Ankara, Turkey Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Ankara, Turkey

Ankara, Turkey 09/12/20

Background:

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

London, UK.

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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?

Washington, DC. Travel is typically 7.5 red eye to Frankfurt, then a 3 hour flight to Ankara.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

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?

Housing is in several high rise apartment buildings around Ankara. Commutes range from 10-30 minutes by car to the current US Embassy location. Housing is typically 4 bed, 2 bath and around 1,400 square feet. Apartments are nice, and typically feature a combined living/dining room, and a separate closed-off kitchen.

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

Groceries are unbelievably fresh and extremely affordable. Same with most household supplies. Imported goods will be more expensive, some at or exceeding US prices. A small commissary is located at a nearby base and offers a variety of American and imported goods for affordable prices. Groceries/supplies will be on average 30-50% cheaper than in DC.

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

For US Embassy employees, Amazon delivers within two weeks, sometimes faster. Specially liquids and creams (shampoos, lotions, etc) over 16oz are not allowed in shipments and should be packed out from the US with your household goods. Between Amazon, the commissary and the local market, there is very little we are missing. For us it’s only Pimm's, mint extract, bitters, and Pad Thai noodles.

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

The food in Ankara is okay. There is standard central Anatolian fare, but it is very meat heavy and can be bland for some people. That said, there are some very good restaurants in Ankara, as well as many fish restaurants, and some ethnic ethnic cuisine. Being a vegetarian is doable, but challenging, as most veggie-based foods are still supplemented with meat broths. You can get a filling meal for under $10 per person for a normal meal, and $50 a couple for a fancy dinner with wine. Food in Istanbul and along the coasts are significantly more interesting and flavorful. Alcohol Is heavily taxed here and can be expensive at restaurants, but still cheaper than in America. Take out is extremely easy, abundant, fast, and affordable.

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

Ankara is actually at 3,000 feet altitude, and as such it is actually rare to see insects. Though many people with balconies have pigeon problems. Stray cats and dogs can be found all over Turkey, and are usually tagged and monitored by local authorities. These animals are typically friendly and docile, but runners have reported some issues with packs of dogs. A full course of rabies vaccine is recommended prior to arrival.

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Daily Life:

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

We use the US Embassy’s mail system for anything from the States. There is a pouch and DPO service. On average packages take 1-2 weeks. Letters can take 3-4 weeks. There are lots of options for affordable online shopping from Turkish websites and those packages usually arrive within 2-3 at residences.

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

There are many affordable options for nannies and housekeepers in Ankara. There is a large Filipino expat community that charges, on average US 10 an hour for housekeeping or nanny services. Turkish help is also widely available and while pricing varies, is generally more affordable. One full day of house cleaning (8 hours) is roughly 200TL or US 26.

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

There are many nice gyms around Ankara and close to housing. Full gyms, CrossFit, boxing, yoga, Pilates are all available. Prices are are roughly half the cost of similar services in America, however many of the gym owners and instructors do not speak English.

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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?

Credit cards are widely used, though primarily are chip and pin based. Ankara is also very much a cash culture and you can often get a discount on most things if you offer to pay cash vs credit. Would definitely recommend getting a local bank card. ATMs are widely available and safe, but are bank specific and charge significant fees for non-bank users. As such, we tend to seek out our specific bank to withdraw funds. Turkish online shopping generally requires a Turkish Bank Card.

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

The US military base offers weekly services and the British Embassy also offers masses in English.

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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?

English is spoken unevenly across Ankara. There is typically at least one individual working in any major store that will speak English, but it is not a guarantee. Learning some basic Turkish will go a long way to shopping, dining, and getting around Ankara. Directions, numbers, and question words/phrases are particularly helpful.

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

Thus would be an extremely challenging city for someone with a physical disability, as the sidewalks are narrow, slippery, and uneven and Ankara is build on San Francisco style hills. We can’t even use a baby stroller here.

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Transportation:

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

All public transportation is extremely affordable and generally safe. Unlike Istanbul, taxi drivers are so honest here that they often under charge when they can’t make change. Taxis are so cheap (US $3 to the embassy from home), that we’ve never tried public transit, though others commute that way daily.

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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?

We have a regular mid-sized sedan which has served us well here. Others have SUVs. The streets in Ankara are generally wide enough that any normal sized car would be just fine. Would recommend good tires and new brakes as the roads can be very steep and slick. Most parking is in underground garages and I’ve heard of no issues with break ins as Ankara is a very low crime city. Car repairs and maintenance can be pricey and in line with US prices.

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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?

The Embassy will have your internet ready to go on arrival and is wireless, through the phone lines. Speeds are fast enough for streaming and internet browsing, but the signal will periodically cut out. Would definitely recommend investing in a VPN service.

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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?

We kept our Google Fi iPhones which work here without issue. Turkey is actually impressively wired for cell service and in all our exploring and long drives to the coast, we’ve never lost service.

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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?

There are no quarantine requirements for pets and vet care is good and widely available. It can be pricey for foreigners to go to the vet, depending on the clinic. Pet food is actually quite expensive and would recommend purchasing it from the commissary or Amazon. Turkish online outlets have much for affordable pet supplies than in person stores. Small dogs and cats can be transported in cabin all the way to Ankara, but pets that go via cargo can only go as far as Istanbul. Turkish airlines has a rule that only one type of animal can be in cabin (cats or dogs, not both), which is determined on a first-come, first-served basis.

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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?

There are actually many EFM jobs available at the embassy. Others work in local private schools, and many work remotely for US employers. Salaries are significantly lower than similar jobs in America, in line with the low cost of living in Turkey.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Believe there are opportunities to volunteer to assist refugee causes.

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

Ankara is an expat city and I’ve never had issues with exposed shoulders or knees as a woman, and most residents dress in western fashion. It is unusual to see Turkish men in shorts, but no issues for western men. Business to business casual is common at the embassy.

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Health & Safety:

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

Ankara is a very low crime city, and we’ve never felt unsafe walking around alone or after dark. There is still the possibility for terrorism, and expel should always remain alert to their surroundings. While we have not experienced many anti-American sentiments, we do try to keep a low profile. Driving is likely the most dangerous aspect of day to day life in Turkey, as most drivers are quite erratic. Driving the wrong way down one way streets is common, along with making multiple lanes where there are only one or two marked.

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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?

Turkey is a medial tourism destination for much of Europe, as care is high quality and affordable. There are several very nice private hospitals in Turkey that have English speaking doctors, many of whom trained in the West. Many women choose to give birth here, but high risk pregnancies and some specialized tests are able to medevac to the US.

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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?

There are air quality issues in the winter when many homes still burn coal for heating, and many people with seasonal allergies find that Ankara can be difficult during certain parts of the year.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Allergens are marked on packaged foods, but nuts are popular in many dishes here and not necessarily marked. Alternative milks are available locally and at the commissary, but can be pricey. There are a surprising amount of gluten- free and organic items available at local stores.

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

The climate is extremely dry and hot in the summer, so sun screen and regular hydration is recommended. Winters are mild, but will see snow. It rains infrequently. It stays quite warm until late October, and begins to warm up again in March/April.

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Schools & Children:

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

There is no American school, but there are several English-language, private international schools available, as well as a DoD school. People seem pretty happy with the education opportunities.

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2. 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?

Private preschools and day cares are half the price of American equivalents and provide quality all-day care. Many provide lunch and breakfast. We have been very pleased by the quality of our preschool, particularly compared to the price.

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

There are several kids sporting events and summer camps available.

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Expat Life:

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

Expat community is quite large in Ankara, with many large missions from across the globe. Expats seem really happy and interested in mingling with other expats. Many housing complexes are primarily filled with expats.

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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?

There are bars, restaurants, museums and other cultural events available for socializing. There are several Facebook groups and expat groups that are active in Ankara. In addition, the embassy’s CLO is extremely active.

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

Thus is a great city for couples and in particular for large or young families. Turks love children and kids can do no wrong here. It is affordable, easy living and the weather allows for outdoor play for most of the year. There is a playground on every block. Single people might be a little bored here, as Ankara lacks some of the culture and nightlife of Istanbul.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

We have found it a very easy place to make friends with embassy colleagues and other expats, most of whom speak English.

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

I don’t have first hand experience, but I could see this being a difficult city for LGBT expats given the current political climate.

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

While an Islamic country, it still remains very secular at its roots. That said, Turkey does have a bit of a “yabanci” (foreigner) culture, and expats tend to get charged more for goods and services than Turks or Turkish speakers. This is definitely a country where you shouldn’t just take the initial rate for anything and should bargain. As you stick around longer you’ll get a better understanding of what things should cost, which will help, but obviously western looking individuals will always feel a bit like outsiders here.

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

We’ve really enjoyed living in Ankara this year, even with the craziness of COVID. We’ve taken some amazing trips to the coast. Turkey is a breathtakingly beautiful country and it is extremely easy to get around. There is so much history here and easy stumble upon structures that are thousands of years old. The country has done an excellent job of establishing museums and national parks and offers residents full access to all for about US $10 a year through their muze kart program.

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

There are lots of unique neighborhoods in Ankara and easy day trips to the Black Sea and ottoman towns. Ulus is a neat, old part of town.

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

Absolutely. You can buy some incredible, we’ll made and affordable furniture, beautiful rugs, high quality textiles, hand carved wooden products, silver and copper all for half the price of America. Turkey is a country that produces...everything, and would highly recommend making the most of the shopping opportunities while here.

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

Very easy living. Affordable. Turks are friendly and love children. Weather is great. The produce is incredible.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

We heard a lot of people grumble about Ankara being boring and not like Istanbul, while that may be true to a degree we’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much we’ve enjoyed it here. As for packing choices, we would have probably left our bicycles and gas grill in storage and packed an artificial Christmas tree.

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

Absolutely.

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

Idea that Turkey is like Europe or the Middle East, it is surprisingly western with excellent infrastructure, but can be both modern and very very traditional.

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4. But don't forget your:

Defensive driving.

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

Definitely pick up a travel book as you’ll want to take advantage of all the travel opportunities.

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Ankara, Turkey 10/11/18

Background:

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

I've lived in several cities in Eastern Europe and in the former Soviet Union prior to Ankara.

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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?

From the DC metro area, it is about a 20 hour trip on the USG Fly America routing (United via Munich). Turkish Air has several direct flights to the U.S. from Istanbul, so those on personal travel could probably shorten that timeline, although you'd still have to take the 40-minute flight from Istanbul to Ankara following arrival.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three years, from summer 2015 to summer 2018.

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

U.S. diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Embassy housing is generally clustered in large, modern apartment complexes. The size of assigned housing varied, but only slightly; we didn't see an apartment of fewer than 3-4 bedrooms even for junior officers or singles. Apartments had European-sized ovens and small, European stackable washer/dryer units, which caused some frustration.



We loved our location, with easy walking access to the Panora mall (food court, modern cinema, Kipa supermarket and more) as well as free access to an on-site gym and pool. Commute times were generally 20 minutes. Housing in Park Oran provides the easiest access to the highway that takes one to both the Balgat Air Force Base (DoDEA school, commissary, BX) and to the location of the new embassy, which is slated to open around 2020.

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

The Embassy community is granted access to the facilities on the Balgat AFB, to include its commissary and BX. We generally did our comprehensive weekly grocery shopping at that American supermarket (U.S. products at U.S. prices), augmenting in particular our produce purchases through the Turkish supermarket chain Kipa at the Panora mall or at the Thursday farmers market in a neighborhood near Park Oran.

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

The commissary was generally well-stocked with all that we needed, with variety across the board. The loss of the ability to ship liquids through the DPO during our time there might promote one to plan ahead more carefully in a pack-out if you are particularly keen about a novelty product. The several Turkish grocery chains (e.g. Kipa, Migros) are well-stocked with the usual American junk food favorites; you may need to alter brand allegiance to something locally or European produced for cleaning supplies and things like spaghetti sauce.

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

Ever seen six restaurants in a row all offering the same menu? That is the Ankara food scene in a nutshell for me. Great, fast, cheap Turkish food on every corner. American pizza franchises (Dominoes, Papa Johns) are around, although they taste really nothing like their U.S. namesakes. Lots of U.S. fast food chains (e.g. McDonalds, Burger King, Popeyes, Arbys, Sbarra, Subway) of comparable cost and taste (though not quite the same) to U.S. franchises.



There was a decent local burger joint and Chinese restaurant not far from the U.S. Embassy. Krispy Kreme was in Istanbul, but to our chagrin not in Ankara. The malls also have things like Sushi Co. if you traveled to Turkey for a California roll. Most places deliver, even in the worst weather. Most folks ordered delivery via website or app, whose pictures were great for non-Turkish speakers.

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

We had none in the apartment, although we had a hard time keeping pigeons from nesting on our small balcony.

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Daily Life:

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

The Embassy has both DPO and pouch service. We received a letter from a friend in Eastern Europe once; it took about a month to travel the distance of a 60-minute Turkish Air flight from Istanbul.

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

We didn't hire help, but know many who did. None seemed to have trouble finding household help. English is not at all widely spoken in Ankara, so those that didn't speak much Turkish hired helpers that appeared to be originally from Asia. Since embassy housing is clustered, it was common for families to split the services of part-time household help.

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

We had access to a gym and pool gratis through our residence. If you are a swimmer, you must use a swim cap. There are other gyms around, but I can't speak to pricing. The embassy had a small weight room, mostly used by our U.S. and local guard force. It is unclear to me whether the new embassy facility will have dedicated gym space for staff or not.

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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?

We used cash in most cases, but used credit cards for larger purchases (e.g. doctors' bills) on the local economy and at the commissary. ATMs are everywhere, and were used by most to access funds from their local bank account established after arrival to pay bills and receive quarterly VAT refunds.

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

There is a non-denominational service on the Balgat AFB.

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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?

I was surprised how little English knowledge exists, even in school-age children. We found some locals with German-language ability from their time working in Germany. Turkey's tourism industry around Antalya caters to Russian-language tourists arriving via charter flights. You can find Turkish language courses on the local economy. The embassy offered courses, but my impression was they fizzled out due to uneven attendance.

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

Ankara is quite hilly, with steep inclines throughout. It would be difficult to manage without assistance. Some sidewalks, however, had lanes with raised grooves that, I was told, allowed the vision impaired to more easily follow the path of the sidewalk by walking on those grooves. A few modern buildings have automatic front doors which open upon approach, although these appeared more aesthetic than purposeful to assist the disabled. Most malls, for example, have revolving doors as their main entrance/egress points.

