Ankara, Turkey Report of what it's like to live there - 06/14/16
Personal Experiences from Ankara, Turkey
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
Various cities in Asia and Europe.
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?
Boston, easy to get to.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
There are three main apartment complexes.
Park Oran is the furthest from the Embassy, but popular with families with young kids, near a modern mall.
Park Vadi is more central, with an easy commute to the Embassy.
Zirvekent is the least modern housing, near a mall complex.
The biggest problem is lack of air conditioners in the apartments. In most housing, only the master bedroom has AC. Some are lucky enough to have a second unit in the living room. Ankara does get very hot in the summer and not having ACs is a big problem. Having darker shades might have helped but GSO is no help with that either.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
For American style groceries there is a small commissary.
For the rest, Turkey has excellent meat and produce and prices are very reasonable.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Nothing, everything is available here. Maybe a portable AC might have come in handy!
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Many good Turkish options. There are a few western-style places and Asian food is recently becoming very popular.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Available for about $50 per day, could negotiate a better deal if hiring someone full time.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
All the housing complexes have paid gyms in the vicinity.
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?
Yes, no problem using them.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Learn Turkish, it will come in handy.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Yes, plenty of cabs and buses available.
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?
Aggressive driving, expect some dents....
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Reasonable priced and reliable most of the time.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
All phones have to be registered with the local authority, and you have 60 days from the entry date stamped on your passport to do so. Bring an unlocked phone or get a basic one here. Phones are expensive in the local market.
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?
Some EFM positions and some English teaching options available.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Due to recent events we get security advisories on and off, but it still feels very safe.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Good medical facilities.
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?
Allergies can be bad, especially in the spring.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
The Department of Defense (DOD) school is the best option for older kids. The British Embassy School of Ankara (BESA) goes till middle school only and has a wait list. The others claim to be international but really are Turkish schools.
The DOD school is very badly run, not organized and teachers are so-so.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
The embassy has a very negative vibe. I have been to many different posts but Ankara is one of the least welcoming I have experienced.
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?
Plenty of CLO events if interested otherwise the community is large enough to find your kind of people and socialize with them
3. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Turkey is one of the rare Muslim countries where you can have a drink at the bar while listening to the prayer call.
4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Travel within the country is great.
5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Carpets and Turkish arts and crafts.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?