Following on from my best things about living in Turkey post, here are a few of the not-so-good things. Life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies here.
Sure, 5 months of the summer may be guaranteed sunshine, and we’re all grateful for the rain when it comes in November time, one thing that isn’t really prepared for the cold, wet weather though, is the houses. Turkish houses are designed for the summer, to keep the heat out, the walls are not insulated, the floors are often concrete or tiled, and the windows are not double glazed, it is extremely rare to find central heating too. Our house has real issues dealing with the rain, as you can see from the photo I will post below. When it rains, it really does rain, full of thunderstorms and bucket loads of the wet stuff, I think it’s impossible for it to just drizzle in Fethiye. The rain leaks through our roof and windows, and our windows and doors are all drafty so when it’s deep into winter, in January time, it really is freezing. Last January the thermometer on my balcony read -2 degrees on a few occasions, I remember walking along and finding frozen puddles and my dog’s water bowl iced over. We don’t have heating, some homes have a soba (a wood burner) which is fairly efficient at heating rooms, but all we have is an electric ‘UFO’ heater, this really uses a ton of electricity, so we only turn it on for a few minutes at a time to take the edge off (proud to say our electric bill has never been more than 60tl!) Honestly, I’m not a fan of it anyway, we just wear our coats inside, layers and blankets, it does the job and it feels so cosy. Last year my grandparents bought us a couple of onesies for Christmas, boy did they come in handy! (: It’s currently 01.25 and 29 degrees outside… -2 oC and snuggling up in a onesie sounds like heaven right now.
2. Electricity, water & plumbing.
This is probably one of the most irritating things about living here, but it has gotten a lot better over the years, at least in this area. There are often power cuts, during the infamous thunderstorms, a drop of rain and the electricity goes out in whole towns, always fun having to use a torch or iPod backlight to see what you’re doing! We learnt our lesson the hard way and always unplug electricals during storms now, once we left the internet modem plugged in and a power surge melted the whole thing. I don’t think electricity is the safest out here either. There are often times throughout both summer and winter where planned power cuts take place, as well as the water supply being turned off for maintenance work or because of reservoir issues. Nothing more irritating than having no water to flush the toilet or have a shower with for hours (or days) on end during the height of summer..stinky. The plumbing isn’t the best and it’s not advised to flush toilet paper as it causes blockages.
3. Not speaking the language.
I can understand a fair amount of Turkish, my issue is not being able to speak or write it. If I hear a word I can often recognise it but won’t be able to relay it back later, I think a lot of it has to do with confidence. My life here would be totally different if i could speak the language, because as I cant, I rely on Berkay for everything. When we’re with friends I’m sure I seem rude as I can’t join in conversation, I also feel isolated and left out when they’re all talking and often feel like I shouldn’t be there. This is my own fault though.
Anyone who’s visited will know what I mean, no explanation needed. A lot of Turkish people drive like maniacs, even the transfer buses along the edge of huge mountain roads, taxi’s, dolmus drivers. They drive like lunatics, rarely, if ever, wearing seat-belts, and quite often with a cigarette in one hand and a phone in the other. These things are illegal but happen far too much.
5. No concept of health and safety.
Following on from the above… Turkish people seem to have no health and safety concerns, ever. Just a few of the gem’s I’ve seen.. People driving in cars with young babies on their laps, people putting their babies in carseats (rare!) yet not strapping the baby in to the seat, or the seat into the car. A whole 4 person family plus a giant water bottle and a watermelon all sat driving along on a moped, all with no helmets or bike gear on. People building houses with no safety equipment or hardhats. Here is a photo of my neighbour painting his house.. no comment.
I don’t know about other areas but in Calis/Fethiye the litter is disgusting. We live on a main road and people must just drive along in their cars and throw rubbish out, cigarette packets, beer bottles, water bottles, food packets, nappies, everything. The bushes near my house are full of other people’s rubbish. It’s disgusting. If we wander down to the beach in winter on a Sunday after all the locals have been out for their weekly BBQ picnic, all we see are coals, bits of chicken bones, packets, smashed beer bottles and other things far too disgusting to mention. Of course my dog finds them all. I don’t know how people pride themselves in keeping their home’s clean yet have no respect for the environment.