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Transportation:

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

We used public transportation without issue. There are two bus companies augmented by passenger vans (dolmuÅŸ) that you flag down along specific routes. Each bus company has its own user/fare card. You pay the dolmuÅŸ driver under 1 USD to run all or part of the route. Regular yellow taxis are also everywhere, run off meter, and were very affordable. They were also very honest, providing change essentially to the penny as a matter of routine. Tipping, while appreciated, is still not widely practiced to Western levels in Turkey.

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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?

Anything with all-weather tires would be fine on Ankara's modern roads. We enjoyed having our Honda CRV for greater clearance/visibility and to better handle Ankara's roads in weather. Turkey's roads are world class, but their asphalt appears to have a higher content of marble in them than U.S. or European counterparts, so they are generally slicker even in dry conditions. When accelerating from a stopped position even up a slight grade, for example, my front-wheel drive tires would often spin a bit before gaining traction.



Rain and snow reduced standard traction quickly and significantly. Salt is not widely used on roads in winter, and instead the city put down sand or a sand blend to defeat ice on roads. Ankara is also shaped like a tea-cup, with the Embassy at the bottom of the cup, meaning steep roads. Many folks, and most locals, went to winter tires early in the season to help with traction.

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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?

For USG personnel, you can work with management staff to have internet installed prior to arrival. These details are in the welcome material you receive from post prior to arrival. Internet was generally good, and we streamed via Apple TV. Cost for a mid-range package was perhaps $30 a month. Cable tv was also pretty good, with the family package providing several English language channels (sports, news, entertainment) for about $20 a month. You got bills electronically, and it is important you retain your original installation paperwork to establish an auto payment arrangement from your Turkish bank account to pay your monthly bills. There is a branch of Garanti Bank at the embassy through which we established our EFTs.

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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?

USG officials are provided a phone for official business. You can bring an unlocked phone and choose from many cell phone plans available locally. We also bought a phone and plan while there. Again, English language ability was almost non-existent in Ankara; to include among the young, so you may need to enlist language support from a learned colleague to sort through the paperwork.



You also needed to show your passport, for some reason, even if you already had your local diplomatic ID (kimlik), to establish an account. You got bills electronically, and it is important you retain your original paperwork to establish a auto payment arrangement from your Turkish bank account to pay your monthly bills. There is a branch of Garanti Bank at the embassy.

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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?

We don't own pets, but most of my colleagues did. There appeared to be no quarantine requirements upon entry. There are pet stores and vet clinics around. Some folks had no issues with their vets, others thought advanced care options were limited.

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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?

The Embassy has a number of full and part-time positions for family members. Anything beyond that would require native-level Turkish. With the massive fall in value of the Turkish Lira relative to the U.S. dollar (and subsequent volatility), I don't know how financially rewarding holding a job on the local economy would be. Given Turkey's good internet, some folks teleworked (or tele-studied).

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many folks volunteered in support of UN or other charity organizations assisting the millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey.

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

At the Embassy, it was business casual to business, depending on the weather and the meeting you were heading to. Formal dress was rarely required, unless perhaps at a wedding or Marine Ball.

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Health & Safety:

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

Although there were many terrorist incidents, a coup attempt, and anti-Americanism is generally high, we personally never felt threatened. Personal awareness and attention to events happening around the city (e.g., election rallies) are musts when moving about. A healthy deployment of common street sense sufficed.

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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?

Since Ankara sits at the bottom of a valley, smog tends to hover over the city until washed away by rain. We found medical care top notch, and many children were born in Ankara to embassy families. Dental and orthopedic work was also prevalent within the community. The Embassy works principally with two hospitals with Western or U.S. trained doctors. Our eye doctor at the Acibadem hospital, for example, earned his medical degree from Michigan State University. Acibadem is near the Park Oran apartment complex and accepts the FSBP health insurance as an in-network provider, meaning almost no paperwork for us.

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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?

Ankara can see a high degree of particulate matter hover over the city during spells without rain. Very few folks we knew were impacted.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Turkish food preparation, while hygienic, does not appear to be sensitive to the needs of those with food allergies. The same utensils, vessels, cutting boards, and the like are used for everything.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

The July 2016 coup attempt and its aftermath seemed to greatly impact the community. While some issues have been worked through, the negative mental impact still seems to remain.

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

Ankara has four distinct seasons. Summers touch 95 degrees Fahrenheit while it is cold and snowy in the winter. Spring and fall are pleasant!

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Schools & Children:

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

There are several school options. Many folks looking for a more traditional U.S. school experience place their children in the DoDEA school on the grounds of Balgat AFB. The school welcomes students from NATO and NATO PFP countries, so it has a diverse student body. Teachers and administrators were generally excellent. Oasis, which migrated to new, larger facility recently, was also a popular choice. Bilkent and the British school were other options.

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

I wasn't familiar with children with special needs. Best to inquire at each school.

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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?

Many families put their little ones in Turkish day care facilities. There were several near Park Oran. Reviews seemed generally positive in terms of pricing and services.

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

There are many opportunities, although you may need to seek advice from locals on more exotic interests. Activities located on the Balgat AFB on weekends were the staples, including seasonal sports (soccer, basketball) and scouts. We had a piano teacher come to the house, enrolled in gymnastics at a gym across the street from our residence, and took riding lessons at the stable located at the German Embassy. Most major malls have cinemas and expansive video game arcades.

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Expat Life:

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

For smaller countries, Ankara serves as a regional diplomatic hub, providing coverage into Central Asia and the Middle East. There thus appears to be more embassies present than in other similarly-sized countries. Across the international community, morale seemed to drop and physical safety concerns seemed to increase following the July 2016 coup attempt. It seems to have slowly rebounded, as it's my understanding that many missions downsized personnel and removed families. The considerable decline in the value of the Turkish Lira over the last six months has not seemed to boost confidence. The UN is well represented in Turkey.

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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?

Around whom you lived and to what school your kids went seemed to be the most important factors in determining your social groups. Turkey has so much going on that you really don't need to look very far to find something of interest to attend or visit. The Embassy has its own travel agency, which is well-experienced generating day trips or weekend excursions around Turkey.

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

We enjoyed the multitude of travel opportunities around Turkey. Turkish Air (and Pegasus) flies domestically almost everywhere from Ankara for under $100 a seat round trip. The flight to Northern Cyprus is considered and priced as a domestic flight. Daily cheap, fast trains travel from Ankara to Istanbul (3.5 hours), Konya (2 hours), and EskiÅŸehir (80 minutes). Singles seemed to have no trouble finding watering holes or eateries at which to gather. Turkish language ability is often necessary if not doing a guided tour.

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

Ankara is a cosmopolitan city relative to more traditional areas in Turkey's south or southeast. While there were same-sex couples within the international community that I knew, caution is merited; there were reported instances of violence against LGBT Turks, even in Istanbul.

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

Men seem to have more authority than women. There are some religious differences, but do not seem to impact day-to-day life.

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

The food and opportunities to travel to see the natural wonders and history of Turkey (really civilization) were the highlights. We took trips over several long weekends to the coast to enjoy the sun and all-inclusive resorts. We enjoyed seeing Troy's ruins, the beautiful marble remains of Ephesus, and the battlefields of Gallipoli.

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

Ankara is far from a sterile, administrative capital city. It is well placed to see lots of Turkey's best historical sites. It has great museums; a visit to Ataturk's mausoleum (Anitkabir) is a must.

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

There are great things to buy, e.g., rugs, ceramics, glasswork, wood furniture. Most head to Istanbul for shopping sprees.

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

After many years living in more difficult places, we enjoyed the modernity and amenities of Ankara. Rush-hour traffic seemed very humane!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

There are few international flights from the West that directly service Ankara. A couple of exceptions are Munich (Lufthansa), Amman (Pegasus), and Doha (Qatar Air). It seemed you almost always need to transit Istanbul to catch flights out of Turkey. While flights between Ankara and Istanbul occur at least hourly, this tends to add hours to your itinerary. It remains to be seen how Turkey opening a new airport this fall, to combine the two current airports into this one platform, will impact international air travel.

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

Absolutely. We loved our time in Ankara and would go back.

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

American-sized baking sheets. Bathroom scale, as you will probably put on a few pounds courtesy of donor kebabs, pide, and baklava.

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4. But don't forget your:

English-Turkish dictionary. All-weather and winter tires. VPN subscription. Swim cap. Love of exploring historical sites. Compassion for a people still traumatized by the July 2016 coup attempt.

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Ankara, Turkey 10/02/18

Background:

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

No. Previously lived in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Germany, Israel and the UK.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Two and a half years.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Renovated apartment from the 1960s. Apartments are usually large, but often in poor repair, and with questionable decoration (local taste is for columns, gold, bizarre lighting features, and bright paint jobs).



Traffic is bad at peak times, and when it rains. Otherwise relatively easy to get around the city.

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

Local food products (fruit and vegetables, cheeses, olives, bread, cakes) are ridiculously cheap, due to the fall in the Turkish Lira. Ditto household goods made in Turkey, to include glassware, ceramics, etc. All very good and very cheap.

Anything imported (e.g. foreign cheeses, appliances, clothes) is insanely expensive due to the exchange rate.
Alcohol is extremely expensive, especially spirits. Local beer is a reasonable price, and some local beers (Karakuzu, Bomonti) are drinkable.
For some bizarre reason, fresh cream is not available in Turkey; they only have gross long-life UHT cream.

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

Cosmetics, beauty products. There is a limited range in Turkey, and very expensive.

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

Ankara has fantastic Turkish restaurants, but basically nothing else. They try to cook foreign food, but it is not to my taste. There is one Italian place, Mezzaluna, which is passable. There is also one Asian place, Sushi Co, that is bearable. I did not like the one Indian restaurant, and there is nothing else.



Downtown, there is a Uighyur restaurant (Chinese Muslim) that is simple but quite nice, when desire something other than Turkish food.
Turkish breakfast is perhaps the best in the world though. One never tires of it!

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic bag.

Goods ordered from overseas, and sent via normal post, are subject to large customs fees. The fees can be hundreds of dollars, and there does not seem to be a system, so no way of predicting the charges.

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

Turkish household help is available, but no good unless you speak Turkish. Filipino household help is also available, for around TL 25 per hour.

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

Modern gyms exist, but I am not sure of pricing. You can run in summer, but in winter the stray dogs may chase you. I have heard some have rabies.

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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?

Credit cards and ATMs all of western standard.

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

Church services exist, but the synagogue is closed.

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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?

It is absolutely impossible to do even basic daily tasks, without Turkish. You cannot even go to the supermarket. Literally NO ONE speaks English, or any other foreign language.



On the plus side, it is relatively easy to learn basic Tukish. Good group classes at the Turkish American Institute, in the evenings. Or a private tutor, though I think they can be expensive, and of patchy quality.

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

Huge problems. There are no sidewalks, stairs and curbs everywhere, and the city is incredibly hilly.

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Transportation:

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

Buses and minibuses exist, but taxi is the easiest method of transport. Cheap and easy to flag down a taxi on the street, but they speak no English at all, so this is no use if you cannot speak Turkish. Taxi drivers are mostly honest; I felt I was cheated only twice in 2 years.

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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?

4WD, because the streets are very steep, and it snows a lot.

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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?

Internet is cheap and fast, and installed quickly.

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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?

Local phone plans are cheap. By law, you must register your phone number within a month, and this costs TL50.

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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?

Very limited work opportunities for spouses who do not speak fluent Turkish.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots, with Syrian refugees, but again, you would need to speak Turkish.

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

Normal business attire, and formal dress for balls.

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Health & Safety:

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

In my opinion, very high terrorist threat. Per my recollection, we had 16 major terrorist attacks in Turkey during my 2.5 years. The risks are always at the back of your mind.

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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?

Medical care looks like western standard, but it does not seem that way to me. I would personally not have any medical procedure done in Turkey. Most people disagree, and are happy to have things done here, because it is cheaper than at home.

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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 quality is really bad. Ankara is a big city, and it seems to be horribly polluted. I feel like a dark cloud of pollution hangs over the city.
I believe the air gets worse in the winter due to the burning coal, and I had bronchitis twice a year, due to the pollution.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Air pollution seems to be a real problem here. Not good for people with asthma.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

In my opinion, the security threats can be hard to live with.

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

Four distinct seasons. Very hot in summer, and extremely cold in winter. To me, European winter clothing is not warm enough and you will need polar jackets and heavy, knee-high boots for the snow.



When the ice freezes over on the street, it is very slippery. I knew several people who fell and broke bones. So, I think you need winter boots with good grip on the soles.

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Expat Life:

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

Large community, though morale seemed very bad around the time of the coup in July 2016. It improved after new people arrived, without families, who were used to hardship postings. Morale seems okay now, but most people take every opportunity to leave Ankara, or Turkey, for holidays.

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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?

Parties at the Canadian and UK Embassies. Most socializing is at home, or in a Turkish restaurant. English language cinema exists.

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

Fine for both.

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

I would not be openly gay here. Homophobia seems to be rising.

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

I have found Turks have mixed feelings about non-Turks. There also seem to be gender equality issues. There are reports of domestic violence.

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

Istanbul is beautiful. Ditto Gaziantep and Sanliurfa. Ditto the Black Sea, and anywhere on the Aegean.

Basically anywhere but Anatolia seems to be nice.

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

Not much to do in the area at all. Some decent hikes. On weekends, people like to visit a lake (Eymir Golu), but it always seems overcrowded. You can hire bikes, but they seem to be in terrible condition, and I have found there are no helmets.

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

Very much so. Anything locally made is very cheap. Good for glassware, ceramics, textiles, soaps.

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

In my opinion, there are no advantages to living in Ankara. Even leaving here is hard, as there are very few direct international flights.



I do not see many advantages to this city. I cannot see why anyone would like it.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That Turks are incredibly nationalist, and I have had some negative interactions. There seem to be mixed feelings even among the more outward-facing locals. I also found Ankara to have bad air pollution.

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

No. I was so happy to leave.

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

Peace of mind: In my opinion, Ankara is an extremely frustrating place to live. Everything looks like it works, but it does not.

For example: I brought my new suit jacket to the tailor, to shorten the sleeves. The shop looked good. like a proper tailors shop. It was in a fancy mall, and recommended by colleagues. However, when I returned to collect the jacket, the tailor had cut my sleeves off to the elbow. I had to throw the jacket out, without ever wearing it. This is what life in Ankara is like to me, several times a day. It is incredibly draining to me.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience and strong nerves. In my opinion, some days it is bearable, but often it is not.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

Turkish baths (hammam) are good. The scrub is brutal, but effective. Sengul Hammami, downtown, is good. A visit there helps to make life in Ankara bearable to me, just about.

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Ankara, Turkey 09/19/18

Background:

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

No, I have also lived in Pakistan, China, and Iraq.

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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?

