog about my life here in Istanbul
My Merhaba (http://mymerhaba.com)
Merhaba means hello in Turkish. This is a very good resource for would-be expats in Turkey.
Expat in Turkey (http://expatinturkey.com)
A social forum where you meet fellow expats all over Turkey