Ankara, Turkey Report of what it's like to live there - 03/30/14

Personal Experiences from Ankara, Turkey

Ankara, Turkey 03/30/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Too many to count.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

West Coast U.S. Around 35 hours to get here.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Apartments that are spread out around the city. The commute can be a real adventure.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

All readily available.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

None.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Many restaurant chains that are available in the U.S. Food is decently priced.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ants, flies, but not a huge issue.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO. There is a huge problems with the mail. Many packages get lost; all of the local mail room staff was let go due to irregularities discovered.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Available and decently priced.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes but very expensive. Make sure to negotiate.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Can be used everywhere.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

I am not religious but there are a few church services available.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Basic Turkish is enough.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

I would not recommend Ankara for people with disabilities.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Affordable - yes. Safe - no.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

AWD is a must. Ankara is very hilly.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes and cheap.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Turkcell and Avea seem used by many.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many with refugee organizations or pet shelters.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Smart casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

The Embassy was bombed in 2013. The compound security is not as good as compared to my previous postings.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Good healthcare but very expensive.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The air is very bad in the winter as people burn coal. It's OK in the summer but not great. I wouldn't recommend Ankara for people with asthma, etc.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Four seasons, mild winters and mostly dry.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Schools seem ok. DODDS and Oasis run the U.S. curriculum, the other are IB schools. For mild special needs, people go to Oasis.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Oasis accommodates mild special needs.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Very few and mostly on base.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Big community, very low morale. The get togethers are few and far in between, the employment is available but the jobs are low ranked and given as gifts. Being part of the right group might get you a job but the positions are mostly part-time and the jobs are very low leveled. It's not a good post for a career-driven person. The higher management is very hostile to suggestions.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Dining out, movies, travel.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Ankara is a boring city except for the times of unrest caused by local politics. Very few activities available for children and too few green areas.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, the country is becoming more Muslim and more prejudiced towards gays, women, etc.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Visits to many ancient sites. All within a day's drive from Ankara.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Ulus area is very nice. Quaint shops and old hamams.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Carpets, ceramics, etc

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Good weather, great location for travel to historic sites.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How low morale was at the Embassy and how poor the employment situation is.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Never again. Counting down the months.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Bike. It's an unsafe city for driving let alone for bikers.

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4. But don't forget your:

GPS.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Pamuk, Shafak etc

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