USA. Door to door to west coast was about 20 hours, and to east coast about 15 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

A little over a year.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

High-rise aparments. I think they are nice, although that depends on the person. We have a four bedroom for a family of three. Commute here is great, because traffic is never that bad. Worst travel time from home to embassy is 30 minutes. If there is no traffic, 15 minutes.

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

Availability is great. Between the local markets, local grocery stores like Macro, Metro, and Kipa, as well as the commissary, you can get everything you need. Pork products are not widely sold except at the commissary. What you cannot get through these means you can usually order through DPO. However, a new rule has been put in place and we are no longer allowed to ship liquids via DPO (this rule is specific to DPOs in Turkey).

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

We have everything we need.

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

Tons of options both American fast food (Burger King, McDonalds, Arby's, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, Dominoes, etc., and Turkish restaurants. Some good Italian places like Mezzaluna, and great steak places like Gunaydin.

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

Great post for insects. You deal with very little here. It helps you are in high-rise apartments, but even outside there are not a lot.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch.

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

Typical rate is US$10/hour for babysittes/housekeepers. Would be less if it was full time, then the rate is usually US$1000/month.

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

Most the apartment complexes have larger gyms. There is also a small one at the embassy.

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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?

Yes, most places have little machines they bring to your table. ATMs are generally safe here. Very little crime.

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

There are a few churches that people use.

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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?

You can get by with very little Turkish. However, knowing it always helps. Post has a language program and it is easy to find a tutor.

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

Yes, there are many places with no elevators or ramps.

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Transportation:

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

Yes. Metro is not that widespread, but taxis, buses and vans that work like buses called dolmuses are easy to use and cheap.

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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?

Any vehicle is usable. We have a sedan and use it no problems. If you care about which tires you use, I would suggest bringing your winter tires. You can get decent ones here too though. Crime is very low, no reports of car break-ins or car-jackings here.

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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 we have had no issues with internet. We are able to stream everything we want.

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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?

I use my T-mobile from home. Many people get local SIMs as well, not too tough to do. You can pay the bills through your ATM.

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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?

I don't know a lot, but here there are plenty of places for pets.

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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?

Most spouses either work at the embassy or at the international schools. Mostly full-time. A good amount of EFM jobs, and there are four major schools where one can work. The bilateral agreement allows for teaching and medical professionals to get work visas easily.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty working with refugees.

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

Typical US business attire.

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Health & Safety:

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

Terrorism is the main concern here, however, the local security forces are very capable and have been doing a good job of thwarting attacks.

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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?

Not really. Medical care here is good. Numerous women have delivered here, people have gotten knees replaced, and going through the ER is bliss compared to the USA. Many folks get dental work done here because it is quality work and cheaper.

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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?

Not bad at all. Some people have allergies due to the plants, but minimal.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Nuts are in most desserts, so watch out for that.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

No.

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

Ankara is at about 3000 ft elevation, so it is a little cooler and dryer here than other places on the coast. You get all four seasons here. Usually mid-90s in the summer, and snow in the winter.

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Schools & Children:

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

Four main schools: BLIS, DODEA, DODEA is a typical DOD school, and BLIS is a PK-12 school created by Bilkent University. OASIS is a Christian school with a US curriculum, DODEA is a typical DOD school, and BLIS is a PK-12 school created by Bilkent University. BLIS has gone down hill for expats, as the school seems to be 95% wealthy Turkish kids, and even though it is an IB school and English immersion, the kids do not seem to learn English as well as they should. The administration also does not seem to be great, especially for PK-K, which is horrible in my opinion.

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

BESA is the only school that does a good job withe behavior management. There are not a lot of resources for 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?

Tons of preschools available, such as KIPS, BLIS, OASIS, etc.

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

They have them, but the ones in English are mainly through the schools. Not nearly as many sports/clubs for younger kids.

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Expat Life:

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

It is very large here, and I would say great morale.

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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?

There are bars, clubs, parks, restaurants, house parties, shopping malls, movie theaters, arcades, etc.

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

Our community tends to be "family-heavy." However, I have not seen single people having a hard time finding dates.

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

Not too bad for LGBT. Cant be totally open, but pretty big community here.

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

Some issues especially with Kurds and Syrians.

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

Traveling is easy within the country and region, people are great, weather is great, and things are very modern but cheap. Great place to work/live.

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

Tons of historic sites like Ephesus, beautiful places like Cappadocia, Bodrum, Izmir, Fetiye, etc. You have the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts to travel across and even the Black Sea is fun to visit.

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

Tons.

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

Great weather, cheaper than USA, modern city, and tons to do.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That it would be so hard to save money. Not that that would have changed my mind to come here.

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

In a heartbeat.

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Ankara, Turkey 07/08/18

Background:

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

No. I have served overseas for 20 years in a variety of cities in multiple continents.

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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?

Washington, DC. The authorized route stops in Munich and takes about 15 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

Diplomatic assignment.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Only apartments in high-rise buildings unless you are the DCM or Ambassador. The apartments have one air conditioning flat pack per apartment. I spend most nights sleeping in the living room because it is the only cool room in my apartment. The apartments come without carpets and no black-out curtains. The walls are concrete so the internet doesn't reach to the bedrooms from the living room. This helps with soundproofing with your next-door neighbors but you can still hear neighbors above and below you. It takes about 20 minutes from Park Oran and less from Park Vadi and Zirvekent.

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

You can find everything here between the commissary, the local economy, and the DPO.

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

Unfortunately, there is a restriction on items shipped through the DPO which is Turkey-specific. You can't ship make-up, protein powder, laundry detergent pods, any liquids, and even peanut butter. I relied on the DPO for my brand-specific items and was forced to switch to whatever was available at the BX or Commissary. I would have shipped all of my Seventh Generation, Tom's of Maine, Mrs. Meyers, Honest, and Shea moisture products.

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

There is a variety of food available here through delivery using the app, Yemeksepeti. The food is always almost right with a little bit of Turkish flair, but they really do try hard.

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

Yes, the pigeons are a nuisance on your balconies. Come prepared to set up spikes to keep them from perching on your balcony.

There are biting flies and mosquitos as well.

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Daily Life:

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

I use the DPO at the embassy. If you are active duty or retired military you may use the APO at Ankara Support Facility.

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

We were able to find a maid through word of mouth. There have been a lot of issues with third country national staff at this post. Make sure you do background checks on your staff and only hire those who have legal papers.

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

The gym at the embassy is functional, but incredibly small. There are gyms available near all the housing locations, but gym etiquette is not something that is followed in this country. The are not accustomed to personnel that actually lift their body weight. There are never enough plates and the bars cannot handle even minimal weight. They are not regulation bars.

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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?

No, I have not been able to use my USAA credit card to purchase food from delivery companies. I always plan accordingly by having cash on hand which is very inconvenient. Why let me order through an app if I can't pay through the app? It is frustrating for both me and the delivery guy at my door.

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

There are options here.

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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?

You need to have a basic knowledge of Turkish to do anything here.

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

Yes, they do not have proper sidewalks and there is no elevator at the embassy. I was injured and realized very quickly that getting from office to office required going up and down a lot of stairs.

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Transportation:

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

We don't use public transportation, but it appears to be available and inexpensive. As we live in the suburbs, we have to drive everywhere.

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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?

I highly recommend bringing a 4x4 vehicle due to the hills everywhere. The city is prone to flash floods and you want to have enough clearance to be able to drive home without getting stuck on the street.

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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?

We have DSL in our apartment and it was installed prior to our arrival. It is fast enough to to stream and it costs us the equivalent of $70 per month for the best package.

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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?

Bring an unlocked phone and obtain a SIM card locally. The plans are super cheap here.

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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?

I didn't get enough information of how impossible it is to get a dog into the country. You can't fly directly into Ankara with your dog and your orders won't allow you to fly through Istanbul without going cost construct. The only way to get your dog here is to fly to Istanbul and either rent a car and drive your dog to Ankara or pay for a company to transport your dog (at great expense). Be aware that the housing is not conducive to having a dog here.

Once you actually get your dog to post, the vets are excellent and the kennels are affordable.

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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?

There are part-time jobs, full-time jobs, EPAP jobs, etc. Please be aware that post has a new policy that if you use your veteran's preference, you can't use it again during this tour although it's not clear to me why this is a rule.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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

Business casual except on country team days.

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Health & Safety:

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

No.

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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?

The medical care on the regular economy is quite good but I do not feel adequately supported by the post health unit.

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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 quality is better higher up the mountain than downtown.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Post morale has been difficult due to a number of curtailments and medical-related incidences. There has been more resiliency training recently but that was received with mixed reviews.

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

Four seasons.

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Schools & Children:

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

No one seems to be happy with the schools here. There are many options, but I see people swapping to a new school after their first year to go to another school. Please be aware that Oasis is a Christian school. It was not clear from their website or any of the material from the CLO. We were pleasantly surprised when we enrolled and were informed. I would hate for a family that did not know to unwittingly go through that process without all the facts.

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

In reality, all the schools are accommodating. The issue is just being able to get here and making it through the catch-22 process of medical clearances. MED wants to see a pre-enrollment letter and none of the schools will provide that if your child has special needs. We had to sign a document that we would pay for any services required if the embassy did not provide the funding.

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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?

There are no preschools or daycare within walking distance of Park Oran where many personnel are housed. I don't have a need for these services but that would be a huge issue if we did. We hired a babysitter for after school care and the price is $10 an hour.

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

There is very little for school age kids to do during the summer here in Turkey. It appears all other diplomats from other missions leave for the summer.

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Expat Life:

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

Large. Very poor morale.

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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?

As we are in compound living, it is very difficult to meet regular locals. Also, the locals that work in the mission do not regularly interact with Americans. I joined Internations and really enjoyed meeting expats from other countries.

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

This is a not a good option for singles. I think it would also be a challenge if you are here without kids. There is literally no social scene here. I would only come here if I had elementary school aged children. The upper levels do not have many kids in their grades.

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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?

No.

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

Access to flights into Europe. We took every opportunity to get out of the country.

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

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

No, the rugs and handicrafts are really expensive here.

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

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I thought I was thinking ahead by buying the car from predecessor. It took the same amount of time to get access to my car that was already here in comparison to another person that arrived and had their car shipped to post.

I also wish I had known that I would be forced to open a local bank account in order to claim my VAT reimbursement and that I would have to open a military star card in order to get tax free gas.

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

No.

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

Comparisons to other posts.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience. You will need it to survive this post.

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

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Ankara, Turkey 10/19/17

Background:

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

Sixth (Moldova, Moscow, Baghdad, Cairo, Riyadh).

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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?

USA.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year

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

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We're all in apartments. Some are closer to the embassy and a little smaller (Park Vadi), some are further out but larger and next to malls and a park on a gated community (Park Oran). Families tend to be at Oran, with single folks and couples more in Vadi, but it's not universal. Housing is good.

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

Turkey is inexpensive. Lots of fresh produce is grown here, and supermarkets have lots of fresh veggies and fruits almost year round.

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

Nothing really; we have a commissary here, most everything you want is available in stores anyways, and Amazon through the DPO is only two weeks away.

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

Yemeksepedi is the online ordering service with anything you want (Papa John's with beef pepperoni, McDonald's, Domino's, etc.). There is decent range of American fast food, along with lots of kebab places here. Good, cheap, fresh food is a perk of Ankara.

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

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Daily Life:

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

We use DPO. DHL and others are here too.

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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 affordable. Not as cheap as in the Gulf, but you can hire Turks or Filipinos here and they do a decent job.

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

There's a gym at Oran with a pool as well.

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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?

Yes. ATMs are fine, but most folks cash checks at the embassy for cash.

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

There are services on the military base.

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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?

Turks generally don't speak English, so some basic Turkish helps. I had eight weeks; it was enough.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are cheap here. About $10-12 from Oran to the Embassy and back. Cabs drive aggressively (like everyone else here), but it's better than driving in the Gulf.

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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?

If you're just in the city, anything is fine. If you go further out or worry about security, get a bigger car, but you don't need anything huge.

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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 we've never had issues, even during the coup.

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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?

The embassy had to register my wife's phone, and we had to deal with the slow Turkish bureaucracy (remember that today's 'Byzantine bureaucracy' is Turkish in origin), but we haven't had any issues.

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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?

Yes, lots of good vets around and boarding places for dogs and cats. Some stray dogs here, but for the most part it's a good place for pets

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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?

The EFM hiring freeze has been a real problem for morale but also embassy efficiency (fewer hours for DPO, longer waits to see medical personnel for non-emergencies, etc.). Turkey is a poor country compared to the EU with whom it competes, but it's still a prosperous country.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots of opportunities to help with Syrian refugees, about 3 million of whom are in Turkey.

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

Normal dress at the embassy; a little more casual in summer.

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Health & Safety:

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

There has been growing anti-Americanism of late, with some hassling of American and local staff when going to the embassy or consulates. The press here makes it seem like the U.S. is waging war on Turkey, which of course we're not, and most Turks don't buy into that, but some will if Turkish pride is questioned. Turks are like Arabs in that they pride themselves on hospitality and kindness to strangers, but they are quick to be slighted and jump to anger if they feel insulted.

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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?

Oran is right next to a nice modern hospital called Acibadem. The embassy has a doctor, and you're a quick flight away from Germany if needed.

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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?

Ankara is a bowl, so in winter all that pollution collects downtown where the Embassy is. It's not uncommon in winter for it to be raining at the embassy, but up on the edge of the bowl at the edge of the city (Oran) for it to be snowing.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Some pollution (see previous), but by and large it's fine.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

The security environment is getting tighter, and folks who think this is just another EUR post are disappointed it's more Asian and NEA-like than EUR, but it's still a nice place to live.

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

Hot and dry summers, quickly switches to a chilly fall, and then a three month winter with snow. Ankara is half a mile up, so we have more snow than the coasts of Turkey where it's still summer in October.

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Schools & Children:

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

Excellent. BESA is great, and Oasis and the DOD school are solid options as well. Oasis just expanded to a new location south of the city near Oran. The DOD school I've heard is better for high school with all the AP classes and such, and worse at lower levels as they have to do lots of TEFL for the foreign students.

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2. 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, there are pre-schools and day care that are good value.

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Expat Life:

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

Medium-sized. Morale is ok, but worse for the U.S. because of all the unwarranted hostility.

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

We have kids, and we love Oran with its playgrounds, easy to walk to malls and supermarkets, availability of help, and good schools. Ankara is not an exciting cultural place, but Turkey is, and Ankara is cheaper and easier than Istanbul, if not as interesting a city. Think of Ankara as Philadelphia to Istanbul as New York.

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

Erdogan is pushing for a more conservative country. That's seen more outside the cities, but while women at the Embassy are the equal of men amongst the secular local staff crowd, outside the Embassy women are not treated as equally.

