Expat anxiety

One of the things that worried me about retiring to Turkey was that we would treat it like being on holiday. Go to a bar most days, eat out, do tourist stuff, spend money like it is going out of fashion and not worry about it. I worried that it would be easy to do this since pretty much all of our previous time in Turkey had been holidays when we both had jobs with reasonable pay, it would be easy to slip into what we were familiar with.

Another thing I worried about was getting bored, being retired and not having enough to do. We both did the pre-retirement courses, not that they were a great deal of use but they helped to focus on the need to be active. To date we have not got bored, there has always been plenty to do and this does not seem likely to stop. There will always be things to do around the house, and we seem to have settled into a routine that keeps us pretty well occupied. There are things we wanted to do that we have not got around to doing because we have been busy, this is a very good sign.

The third thing that worried me was not having enough money to make ends meet. We could not have retired on the reduced pensions and remained in the UK. I did not want to work until I was 65 or more and I did not want Hilary to have to work either, moving out of the UK appeared to make this possible. We had worked it out on paper, had a rough idea of the costs of living, saved loads and took other steps, but until we moved here it was all very much a theoretical exercise. I am now very confident that we have enough money to live here comfortably.

The relative wealth was another worry. Our meagre NHS pensions which would probably put us below the poverty line in the UK, are more than enough to be comfortable here, and in all probability makes us fairly well off in comparison to some. It worried me that we would be seen as wealthy foreigners. In some ways it still does, and this creates a nagging worry about buying a big motorcycle since it would be a very obvious display of wealth. There are people around us receiving food and fuel from the Belediye, and there are others around us who are very comfortable, but we are Yabanci, and I am not sure how it all fits into the perceptions and social code of the street.

And I worried about making the social adjustment. The change in culture from the UK to Turkey. I don’t mean things like the call to prayer, but the social codes. The way society works. The bureaucracy we need to navigate, and so much more. Added to this is the isolation brought about by not speaking the language. I think we cope because we are very good at isolating ourselves and being mutually supportive, flexible enough to cope with what hits, and open to change and learning different ways of doing things.

I still at times worry about some of this stuff, and I worry about the practical things like what to do if we have an emergency. Who to call, whether we have the language skills to communicate the problem, but to date we have muddled through. I think we will continue to muddle through, get better at communicating, and it helps very much that people want to communicate with us and on the whole are incredibly helpful.

Sometimes I think I worry too much and the above has not even got to worries about family. I can worry about other things, sorting health insurance springs to mind. I am sure there are others. To date most things have gone to plan, this eases the worry. When we have had crises like me blowing the electricity we managed to solve the problem, this helps a great deal.

Then I think back to living in London and working in the NHS, the stress, the cuts, the ever increasing workload on diminishing resources, and the rest. The worries about being here fade, it will all be more than OK.

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2 responses to “Expat anxiety

  1. You’re absolutely right to think about all the things you’ve mentioned. It’s an anxiety we all have. But by thinking about them, you’re preparing for them and solving them one step at a time. The one thing we have here is time.

    • You are very right in saying the one thing we have here is time. There are two ways of looking at this, time to solve problems when they happen or time to worry about them before they happen. I think on the whole I am working with the former with some forethought and planning on potential solutions. Of course, with it being Turkey, plans often need to be very flexible – a bit like the NHS really but unlike when I was a CPN I am not so familiar with all the potential solutions. Adapting to life here and finding my way through is a learning process, one I am very much enjoying.

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