British expat Living in Antalya, Turkey - Interview With Michael

Published: 9 May at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Turkey
Michael West, is an English guy who after marrying a Turkish girl decided in 2002 to pack up and head of to the country of his wife\'s birth. His decision has been one he has never regretted although the first years were a difficult time. He and his wife are now settled in the beautiful Turkish coastal city of Antalya and he has no intentions of leaving!. He is now a Turkish citizen, speaks Turkish and considers now if he ever moved back to the UK he would be an expat in the country of his birth. He started his blog Mantalya (see listing here) this year where he looks at the more humorous side of Turkish life and culture.

Meet Michael - British expat in Antalya
Meet Michael - British expat in Antalya

Here's the interview with Michael...

Where are you originally from?
I am originally from a small town called Yeovil in the South West of England. Grew up on a farm surrounded by animals and fields and in the distance could see Glastonbury Tor from my bedroom.

In which country and city are you living now?
I am now living in Antalya, Southern Turkey , previously I lived and worked in the USA for two years.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I have lived here for eleven years and have no intention of leaving!

Why did you move and what do you do?
The main reason for moving to Turkey was because my wife is Turkish . Once she had introduced me to her country I fell in love with it and decided to pack up and move here. Previously I had worked and lived in the USA and
couldn't really settle there. I used to work as an English teacher in a college but now I work privately.

Michael with Antalya Central Expats group at Tahtali Mountain, Antalya.
Michael with Antalya Central Expats group at Tahtali Mountain, Antalya.
Did you bring family with you?
All my immediate family live back in the UK. Although they bring themselves here ona regular bases for holidays!

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
The first year was difficult, as much as I loved being here, I did miss the family connections and the familiar things from my own culture. However, my wife was excellent and slowly immersed me into Turkish culture. Also, the kind nature of her family helped me a lot. They never forced me into anything and allowed me to find my own way instead of forcing me.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I have always been very careful at choosing friends and it was the same here. When I first came here, I didn't here another English voice around me for a year. Slowly I met some other expats, which was nice to swap ideas and to talk about my own culture. However over the years I have found myself more with Turkish friends, however I do still socialise with an Expat group and we go on day trips to the wonderful area surrounding us.
Also, of course you do miss your family and friends however they visit me often here for a holiday and it is always great to have a place they can relax and enjoy also.

At Ilgaz Mountain resort, in Kastamonu
At Ilgaz Mountain resort, in Kastamonu
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
It totally depends on what you are into, there are so many historical places to visit, Sagalosso, Ayakander, Aspendos for example. If you prefer the night scene, then there are bars and restaurants aplenty. The beaches are beautiful and mostly clean. Also, travel in Turkey is pretty cheap and I definitely recommend that people travel within the country and see the amazing cities here. In my eyes, it would be impossible to be bored here.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I love waking up and seeing the Taurus mountains and jogging early morning along the beach . That makes you appreciate totally how lucky you are to live in such a beautiful place. The people mostly are incredibly respectful and kind. People here have not lost that community feel, where we live within a short distance walk we have, two newsagents, butcher, baker, hairdresser, tailor, cafes, restaurants - all privately owned and all serving the community. Everyone knows each other and crime is incredibly low.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
When I first arrived here eleven years ago, it was incredibly cheap, however in the last few years it has risen immensely. I would say grocery shopping is cheaper back in the UK and beer and tobacco are nearly on a par with the UK now. Housing cost like electricity have risen so much that now the electricity in Turkey is the most expensive in Europe.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The biggest negative I can find is when moving here, it is incredibly hard to find suitable work, and when you do getting paid can be a nightmare.

On a recent trip to Amasya
On a recent trip to Amasya
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Easy, learn the language, that is a must!. Without it you miss out on so much . It also makes you feel an outcast when you can not participate in daily conversation. Also, learn as much about the history and culture of the country as you can. The locals will respect you very much if you can talk to them about there own history - which the Turks are immensely proud of.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The hardest definitely was the first year. Although it is exciting you are also a little uncertain of what the future holds. It's like having a 1000 piece jigsaw of your life and not being able to fit all the pieces together Give it time though and learn the language and all the pieces slowly slot into place.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I now have Turkish citizenship, and regard Turkey as my home now, when I travel back to the UK, I feel that I am abroad and miss Turkey very much and can not wait to return.

River breakfast on a warm Sunday morning
River breakfast on a warm Sunday morning
What are your top 6 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Make a plan of what you want to do and stick to it and be 100% certain that this is what you want.
  2. Learn the language -even a basic course will help you.
  3. Have enough savings before you come that can sustain you until you find work here.
  4. Do everything legally and don't take shortcuts.
  5. Do not treat it like a permanent holiday, you need to have stability and a regular life to make it work. Also, although difficult try and refrain from making cultural comparisons from your old culture to your new one.
  6. Do not spend all the time comparing currency. Become used to the Lira and it's worth.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started my blog earlier this year, There are so many wonderful blogs that are dedicated to expat life in Turkey and I love reading them. I just wanted to be slightly different and add a bit of humor to it and to talk about some issues regarding Turkish culture in general.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
If anyone would like to ask me any questions they can contact me through my blog. They can also follow me on twitter @man_in_antalya

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

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Comments » There is 1 comment

Annie Onursan wrote 10 years ago:

I've been reading Mantalya since the first post and can thoroughly recommend it.

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