Expats Around the World Series: From London to Turkey (Bursa)

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Bursa 1

 

What is your name?

I’m Sarah

What country were you born in?

I was born and raised in France and moved to London when I was 20 years old.

What job did you have in your home country? 

 

I was a student in art and history when I left France.

How long have you been living in your new country for?

 

I’ve been in Bursa, Turkey for 9 months.

Did you immigrate alone or with your family and kids?

I immigrated with my husband and children.

 

If you had immigrated with your kids, what were their ages when you immigrated and how did they adjust to the new environment?

The children were 7 and 8 years old and adjusted well as we first traveled around Turkey for a month, so it was an easy and fun transition. Also, young children are resilient and adapt more easily than older ones.

 

How are the schools in the new country?

We homeschool so there is not much I can say about this.

 

What is your job in your new country?

No, job, mum

When I was in the UK, I used to work in retail at Harrods and Selfridges, then as a bridal hair and make-up artist before giving everything up to focus on my family and retraining in education to educate my children myself. And I used to volunteer as a scout leader before we left.

My husband has an online business.

 

What do you enjoy about your new country?

The fact that it is a muslim country, we don’t have to worry about where to pray when we are out and about. There are mosques and praying facilities everywhere and with the Adhan resonating from so many places, we haven’t had the need for a prayer app! 

 

The same goes for Halal food and although turkish food is quite simple, it is very tasty and healthy and more diverse than we think.

 

I like the lifestyle, it is very outdoorsy. There are many opportunities here for you to enjoy nature (camping and hiking) or to exercise outdoors. It is common to find outdoor BBQ facilities here. The parks are filled with families bringing their picnic and flask of tea, enjoying a chat while the kids are playing.  Also, the food markets are abundant, offering fresh, local produce in season. 

 

It’s an amazing holiday destination. It is very diverse as it offers blue flag beaches, mountains, cities rich in history, unique landscapes and natural wonders and it is at the crossroads between east and west for international travel. All that, in a temperate mediterranean climate which is sunnier and drier than our rainy London.

 

The people are very friendly and welcoming, also very curious as to why someone from the west would want to live in Turkey. They are kind to the elders and children as well as stray animals. if something happens to you, they do not hesitate to come to your help. So it feels a lot safer than London.

Bursa 2

 

 

What do you miss the most about your home country?

We miss family and friends but being in such a beautiful country, we expect many visitors.

 

Books! You have to do some research to find some english books which are more expensive, understandably.

 

And spices, Turkish cuisine doesn’t have the array of spices that Asians use, so again, it takes some extensive research to find them.

 

What advice would you give someone that is contemplating to immigrate to the country you have immigrated to?

You should connect and speak to expats who have already made the move. There are many groups on WhatsApp and Facebook to start with. 

Visit the country and travel around to get a feel of it.

Start learning the language beforehand, outside the tourist places, not many Turks speak English and why would they? 

Have a strong currency income, cost of life is lower here and so is the salary. Also, Turks will be given preferences for jobs.

Open an online borderless account to transfer your money.

 

What challenges, if any, would you advise them to anticipate based on your experiences when you first moved to your new country?

Make sure you have a good amount of savings for the unexpected! 

 

Landlords don’t like renting to foreigners here so it can take some time to find a place and it’s not unusual for them to ask for a year’s rent in advance out of fear that you’d run away.

 

Again, learning the language would make things easier.

 

Cars are very expensive here and it would eat up a big part of your budget but the good news is that they don’t devalue much. Also, you can bring your own car for up to two years.

 

What advice would you give them to overcome those challenges based on how you overcame them?

Although Turkey is beautiful, holidaying and living there are two different things. you will burst that romanticised bubble!  So, start off by moving to a muslim expat bubble like Bashaksehir in Istanbul, it will ease the transition. Once you’ve learned the language and the culture of the country with its do’s and don’ts, you can decide to venture into a different city. Bursa, Ankara, Konya, Gaziantep and Antalya’s popularity are on the rise too.

 

Learn the language, you can start casually with apps like “duolingo” and “busuu” and “youtube”. “Yunus Emre Institusu” offers free online courses. Once in Turkey, “Tomer” face to face courses are the most popular available.

 

Work out the price of bringing a car for two years vs renting one here. You can rent a medium size car for 2000 Tl a month in low season, but the price triple in summer. Also, your driving license is valid for 6 months from your date of arrival. After that, your options would be to take a driving test in Turkey, exchange your driving license for a Turkish one or go in and out of the country every 6 months.

 

Fill your suitcase with books and spices rather than clothes (clothes are rather inexpensive here) if you can’t live without them.

 

Bursa 3

How was the visa process for immigrating to your new country?

Applying for a short term “one year resident permit” was very simple and straightforward, you can find agents who can do it for a small fee but we decided to do it ourselves. 

So, this meant to get documents translated and notarised as well as buying insurance and submitting the fees. Remember to get the children’s birth certificates legalised in your country before travelling

An interview is required even if you use an agent but it is very simple if you come from a western country, it is more about checking that you are submitting all the documents required. We got our visa within a month of applying for it.

 

How is the cost of living in the new country compared to your home country?

It is much cheaper in general, especially rent, bills, petrol and food. Imported products are about the same price as in the UK. 

Now, some things are more expensive like electronics and electricals and cars.

Our monthly spending in Bursa is half what we used to spend in London, and that’s including car rental and travelling more. 

 

Anything else you would like to add, or any advice you would like to give to anyone that is contemplating moving to your new country?

Be open minded, flexible and adaptable!

 

 

I’m Sarah, half French/half Moroccan, married to a British/Pakistani, mum of two. I’m the family’s photographer so you’ll hardly see a photo of myself  and I love travelling and nature. My family and I decided to take a different path to grow by experiencing different cultures through slow travel. We are currently based in Bursa, Turkey.

Please click here to follow Sarah on Instagram

 

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