|Seeing the coming together of East and West is a daily experience for Verity, an Australian expat who lives with her family in Turkey. Here she shares her thoughts and experiences about living in the modern-yet-ancient city of Istanbul, the sights and sounds she appreciates on a daily basis. Verity also advises would-be expats in Turkey on things like understanding the locals and cost of living issues.
-Where were you born?
-In which country and city are you living now?
I now live in the sprawling metropolis that is Istanbul.
-Are you living alone or with your family?
-How long have you been living in Turkey?For 4 months this time (I have previously lived here for five months when I first met my husband).
-What is your age?
Just turned 28.
-When did you come up with the idea of living in Turkey?
-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
-How do you make your living in Turkey? Do you have any type of income generated?
My husband is working while I look after our baby boy. He found the job once we arrived here. Man, it was a slow process! From the first interview to actually starting took about 5 weeks (and that was fast tracked as they needed someone as soon as possible!). There seemed to be lots of corporate jobs available that were advertised in English, but for most you need to know some Turkish as well. Popular jobs for expats here are English teaching and nannying. It definitely helps if you know someone here, so don’t be afraid to network! There are also a number of web sites with job listings – you could try yenibiris.com and kariyer.net.
-Do you speak Turkish and do you think it's important to speak the local language?My Turkish is at an intermediate level. While it’s not essential to know Turkish here, it makes life so much easier and enjoyable.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes?Yes! I miss my family and friends and their company and support. I also miss how easy it is to do things in Australia compared to here. Organising things such as connecting the internet seem to be much more complicated and involve a lot of messing around. I find I rely on my husband a lot with these sorts of things.
-Do you have other plans for the future?Just going with the flow at the moment, although I would love to start a small business once my son grows up a little.
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
We are renting an apartment at the moment, which I love. It is fairly old, but has gorgeous views of the Bosphorus and is in a friendly, tree-filled neighbourhood that is very close to the main business district but has a small village feel. The prices can vary immensely in Istanbul. Where we are living the prices range from a couple of hundred thousand YTL for a two-bedroom apartment to the tens of millions for a waterfront 'yali'.
-What is the cost of living in Turkey?I would say that generally living in Istanbul costs more than you think! It really depends on the lifestyle you want. You can live cheaply, buying your food from the local ‘Pazar’ (weekly market) and living in the outer suburbs. But if you want to live in the more popular suburbs, where there is much more going on and you want to get out and do lots of things, drive a car, or go to places that are a little swish or ‘western’ then it can get ridiculously expensive (think 8YTL for a coffee).
-What do you think about the Turks?
In my experience the locals are very friendly, welcoming and helpful. They enjoy a good chat and you can meet many interesting people this way. The locals are one of the reasons I love Turkey (plus it helped that I married one!)
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Turkey?Istanbul is full of contrasts. Parts of Istanbul are just seas of ugly concrete apartment buildings and dusty streets with few trees. The traffic is also terrible and ‘yabanci’ (foreigner) prices can be annoying (quite a few people ask crazy prices for things once they realize you are a foreigner). But then you see the beauty of Istanbul and experience the generosity of the locals and all is forgiven! I am still amazed every time I cross the Bosphorus bridge between the Asian and European sides of Istanbul. The water glistens, huge ships sail by and beautiful mosques and palaces line the shores. Istanbul can be a very exciting place to be!
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Turkey?Dust off your negotiation skills and stock up on patience! Be open to people – they often don’t want anything more from you than a good chat!
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Turkey?
You can check out our experiences as we make a life in Istanbul and see lots of photographs of this beautiful and continually amazing city at www.apinkcanarysnest.blogspot.com