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

Turkey really has everything; Mediterranean coasts, skiing in the mountains in winter, a cosmopolitan city among the best in the world, and calm quiet Black Sea beaches. Lots more to see here than you can in a few years.

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

Yes, many towns specialize in particular things that you can easily find as you drive around Turkey.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Definitely.

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

Thoughts that this is an EU/EUR post.

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3. But don't forget your:

Willingness to travel the country. Security awareness.

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Ankara, Turkey 09/21/17

Background:

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

No, I have been posted to Nigeria, Japan, South Africa and Malawi.

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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?

My home city is Houston, TX. Connections can vary depending upon when you want to travel. There is a route from Ankara to Istanbul to Frankfurt to Houston which takes 20+ hours with layovers. There's another that's Ankara to Munich to Houston which is only about 15 or so hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I have lived here for about a year and a half.

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

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is in apartments in one of three areas. This could be changing as the embassy moves to a new location. The apartments are on the newer side and very nice. They are fairly spacious but their functionality can vary. I have a very large porch but a kitchen that is almost not usable, think the size of a twin mattress. Others have no porch but a large kitchen. Most units don't have any storage or closets.

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

Everything that you could want is available in one way or another. Local markets carry Turkish and European brands and they are very good and a lot cheaper than you would find in the US. Produce is very high quality but certain things are only available seasonally. I never had fresh figs until coming to turkey and they are now one of my favorite fruits.



Embassy personnel have commissary access at a small military base here in Ankara. Anything that you cannot find on the local market is available there, however, everything is at a higher price than you'd find in the US. I usually purchase dog food, toiletries and meat there. Meat is available locally but they have different cuts that I am not used to.

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

Ankara has just about any kind of restaurant that you can think of. Being from Texas, I find their Mexican food lacking but it's here and the Yankees I work with seem to like it. Almost every restaurant here delivers with an online service called "yemeksepeti" with no delivery fees. You can get a meal from most restaurants for around 20TL ($6) if you are not ordering drinks. The very nice, fine dining restaurants, run around 45TL ($14) a meal. Alcohol is heavily taxed in Turkey and you will pay Miami prices, usually $5 for a beer or $10-$15 for a mixed drink.

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

Birds. Figure out some way to keep them off your balcony. Otherwise they will poop all over it and it will not be usable. No insect problems to speak of.

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Daily Life:

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

Through diplomatic pouch and DPO. Local mail services are good but they run differently than in the US. You pick your mail up from the facility, it's not delivered directly. My wife is Turkish and uses it, but without the language you would struggle.

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

Household help runs around $50 - $60 a day. Most people have a housekeeper that comes once a week. A few folks have nannies but I don't know what they cost as I don't have kids at this point.

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

There are a lot of very nice gyms in the area. They are considered a luxury and are priced accordingly. They also do not have any listed rates and negotiate prices like a used car dealership charging what they think they can get you to pay. Negotiate and never sign the first day.

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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?

They are safe and widely accepted, however, only a few banks accept American cards. You need to specify at the register which bank to run your card with. No one explained this to me when I got here and it caused a lot of confusion. Tell the teller to run your card with "Yapi Kredi."

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

At least rudimentary Turkish is a must to get by. Most locals don't speak any English. There are some pretty incredible smart phone apps out now that can help you get by but learn as much Turkish before coming as possible. Private tutors are readily available and there are classes given at the Embassy. Take advantage of them.

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

Ankara is a very hilly city. The streets aren't as steep as Istanbul but they are easily as steep as San Fransisco. There is no flat in Ankara, it's all either up or down. They try to make things easier with ramps for the sidewalks and textured walkways for the blind but it wouldn't be easy.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, however mass transit systems have been the target for terrorism in the past. Post recommends not using these during peak times. Taxis are recommended and very reasonable. Istanbul has an issue with a taxi scam. The 5 and 50 TL notes look very similar. If you attempt to pay with a 50 the driver says it's not enough and says you gave them a 5. This hasn't been an issue in Ankara and post recommends using smaller bills. Taxi rides usually cost around 20 TL or less to most places.

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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?

Before coming to post I was told that the streets were very narrow European streets. I sold my Camaro and bought a small Ford. I was given bad information and regret it. The roads are more narrow than the U.S. but the post motor pool drivers use Suburbans without any difficulty. It does snow in the winter and get icy, so there are a few days out of the year it is helpful to have 4 wheel driver, but the city clears the streets very quickly and the roads are very good throughout the country.

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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, post will ask you what you are interested in and usually have it installed prior to your arrival.

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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?

It would be very expensive to keep your home country plan as international plans don't typically cover Turkey. Phone service is very cheap here. I pay 50TL a month for 6 gigs of data and I talk to my family back home using WhatsApp which does voice calls and text over data.

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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?

Animals do not need to be quarantined and there are good vet services. There is also a very good kennel to board your pets while you are traveling. It's run by a guy they call the Turkish Dog Whisperer. He's very good with the dogs and mine are always happy to go. It 35 TL per dog per day.

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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?

Most spouses work at the Embassy. There are a few that work for international schools around the city. It is possible to obtain a work permit, but salaries in Turkey are about a third of what the same job would pay in the US.

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

Depending on your job the dress code is either a suit and tie or business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Terrorism is always an issue here and was a much larger problem when I first arrived in February, 2016. Things seem to have quieted down considerably since then. It doesn't seem to affect people on a day to day basis as long as you pay attention to your surroundings and avoid crowds whenever possible.

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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?

None, the medical care here is top notch and reasonably priced. A number of people have had major surgeries here and one person gave birth in the middle of the coup attempt last year. All without any issues.

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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 quality varies. It is very dry and some people have issues when they first get here and in the winter the air can worsen due to coal heat being used among the poorer communities. It doesn't compare to Mexico City or Chinese cities though. I'd say it's usually good and can get to moderate on the worst days.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Be very careful eating out if you have nut allergies. Nuts are a large part of many Turkish diets and tend to be in a lot of dishes.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Whenever there is a terrorist attack people get amped up a bit. Other than that, I'd say no. There are mountains for skiing only a few hours a way in the winter and the beaches in the summer are top notch. If you need to get away for a bit it's easy and inexpensive.

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

Lower to mid 90s in the summer and can get down to single digits in the winter. Ankara has all seasons. If you dress accordingly you won't have any issues.

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Schools & Children:

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

Lots of international school options. People here appear to be happy with them. I don't have any direct experience.

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

There is a soccer league every year. I believe there are other activities as well but once again I don't have any direct experience.

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Expat Life:

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

Large expatriate community. The German, Canadian and British missions all have regular events. Make friends among the community to get invited.

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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?

Lots of bars and music for night life, places to go out for dinner and house parties. There's a great scuba club that does weekend trips. You can pretty much find anything you're interested in here.

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

Yes, yes, and yes. This is a great city for everyone. I met my wife here and love it. The dating scene is a little different than in the US and casual dating doesn't really exist. It's OK to go out in a group, but you don't go out on a one to one date unless you are serious.

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

While Turkey isn't nearly as closed down about LGBT issues as Arabic countries, it's still not as open as the US. There are a number of LGBT expats and locals in the area though. I don't have any direct experience.

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

While Turkey is mostly a Muslim society, they don't tend to bother expats unless you are preaching on a street corner. I openly wear my cross to the gym and I have not had any issues. Gender equality isn't quite where it should be in Turkey, I've been told that Turkish men can be dismissive of women. But by and large there are many women in all professions in Turkey.

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

Swimming in the crystal clear water down in Kas, exploring the ancient roman city of Ephesus, visiting the wine village of Sarince, and seeing the ancient capital of the Hitites. There is so much history in Turkey that you trip over it. To add to that the beaches all around the country are amazing and the mountain in the winter are wonderful as well. The food is great (there are a lot of other kinds of Turkish food than Kebab), try Mante, Midye, Lokma, Menemen and anything else you can.

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

I mostly talked about it above. Go to Kas, there is a restaurant there called Retro Bistro. Some of the best food I've had in my life. Cesme is another beach town that I really like, or you could try Dalyan. There's another place called Pammukale which was an old roman town with a natural spring bath. You can still swim in the spring pool among original roman columns.

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

Yes. Lots of really nice art and copper items. Most folks buy Persian and Turkish rugs. There is a guy in Golbasa that makes custom damascus knives who's family has done so since the ottoman empire. Go out to Ulus on the weekend. You can find just about anything and if they don't have it you can have it made.

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

There's no particular advantages for Ankara itself. It the proximity to everything around Ankara that's appealing. You are in the middle of the country and only a few hours drive from anything you could want to do. The city does have some very nice parks though in the valleys to take advantage of.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Nothing, I wish I'd come sooner.

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

Absolutely, I may retire here.

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

Expectations. Turkey is so much more than I would have thought.

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4. But don't forget your:

Beach and ski gear. You will need them both.

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Ankara, Turkey 06/08/17

Background:

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

No, I have lived in Okinawa, Lilongwe and Lagos prior to Ankara.

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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?

My home base is in Houston, TX. It's a hike to get back but not as bad as some of the places I've been in Africa. There's a connection in Germany that goes to Houston.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1.5 years.

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

Work at the US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is in apartments. There are three main complexes, Vadi, Oran and Zirvekent with a few others scattered about. That may change with the embassy moving locations in the next few years. The sizes vary, I have one of the two small two bedroom apartments. It suits me, however the kitchen is extremely small. Most people have a three to four bedroom place at a minimum.

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

The cost of groceries is extremely cheap. With the recent decline of the Turkish lira things are very affordable. Local produce is very good and widely available. Anything from the states that you must have can be purchased at the local military base. Prices there are a little higher than the US though and much higher than the local market.

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

Nothing. You can get anything that you're looking for here. It did take me a while to figure out that cilantro is the leaf of coriander. Both are called Kisnis here.

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

Anything and everything. You can order from almost any restaurant in the city with yemeksepeti.com. Coming from Texas I miss really good BBQ and steak. There are a few steak places if you know where to look but no luck on finding good Texas brisket. There is a lot more to Turkish food than kebab. Get out and experience it.

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

Pigeons on the balcony is the only issue that I've heard of anyone having.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO, it takes anywhere from one to three weeks depending on how lucky you get with the pouch. Local postal facilities are up to the European standard but we don't use them regularly.

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

Household help is usually around $50 - $60 a day. Most people don't have full time help. As long as you keep their hours below 20 a week you avoid a lot of the headache that comes with being an employer.

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

There are a lot of gyms and sports facilities, however, they come at a premium. Gyms are still considered a luxury here. You will typically pay around $50 a month per person. The facilities are good and you do get what you are paying for. A lot of folks use the Joya gym next to Vadi. It is good, however the pool is only 16.5 meters. If you are a swimmer there are other better options.

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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?

Credit cards are widely accepted, however you need to specify which bank needs to run them. YapiKredi accepts US cards so I always tell the cashier to run the card with them whenever there is a problem.



No issues with any ATMs and there is one at the Embassy. Use the same precautions you would in the US or Europe.

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

There are services of all denominations in Ankara. The base provides non-denominational and Catholic services.

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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?

Local language is essential if you want to thrive in Turkey. I wasn't given any prior to coming to post and have been scrambling to learn as much as possible since. You can get by at restaurants by pointing at pictures but many locals have very limited English. Even those with university degrees are uncomfortable with English and will rarely attempt to speak it. There are Turkish tutors and classes widely available.

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

Depends on the disability. Ankara isn't quite at steep as Istanbul, but there is very little flat ground in the city. They have given lip service to putting in access for the disabled but most of it isn't very functional.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, I usually use taxis as they are very affordable.

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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?

You can bring anything. I sold my Camaro prior to coming to post on the advice of someone previously here and I am regretting it. The roads are very good. They can be narrow in the city but I've seen suburbans driving around without difficulty. Ankara does get a lot of snow and ice in the winter. Make sure that you have winter tires.

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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?

Internet is very good and inexpensive. The embassy will arrange installation for you before you arrive at post. You can arrange to have the speed increased once you arrive. I've found the service to be better than I had available in the US.

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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?

If you need a personal cell phone, bring an unlocked one from the US. They are available here but 25% - 50% more expensive. Service is very cheap. I'm paying 60TL ($20) for 6gb of data and more minutes than I can use.

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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?

I have two large dogs. The vets are very good and the prices are about what you would pay in the US. There is a very good animal boarding house at a facility south of Golbasi (30km from the embassy) called Canine College. The owner is named Tarkan and is considered the "Turkish Dog Whisperer." They will board dogs for 35 TL a day ($12).

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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?

The embassy has a lot of EFM positions for all sections. They work hard to make sure that everyone that wants to work can find a job. Due to labor laws there are few options outside the mission.

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

Business to dress casual depending on your section. Formal wear for sporadic events throughout the year.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is lower than you would expect at any major city in the US. The threat of terrorism keeps people on edge. Terrorist groups are active throughout Turkey, however, as long as you keep a low profile and limit your exposure to known tourist locations you can mitigate much of the danger.

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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?

Very good medical care. One of the mission employees gave birth here (in the middle of the coup attempt) and didn't have any issues. There are also a large number of mission employees that end up having surgery here for one reason or another.

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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 quality is good but dry. I like spending time outdoors and I haven't had any issues.

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4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

It entirely depends upon your ability accept the terrorism risks. Some people have a lot of trouble accepting that terrorism happens here but the risks can be mitigated. Those people tend to shut themselves in and have a lot of trouble here. Get out of the city, see the country. This is a wonderful place and if you accept that you can thrive here.

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

Ankara has all seasons. Hot in the summer with wonderful beaches to enjoy and cold in the winter with great skiing.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are a lot of good international schools. The people with kids seem happy.

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Expat Life:

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

Very large. Morale is very good among expats.

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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?

There are a few expat bands and choirs for the musically inclined, numerous sports clubs, bars, restaurants, just about anything that you can imagine.

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

This is a great city for all. Dating here is very interesting. Casual dating doesn't exist in the Turkish culture, so if you're going to date a local you need to find out if things are going somewhere. That said I met my wife here and a number of others have gotten married here as well.

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

There are a few at post and I have not heard any complaints. Ankara is a mixed cosmopolitan and traditional culture.

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

There is a little bit of machismo in the Turkish culture and some of my female co-workers have complained that they aren't taken seriously by the locals, however, they don't have to worry about catcalls when they go out shopping as they do in some Arab countries. Turkey is still staunchly secular, however, there are political movements working to make Turkey a Muslim society.

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

Driving through the mountains and stumbling upon Greek ruins just lying on the side of the road. Scuba diving in the sea which is a clear as a glass of drinking water and snowboarding fresh powder in Ilgaz.