7. Animal cruelty.
I don’t know whether it’s because they cannot afford pets, but a lot of Turkish people see dogs and cats as no more than a nuisance. We have a dog, but she isn’t allowed inside because our landlord thinks her fur is unclean…We had a rabbit but that wasn’t allowed inside for the same reasons. In general, a lot of Turkish people don’t respect cats and dogs at all. Often people will take in dogs when they are puppies and dump them back on the streets when they are no longer cute, or when they are no longer of any benefit (restaurants often take in dogs for the summer to attract tourists then ditch them when they close for winter). There are some good animal shelters around but the problem is far too large. I’m a huge animal lover and have bought canned food or given our leftovers to street dogs and cats before, at the beginning of the season we found three kittens, two of which were very poorly and took them to the vet. Sadly, there’s not much we can do, other than take a few into our own homes. I know several fellow expats who have 5+ dogs living in their homes as they just can’t bare to see them on the streets. I have heard far too many times that street dogs, or even people’s pets have been poisoned by pathetic excuses for human beings, who leave poison down. I have also known people, including my neighbour, shoot dogs on their land for fear they were going to eat their chickens. There really is no excuse for it.
I’m not against it, each to their own, but so many people smoke here it is impossible to walk down the street without walking into a cloud of smoke somewhere.
9. Running around.
The amount of running around it takes to do simple tasks is a real inconvenience. Doing anything official involves running around to several offices getting tons of papers signed and stamped by tons of people in offices miles apart from each other.. renewing residency, getting a new passport, starting a new job.. even going to the bank takes careful planning as they are only open for a few hours a day (oh how I wish Berkay worked in a bank!) On top of all this, the contradicting information you hear is ridiculous, very often the right hand really doesn’t know what the left is doing.
Reading this, I notice I have a few more negative points about living here than I do good (see best things about living here ) It’s always much easier to find negatives though, isn’t it? We take things for granted. These negative things are more just annoying inconveniences though. None of these things would make me want to move away from the country.. the only thing that is really a huge problem for us is the following:
I’m sure people don’t realise, but a lot of Turkish people get paid pennies for very long hours at work. In big cities with people working professional jobs, I’m not so sure, but I do know that teachers are not all that well paid either. For those of us who work in, or who have partners who work in tourism, it really sucks. Berkay currently gets paid 1450tl in summer, this is the most he has ever earned (he got a pay rise this year, woo!) This is £483 a month, for 15 hour days, and no days off, roughly £1 an hour. This is ridiculous for the amount of work he does and the cost of living here. Despite what people think, the cost of living is not cheap (a post to come about that soon..) But he is lucky, some people only earn commission. In winter, Berkay does not have a guaranteed job, as most other people in the tourism industry, he has to walk around from door to door in winter asking if they need any new staff, the past two years he has been lucky and found work in hotels, both times only earning 750tl a month. £250. No days off, 18 hour days (how is it possible he works longer in winter than summer, I have no idea, but he does). I can tell you that it is almost impossible to live off £250 a month in Turkey, we don’t have any luxuries, besides internet (that’s where i draw the line!), yet cannot afford to live off that. Last winter his boss didn’t even pay him for two months, so we had nothing to live off, bosses take the p*ss in winter because they know their staff cannot afford to leave jobs that are very hard to find, they also know that as soon as someone walks out of the door, an equally as desperate person will walk straight in.
Last year we got ourselves into debt with friends and owed the local shop money as we bought food on a ‘pay-later’ promise. We spent the first few months of the summer paying back money owed from winter, and as a result have no money saved for this winter either. Vicious circle. Even if I were working here, illegally, for the same wages and same hours, we would never see each other, no days off, no holidays and still only have pennies to spare.
This is the one, big issue for us about living in Turkey, as long as we’re here we will never be able to move forward, never be able to save, marry, have kids. I think people moving here expect it to be like one big holiday , which it really is not. Once you’ve lived here for a few months, you really see the bigger picture and the real life problems that people face.
As always, I can only speak from my experience of living in Fethiye. I hope I don’t come across as too negative, I am just being honest. As mentioned in previous posts, I consider myself lucky to live here, there are many, many positives.