The cost of living in Turkey – revisited.

Last week I met up with my friend who lives in Turkey. While we were chatting, she said something that I’d been thinking for years, – “I can’t believe how cheap everything is in England now”, she said.

The most popular, most read post ever on my blog is one regarding the ‘cost of living’ that I wrote last August. (click here to read that) I received mixed comments in response to the post, some agreed that living in Turkey isn’t cheap, others said it was if you learn to live like villagers, some people made me feel as if I wasn’t entitled to an opinion, because I didn’t work there and lived purely off Berkay’s wages, which obviously means things are tougher.

As mentioned, my friend lives in Turkey. She has for years. She has children in school there, a husband with his own business and a kimlik and full time job herself – they are just a normal family, and on her visit to the UK if she notices how ‘cheap’ things are in the UK in comparison, surely that must mean something?

Like for like, things may be cheaper in Turkey, but compared to wages, they’re not really. Things take up a bigger proportion of a monthly wage which means they’re not really cheaper at all.

One of the things which prompted the discussion was the price of cinema tickets – I know, going to the cinema is a luxury, but just for comparison – an adult cinema ticket in the UK is around £10, an adult cinema ticket in Turkey is around 20tl (around £4.60 at today’s exchange rate). On first glance it seems cheaper, but when you compare wages, it’s not – minimum wage in Turkey (1000tl a month) would buy 50 cinema tickets. Minimum wage in the UK (£910 a month) would buy 91 cinema tickets – a big difference.

The same goes for a lot of everyday things, for example – 1kg chicken breast in Tesco is roughly £6, in Turkey’s Kipa 1kg of chicken breast is around 11tl, this means on minimum wage in the UK you could buy 151kgs of chicken, in Turkey you could buy just 90kg.  In Tesco, 1kg of diced beef is £7.50,  in Kipa the same beef is 36tl – which means on minimum wage in the UK you could buy 121 kgs of beef, in Turkey just 27 kgs.

In Tesco, their own brand newborn nappies (pack of 58) is £4, whereas in Turkey, Kipa’s own brand of newborn nappies, back of 60 is 20tl – which means in the UK you could buy 227 packs a month, in Turkey just 50. A huge difference.

In Tesco, a mid range 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner is around £3, in Kipa it’s around 9tl, which means you could afford 303 bottles on minimum wage in the UK and just 111 bottles in Turkey. The same prices apply for a mid-range fabric softener. Big differences, again.

In Tesco, a 1lt bottle of own brand olive oil (which is used ALOT in Turkish cuisine) is £3.45, in Kipa, the same own brand 1lt bottle is 23tl. This means you could afford 263 bottles on minimum wage in the UK, and just 43 bottles in Turkey.

My own experience shows white goods, cars, petrol, household items, pet items and baby items are mostly all most expensive in Turkey than the UK.

I could carry on with the comparisons all day, and most of the time the same result would be seen. Day to day items, and luxuries, are all more expensive in Turkey than the UK in comparison with wages, the everyday necessities take up a larger proportion of the monthly wage in turkey, than in the UK.

Of course, there are cheap alternatives for things, but there are too in the UK. Lidl or Aldi instead of Tesco or Sainsburys, Bim and Sok instead of Kipa and Migros… growing your own fruit and veg instead of buying it, eating pulses and cooking from scratch in big batches instead of store bought things and ready meals, no days out and living on the bare minimum – but that’s not ideal, in either country is it? I believe in the UK there is more of a conscious choice to live a certain way, whereas in Turkey you don’t have that option – if you are trying to live off minimum wage you have no choice but to be frugal.

There are things that are cheaper in Turkey, like fruit and vegetables – there were often times when we’d walk around the market for hours frugally trying to find the cheapest deals, even if it meant saving a few kurus or lira, and I still remember the shock on Berkay’s face when he came to the UK and saw one pepper for 45p.

Rent is also undoubtedly cheaper in Turkey, but then I guess it depends where you live, village or city, and whether you have a mortgage or rent. And then there’s the issue of taxes, which are lower in Turkey. Perhaps, with this considered, the cost of living in both countries does even itself out in the end, then?

One thing is for sure, in my eyes, it’s not cheaper to live in Turkey, at all. When people say how cheap all the supermarkets, clothes and shoes are I have to rub my eyes in disbelief and think ‘really?’, and I’m always very pleasantly surprised when I find people who agree with me, especially those who are in a relatively good position in Turkey and still notice this.

Perhaps the cost of living is no cheaper in Turkey, but the quality of life may be higher? Less materialistic and more family orientated, more freedom for children to remain children for longer?

What do you think?