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

Ask about Rabbit Hole. It's a single table restaurant with one of the best chefs in the world. Take a weekend at Kas. The beaches are worth the trip. Spend as many weekends out of Ankara that you can. You can rent a nice AirBnB for $30 a night.

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

There are a lot of things here, it just depends on what you're interested in. Many people, myself included, buy a few rugs here. There is a very good knife maker in Golbasi that can make custom Damascus steel stuff. Eskeshehir (I probably spelled it wrong) is known for these white smoking pipes that apparently sell for $1000s in the US.

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

It's centrally located for all the things to do in Turkey. There are also direct flights to Europe through Germany.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Don't listen to what anyone says. Ankara is better than Istanbul.

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

Absolutely

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

Expectations.

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4. But don't forget your:

Ski equipment and beachwear.

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Ankara, Turkey 09/27/16

Background:

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

We have lived in Central Asia and Azerbaijan. This is our third overseas assignment.

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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?

Washington, D.C. -- connect through Munich when flying with government; great connections through Istanbul if flying on own.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Over three years.

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

My husband's job at the Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

All apartments. In the three years we've been here, the housing pool has gotten better. Older apartments in GOP are being phased out. Now options are Mesa Koza in GOP, Zirvekent, Park Oran and Park Vadi. All have benefit and drawbacks.

Commute times to Embassy are all reasonable. (People complain about traffic, but compared to Istanbul it is child's play.) Park Oran is the furthest from the Embassy.

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

This is the best place for groceries we've ever been. You can get everything and reasonably priced. The American Commissary and BX has a great selection of U.S. products (and wine!) while the local groceries and markets are stocked with amazing produce and local meats, cheeses, breads, etc. Eating and cooking here is a dream.

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

I used to send myself green curry through Amazon. But even that I've now found locally.

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

There is a delivery service called Yemeksepeti, which you can get in English and get delivery of just about anything. Very reasonably priced items as well.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and Pouch

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

More expensive than other places we've been. We have a full time housekeeper and nanny and pay her US$10/hour.

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

There are many. A few of the buildings also have facilities like pools and small gyms.

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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?

Credit cards are safe to use and widely accepted. ATMs are also common.

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

Yes. There is a chapel on base. There is also a Catholic Mass at the Vatican Embassy and an Anglican service at the British Embassy.

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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?

My Turkish is pretty pathetic for living here three years. But with a mixture of a good attitude, flexibility and miming, you can get by okay.

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

There would definitely be challenges for someone with a physical disability. I use a stroller alot and have trouble with the uneven sidewalks.

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Transportation:

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

Yes.

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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?

Most expats tend to drive big cars. But if you are serious about trying to find parking, a little mini would work wonders.

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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. GSO can help set it up before you arrive. But even "unlimited" data isn't really. It can slow quite a bit during peak times.

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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?

I love the international plan for vodafone. As others have mentioned, buy your phone elsewhere and then register it in Turkey. It can take a bit of time, but phones here are more expensive.

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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?

If you are a diplomatic spouse, the restriction are tough. You can work at the embassy or in an "education/teaching" job. Or telecommute. This is a real struggle for alot of highly professional and qualified spouses here.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many. And CLO does a great job of getting information out about the many volunteer opportunities.

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

Formal for balls; work dress like the U.S.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes.

This is one of the biggest challenges. In terms of crime, it is almost non-existent. But there is heightened awareness of terrorism and violence after the last several years and the entire embassy community is on edge. You kind of wait for the next "event" to happen. That said, many of us LOVE living here and don't feel like the threat is so severe that we need to leave.

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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?

Medical care is great. Many women here give birth and it is a medical tourism destination. (Think botox!)

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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?

Generally good. There are some smoggy days, but nothing like Hong Kong, Beijing, etc.

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4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

After the recent string of terrorism attacks at the attempted coup, there are certainly folks who are coping with a changing security environment.

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5. 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, cold in the winter. Overall dry. Someone once described Ankara as "50 shades of Khaki."

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Schools & Children:

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

Very good.

We have two young children at the British school and could not be happier. Many friends have children at the DoDDs school and have generally positive feedback. Less positive on BLIS. And many kids were at Oasis until they moved to a new location that is quite far away from most Embassy housing.

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

I do know that some special needs kids are/were at BESA and they seem to do a good job. But I don't know specifics.

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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?

Many preschools available and they range in price from US$300 - $800/month.

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

Many. You can pretty much do anything you'd do in the states here. You just have to seek it out.

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Expat Life:

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

Medium sized.

I think morale is pretty mixed. There is a segment of people who love it here (me included) and those who find the security situation untenable. It is really a question of what you are comfortable with. Embassy hours are LONG and that has been a real struggle for us. But I love this country and I love the friendships I've made here -- both within the expat community and locally.

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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?

I've met a ton of friends through my kids schools and embassy events. There are a ton of clubs and events. Just need to seek them ut.

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

Fantastic for families. Turks love kids and I honestly can't imagine having these young kids anywhere else. Turks will pick up your child when she is crying and let you eat a meal -- there are play areas EVERYWHERE. My kids have become totally used to being doted on and loved everywhere we go. It is just heaven for kids.

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

So many wonderful places to travel. Cesme, Ephesus, Antalya, Bodrum, Cappadocia, Istanbul, Bolu ... the list goes on. Turkey and its people are a total treasure.

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

The exchange rate was 1.7 Turkish Lira to the dollar 3 years ago. Now it is almost 3 to 1. Makes for very affordable shopping. I do almost all of my shopping locally.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely. We are extending and love it.

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

Birds without Wings.

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Ankara, Turkey 06/14/16

Background:

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.

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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?

Boston, easy to get to.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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

U.S. Embassy.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO.

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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 for about $50 per day, could negotiate a better deal if hiring someone full time.

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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.

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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?

Yes, no problem using them.

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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.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, plenty of cabs and buses available.

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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?

Aggressive driving, expect some dents....

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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?

Reasonable priced and reliable most of the time.

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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?

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.

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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?

Some EFM positions and some English teaching options available.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty.

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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.

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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 medical facilities.

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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?

Allergies can be bad, especially in the spring.

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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?

Hot in the summer and cold in the winter.

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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.

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Expat Life:

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.

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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?

Plenty of CLO events if interested otherwise the community is large enough to find your kind of people and socialize with them

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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.

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

Travel within the country is great.

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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.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Learn Turkish.

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Ankara, Turkey 08/02/15

Background:

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

Kiev, Ukraike; Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; Tbilisi, Georgia ... it's all about perspective, this is the nicest place we've lived so far in terms of availability of goods and services and 'familiar things'

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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?

Wisconsin- we generally travel via Chicago (ORD) or Minneapolis (MSP) from Munich, Germany. One connection - either to those major U.S. airports if you can get a direct flight from Ankara to Europe, otherwise it is a terminal change in Istanbul, then direct to one of those two airports.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three years, August 2012-August 2015

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

U.S. government employee, State Department

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Primarily apartments in several areas of town. Even the furthest apartments assigned to Embassy personnel had no more than a 20-minute commute in normal traffic. In HIGH traffic times, 8-10am and 5-7pm, it could take an hour or more.

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

There is a DECA Commissary on the American Support Facility, and a BX, which has ridiculously well-priced food. Kipa, Migros, and many other chains are located in all of the neighborhoods as are the fruit and vegetable markets. Costs are very reasonable.

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

Bicycles

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

All kinds of restaurants of varying types and quality available, from 5TL on the street durum (wrap) to pretentiously over-priced steak and everything in between. McDonald's, Arbys, KFC, etc.

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

I think I saw a total of 12 bugs and spiders. In three years.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO.
UPS does ship here, customs takes for ever.

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

Locally available help, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently made the requirements much more formal, so no more cash for service set-ups.

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

Gyms are available all over, cost is high, but facilities can be quite high end

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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?

We got a local bank and bank card for transactions in Turkey. Credit cards and ATMs use the chipped system and so a call back to the for each transaction can result in dropped calls and double-transactions. We only had this happen once in three years using an ATM. Larger chains like H&M or Marks and Spencer have the wherewithal to make these transactions with foreign cards, just let them know you're using a foreign card at the time.

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

ASF Chapel has non-denominational services which change with the chaplain, Meryam Amana Catholic Church has a regular service with a great community. St. Nicholas Anglican/Episcopalian Church is on the British Embassy and is a liturgical service. IPCA is the International Protestant Church of Ankara and is more contemporary.

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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?

Polite niceties, and "do you speak English, I only have a little Turkish?" will get a smile and switch to charades.

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

The hills, cobblestones and lack of ramps would make it extremely challenging, but it is changing.

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Transportation:

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

Plenty of people use the buses and dolmush (route minivans). Taxis are clearly marked, with fares posted. Prices continue to rise in taxis but not exorbitantly so.

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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?

Any automobile is suitable. Cars are new, well-cared for or old and junky. Driving is a circus (skiiers' rules, if your nose is ahead, you have right of way) but your insurance may go down because there is no litigation, cars are just fixed. Driving at night in the country is discouraged, primarily for single car accident reasons. We had a Subaru and VW serviced regularly and see everything from Renault to Mercedes and Range Rover.

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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?

Easily available and cheap internet. We streamed five devices at once and no one hiccuped. It gets slow in the evenings as people get home. I strongly recommend a VPN, we use the Buffalo Cloakbox from Witopia.

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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 is easily available, pre-paid is easy to do.

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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 quarantine unless you've missed something on your paperwork. Quality pet care, with English speakers as well, available. Excellent kennel and dog trainer available.

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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?

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Ample volunteer opportunities particularly for services for refugees as the UNHCR is located in Ankara

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

Slightly more covered than usual, sort of 1950 Americana with Islamic touch

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Health & Safety:

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

Definitely the closer you get to the Syrian/Iraqi/Iranian border, the greater the security concerns. Protests in the center of town are announced so you can remain away, and Regional Security Office is excellent about keeping folks in formed. Fears run high and low like the tide, but it doesn't slow down life as usual for the most part.

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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?

Rabies shots are recommend due to wild dogs, which are large. Tetanus has to be a risk and of course travelers diarrhea. Double-hernia surgery at a private hospital has ruined us for all other medical care as it was like going to a posh resort! Dental crown was 3D printed on premises and got high marks from my home dentist.

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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?

In Oran, on the hill/ridge to the south, we had a lot of wind, and therefore reasonable air quality most of the time. Our son has a pollution/ozone allergy and it was entirely manageable with Zyrtec and Singulair. There is pollution and 'down in the bowl' you will get a distinct smog haze over the city, particularly in winter when the thermal inversion holds it in. The pollution index is rated at 64 (as compared to Mexico City at 79 and 94 for Beijing, 10 for Stockholm and 14 for Tallinn)

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Decorating with flowers is not unusual, and plants are everywhere.

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

The weather in Ankara was moderate, winter is winter, summer is hot but not desperately so. You can easily travel to snow for skiing or the coast for beaches.

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Schools & Children:

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

Four schools that I am aware of: BESA, the British embassy School Association located on the grounds of the British Embassy had an excellent IB/PYP program for reception to Year 8 (7th grade), and is by far the most secure and safe school with a park-like environment. BLIS is the Bilkent Laboratory International School and is an international school in the Turkish system with a native English speaker director and teachers and is located a good distance from the center of town, but transportation is provided by the Embassy or school. Oasis is a Christian missionary school offering K-12 education and has an excellent reputation. The DoDDS George C. Marshall School is located on the American Support Facility and has a U.S.-based curriculum.

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

Oasis can make accommodations for children with an IEP. BESA had two children with Downs and they each had a designated adult teaching assistant, but I am not sure if this was via IEP or a special accommodation. DoDDs specifically prohibited a child with an IEP stating that they were not equipped to deal with children with IEP, but this should be verified. I have no idea about BLIS

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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?

N/A for our family, but I have heard that there are many options available from BESA to local Turkish schools, international English language pre-schools, etc.

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

The Ankara Youth Sport group offers soccer twice a year and basketball in the cold months and acres of expat children participate in this. Scouts and schools make up for the other programs. My daughter went to a Turkish horse riding club, but it took considerable searching and negotiation to figure this out.

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Expat Life:

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

The community is large, and very diverse. The morale fluctuates with the politics and events

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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?

Dinners at people's homes

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

I would think this would be a boring city for singles/couples unless you found a like-minded group of people. It is good for families in that there are parks and activities and schools, but it is not an INTERESTING city overall.

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

Unknown. I would be surprised given the climate for homosexuals outside of Istanbul in Turkey.

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

I say all of this with a grain of salt, because individual results may vary. It is a Muslim country and call to prayer occurs five times a day, as clergy I certainly did NOT wear my collar around town, but I never noticed any overt discrimination or attacks, verbal or otherwise. Women are not treated particularly respectfully overall and more women are choosing to wear the headscarf, but there is not pressure to do so, particularly as an expat (shorts and tank tops are not uncommon, although cleavage is). When I was mistaken for a Turkish woman, I was subject to a level of sexual harassment that was sort-of ingrained into the men (I never sat alone in a restaurant, but I do know women who could and did).

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

The travel was our highlight. We didn't have a wish list of things to buy and already had plenty of carpets, so those things were not a highlight. We went for experiences and got them in spades.

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

Leave :-) Really, use Ankara as a point to travel to Cappadocia, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean...

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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, marble, textiles, pottery

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

Tourism! Holy smokes, travel. From Ankara you are a one hour, less than US$100 plane ticket to ANYwhere in the country. And there are quite a few European and other destinations available either direct from Ankara or via Istanbul. We did not purchase overly much, but marble, carpets and porcelain are easily obtainable, but you must bargain over tea or it isn't a good price. The coast between September and May (off-tourist season) is glorious.

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10. Can you save money?

if you stay home, you certainly can

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Words of Wisdom:

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

to travel more

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

Yes

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

golf clubs.

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4. But don't forget your:

swimsuit and head cap to cover your hair in any public pool

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

Barbara Nadel writes mysteries set in Istanbul.

The Rise of Turkey: The Twenty-First Century's First Muslim Power
is a good flavor of Turkey.

Muslim Nationalism and the New Turks (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics),

and Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds.

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Ankara, Turkey 06/09/15

Background:

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

Yes

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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?

USA. Usually fly Ankara - Munich - Dulles.

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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, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Department of State.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Scattered housing. Park Vadi is close to the Embassy. Some people walk from there. Housing in GOP allows for a little further walk, but most people drive. Park Oran is farthest from the embassy. About 30 minute commute.

I'm in GOP. Family of 3 in a 4BR, 3.5 BA 250 sq meter apartment. Kitchen is a good size, US. .appliances. Laundry room. Balcony. Small fenced yard (embassy owned, guard out front, 3 apartments in the building). 2 bedrooms have en-suite baths, the other 2 have shared bath. Large living room, library, dining to, office.

