One big holiday?

I live in a tourist destination, surrounded by sun, sea and sand. But does that mean my life is one big holiday? Definitely not.

I apologise in advance, this will be a rant. There is nothing that frustrates me more than people making comments about how my life must be one big holiday since I live Turkey.  Friends, Facebook friends, even family, there have been plenty of people commenting exactly that.

I suppose it depends on what your idea of a holiday is really. To me, and from what I observe of a lot of holiday makers, a holiday in Turkey is a get away from the stresses of home, a week or two in the sun with the ones you love, worrying about nothing more than which restaurant to go to for dinner. Relaxing in the sun, getting a tan and swimming. No worries about paying the bills, no cooking, no cleaning. Room service, restaurants and maids to do all that for you. No working. A fun few weeks abroad, knowing your house and all the familiarity and luxuries of home are waiting for you to return at the end of it. Of course, not all holidays are like that, but this is just my opinion from observations.

Sure, I don’t work, but that is where the similarities between a holiday, and my life end.

The sun is lovely, and I’m lucky to live in a place where it’s guaranteed sunshine for almost 6 months of the year, but the 35 oC+ heat is not so lovely when you don’t have the option of laying around a pool all day. As I have previously mentioned, I don’t have a pool, or air con, so getting up, going to the market, walking everywhere, cooking, cleaning and doing housework in the heat are all part of my everyday life, not something I’d consider part of a holiday.  I’ve commented in the past about how much British people love to complain about how it’s too hot to do anything when the temperatures reach 20oC + in the UK, people always reply ‘its different when you’re abroad’ . Its not the country that makes it different, its the lifestyle, of course the temperatures feel a lot different when you don’t have the option of sitting by a pool and doing nothing all day.

We don’t have a holiday lifestyle at all. In the 2.5 years I’ve lived here, I have never been to a bar. We don’t drink alcohol. I’ve been to a seafront restaurant with Berkay a handful of times (unless it’s in a turkish cafe, we do go to those more often). We’ve been swimming a total of 6 times this year (apart from when family were here, and yes, I counted).

I don’t consider spending the majority of time on my own while Berkay is working 15 hours a day, a holiday. It’s isolating. It’s lonely.  We never get to spend more than 5 hours a day together, let alone a week or two. I also don’t think people realise just how little money we have, in summer it’s not so bad, £460 a month. I’m willing to bet a person on holiday here would spend that, or more, in a week. Winter in Turkey is the hardest, living off £250 between two people is impossible. Spending the end of every month wondering where our next meal is going to come from, whether or not the internet supplier is going to cut us off if we pay it late, that’s not part of a holiday. Getting into debt with friends in order to pay bills, that’s not part of a holiday.

It’s not a holiday not knowing when you’re going to see your family again, always having to say goodbye to someone, always missing someone, whether it be my parents, brother and sister, my boyfriend or my dog. There is always someone.  My holiday is when i go back to the UK with Berkay, I get to spend Christmas with him and my family, stop worrying about money for a few weeks and enjoy the luxuries I had back in England. That is my holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m lucky, and of course there are tons of reasons why living in Turkey is great, the good outweighs the bad perhaps, but that is for another post. I know this is the lifestyle I have chosen for myself, for now. I love living here. I know there are millions, billions of people worse off than me. This isn’t a post to make you feel sorry for me, its a post to make you realise living in Turkey is not a holiday. Not for anyone. No more so than living in London- a huge tourist destination, is a holiday for the millions of people who live there.

It is really infuriating to see people dismissing my life as ‘one big holiday’ when that is a million miles away from the truth.

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21 comments

  1. loved it

    1. Glad! Thanks for commenting (:

  2. Mandy Harper · · Reply

    I totally agree – been in Fethiye for 12 months – we live on 900 lira a month, rent is 400 lira – boyfriend works 12/14 hr shifts – no days off – totally isolating and depressing. Friends come from UK and expect you to be able to eat and drink in restaurants with them, its heart breaking when they leave. You miss your family and friends – your car, your way of life – you try to mix with the Turks, who by and large are very friendly and welcoming, drink çay, but can’t understand what they’re talking about for most of the time – shopping is a nightmare – pulling your overladen trolley along the road cos the pavements are rubbish, dodging the cars, sweating profusely – definitely not a holiday as you say! Ex-pats who are friendly to your face and stab you in the back….I could go on and on. I totally agree with you and empathise. Well done for bringing “our” situation to the fore…..