Back to the Village..

Berkay received a call from his brother a few days ago to tell him that his step-mum was ill, so he got on the next coach to his hometown of Beyağaç, Denizli to visit.

Fethiye to Denizli is a 5 hour bus ride, and then it’s a futher 1 and a half hours on a small dolmus from Denizli to the very remote town of Beyağaç, which has a population of less than 7000.
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It’s a very traditional Turkish town, it is not at all modernised.  Berkay’s family live in a small ground level house, it’s very basic, no luxuries, they don’t even have beds, just floor cushions. They have farmland and own 19 cows, 23 sheep and lots of chickens, which they keep for milk, cheese, eggs and meat. It is a very different way of life to what I am used to.
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Some of the youngest cows are only a few days old, so cute. The photo on the left is Berkay’s step-mum, who is thankfully feeling much better now. .I love this photo on the right, who has a baby cow sitting in their garden beside their motorbike?  Berkay’s family do 🙂

I have visited the village twice, and absolutely hated it. The main reason is because of just how traditional they are, and how alien I am to them, as a ‘ yabancı’ (foreigner). Both times we visited I wore modest clothes, jeans or a skirt with long leggings, socks, and a top that covered my shoulders, boobs and belly, yet  I still looked like an outcast because quite literally every single other person was wearing ‘village pants’ .. the typical flowery type, and headscarves. Whereas people in Fethiye are normally mistaking me for a native Turk due to my skin colour, the people in Beyağaç were staring at me as if I had two heads, and they weren’t shy about it, I felt like I was in a zoo cage with hundreds of people staring and giggling at me. Another thing I found very difficult to cope with was the way the men and women were so segregated. Within the house, the roles of men and women were clearly defined. men outside sitting at tables smoking, women inside preparing food and cay. There was no mixing or conversation between men and women, they weren’t even allowed to sit in the same room. This was really horrible for me, as I couldn’t understand nor speak Turkish, and I was sat in a room full of people who couldn’t communicate with me either, add this to the staring they were doing and I became very paranoid!

Berkay rarely visits his family as he had a tough childhood and as a result, isn’t close to any of them. Berkay’s real mother left him when he was 28days old and moved elsewhere with his dad, temporarily, then they moved back to Denizli and had his brother. His mum then, again, abandoned his brother and left his dad. Berkay was being bought up by his grandparents, whom he adored. When his grandad sadly died, Berkay had to move back to his dad. His dad then remarried and had another son. When Berkay was just 15, his dad sent him away to Fethiye to attend school. He sent him with no food, no money, nothing. Berkay lived on the streets for a while until he met someone who took him in. He attended school and got a job, the money from which was all sent back to his dad. One month Berkay kept the money to pay bills, and his dad made the 6 hour journey to Fethiye to attack him and get the money for himself. Needless to say, their relationship does not exist now. They never speak and only see each other if there is a family death or special occasion. Berkay is quite close to his brothers still, but he is definitely the ‘black sheep’ of the family.

How someone can go through such a tough childhood and still be such a caring, kind, loving person I don’t know.

Anyway, thankfully Berkay’s step-mum is well again, and he is already back in Fethiye now. When he told me he was going to visit, I asked him to take tons of photos, so I could share how different his hometown is, he seems to have only taken photos of the animals, he knows I’m a sucker for animals! (:
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December countdown..

It’s the 5th of December already, as my advent calendar reminded me this morning, which means only 11 more sleeps until Berkay is here! (:

Still cant quite believe that its December already, or that I have been back for 10 weeks. Its crazy!

I’m still at my job, and have found another temporary job at an office, as of next week I’ll be doing 2 jobs working up to 12 hours a day, going to be bloody hard! Both jobs are temporary until January. The most frustrating part is that any money I earn won’t count for anything towards helping Berkay get his visa to live here, I have to be earning £18,600 a year for 6 months for that, feel like I’m stuck and not getting anywhere fast, but it could be worse…

Berkay has been looking for work since the beginning of November, and has been getting pretty desperate as he had to buy new food for Boncuk, luckily he found a job and started yesterday, working 15+ hours a day, starting at lunchtime and finishing after 4am. All that work and all those hours for just 25tl a day, the equivalent to £7.50 a day. Ridiculous. 😦 It’s mad to think we ever survived on that.

Boncuk is settled in nicely and enjoying her home in the hotel with Berkay, she’ll miss him when he comes here for a few weeks, but our good friend is looking after her so I know she’s going to be well looked after (:

Hopefully I’ll be back with another post again soon, just finding it hard to think of things to write, and struggling to find time to write them.

Happy Christmas shopping everyone 😉