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

Not a lot of insect problems. Mosquitoes are mild. Some bugs get indoors occasionally, but not often.

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Daily Life:

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

Yes. Unsure of costs.

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

Yes. It is very hilly and not a lot of wheelchair accessible ramps on the sidewalks.

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Health & Safety:

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

Avoid protests. Watch the news and keep up with RSO notices. If you stay aware of your surroundings you'll be ok.

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2. 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?

Not bad in the summer. Moderately polluted in winter (coal burning).

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

It is very similar to the DC area. A little colder in the winter.

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Schools & Children:

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

DoDDS school is easy to get into. Oasis is a good school and should have no problems registering. Bilkemt requires testing. The British school has a waiting list so register early.

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

Very little. Possible for very mild disabilities. We had our teenager in boarding school in the U.S. since post could not meet his needs. Mental health services are scant.

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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?

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

Limited. Soccer, softball, some sports at Oasis and DoDDS.

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Expat Life:

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

Very good city for families and couples. I don't know much about the single scene. Turks love children.

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

Mildly. Turkey is still behind the times on LGBT rights.

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

Not any that I've noticed.

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

Travel - Istanbul, Ephesus, 7 churches, Pamukkale, Mediterranean, Black Sea, Cappadocia. It's amazingly beautiful here.

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

Ulus area (Ankara Kalesi, good museums, etc). Plenty of malls. Lots of cafes.

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

Lots of history and travel available. Prices are a little lower than U.S. on all but electronics. People are very friendly. Can get almost anything here that you can get in the U.S. Good food, Safe and virtually crime-free.

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Ankara, Turkey 04/02/15

Background:

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

No. Other foreign countries I've lived in are India, Taiwan, China.

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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?

Home base is in U.S. Ankara has an early-morning direct flight to Munich, then it's a direct flight from Munich to Washington DC. Some people prefer routes through Istanbul and then direct to U.S.

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3. How long have you lived here?

22 months.

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

U.S.Government employee.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We live in a high-rise apartment building in a gated communities with security guards. Our apartment is modern, clean, and in good condition. We have a covered parking spot and extra storage in the garage. Most apartments lack closets and instead provide wardrobes. Our wardrobes are not very spacious. Ankara does have a "rush hour" but it's not bad.

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

Similar to in the U.S. Fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful, and you can shop in western-style grocery stores or local farm-to-market bazaars. You can find just about anything on the local market. There are Target-type stores, Home Depot-type stores, and stores that resemble Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn. There is even an actual IKEA!

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

McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Subway, Starbuck's, Pizza Hut, Domino's, Stone Cold Creamery. Lots of good Turkish restaurants in all price ranges - kebab, kofte, and fish restaurants.

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

I haven't noticed any particular insect problems.

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Daily Life:

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

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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, about US$60 a day for a full day of house cleaning. Unsure of child care costs.

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

Yes, they are available. Many gyms here have full service spas, saunas, and swimming pools, so I find I get more for my money here than at gyms at home. But they're not cheap here.

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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?

Safe and easy. But it helps to have a bank card from a Turkish bank, because not all places accept international/foreign cards.

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

The Vatican, U.S. Dept of Defense chapel at the military base, British church, Mormon services, a very small Jewish group; maybe others I'm unaware of

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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?

It depends. Taxi drivers and small business owners don't speak English.

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

Yes. Ankara is a city of hills, so there are lots of ups and downs. The sidewalks are good in some places, not so good in other places. There are very few wheelchair ramps, and I've been in numerous multi-story buildings that do not have elevators or escalators.

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Transportation:

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

Buses, trains and taxis are generally safe and affordable. I avoid the "dolmis", small buses where you hear of more problems.

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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?

An SUV is good for highway driving. Smaller cars are good to have while living in Ankara because of parking and traffic concerns. Maintenance is reasonable. If parts are unavailable here, you usually can order from Istanbul.

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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?

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Refugees, animal shelters, women's groups.

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

Business at work. Turkish women can be very glamorous and hip. Casual is also quite common.

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Health & Safety:

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

Ankara doesn't have a large problem with violent crimes, although you hear about pickpockets in some of the more crowded areas of the city.
You see Syrian refugees begging on the streets in Ankara, but I haven't heard of them causing any violence.
Given the situation in Syria and Iraq right now, there are concerns, but mostly in the south of the country. Terrorist groups (PKK and DHKP-C) have been a concern in Turkey for years. As in most countries, try to be smart about your travels, and you should be fine.

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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?

There is good medical care in good hospitals with English-speaking staff and doctors.

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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?

Usually there is good air quality, with bright blue skies. In the winter some people burn coal for heat so the air can get a bit unsightly, but it doesn't last long.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Not a lot of problems with allergies that I've noticed.

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

There are four distinct seasons. Summer is dry and hot, but evenings are cool and you often need a sweater if you're outside. Autumn and spring are beautiful, with some spring thunderstorms and rain, but no "rainy season". Winter can be cold, dry, and overcast. It does snow, and winter only lasts about 3 months, so it's tolerable.

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Schools & Children:

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

British, German, French, US Dept of Defense, and Turkish private schools affiliated with private universities.

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

You should carefully research this topic, as people have come here with special-needs children and been unable to find appropriate schools.

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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?

I know they exist, and expats use them, but I have not experienced them myself.

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

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Expat Life:

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

Decent size. Morale appears good.

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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?

Dinners or get-togethers at friends' homes; restaurants, parks.

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

Families, yes. Couples, yes. Singles, it depends. Ankara is not Istanbul, but there are bars, clubs, restaurants, and lots of activities around the embassy community and its social organizations. It would depend on exactly what you want.

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

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

Not that I have noticed.

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

Travel in Turkey is the highlight of living here. There is just so much to see. As for living in Ankara, I like that the city has a small-town feel to it. It's the government center, so there is a nice international community here with diplomats and many international organizations. There's not a lot to see and do in Ankara for tourists, but living here is very pleasant. Rush hour traffic isn't horrible. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, coffee houses, bookstores, movie theaters and a few nice parks.

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

Carpets, copper, Turkish tea and coffee sets, textiles, pillows, pottery.

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

Travel. It is a beautiful country with beaches, mountains, historical ruins, great cuisine and friendly locals. Driving is easy and convenient, and there are low-budget domestic carriers for travel in-country. The climate in Ankara has 4 distinct seasons. But Ankara is dry year-round. Winters have been rather mild during the last 2 years. You can save money in Ankara, but it's not an inexpensive city.

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9. Can you save money?

You can, but not as much as you might like. The cost of living is more comparable to that in Europe than it is to Asia.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

More about the history of the country and its current political environment.

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

Yes!

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

Stereotypes about the "typical Turk". Any thoughts that Turkey is a backward country---far from it!


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4. But don't forget your:

Love for the outdoors, hospitality,and appreciation for the simple things in life.

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Ankara, Turkey 02/14/15

Background:

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

No. We have lived in Asia, Central America, Africa, Europe, The Middle East.

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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?

The Southwest of the U.S. Flights usually head through Houston, then onto Munich, then to Ankara. The hours add up quickly with making a minimum of two connections and you are easily traveling for over 24 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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

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. Mostly highrise, but not always. Commute can be from 10 minutes to 50 minutes, depending on distance and traffic patterns.

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

Local is cheap - fruits and veggies are quite low priced and very tasty. (easily found: tomatoes, peppers, onion, eggplant, potatoes, lemons, melons, pomegranates, oranges) If you are with the U.S. Embassy or military you will have access to the base where you can get really anything you might want/need/want from home at a very low cost. Local household supplies are a bit more expensive, but available, with lots of choices. I even found tobacco scented air freshener.

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

Nothing really. Mostly everything can be found or done without. We downsized quite a bit before coming, and then even more so when we got here. Some apartments are quite small and there are no closets - so less is actually better for us.

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

Everything. Every mall will have a food court with local and expat focused food. Then more restaurants. There is Subway, McDonald's, Popeye's Chicken, BKing, KFC, endless Kabab options, Starbucks -- I even heard Cold Stone Creamery recently opened somewhere along a very busy street downtown. Almost all restaurants deliver and you can go online and order from a general place. Quick China is our favorite for some great Chinese food. As far as costs: 6" sub ~ US$6, McDonald's meal ~US$7, chai tea latte ~US$5/venti, Kes1Doner Kabab meal ~US$3, Turkish tea ~ US$1/$2, Simit ~US$1.
If you go for steaks, it will cost a lot though - for a nice meal for two plus wine expect to pay about US$100 easily.

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

Almost none. After Africa, this feels almost sterile. There are a lot of bees (honey is a huge product here) and flea and tick issues abound in wooded areas and over watered landscaping.

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Daily Life:

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

Though the FPO at the Embassy. We have had a package arrive in local mail and went to the nearest PTT to retrieve it without issue or much of a wait.

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

It is available. Many have someone come once a week to help out. We have not hired anyone - not really a need with a tiny apartment.

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

Yes. Our apartments come with gym and pool membership included. This is not always the case. We have heard of reasonable costs to quite high. The good news is that you can look around and find something that works for you.

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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?

As with anywhere, be vigilant. They are available at every mall and on the streets at the many, many banks here. Scams can happen. We use the ones at the Embassy and base mostly, but have not had an issue using from other locations.

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

There are several - Interdenominational, Lutheran, Anglican, Mormon, Catholic.

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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?

A basic knowledge. Despite being the capital, very few Turks speak English - or a lot of English- so you will need more than just the pleasantries. You can get by with less, but it does effect the quality of your experience here and your abilities to do more.

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

Yes. There are some accommodations such as blind guide paths along main routes and bus stops, but sidewalks are often broken or blocked. Awkward stairs and paths exist everywhere. There are many elevators, and some places have parking garages, but the connection for usage isn't the smoothest. I think someone with physical disabilities would find movement here to be limited to a few areas. I must say, though, that this is the only country I've been in where I saw a man get out of his car at an intersection and go out to help an elderly lady struggling to cross a busy road, clearing a path for her, before he got back in his car and pushed through the intersection himself.

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Transportation:

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

Safe and affordable. Not cheap though, so if you are use to paying only a few dollars to go across town, taxis here are not for you. The average cost for a trip somewhere is about US$15-30. If you don't know where you are going or parking, taxis are helpful. Buses are very reasonable and easy to take. Trains as well, and they are putting in more routes between cities which would be a very easy way to go.

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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?

Four wheel drive is helpful with hills. You will need snow tires. Parking is very hard to come by, which is why many double park on the road, using the far right lane(s) for 'just running in'. Parts are available and the bit of work we have needed to do was very reasonably priced. That is not always the case though.

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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, moderate cost. We are very happy with our service.

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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?

Bring one unlocked. You will have to pay to register it for a number here within 30 days of arrival or you won't be able to use it. You can buy a local phone but the cost is high. Vodafone and Turkcell are two vendors that you can buy a sim chip for and pay by the call/text.

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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?

Only one person I know of had a quarantine issue and that was misdirected (pit mix dog). Typically they come into Istanbul and will be delivered to you in Ankara. This is very draining on the pet and we would recommend making sure your pet is in best health and hydration prior to travel. (Our dog was at an unfamiliar kennel a week prior and shut down during that time, making the trip even more grueling physically for him). There are many vets here, VTM is who we use and we have been very happy. If you are bringing a dog you will want to find the Ankara Canine College on the outskirts of Ankara in Golbasi, and meet Tarkan. We take our dogs there when schedules get crazy, when we are out of town, or when we want a break and they need more interaction, movement, and stimulation. All dogs are off leash and it is like camp for dogs. Our two come back happy and tired and balanced each time, which helps offset the confines of apartment living in a city.

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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?

Teaching, subbing, embassy work.... the usual three.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Teaching at schools and a lot in volunteering with refugees.

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

Suit and tie for work, stylish but casual for public (good shoes for walking on slippery and uneven surfaces).

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. If you look at Turkey's neighbors, there is a lot going on in the region. There was also the attack on the U.S. Embassy on Feb 1, 2013 with concerns still involving the same group responsible. Demonstrations and protests often result in excessive force (water cannon and tear gas). Areas in the east of the country are off limits. OpSec and constant awareness of surroundings are strongly encouraged. You can easily be blind to these risks, but they are still there.

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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?

The air quality can be an issue, especially in the winter. There are many private hospitals that offer good medical care. Medications are bought directly at the pharmacy, they usually only speak Turkish, but showing a box or having written down what you need will help.

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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?

When we look out onto the city, especially in winter, you can see the brown cloud settled over the valleys. Two of our family are back on asthma medications (we thank Beijing for the start of this regimen need). Blue skies are more common than not, though.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Bring what you need to start off and be cautious regarding food allergies, don't expect them to notify you.

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

Squalls. Ankara is a bit windswept. Each winter has been different - from super snow, to ice fog that won't leave for a month, to intermittent and accumulating flurries that disappear in the dry air rather quickly. If you are in the higher elevations of the city, the 1000 feet more makes a difference in what you experience.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are a few schools: the DoDDS school (formerly George C. Marshall, now Ankara ES/HS), the British Embassy School of Ankara (BESA) which only goes up to year 8 (7th grade), Oasis School, and BLISS which follows an IB program. One child graduated from DoDDS and it was a good enough fit. One child we moved mid-year to the British School and cannot praise BESA enough for what is offers and how it motivates and encourages its students.

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

This is tricky. Oasis was known for being most accommodating, but I believe current staffing issues have affected this. The DoDDs school is dealing with big budget losses, and will only have special needs accommodations if a military family is assigned to this post and requires assistance. But that is catch 22, because they won't be assigned where there is no assistance. BESA seems to work really well where each child is at, but only goes to 7th grade equivalent. BLISS has some assistance in its program, but the one family I knew going there was not happy with their behavior modification contracts that were used to help direct the child.

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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, they are available, but we don't have any direct experience with them.

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

There is AYSL (Ankara Youth Soccer League) that also runs basketball. Some schools have sport teams but we haven't found sports to be a big or strong part of this post.

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Expat Life:

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

Quite large actually and quite low. The pace of high expectations is quite furious. There are many long hours. Ankara is also an aggressive city on the roads and even when transiting on foot. Due to traffic, it can be a bit harder to break out of the bubble and get some balance and inspiration from getting to know others outside of the work arena.

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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?

Going to the movies, going for hikes, getting together with friends (usually within the same housing area due to traffic) going out for dinner or tea, shopping, exploring

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

Yes. Ankara is a conservative capital and very government heavy, but there are ways to get out and be involved in what you enjoy: hiking groups, expat groups, religious activities, travel, parks (small but there, with some playgrounds suitable for the younger crowds). Malls are big and everywhere with movie theaters, arcades, lasertag, and restaruants. There are paintball parks too. You could choose to be miserable here (especially when the wind blows strong and freezing) but you can easily choose happy here as well.

