1 August 2016

Alan Scott - Expat in Turkey

Alan Scott - Expat in Turkey

We’ve had the chance to talk to Alan Scott, 60, a New Zealand expat who have moved to Turkey some two decades ago.

Mr. Scott first made the decision when life had lost its shine after his divorce. He was in search of a new job and change of environment – Istanbul gave him just that. With the help of his current Turkish partner and picking up the language, he has made friends with lots of locals, whom he had found very welcoming. He has also fallen in love with the rich history, good food and scenic beaches.

“Don’t get drunk in public places. Don’t get into a fight with a local. Don’t disrespect Atatürk or the national flag. Avoid getting involved in politics. Enjoy the food. See the country. Meet the people. Learn about local customs, history and traditions,” Mr. Scott advised.

The English teacher manages a blog in his free time. Read more about Mr. Scott’s experiences as an expat in Turkey, in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you originally from?

A: New Zealand.


Q: What made you move out of New Zealand?

A: Divorce, dissatisfaction with life in general.


Q: Where are you living now?

A: Istanbul, Turkey.

Q: How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I first went to London to work but I still felt restless. I needed to experience somewhere completely different so I applied for jobs in several countries – Turkey chose me.


Q: How long have you been living in Turkey?

A: Since September 1995, apart from two years back in New Zealand.


Q: What has been the most difficult experience you've had when you were new in Turkey?

A: Probably learning the language. Turkish is pretty different from other European languages.


Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance were particularly difficult in Turkey? What was your experience with these?

A: If you have a proper job in Turkey, your employer will usually look after these formalities.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: My partner is Turkish. My grown-up children live in Australia. They occasionally visit Turkey, as do my sisters in New Zealand.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Turkey? How did you manage to find a social circle there?

A: I work with both expats and Turks. I have always tried to mix with locals. Learning the language helps of course, as does having a local partner.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?

A: Turkey is an amazing country. It has unbelievable layers of history from prehistoric times to the present. It has very diverse geography and a multi-cultural population. Get a Lonely Planet guide book and go exploring. And, enjoy the food!


Q: How does the cost of living in Turkey compare to your home?

A: Of course, it is relative to your income. Turkey has several economies, so you can live very cheaply, or indulge in a lavish lifestyle if you have the means.

  • How much is a cup of coffee?


  • How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

You can eat for less than $5.

  • How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

Sky’s the limit.

  • How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

For wine, it’s anywhere from $5 to over $30. It depends on how much you want to spend. Pleasantly drinkable local wines are available for $6-10. I don’t smoke, and you shouldn’t either.

Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: Very friendly and hospitable. They enjoy talking to and helping foreigners. Don’t go looking for trouble, though. Learn some Turkish and they’ll love you.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Turkey?

A: Foreigners can have a very pleasant, comfortable lifestyle. Travel to Europe, Middle East, Asia, North Africa is easy. The food is great, the history is amazing, the beaches are pretty nice. Westerners may experience some culture shock and there’s not a lot of English spoken outside of the tourist areas, private schools and multi-national companies. Driving in Istanbul is not for the faint-hearted.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?

A: Of course, but I get back once a year, and they visit from time to time.


Q: How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Get a life, stay in touch and get back home as often as possible.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: No.


Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?

A: Before I got up to speed with the language I was dependent on locals to help with pretty much everything – which I didn’t like, being an independent kind of person.


Q: What tips can you give other expats living in Turkey?

A: Apart from the above? Keep an open mind. Don’t go on about how wonderful things are elsewhere. Don’t get drunk in public places. Don’t get into a fight with a local. Don’t disrespect Atatürk or the national flag. Avoid getting involved in politics. Enjoy the food. See the country. Meet the people. Learn about local customs, history and traditions. It’s a fascinating place.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Turkey?

A: Check out my own site and also: