Scottish Expat in Antalya, Turkey - Interview With Billy

Published: 2 Mar at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Turkey
Billy Watson is a Scottish man who was married to a Turkish women for 14 years. It was during that time that he moved to Antalya and he continues to live there to be close to his son. He also stays there because he has a lot of friends in the town and prefers the climate there to the constant Scottish drizzle. His website is a personal blog with lots of general information about Antalya supporting it. He performs at the Edinburgh Festival regularly and has recently started Open Mic nights in Antalya in a bid to introduce the locals to his brand of humour. Billy's expat blog is called Antalya Living (see listing here)

Meet Billy - Scottish expat in Turkey
Meet Billy - Scottish expat in Turkey

Here's the interview with Billy...

Where are you originally from?
I am from a town called South Queensferry, near Edinburgh in Scotland. It is famous for the Forth Bridge.

In which country and city are you living now?
I am currently residing in Antalya in Turkey.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I have lived here full time for 6 years but bought my apartment here 10 years ago.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I moved because my wife had some health issues I thought she would do better in her own culture and of course climate. Also, my son was two years old and I thought it a better lifestyle for him to grow up here.

Relaxing by a local river. It dries up in summertime
Relaxing by a local river. It dries up in summertime
Did you bring family with you?
As I said, I came here because of them. I had no back up plan with regard to work.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I had been coming to Antalya for a while so it wasn’t a total shock but I still found it quite difficult to adapt mainly because I didn’t learn the language straight away which was my biggest mistake.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with otherexpats?
When I came there were very few expats but gradually more have come and I met a lot of people through my website. I used to go to a bar regularly and over the course of about a year made many Turkish and expat friends there but unfortunately it has since closed. It was great because they used to play all the music I am familiar with like The Stones, The Doors etc.

Now I organize social events like Pool Nights, Beach Trips and I’ve recently started an open mic night. You could say I am semi-famous in Antalya because I take many pictures on nights out with my friends and people see them on facebook, so quite often I get recognized by people I’ve never met before, which is quite strange.

Playing Pool with Couchsurfers in Kaleici
Playing Pool with Couchsurfers in Kaleici
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Well if you are a lover of the outdoor life there are many activities to do in this region. Hiking, climbing, rafting, cycling and even skiing for 3 months of year. There are also quite a few ancient sites in the vicinity so if history is your thing you won’t be short of places to visit.

The thing I would recommend the most is a trip to Aspendos Theatre to watch an Opera or Ballet show. It is an amazing experience to witness a performance in the incredible 2000 year old setting and during the summer months they 10,000 seater venue is nearly always full to capacity.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I hate to say it but the climate does actually make a difference to your psychology. I love Scotland and the people there but the constant rain can wear you down. At least here if it rains you know that in a couple of days at most that the sun will pop out again.

Apart from that I love the friendliness of the people. I don’t know if it is because I am a foreigner but I find Turkish people very easy going and they are happy to meet and talk with you, especially if there is tea brewing. They also dance and sing very easily, which I love.

Sultan Billy and his naughty Heir
Sultan Billy and his naughty Heir
How does the cost of living compare to home?
Things are cheaper here but as with most countries they are about the same for the average national income. People struggle to get by here as much as they do everywhere else. If you have a UK pension then you will be better off although things like Beer and Petrol are the same price if not more expensive than the UK.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
I don’t necessarily think it’s a good idea for Turkey to join the EU but the working permit laws here are very restrictive for foreigners. If a Turkish person can do the job then the law states that they have to get it before a foreigner, even if the foreigner is better suited for the job. There has to be an exceptional reason why a foreigner can get a work permit. Also, even when you do get a job not all companies are keen to pay you on time and for the agreed amount, so that can be a bit aggravating.

Hiking to prehistoric Karain Cave
Hiking to prehistoric Karain Cave
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
It may be predictable but you should learn the language as much as you can before you come and make that your main focus for your first 6 months here. Once you have got to grips with that your time here will be much more enjoyable, not to say easier.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Well that would have to be when my wife (I’m now divorced) broke her back and busted her leg up pretty bad. She was in bed for 6 months and had to learn to walk again. My mother in law moved in with me and my son was only 4 years old. It was incredibly stressful to say the least.

Apart from that personal issue, finding a way to earn money here has not been easy and I’m still struggling with that. If I had taken the time to learn the language I would be in a far better position to get work or perhaps make money from my own website.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I go back to Scotland every year for the Edinburgh Festival and I always think about what it would be like to live there again. I enjoy my time there but after a month of Scottish weather, when I set foot back in Antalya I feel that I am pretty fortunate. I am not sure I could live in such a depressing climate again, unless I was doing something I was very passionate about.

The Pyjama Costume Party Finalists
The Pyjama Costume Party Finalists
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Learn the Language.
  2. Do a TEFL course as teaching English is a good job to fall back on although these days they look for teachers for schools who have degrees. You can still get work in other places with at TEFL.
  3. Form or join a facebook group for socializing with Expats and get involved in regular meet ups. I think it’s important to mix with people from your own culture from time to time.
  4. Mix with the locals. You will need to do this to learn the language fully but it is very interesting to chat with local people. You can see the similarities and differences between you and it helps you to understand yourself better.
  5. If you can find a job before going that will help stabilize you for the first few months and after that you can check out the lay of the land so to speak.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started my blog about 5 years ago and designed it all by html code by hand. The first English speaking person I met here was an Estate Agent. I realized that Antalya has a lot to offer but it wasn’t that well promoted in the UK, so I built the site to promote Antalya and also to try to help him sell property.

I am a creative person so as I couldn’t perform comedy here I needed something to do so I started making videos of my travels and taking lots of pictures so that I could show a side of Antalya that you wouldn’t get in normal travel websites. I was hoping to monetize it but I am not very business minded so I just keep it ticking over as a hobby now.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
I have had quite a few people contact me through the site and I am always happy to help in whatever way I can. If they fill out the contact form on the site they will reach me.

Billy blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Antalya Living has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Billy, please also drop him a quick comment below.

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