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

I would think that there are better posts out there. Turkey is becoming more conservative and Ankara is no exception.

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

Yes. While there are a lot of secular Turks, the conservative push is happening. Prejudices against the Roma and against refugees (which is increasing greatly every month) are common. Having said that though, the Turks are fantastic with children and the elderly - amazingly fantastic - and once you get out of the city mentality you will discover why Turkish hospitality is famed around the world.

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

Visiting Istanbul, Cappadocia, Antalya, Ephesus, Aphrodisias, Bergama.... really there is almost too much to see here and not enough time in 3 years to do it all.

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

Exploring. There is way too much to see and do - you can find anything you want, really. Museums, hiking the Lycian way, climbing Mt. Ararat, beaches, getting dive certified, swimming, exploring history, watching the Dervishes, taking classes, hot air ballooning over Cappadocia, sampling unlimited local cheeses and enjoying tea and coffee and getting to know the locals.

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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, silver, copper, tiles, art, tea, Turkish delight.

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

The culture, history, Turkish hospitality, and delicious Turkish food.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes. If you do nothing. If you get out and go in any direction you will have so much to discover and see - and in doing that you can decide where and on what you want to splurge.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Possibly. It has been a good post in many ways. Not an easy post, but good.

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

Dreams of leisurely walking your dog around the city to explore. With the amount of wild dogs everywhere on the main streets, walking your leashed dog anywhere can become quite an issue. Most people carry a stick or device of some sort to help with defense. But if you are also wrestling your dogs on a leash on often broken walk areas, you are likely to injure yourself as well. Additionally locals either love dogs or become hysterically afraid, especially of the ones on a leash.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor and your plan for being happy. Ankara is what you make of it.

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Ankara, Turkey 06/10/14

Background:

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

No, have lived in 3 other cities in various countries in Southeast Asia.

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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?

U.S. East Coast -- 2-hour direct flight to Munich or Frankfurt, direct flight to NYC or Washington DC .

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3. How long have you lived here?

1.5 years.

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

Official work at the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Typical commute time to the downtown area where most embassies and offices are can range from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on where you live, traffic and weather conditions. Housing is generally not close enough to walk to the Embassy, especially given the hilly nature of the city. Housing is good for those in the embassy community, I hear of very few complaints. Taxis are inexpensive and always easy to find. The metro system is not very extensive and the bus system is so-so.

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

You can buy just about anything here. Fresh veggies and fruits are plentiful and reasonably priced at local bazaars, and local supermarkets carry just about anything. You may not find a familiar American brand but you'll find what you need. Americans have access to the military commissary and BX for American-goods including electronics and alcohol.

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

Nothing really, everything is available.

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

KFC, Starbucks, McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Dominos, Arbys -- cost is roughly the same as in the U.S.

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

None that I've encountered.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO .

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

Cleaners are about US$55 a day.

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

Gyms tend to be very nice here (swimming pools, full-service spas, tennis courts, basketball courts, saunas) but you pay a bit more than at home. There are municipal facilities available that aren't bad with tennis courts and soccer fields, etc. Few apartments have gyms.

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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?

I use my credit card often, but at some places it's not accepted because it does not have a "chip". Local ATMs are fine.

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

A variety.

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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?

Cleaner and nannies may not tend to speak English. Taxi drivers, vendors, etc. also do not speak English.

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

It's not very disabled-friendly here, so it might be challenging.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe and affordable and readily available. Ankara has a system of "taxi call buttons" on just about every street and corner. You can literally walk out of your house or a restaurant, if a taxi is not around you then walk a few steps to a taxi call button, press the button and wait a few minutes, if even that long. A new express train between Ankara and Istanbul is scheduled to open in mid-2014. The trip is expected to take about 3 1/2 hours. There really is no other city to city train travel in Turkey.

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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?

Small cars are ideal for parking and maneuvering through the chaotic traffic. Big cars with higher road clearance feel safer generally, especially if you're out on the highway or taking a road trip.

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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.

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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?

No, I got a cell phone here.

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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?

I don't think so.

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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?

It depends on your legal status here and whether you know Turkish.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Dog shelters, refugee groups, religious organizations.

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

Business formal. Turks can be very smart dressers. But depending on the area of Ankara where you are visiting, there might be more conservative Turkish women who wear scarves, etc.

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Health & Safety:

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

Street crime is low generally, compared to other Turkish cities. At times there are rumblings of terrorist-related threats against various institutions and interests. In 2013 a suicide bomber attacked a pedestrian gate at the U.S. Embassy, one U.S. Embassy local guard was killed and another visitor to the Embassy was severely injured.

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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?

Great. I know a decent number of foreign women who have their babies in Turkey. I know a good number of foreigners who spend their last few months here running around for full medical check-ups, seeing the dentist, and seeing dermatologists before returning to the U.S. where these things cost more. People say great things about medical care and costs of medical care here.

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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?

Air quality is good. In the winter months, it can get a bit polluted but it's nothing compared to many other cities around the world. Generally bright blue skies year-round.

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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?

4 distinct seasons, with neither summer nor winter being very harsh. Nice rain and thunderstorms in the spring. Some streets and sidewalks can flood over when there's a lot of heavy rain. Dry in Ankara, humid along the coasts and in Istanbul.

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Schools & Children:

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

No personal experience with this but hear that people are generally happy with the options -- British School, private schools affiliated with universities, Department of Defense school, etc.

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

I've heard it's almost impossible to find schools for special-needs kiddos.

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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?

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

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Expat Life:

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

People I know seem to like living in Ankara, morale seems good. It doesn't have the color and pace of Istanbul but it's very easy to live here.

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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?

Bars, restaurants, movies, a nice lake, a couple of parks, the historical area with the castle ruins and old shops where you can buy copper, carpets, etc.

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

Yes, mostly. Single women have a harder time than single men do, as usual. Families seem to really enjoy Ankara.

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

There is a gay scene and though I don't have personal experience with it, my friends involved with it seem happy enough.

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

Nothing I notice or that impacts my quality of life here.

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

Travel, great food, locals are friendly.

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

Hamams, wandering the old town Ulus and castle area, hanging out with friends at meyhanes (traditional Turkish pubs).

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

Copper items, beautiful tiles, carpets, textiles.

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

Traveling domestically. It's a beautiful country year-round with beaches, mountains and ski resorts, country-side, historical sites, great food. Also easy travel to Europe from here.

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10. Can you save money?

You can, but generally prices here are comparable to Europe.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

More Turkish.

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

Absolutely. Hope to return again one day!

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

Desire to plan everything out to the last detail - Turks are not big planners!
Modesty -- if you want to visit a traditional Turkish hamam!




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4. But don't forget your:

Appreciation of sunsets, balconies and leisurely, long Turkish breakfasts, camera, humidifier, sunglasses , and sunscreen.

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Ankara, Turkey 04/04/14

Background:

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

Germany.

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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?

Virginia - 20-30 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

Government. Non-DOS.

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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. Most of them good size and in good locations spread out in the city.

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

Widely available, cheap.

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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?

Yes and cheap. They all deliver! Download yemeksepeti on your smartphone.

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

No issues.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO. We had many things not arrive or with items removed from the package. Things have changed though.

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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. Around US$50 a day

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

Yes, we use Joya.

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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?

Safe so far.

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

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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?

Some. I took private lessons.

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

Yes. The city is hilly, ramps are few and badly constructed.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, cheap but not all that safe. Drivers are maniacs!

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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?

All wheel drive is highly recommended. Something with high rating for crashes is also good. Turkey is the "European" country with most traffic-related fatalities.

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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, around US$40.

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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?

Vodafone.

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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. Great vets. And cheap!

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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?

Not really. I was offered jobs at local schools provided I didn't apply for the work permit...

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many from refugee work to pet shelters.

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

Feels smart casual in the Embassy.

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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 a year ago. Few occasions of potential threats afterwards.

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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?

None, great hospitals.

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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 quality oscillates from almost breathable in the summer to horrible burnt smell air in the winter.

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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?

4 seasons ranging from hot summers to mild winters.

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Schools & Children:

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

Many schools available with varied curriculums. Our children go to Oasis which runs the U.S.-led curriculum. We are very happy with the school. The teachers are always making sure they fulfill their assignments, communication flows well and targets are accurately assigned. Contrary to other surveys, the school is not that religious nor do they persecute non-religious folks such as us. They have bible study which is optional and it has very broad subjects mostly related to character traits. The school was very receptive to criticism about its security and has upgraded its system. More security guards and surveillance systems were added this year. Our children were made to feel at home from the moment we arrived.

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

None.

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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?

Yes, both on the economy and at the base. My children were able to do swim classes, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, tennis.

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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, mixed views. Embassy needs more happy hours for sure.

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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?

Many, from movies, concerts, opera, etc.

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

Yes for all.

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

Not aware.

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

Not aware.

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

Travel. Had more visitors here in two years that in 6 years in Germany.

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

Walks around Eymir Golu (Lake), trips to old town ULUS, Lavish lunches at Liva or Elizinn.

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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, wood carved furniture, etc.

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

Travel. We have traveled quite a bit since getting posted here. Turkey is filled with historical sites. Incredible ancient history coming back to life from Antep all the way to Efes.

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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?

Employment opportunities are far less than in Germany.

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

Yes.

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

High heels.

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4. But don't forget your:

Travel guides.

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Ankara, Turkey 03/31/14

Background:

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

No, I have lived in Africa, Southeast Asia, Caribbean, Middle East.

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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?

Washington DC, 17 hours via United through Germany; a bit less through Istanbul on Turkish Air.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 + years.

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

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?

Old apartments close to the Embassy (they have more of a local neighborhood feel) or high-rises further out where malls, traffic and not knowing your neighbors is the norm. All housing is apartments. This will not be the best housing of your career and once you come to terms with that, the better. Many people end up changing apartments and then not liking that one. None are great. Commute time seems to be bad for the people that live in Oran where the big mall is.

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

Cheap, cheap if you can shop on base. It's cheaper than in the States in the local markets and much cheaper and better produce than you can find in a famers market in the States.

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

Absolutely nothing. Everything is available here.

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

Everything is available and is delivered but fast food pales in comparison to a good Turkish doner or kofte.

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

None at all that I have encountered. A wonderful change from disease carrying mosquitos.

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Daily Life:

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

Through the Embassy. Mail usually takes about 2 weeks and when it is longer, people complain. This post has normal mail delivery times through the DPO.

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

About US$50-70 a day. US$1,000 a month for full time help. This is not a 3rd world country and you get what you pay for.

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

Tons of options plus many local classes for yoga, pilates, Zumba, Salsa.

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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?

ATMs are everywhere and some banks do not charge transaction fees.

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

Church at the Balgat Base, Catholic services, British and 1 other missionary church plus a Mormon community.

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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?

The more, the better and language learning here is a door to open your world outside of the American community. Turks are kind and patient and very helpful when learning. There are many classes you can take. Full time courses are around US$140 a month.

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

The city tries to be accessible but they just haven't gotten the knack yet.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, the best and cheapest way to get around and much easier than driving and parking. Safe anytime of the day or night. Chivalry is not dead here. If you are a woman, someone will usually always offer you a seat.

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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?

Do not bring anything you don't mind getting dinged because it will happen. Any cars work here, small, large, whatever you would drive in DC area you would drive here.

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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, reasonable.

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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 pay as you go.

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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?

Not that I am aware. Lots of stray dogs here so take a stick when you walk.

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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?

Yes, if you are willing to not go through the official channels and don't expect tons of money. Lost of teaching and translation opportunities. If you are expecting a job at the Embassy be prepared to be in competition with many others. Not many people speak English in Ankara so people who do not want to learn some Turkish and leave the confines of the American English population are desperate to work there. But like at all embassies, jobs are not great and not guaranteed. The people with the worst morale here in Ankara are dependents who end up settling for whatever they can snag for work from the few jobs at the Embassy and then complain about that.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Tons if you like to teach, work with refugees or animals.

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

Turkish women are quite stylish. Always over dress if you are not sure. Dressing nice is a sign of respect.

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Health & Safety:

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

None, Ankara is probably the safest city I have lived in including cities in the States. Any concerns with security at the Embassy or the schools are unjustified. The 2013 bombing was a huge disaster that was averted. The guards are very professional and highly trained. I think nothing of walking or riding buses or taxis at night.

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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?

Like in the U.S., there are good doctors and great dentists but you have to find them. Go with a good recommendations from the Embassy and employees. Most expat women have their children here.

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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?

Usually clear and beautiful in the fall, spring and summer. Sometimes in the winter it can be foggy and the air is smokey. I have asthma but the weather here has never bothered it.

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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, winters vary from mild to severe. The spring is beautiful and green and everyone sits out and has tea on their balconies or picks fruit from trees on the street.

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Schools & Children:

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

The DoD school is small and the teachers for the most part are great, lots of international children. Bilkent says they are International but it is run on the Turkish system and 90% of students are Turks that are wealthy. Bullying has been a problem there. Oasis is a religious school and even if they tell you they are not and your children can opt out of prayers etc.. they will be persecuted by staff and students. The British School is great for kids under 5th grade.

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

None, do not let anyone know you have special needs until you are already enrolled.

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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?

Many Turkish pre-schools and English speaking ones.

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

Yes, if you are willing to expose them to Turkish speaking teachers. There is ice skating, gymnastics, ballet, archery, fencing, horseback riding plus more if you ask people.

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Expat Life:

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

Large expat community but since this is such a livable city, there is no need for lots of expat community outreach. There are tons of clubs and exercise groups here but you just have to take the effort to open your eyes and look for yourself. The CLO at the Embassy has tons of information and plans many group events.

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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?

Entertaining, hiking, learning the language, conversation groups, volunteering, art classes, helping at the schools. It is what you make it.

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

Yes for all.

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

Not if you want to be open and out with the locals, but there is no outward animosity towards same-sex couples.

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

None. I find Turks in Ankara and all through Turkey are very kind to all people. In fact most Turks are interested in asking about Church, Christmas, Easter etc...

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

The beaches and seaport towns. Turkish Hamams, hiking trips, finding friends that that are Turkish and seeing the county through their eyes. learning the language.

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

There are so many things to do here. Theater, hiking groups on Sundays, Poker Clubs, Choral Clubs, the Hash, book clubs, cooking clubs, Ice skating. You can discover many hidden gems here if your eyes are open and you get out of your expat pocket.

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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, plates, lamps, old wooden items, tiles, cheap costume jewelry. Trips anywhere are well worth the money.

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

Wonderful people, excellent and healthy food and a million places to visit.

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10. Can you save money?