    1. Thanks for commenting Mandy (: 900tl, thats even worse 😦 in summer berkay gets 1400, in winter 750 (if they actually pay him, they didnt for 2 months in feb/march!!) I am happy here, but I wish people wouldn’t be so quick to pass it off as a holiday lifestyle. I bet they wouldn’t be able to do it. Ahh, that’s why i dont have friends here, keep myself to myself and avoid all the bitchy expat trouble. It’s very clique, isnt it? x

  3. A very good observation Danni, and all very true. I used to get the same comments for a few years after I moved here. Fortunately I’ve been here so long that family and friends now have a pretty good idea about my lifestyle. I am totally with you on avoiding the expat cliques. I’ve had some horrible experiences with them in the past. However, there are like-minded expats out there…you just need to find them.

    1. Finding them is the hard part, I do know a lot of people living around here from facebook though, just never met up.x

  4. I lived in Icmeler and I found a couple of really good friends, but some of the ex pats are as you say back stabbing. What I enjoyed was the views from my house, every window and balcony was a beautiful picture, surrounded by mountains. I also had the time to knit and sew a pleasure I did not have time for in UK, also cooking and baking. I go back twice a year for holidays and I do miss Icmeler, perhaps when I retire I will go back for few months each year. Winter is wonderful so quiet and peaceful, but the house was very cold in Jan and Feb. I think it is very difficult for Brits to live their with a Turkish partner, mine had a restaurant but because of high rents it had to close down, so he then got a tea house in Marmaris, I hardly saw him, it was a lonely life……but if you love someone you put up with it.

    1. Oh yes plenty of good things about living here, and I’ve taken up cross stitch as a hobby! (: Yes definitely just have to put up with it, i like winter too, a different atmosphere totally, just wish the wages were higher. x

  5. katherine · · Reply

    This is sooo true every word u wrote amd. Do feel sorry for you because I feel sorry for my self I jave lved here for 5 years 2 years in turunc 3 years I. Yerkesik mugla with not 1 friend I ha e two kids and I sit in my padded cell as I call it 24/7 I can’t go for a walk as we live on top of a mountain!! I see my husbamd for 2days in a week if I’m lucky I don’t have help support nothing people are too quick to say oh your soo lucky ….. yer right I’m far from lucky living here! Its fab at first granted but then tuekish livimg kicks in and then its not sooo good so glad I.read ur post as its not juste going thru this xxx

    1. Oh i couldn’t do that, couldnt live up a mountain lol 😦 You’re right, its not easy, cant imagine having kids here and being alone with them all day, wouldnt be fair on either of us! Definitely not the only one (: xx

  6. Tina Ozturk · · Reply

    Loved this… so true and I can totally relate to it. I have lived in Turkey over 12 years now, my (Turkish) husband is a teacher and they also get pretty badly paid…. we have suffered a lot over the years, but now it is changing… just moved to Istanbul, new university job for hubby and new friends to make. So true about the expat cliques… but there are some lovely expats out there and I have a few good friends now….

    1. I have never been to Istanbul but really want to, it looks beautiful 🙂 Best of both worlds. How do you like it? 🙂

  7. I’ve lived in Pamukkale for almost 2 years now. The winters are so hard, partner is a travel agent and there is no guarantee for money, so it’s pretty scary! The ex-pat community is non-existent. I have one friend, luckily she is amazing though! I just started subscribing to your blog, and am now reading through it all, really liking it 🙂

  8. I totally agree with you Danni. I also get similar comments. People forget I still do a full time job, leave the house at 7.15 get home at 17.40. I know I am one of the lucky ones because I can work legally but it is hard work and no where near the rights and working conditions there are in the UK. Unlike you I don’t have to worty about paying my rent or bills but I do miss some of the luxuries of home, for example being able to drive to the supermarket. Like you I chise this life and tge good outweighs the bad but it certainly isn’t a holiday.

  9. […] read a previous blog about the house I was living in, and HERE to read about how life in Turkey wasn’t just one big […]

  10. […] https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2013/08/24/one-big-holiday/ – Although this was written nearly a year ago, most of it is still true. It’s something I’m constantly trying to explain to people, but something that people constantly dismiss as ‘one big holiday’. […]

  11. Just read this post (yes, very late to the party!) and I couldn’t agree more. E works in tourism too, and it’s quite a hand-to-mouth existence at the end of the day. I hope it’s not wearing you down too much. Big hugs 🙂

    1. Ours is definitely a hand-to-mouth-or-live-in-the-overdraft kind of existence lol 😦 Made my choice to be here though, wouldn’t change it for anything right now 🙂 xx

  12. Even though you wrote this post ages ago, I just stumbled upon it and wanted to tell you that I completely empathize with this. I spent a year and a half traveling the world, and by the last 6 months I was extremely lonely and depressed. People just assume that traveling (or in your case, living in a “holiday” country) is all fun, but it’s hard work! You’re in a different culture, you don’t speak the same language as the locals, and even if you’ve gone to be with somebody else… you’re still going to find yourself alone a lot! I hope that since you posted this, your life in England is more positive and that you’re able to get Berkay over there soon 🙂

    1. Thank you Alex, glad someone can relate a little and understand x

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