The actual getting-things-done bits of moving abroad can be a bit daunting, especially if you need to be in the other country to do them.
I’ve heard tales of people who have spent hours waiting in the council office, police station or bank to see the only English-speaking employee; the seasoned ex-pats advise taking a good book, a sandwich and a flask of coffee and settling in for at least a day.
Of course, it’s yet another reason to learn the language but, until I’m a bit more proficient, it’s a hurdle I need to overcome. Waiting doesn’t really bother me but it struck me it would be useful to do as much as possible in advance. We need a place to put our money in Turkey and my bank reckons it’s “the world’s local bank”. I knew there was a branch in Fethiye so I rattled off a quick message to the international banking team.
I won’t lie, it’s not a simple process – but opening a bank account never is these days. I spent around 45 minutes on the phone to a lovely lady who filled in the application form for me, which she then emailed over along with a dozen other documents. There would have been fewer – but we had to sign both the English and Turkish versions of everything.
You know how Terms & Conditions (for anything from gym membership to a credit card) are deadly dull and nobody ever really reads them, even though we tick the box to say we have? Well, I read them this time. Two lots – in English, obviously – of 30 and 32 A4 pages respectively. Yep, they are as dull as we think they are.
Step Two involved visiting our local branch so that we could sign everything in front of a bank representative, prove we were who we said we were, and so they could verify it all before the completed forms were sent off via their internal system to Fethiye. We were there for less than an hour and Gemma, our contact, was great – helpful and reassuring, making sure everything was exactly right.
Step Three will be collecting our new ATM cards, bank books and paperwork in person from the branch in Fethiye when I go over in February. (More of that another time.)
Yes, they charge a hefty fee (£100) for doing it this way and we could have opened an account for nothing by going to the Fethiye branch in person. And I shudder to think of all that paper and printer ink. But in total the process has taken no more than three hours, including finding our marriage certificate and travelling into town, and we’ve had somebody to help us every step of the way with no language barrier. It also means the account will be up and running when we need it.
In my view, it’s worth it.