Q&A: Whats the difference between living in an non-expat and expat area of Turkey?
This was a question I was asked to answer. I have given this question a fair bit of thought and this is my answer to the the question about living in an non-expat and expat area of Turkey . After you read my answer I would love to hear your answer to the above question, please post your thoughts in the comments below about living in an non-expat and expat area of Turkey.
Since moving to Turkey I have lived in what is classed by us expats as a non-expat area, it means that it is an area where there is no expat community and where you are living in a mainly Turkish community, that’s not to say there are no expat’s in your area, it just means there’s only a few of you!
Expat areas are areas where there are larger expat communities, where there are larger numbers of expat’s living and you tend to live within the expat community rather than the Turkish community. You can research these differences online; visit Destination Scanner as one resource, but some of it you’ll only learn when you’re already in the thick of it.
Expat areas in Turkey tend to be found in areas like, Istanbul, Ankara, Kusadasi, Bodrum, Antalya and most coastal areas.
Every where else is considered non-expat. If you disagree with me, please let me know in the comments below.
What’s it like living in a non-expat area?
This is the easier of the two parts of this question for me, we currently live in what would be classed as a non-expat area, there are expats around, though I haven’t had the chance to meet any yet, there are of course various different nationalities of expats, some here for the University and some have settled here, mainly Bulgarians and Russians.
Where we live is in a Turkish neighbourhood, I am the Yabanci (foreigner) and I still get shocked looks when I start to speak!
Living here in the main is ok, you get into your daily routines of life just as you would living anywhere in Turkey or the world. But at times you can feel isolated and lonely, especially when dealing with the dramas life throws at you, you miss the support of friends and family and being able to speak with people who understand your culture and background.
It’s important living in this sort of area to get involved in the community and meet people in your area and make some friends, one or two is better than none. I found when I firsted moved here all my neighbours wanted to get to know the Yabanci so I was very popular at the start getting asked to the ladies tea and gossip day and though at times, it was hard work dealing with the language barrier and the endless rounds of tea, food and chat, it was a great way to get to know the people in our apartment block. It really helped at the start and to feel settled here. Now I am more choosy when I go for tea and who I go to.
When I was pregnant it proved worthwhile as my neighbours where a great support, especially as we have no family here.
However living here has had it’s pressures, I rely 100% on my husband, it’s been good in parts made us stronger but I feel it has made me lose my independence in many things, not having my friends means I rely on my husband to go out with and if he is out with is friends it would be good to be out with mine.
Going out here isn’t as easy as it might be in an expat zone, for example, going to the bar/pub for a drink is frowned upon here, its what I call a closed area, very religious and though there are some nice restaurants and coffee houses, it would be lovely to go out of an evening and have a glass of wine or two. I feel like at times I have lost a bit of my freedom.
However if you really want to embrace living life in Turkey then living in a non-expat area is the way to go, you learn more about life here, the culture, the people and the language. It also gives you a better perspective of Turkey. I do love living in the community here, restrictive as it can feel some days, its actually not that bad living here, you get used to the ways and enjoy a different way of life.
What is life like living in an Expat Zone?
This is the harder part of the question for me to answer as I have never lived in an area like this, though I have spent time in various parts of Turkey and have some perspective on this.
Blending in is certainly one of the better parts of living in an expat area, you are not the exception, you are just part of the community, no one bats an eye if you speak in English or any other language other than Turkish.
It’s easier to have more independence in an expat area as no one really cares what the crazy Yabanci’s do, its just their way, you can pop down your local for a drink or do things without your husband without people thinking twice about it.
Being in an expat area often means more activities and things going on you can join in with, like kids groups, clubs, events at Christmas, Easter and the various other days.
It’s good to have people around that understand your struggles with life in Turkey and don’t mind you moaning about life here or what that crazy Turk just did!
However living in an expat area does mean it can be very easy not to integrate into the Turkish community as well, you can live here in Turkey in an expat area without really learning the culture, the language and making Turkish friends. And for me I think it’s important when you live in another country to really integrate and learn about your new home.
Overall both expat and non expat areas in Turkey have their plus and minuses but at the end of the day no matter where you live life is what you make of it, if you resist life anywhere you will never be happy. You have to embrace which ever situation and enjoy what you can from it. I often dream of living on the coast, but at the same time, there is so much here where we live I will miss if we do.
Embrace your life here in Turkey and all the little problems and when you feel like crying, laugh! It’s easy to blame Turkey when life isn’t going right, but don’t forget life anywhere always has its bad days and good.
If you ask me where I would live expat or non expat, I would say inbetween, I would love to find a place where we live in the Turkish community but close enough to the expat community so we get the best of both worlds.
What would be your ideal area to live in Turkey expat or non and why?
And don’t forget to give your answer to the question, What’s the difference between living in a non-expat area of Turkey and living in an expat area of Turkey? In the comments below.
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