Swedish Expat Living In Turkey – Interview with Petra from Marmaris
Petra is a Swedish expat in Turkey who’s lived in Marmaris for over 4 years. She came to Turkey as a tourist few times, loved it and decided to stay. Now she lives with her Turkish boyfriend and in this interview shares with us her expat experience in Turkey. Read about what she likes about Turkey, how did her neighbors accepted her and whether she feels safe in Turkey.
Here is what she says about herself:
I’m a 36-year-old and I am from South of Sweden. You can follow my expat life on Instagram – made.by.petra.
Where did you live in Turkey and when did you move?
I moved to Marmaris in August 2012, so I’ve been living here for 4,5 years.
How did you discover Turkey? What made you decide to come and live here?
I had been in Turkey on holiday a couple of times and loved Marmaris. Also, it was cheap to live there so I could survive almost only on the student allowance from Sweden.
Was it hard to get a residency permit in Turkey?
The first time was a bit messy since all paperwork was in the Turkish language. I took help from a Turkish friend who went with me to the police, tax office and so on but I didn’t have any problems getting it. Now it is easier since you apply online. I have during these 4,5 years never had problems getting it. Even once I managed to enter the country on the wrong kind of visa. They had never seen this before but checked it up and helped me. Whenever I have questions or need help I call the helpline, they are very updated on the laws and are always very happy to help.
How to deal with cultural differences as an expat in Turkey? What to expect when moving to Turkey?
If you are moving to a tourist destination in Turkey like Marmaris I don’t believe there is much you need to learn before moving. Life there is not that different to life in Europe and the people in the tourist destinations are used to foreigners. I can imagine it is a bigger move to move to Ankara or some smaller city where there aren’t tourists.
What are the biggest adjustments you had to make when settling in Turkey?
The biggest adjustment for me has been to learn to live on much less money than what I’m used to in Sweden since I am not able to find work in Marmaris. Also, the standard of the houses and apartments are much lower than in Sweden. In some ways, it is a less comfortable life but in other ways more relaxed.
What do you enjoy most about Turkey?
I enjoy the weather, the food, and the more relaxed lifestyle. In Sweden we eat, work and sleep, that’s all. In Turkey you do things after work and that I enjoy very much.
What do you enjoy least about Turkey?
The cold and humid January and February and the too hot August 🙂
Is it easy to make friends as an expat in Turkey? Are your friends mostly expats or local people?
I believe it is a bit hard to make close friends. Perhaps because it is a tourist destination…people come and go all the time, both Turks and expats. I have made some nice expat friends but would like to get to know more Turks. Especially Turkish women.
Do you feel accepted by Turkish people as an expat in Turkey? Do you have a good relationship with your neighbors?
In the beginning, the neighbors can keep some distance. Perhaps they believe you are a tourist and will move on soon. But if you are staying longer at the same place they open up and are very friendly. Sometimes I can feel that they believe there can be problems with a foreigner in the same house… perhaps they think it will be many parties and late nights but when they get to know you they come around.
Some experience with nightlife in Turkey? How do you spend your free time?
The nightlife in Marmaris is good and I enjoyed it the 3 first months…then I got tired of it. Now I am enjoying going out to eat at the local restaurants and taking a cup of coffee or tea. During the day I enjoy time at home taking care of my plants, taking a walk around and exploring the surroundings outside Marmaris.
Generally, how do you feel in Turkey? Did you feel safe?
I feel very safe in Turkey. The Turks are very friendly and helpful. I tried moving to Istanbul once but there I felt unsafe and left after 2 weeks but I think it is because it is a big city and I am a small town girl.
As your boyfriend is Turkish, share with us about your experience with his family. Did they accept you as a foreign woman easily?
My boyfriend is Turkish and we live together. I have only met his sisters so far and they are very sweet. His mother often helps me with the Turkish recipes over the phone. I think in the beginning they can be a bit scared that it will be a problem with a European girlfriend/wife but I have never felt that they didn’t accept me.
What do you think about the healthcare system in Turkey?
I have been treated for gastritis in private hospital in Marmaris and it went very well. No long waiting times like in Sweden. I prefere the Turkish hospitals compared to the Swedish ones where they never have time for you.
Do you work in Turkey? Is it easy to find a job in Turkey?
I used to work as a rep but they canceled Marmaris as a destination due to lack of Scandinavian tourist. Now I have a hard time to find a job since I don’t have a work permit. I have been going to Sweden a couple of months now and have finally found a job in Sweden where I can work on a distance from Turkey.
Anything else you would like to add about your expat experience in Turkey?
I would like to say that Turkey is not a war zone like it is sometimes described in European media. Life goes on like normal here and I don’t believe it is more dangerous to live or spend your holiday here than in Paris or London or any other Place in Europe. I feel safer in Marmaris than I do at home in Malmö in Sweden where crime is very high and shootings happen Daily.
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