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move to Turkey?

(32 Posts)
onthewagonwheel Sun 16-Apr-17 11:00:34

I'd love some advice from expats currently or recently living in Turkey. We might have the opportunity to live there for 3 years (OH's job) but we would be taking 2 daughters (age 9 and 6) and I have concerns about both the security situation and what it would be like for me as a Western European woman, given the political changes that are happening.

We would likely live north of Istanbul near the British International School (European side), with OH travelling 2 hours each way for work.

I have travelled around Turkey a couple of times in the past and loved it - and indeed had agreed to move there a few years ago but that time it all fell through. The situation feels rather more tense now than it did then and currently I feel like it is not a place I would choose to move to or take my children to live.

Does anyone have experience they can share to help me weigh things up? In such a quandary....

magimedi Sun 16-Apr-17 11:07:56

Got no advice or experience - just bumping this for you.

Things may be a lot clearer after the result of today's referendum.

It is so sad what is happening in Turkey - I have spent many lovely holidays there.

onthewagonwheel Sun 16-Apr-17 11:14:08

Thank you magi; I worry that things could get worse whichever way the referendum goes. I'll be watching carefully over the next few weeks.

magimedi Sun 16-Apr-17 11:14:59

I agree with you wagon, but I do hope for a No vote.

highinthesky Sun 16-Apr-17 11:17:08

currently I feel like it is not a place I would choose to move to or take my children to live. Trust your senses, and put DDs first.

Bambambini Sun 16-Apr-17 11:17:24

I love Turkey and have been going there for over 25 years. I'm really concerned where the country is heading - it's such a shame. Hopefully some Turkish posters could give you some advice.

CoteDAzur Sun 16-Apr-17 18:50:58

How long do you have to make a choice? Referendum was today and its result is very close and dubious for various. It will be contested. Rumours of fraud are everywhere. We are waiting to see if it will all settle or escalate to buy tickets for our summer holiday.

Bambambini Sun 16-Apr-17 19:57:03

Ha Cote - i was wondering if you'd pop in, do you really think this could be a problem for holidaymakers (i know the whole political situation is a much larger concern for Turkish than folk being wary of holidaying there) - we had decided to give it a miss this year but was wavering a little as we love it so much.

CoteDAzur Sun 16-Apr-17 20:33:01

No easy answer for that question. We were in Turkey during the so-called "coup" of last summer, and it was no fun. In a worst case scenario of an Islamist revolution, I could put on a makeshift headscarf and try to remember some prayers. What would I do with visibly foreign DH and two DC who speak the language (sort of) but know nothing about the religion? I would rather not repeat the experience.

But I would like to go. Convincing DH is a bit of a problem, so for now we wait.

GeekyWombat Sun 16-Apr-17 20:41:23

I love Turkey and lived there for two years about a decade ago (living Asian side of Istanbul and commuting to European side). I have lots of friends and some family out there still.

I hate to say it but with the current situation, both in terms of Erdogan's political machinations and the knock on effects for life for people and also in terms of the terrorism risks, I won't even take my DC there on holiday to visit family (despite much guilt tripping!).

I know there's loads of good international schools, and BIS is by all account particularly great, but I'd worry they were targets.

Also, as of right now it looks like the referendum result is a yes. This worries me deeply.

Trust your instincts. Sorry, I sound negative and it makes me really sad as I love Turkey, especially Istanbul and it was a wonderful place to live. Just not at the moment.

onthewagonwheel Sun 16-Apr-17 22:02:57

Thanks for all comments so far. cote the timeline is vague, we probably have a few weeks.

CoteDAzur Sun 16-Apr-17 22:14:12

I would make the most of those weeks. If all settles down in that time, I would consider relocating for three years. Your girls will be fine and it will be a great experience.

I lived by myself in Istanbul for many years and never felt unsafe as a young woman, even when going out at night, coming home at 4 AM alone in a taxi, etc. I think it depends a bit on how well you would "pass" as a Turkish woman. It should be OK as long as you are not light blond or a redhead, I would think.

travailtotravel Sun 16-Apr-17 22:26:27

Aside from the security concerns, is a 2 hour each way - 4 hr a day - commute really feasible for your DH?

magimedi Sun 16-Apr-17 22:36:42

* Rumours of fraud are everywhere. We are waiting to see if it will all settle or escalate to buy tickets for our summer holiday.*

I have flights for June & have to pay for accommodation in a weeks time - am a bit nervy but am fairly determined to go. Suspect it might be the last time we go. Not just due to politics but to DH's age.......... I would be very sad not to go but can see why you are waiting, Cote.

magimedi Sun 16-Apr-17 22:38:32

PS - sorry to de - rail your thread with holiday talk, wagon.

Have to say I am not sure that I would commit for three years looking at how things are at the minute.

Lokumotion Sun 16-Apr-17 23:08:28

I am a recent Istanbul expat. Moved out last October. It's a wonderful city, absolutely incredible. Procedures for foreigners are onerous, complex and inconsistent. If you're not a hardened expat it might do your head in a bit. Turkish people I found very welcoming and mostly incredibly kind. The terrorism, coup attempt and political fallout has been horrendous over the past year. Heartbreaking.

Commuting 2 hours per day in Istanbul, well there is really no such thing. A half hour car trip can easily double for traffic. Or treble. Locals drive like maniacs and I am not exaggerating one iota grin it's all part of the charm. My DH averaged a crash per week for a little while.