Only if you try.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Nothing. I felt well informed. Oh, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is not so great and full of tourist and hackers. One trip is enough.

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

Absolutely! .

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

Preconceived notions that this is a hardship tour or a 3rd world country.

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4. But don't forget your:

Turkish dictionary app!

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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, 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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Ankara, Turkey 07/28/13

Background:

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

No, have lived in several other European and Asian cities.

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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?

D.C. - due ro limited flight schedules and the requirement to adhere to 'FlyAmerican' it can take anywhere from 20 to 28 hours to get to Ankara. You connect through either Frankfurt or Munich, but direct flights from Germany to Ankara are limited and more expensive, so often you also have to transit Istanbul adding time and yet another connection to your trip.

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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, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government - affiliated with the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Everyone lives in an apartment. Commute times vary by location ranging anywhere from 10 minutes to one hour with traffic. Commuting has become more difficult since the bombing and commute times have increased.

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

Costs of fruit and vegetables are lower than in the DC metro area, but meats (chicken, beef, lamb, and fish) are more expensive. Non food groceries are usually more expensive on the economy. Pork is astronomical on the local economy at international grocery stores like Metro. Everything is much cheaper on the base, but the commissary is small and its selection is limited. That said, I rarely shop off base, because they are that much cheaper.

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

Everything is available here or can be ordered by mail or through the BX or commissary.

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

McDonald's, Burger King, Popeye's, Arby's, Domino's, plus local chains like Timboo, NumNums, Sushi Co., and my favorite Liva Patanesi.

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

Insects are virtually non-existant. Not sure if it is due to the dry cilmate (no standing water for mosquitos to breed) or what.

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Daily Life:

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

Through the Embassy DPO. Generally packages take 2 weeks, but I have seen things take 6 weeks or longer. Lots of lost packages at this post!

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

Not as cheap as you would think. Usually anywhere from US$50 to $80 per day, plus transportation costs.

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

Yes, at the Embassy and in several local malls.

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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?

Generally credit card use is safe here. Take the normal precautions you would take in the U.S. and you will be fine.

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

Yes. I know both Catholic and Anglican are available and the base also has services, but I don't know the denomination.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, but I do not have newspaper or TV service, so I do not know the cost. AFN is available though the Embassy's recreation club.

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

You will need to learn some Turkish, but you can usually find someone who speaks English or just pantomime what you need. The Turkish people are friendly and helpful to foreigners and are very forgiving when I butcher their language.

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

Ankara is like San Francisco, very hilly The sidewalks are mostly broken and handicap accessible buildings and public transportation do not exist here.

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Transportation:

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

Train service in Turkey is very limited. Buses and dolmishes are plentyful and safe (other than the crazy driving). Taxis are also plentiful. They are moderately priced. Not so exorbitant that you can't use them, but not super cheap either. Buses and Dolmishes are fairly cheap, but their set routes do not cover as much of the city as other major European capitals. For example, you generally can't go form Oran to GOP without going downtown to Kizilay and changing a bus/dolmish.

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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?

Anytype of car is fine, but smaller cars are easier to park in basement garages. Larger cars often handle the hilly terrain better however. Car care has been great at post, with labor costs being much lower than in the U.S. Just order your parts through the BX or from the U.S.

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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?

High -ish speed is available, but we have monthly outages.

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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?

There are 3 major carriers in Turkey. Avea, Turk cell, and Vodaphone. There is not a lot of difference between them.

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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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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are many vets, but the quality of service varies. Most speak English, or have someone on staff who speak English

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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. Diplomat spouses are prohibited from working on the local economy except in the education field. Consequently, many spouses seek to work at the Embassy. However the number of Embassy jobs compared to the number of applicants is inadequate and job hunting can become cut throat. Do not expect to get a job at the Embassy until you have been living here close to a year.

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

Business and business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes! On February 1, 2013, the US Embassy was hit by a suicide bomber destroying one CAC entrance and killing one of our local guard force. More suicide bombers are suspected to be on the loose. On a separate security issue, Patriot missiles are currently deployed on the border with Syria where there have been multiple incursions and bombings on the Turkish side of the boarder. In a third recent issue, Turkish citizens in most major Turkish cities have been protesting against their governments plans to redevelop a park in Istanbul. These demonstrations quickly morphed into a general protest against the leadership of their president Tear gas was liberally used by the Turkish police. Elections are scheduled for Spring 2014. Turkey is very unsettled right now and will probably remain so until the elections.

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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?

Medical care is excellent, but not cheap.

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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?

Air quality is moderate. It would be generally ranked as a code yellow on the EPA's color coded Air Quality Index scale, like most of Europe.

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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?

Ankara is very dry with an average humidity level below 20%. It rains infrequently, and last winter only had a moderate amount of snow. In the previous winter, Ankara had a lot of snow.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are 4 international schools in Ankara: DoDDs, Oasis, BLIS, Bilkent. All are regarded as good. DoDDs is on what remains of the American base in Ankara. It is a U.S. format elementary through high school. All of the other schools are IB, I believe. Many embassy personnel prefer DoDDs, because it is much more secure than the others, however they do not take any kids with learning disabilities. Families with one or more children with special needs all go to Oasis. However, Oasis' security is not very good, although they are considering improving it.

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

Their only option is to go to Oasis, which is actually considered a very good school. They just need to improve their security.

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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?

There are English language preschools available including Montesorri, however most parents report dissatisfaction with the Montesorri school here in Ankara.

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

Fall and spring soccer and winter basketball is available on base. Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts are also offered on base. Dance classes and martial arts are available on the local economy and can be found in English.

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Expat Life:

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

Small to medium. Everyone gets to know everyone. The Turkish baggers at the commissary know me by name.

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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?

Most people find good friends here among the expat community. We get so little support from the Embassy, that we must support each other. What is the saying, misery loves company?

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3. Morale among expats:

This post has the lowest morale of any post I have ever served at. The embassy is extremely high pressure and very understaffed. Personnel work very long hours without enough time off and become snippy and extremely grumpy. Most people are counting down the days until they depart post. There is not sufficient employment for trailing spouses, so they become disheartened too. And all of that was before the bombing. Since then post morale has taken a nose dive. Upper management at the Embassy seem oblivious to post morale and generally impeed any efforts to improve it.

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

Ankara can be a good city for families or singles or couples. Like most posts, it is all in what you make of it. That said, you quickly run out of things to do here, whichever category you fit into.

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

I haven't heard anything either good or bad in this regard.

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

I have not experienced any, but I have not delved deeply into Turkish life or Turkish culture.

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

Love the Turkish food and the people are nice, friendly and generally helpful. Many speak a little English and are for the most part very patient with my limited Turkish.

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

See Attaturks mausoleum, shop in Ulus (old town Ankara), go to a mall and see an English language movie or go bowling.

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

Lamps, pottery, tiles. Carpets are plentiful but way overpriced and not the best quality.

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

Ankara is centrally located within Turkey, making it easier to see historic sites scattered about the country.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, especially by shopping on the base.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No. The work-family balance is all skewed to work here and the security situation is deteriorating. If it weren't for the current political instability and poor work-family balance, this would be a great post. The Turkish people, the food and the culture are fabulous. However, the stress level is through the roof and I wish we had never bid on this post!

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

American driving rules, because we don't need no stinking rules here in Turkey!

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience. Everything takes longer than you think it will. Slow down and don't get in a rush.

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Ankara, Turkey 08/04/11

Background:

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

No, I have served and lived elsewhere in Europe, South America, South Asia, and East Asia.

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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?

The trip takes 13-14 hours from Washington, DC, via Munich.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years to date.

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

Government/embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

For members at the mission, it varies. Anywhere from 5 - 25 minutes; more in rush hour.

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

If you have access to it, the commissary is a great resource. On the local market, fruits and veggies are cheap, while beef, chicken, and lamb can be a bit more expensive than in the States.

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

If you have access to the commissary, you can pretty much get anything you need here.

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

MacDonald's, Dominoes, Little Caesar's, Burger King, Sbarro, etc. Prices are comparable to those in the U.S.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

There is at least one place in town that hosts an organic market regularly.

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

No.

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Daily Life:

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

Primarily via the APO/pouch.

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

Most people have a housekeeper for one day a week. It is reasonable ($50-60).

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

Yes -- Ankara has some world-class gyms. There are also free facilities at the base if you are in the military/embassy community.

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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?

ATMs are plentiful and safe to use.

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

Yes.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, both Turkish papers and otherwise. Not too expensive. But it is a heck of a lot easier to just use the internet.

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

You need the basics to get around; cab drivers and servers do not speak English.

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

Very difficult. Ankara is a hilly city with uneven sidewalk pavement.

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Transportation:

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

Yes.

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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?

Whatever you like -- sedans or SUVs both work fine. V6 is maybe a little better for the steep hills.

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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?

It's an ok speed; cost is around $40/month.

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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?

Several companies to choose from -- no major problems that I'm aware of with any of them.

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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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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes. Also, there are tons of vets, although quality differs.

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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?

If you teach, yes. Otherwise, not really, unless you speak fluent Turkish.

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

Professional. Casual is more dressed-up than in the States.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not beyond the normal, although the drivers can be dangerous on the roads.

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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?

Great medical care in general.

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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?

It depends on your elevation. However, in general, it is fine is summer, average to poor in winter, due to coal burning which, despite being illegal within the city, is still common.

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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?

Hot dry summers, beautiful spring and autumn, colder winters with some -- but not a lot of -- snow.

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Schools & Children:

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

Most people within the mission send their kids to the DODDS school. It gets ok reviews.

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

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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?

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

Yes, through the school, as well as Saturday spring/fall soccer and winter basketball programs for kids at the 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?

Unknown. Consists primarily of the diplomatic community and a few businessmen/women and teachers.

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2. Morale among expats:

Families are happy, others seem to be less so.

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

Decent restaurants.

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

It's great for couples and families with kids. For singles without Turkish, it's a little more difficult.

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

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

Have not witnessed many problems.

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

Traveling to different ancient sites, hiking in the middle of nowhere, nice beaches, trips to Istanbul.

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

Ankara itself is rather boring. It's nice to walk around the old town and visit a few museums. Otherwise, it's easy to view films in English or hit a mall. Having the base here is a bonus.

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

Carpets and Kilims! Also, lamps, furniture (you can have it made to your specifications), tiles, towels, and backgammon sets.

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

Ankara is a relatively inexpensive city to live in. The kebap is cheap, fruit and vegetables at the markets are inexpensive and very fresh, and taxis are likewise easy on the wallet.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

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

American driving rules. The quicker you start to drive like and Ankara-native, the happier you'll be.

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3. But don't forget your:

Turkish phrase book and plans to take classes. (Good ones are offerred at the Turkish-American Association.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Ankara, Turkey 07/14/10

Background:

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

This is my first expat experience.

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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?

Washington DC. About 12 hours with a stop at Munich.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years. Sept 2007 - July 2010.

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

US Government. I work at the US embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Almost all apartment living here. Ranges from medium to extremely large.

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

In the local market the groceries are adequate. Great produce. But all embassy personnel have access to the military base, which is a 10-minute drive from the embassy. The base has a good-size BX and commissary where you can get all your American products.

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

None. The BX and commissary can supply it all. And if they do not have what you're looking for, they can order it from Germany.

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

A lot of American fast food is available. McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominos, etc.

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

NONE.

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Daily Life:

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

APO. About a week to receive a package.

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

Domestic help is easy to find here. We pay 40 dollars a week for one day during the week.

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

There are quite a few available, but they can be pricey. The embassy has a small gym, and the base has a good-size gym with basketball and racquetball courts.

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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?

ATMs are everywhere.

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

Yes.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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

You MUST know some Turkish in Ankara if you're going to have an enjoyable experience.

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

A lot. Ankara does not seem to be a handicap-friendly city. There are a lot of deep cracks in the sidewalks and not too many ramps.

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Transportation:

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

Yes.

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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?

Any car is adequate, but we enjoyed having an SUV to drive all around Turkey. The roads are paved well.

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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. About $30 to $40 a month.

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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?

The embassy supplies cell phones to the staff. But families can get cell phone service at the local market at reasonable prices. TurkCell and VodaPhone are the big names here. If you bring a phone into the country you must register it with the Turkish government.

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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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes.

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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?

Without knowing Turkish, it'll be difficult to find work in the local economy. A lot of spouses work at the embassy or the base.

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

Business casual to business.

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Health & Safety:

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

Ankara is very safe. My wife and walk home from restaurants late at night with no problems. There have been reports of break-ins, but they are very rare.

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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?

Hospitals are good, and the dental care is great. There is also a doctor at the embassy.

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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?

Moderate to unhealthy. Air is especially poor during the winter. Turks still burn coal for heat, which pollutes the air.

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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, like DC.

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Schools & Children:

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

I heard the schools are good here. There is a DOD school here as well

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

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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?

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

YES.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Mixed. Some can't wait to leave. Others do not want to leave.

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

It's what you make of it.

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

I think families and couples like Ankara much better then do singles. There is a large American community here -- both diplomatic and military. Kids enjoy Ankara and all the activities the DOD school offers. Single men seem to have a good time here. It's mixed feelings for single women.

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

We met a few gay couples here, and they seem to enjoy Turkey.

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

None that I've seen. There is some diversity in Ankara because of the multiple diplomatic communities. Outside of Ankara (or other big cities) it can be different. People would stare if you look really non-Turkish. I have a couple of African American friends, and they tell me when they go to rural towns in Turkey, people want to take pictures with them.

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

At first Ankara can be a bit boring, but it has improved these past three years with modern malls and better infrastructure. Ataturk's mausoleum is a must-see in Ankara. The museum at the mausoleum gives you a great intro to modern Turkey from the days of the ottoman empire to Turkey today. Traveling all around Turkey is magnificent. Turkey is rich with history, and the people are generally friendly. Istanbul, Ephesus, Pamukale, Bodrum, Cappadocia, Antalya, and Troy are just a few great cities to visit. Unfortunately, you must drive at least two hours to get to an interesting city, but it is totally worth it.

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

Ankara has some great movie theaters with current movies. Even IMAX movie theaters. Also good restaurants and a few good pubs. Travel and go sightseeing outside of Ankara.

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

Evil eyes and carpets.

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

Touring, Save some money if you stay in and shop on the military base. But the touring is great in Turkey.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

YES. We liked it here.

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

notions of a middle-eastern Muslim city. Ankara is a Muslim city, but it is quite westernized.

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3. But don't forget your:

patience and sense of adventure.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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6. Do you have any other comments?

There are still a few things in Ankara that may remind you of a third-world country, like the crazy driving and awful air pollution during harsh winters. But overall, it's not a bad place to live, and if you travel around the rest of the coutry, it's totally worth it.

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