No harassment experienced over and above UK.

I miss Turkey and hope to go back this summer to visit. The referendum will cement the recent trends towards a dictatorship. My part of town is protesting tonight, they voted 80%+ "No". The papers I used to read have all been shut down. I've watched prison vans trawl my middle class neighbourhood rounding up teachers and lawyers. The attempted coup itself was no fun either.

In all honesty, having just done this with DC, I would not recommend a 3 year posting there right now. I'm fairly hardy but being security screened for weapons when I nip to M&S is a bridge too far.

Istanbul was the most exciting, rewarding and stressful posting of my life.

If you go for it, make sure you don't get paid in lira and if it's an international company go for a very large package. I can put you in touch with an honest relocation agent if you need one. Check out a facebook group called "Doc Martin's Surgery" for a flavour of the foreigners' admin situation.

notaflyingmonkey Mon 17-Apr-17 08:16:40

If you do go you will be fine, it won't become Iran overnight and I think Turkish people tend to be fairly tolerant of foreigners (moreso than they are of their own). Chose the area you will be living in, and the apartment block, wisey. You want to be somewhere that you will feel comfortable in. Turkey is becoming Islamofied, and even though Istanbul as a city voted 51% no overall, there are pockets of it where you will feel uncomfortable as a foreigner (and I am assuming you are not a covered Muslim?).

Lokumotion Mon 17-Apr-17 09:19:19

I can't find link now but there is published list of suburbs with Yes/No referendum voting statistics. Top No vote areas were Beşiktaş on European side and Kadiköy on Asian side. Both are lovely, cosmopolitan areas with amazing culture, friendly locals and, both voted over 80% No.

I'm assuming your OH is actually working European side, right? Lots of expats (and locals) used to live in Europe and work in places like Gebze the other but no way is that possible commute wise any more...makes schooling choices much more difficult. Get 100% school fees paid for in your package by the way. There's an English speaking teacher shortage (and pupil shortage!) since last September and some of the schools are putting fees up to try to stay in business.

onthewagonwheel Mon 17-Apr-17 09:24:27

It's so great hearing from people with experience, thank you!

We might go out there for a few days to see other expats working for the same firm, and find out more about their experience. And I will watch the news carefully.

To answer some of the specific points raised so far (sorry am not doing well remembering usernames hmm):

I am not a covered Muslim. Very pale skin but not blond or redhead. Daughters similar.

Re. The 2 hour commute - yes, not great, OH wouldn't see the children much during the week. We are assuming 2 hours based on a colleague who lived and worked there in the same locations.

OH works for an international firm so would not be paid in lira (I assume).

There are of course a gazillion other considerations (my own career, missing secondary school application time when we have an outstanding state school down the road...) but your input is a great help with the key concerns about safety and security.

NotMyStory Mon 17-Apr-17 09:31:42

My brother has lived in Turkey for most of his adult life and has Turkish citizenship and considers himself Turkish.
He left last autumn and has since settled elsewhere for the moment.
He would rather be in Turkey but doesn't consider it to be safe for him (to be fair he was on the list of people who couldn't work following the coup, although that was lifted).

onthewagonwheel Mon 17-Apr-17 10:15:45

Lokumotion his work would be in Gebze - if I understand your post you think it's not possible now to work there and live on European side (near BIS)? Could you elaborate a bit? Sounds important. Thanks.

onthewagonwheel Mon 17-Apr-17 10:19:41

I also meant to ask you lokumotion if you know about any changes from the British curriculum at BIS? Something pops up on their website about a British/Turkish curriculum but I wondered if that was only for the primary school campus in Istanbul itself, or if it applies to the primary/secondary campus north of the city - and what it means in practice. I need to email the school about it but if you have any insight that would be great.

onthewagonwheel Mon 17-Apr-17 10:29:56

notmystory I'm really sorry to hear that about your brother, I hope he is doing ok in his new home.

NotMyStory Mon 17-Apr-17 10:33:27

Oh he's fine, it's just he'd rather be in Turkey and doesn't feel it's the place for him to be atm. And given places he's been and how his life has paned out - that says a lot to me tbh.
But then, my brother has almost certainly put himself in the firing line through his activist past.
So it's not a valid comparison to your situation.

Lokumotion Mon 17-Apr-17 13:02:12

Hello wagonwheel, I'd strongly advise you/your DH go over and do the exact drive on a weekday at the exact times you are planning to do the commute. Central London traffic is like peaceful country road compared to Istanbul rush hour and mentally exhausting. If it's doable for you, I would be happily surprised. The Marmara train line starting Europe-side is due to complete it's extension to Gebze 2018 (earliest) which may help you, but not yet.

I'm not sure of the specifics re BIS however it doesn't surprise me. International schools have lost a lot of staff and a lot of pupils since last the attempted coup of July. To generalize, many are now relying on wealthy Turkish families who are using them to provide an international education, but will hope for a link back to the Turkish system. For some schools, after last summer holidays, about 50% of staff and pupils just didn't come back. Schools have to make money however they can to survive.

Please be careful about being seduced by employer accounts about how rosy and safe things are there now. That is simply untrue. International companies are desperate for skilled expats to relocate there because so many have walked out in the past year. If you are going, you should use that to your advantage because being an expat there right now is a difficult posting.

I really miss it, the people, smells, food, amazing culture, lights, constant buzz of life, even the traffic a bit confused.

Do feel free to ask me any more questions, happy to help.

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