Category Archives: Planning and preparation

The Final Countdown

OK, so who has that 1980s’ power ballad stuck in their head now? Still, you can’t beat a good earworm!

Five days to go until the adventure proper begins. Part – most – of me is excited, elated and can’t wait. But part of me is also exhausted and keeps finding new things to worry about. Moving house is stressful at the best of times, but packing up your whole life takes it to an entirely different level.

Those possessions you’re not quite sure what to do with – childhood memorabilia, old photographs, wedding dress and so on? Can’t just pack them in a box and stick them in the attic when your new place is thousands of kilometres away and you’re trying to cram your worldly goods into just nine suitcases to avoid hefty shipping fees.

Tough decisions have to be made and we’re grateful to family and friends who have offered either a few spare square metres of garage space for storage or to bring over an extra case when they visit.

The most hair-tearingly frustrating part, though, has to be the ineptitude and lack of customer care that seems common among so many organisations and companies as we try to wind up our current existence.

Let’s take trying to return our car. I’ve called the relevant company at least five times during the past six weeks but haven’t yet been able to fix a date or time in spite of repeated assurances and promises to call me back. This morning I told them I’d leave the vehicle on the road and post the keys, which at least got me one step further into the labyrinth of their collection arm, but at the time of writing nothing has been arranged. Maybe I should stop fretting – I’ve done all I can and the key-posting option is always there as a last resort.

I’m just one of those people that thrives on having a ‘to do’ list – or several – and being able to tick jobs off. To have to keep putting them back on, while watching the list grow ever-longer, truly irks me.

Still. In five days I will be on the brink of the next stage of my life, and hopefully this will all be behind me. If I close my eyes I can see myself lying in the hammock on the terrace, a glass of cold Efes at my side, watching the birds and enjoying the sunshine…..

For now, though, it’s back to the ‘to do’ lists….



Overwhelmed by ‘Stuff’

I’ve been itching to crack on with packing up, sorting out and/or disposing of our belongings.
The idea is that we will take as little as possible with us – mainly clothes and personal items. Some things will be stored at my stepfather’s; some sent via courier later in the year.
I’ve booked the maximum amount of allowable luggage with the airline – nine cases in total, each to weigh no more than 22kg. In theory, that sounded like quite a lot.
However, having just packed one of my bags, I’m no longer so confident. I hardly seem to have made a dent in my own bits and pieces, let alone anyone else’s. I’m telling myself that it will be fine and we’ve got a second run at it with the final move in June.
I’m also having to stop myself crazily filling all nine cases so that I feel I’ve achieved something; that way, I’ll either end up taking things I don’t need or will have to live without vital possessions until we go.
It makes you think, though, about how much ‘stuff’ we accumulate over the years. The trinkets we keep because they mean something or “just in case” they prove useful.
Clearing out your life in such a way as we are makes you look long and hard at everything, and there are tough decisions to be made.
Some aren’t.
The hand-made birthday cards the children gave us when they were little? The baby books we kept to record every detail of their first years? Easy. Put them to one side to keep in storage.
Those beautiful pink satin shoes I fell in love with but which I’ve never worn because they’re slightly too high and a little too big? Pop them on an auction site; if they don’t sell, they go to charity.
But what about my wedding dress, for example, which lies in the loft in its clear plastic protector? What happens to that?
I’ll never wear it again. A few days shy of our 22nd anniversary and I’ve never even got round to having it cleaned – so even if it wasn’t hopelessly out of fashion, I can’t sell it. It’s not the most practical thing to store – and why, anyway? What will I ever do with it?
But there’s a lot of emotion, so many happy memories tied up in that confection of satin and lace. It feels wrong to say: “Bin it.”
Someone who has already been through this process told me to be ruthless. To remember that all my memories and associations with this ornament or that picture are in my mind, safe for ever. That it might seem a waste to part with household items and then buy replacements once we’re there, but it’s likely to work out cheaper than bringing it all with us and paying for the extra weight.
I’m trying to remember this, as we begin the process of picking over some 24 years of accumulated ‘stuff’. But with just under four weeks until Round 1 of The Big Move, I can’t help feeling I’ll still be buried under a mountain of books, bedding and bric-a-brac when the airport taxi arrives at the door.


Does Anyone Know What’s Happening?

It’s a time of uncertainty for those who want to become residents of Turkey.

It was announced some time ago that new regulations would come into force around April 11 and that everyone making a first application would have to apply in their own country. So far, we understood.

But this did pose challenges. For example, to obtain residency you need to show proof of having somewhere to live – a rental agreement or tapu (property deeds). Under the proposed system, rather than simply travelling to Turkey on a tourist visa, finding somewhere to hang your hat and then popping down to the Passport Polis (as many people do) you’d have to come back to the UK and hang around for up to 90 days. Surely there was a way of working round this?

Unfortunately, the Turkish Consulate had no answer to this or any other of the questions those of us planning to move had (and still have). They were seemingly unaware of the changes and simply told everyone they still had to apply in Turkey as usual, while the Turkish authorities said people should make appointments at the Consulate.

The result was a lot of wannabe ex-pats running around like headless chickens trying to find out what on earth was going on, what they were supposed to do and when they were supposed to do it.

Come D-Day and some polis stations refused new applications for a while, which caused particular problems for those on tourist visas about to expire. It was announced there’d be a delay before the changes were introduced; then that there’d be a “transition period”.

So does that mean business as usual for now? Er, no. One British applicant reports that some of the new requirements are now in force, such as having to provide a translated copy of your passport. But someone else says their local polis aren’t bothering with that bit.

Official notification has been woefully lacking and the upshot is that we’re all as much in the dark as ever. Which is why I’m glad I got my own residency sorted out a couple of months ago.

But we still need to sort out two other members of the family, and I’m not sure what to do for the best. My ‘final’ flight out is booked, and I need to arrange theirs too. Do I just go ahead and trust that they’ll still be able to apply in Fethiye when the time comes? What if they can’t and have to come back again to apply in London – missing most of the summer and with nowhere to live? Do we hang on to see what happens next and run the risk of them not getting a flight around our chosen dates?

It’s hugely frustrating but very typical of the country we want to call home. Disorganisation, miscommunication and lack of information are very definitely its bureaucratic strong points.

Time to grit our teeth and remind ourselves – this is life in Türkiye….



The Calm Before The Storm

We’ve got ages until we move. It’s a good – ooh, just under three months. Plenty of time to get everything sorted out. Let’s check the calendar – yep, roughly 11 weeks.

Hang on. Eleven weeks? That’s nothing! There’s the cats’ transport to book. We need to decide what we’re going to take, sell and give away, and start packing accordingly. I have to set up the mail forwarding, send out change-of-address notifications….. I’ll NEVER be done in time.

This is pretty much the state of my mind right now, veering between calm confidence and blind panic. We just want to get on with it, really. Once our worldly goods start going into boxes, our son’s new flat or to their new owners, I’ll feel like we’re getting somewhere.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. We’ve got an American student arriving this weekend for two weeks – the return leg of my daughter’s school exchange – so we need to keep things pretty much normal for her.

Which means there’s not a lot I can do until the end of April, except maybe offload a few trinkets to the charity shop or local auction site. Which means by the time we can get on, there’ll only be around eight weeks left before we go, and that really isn’t any time at all.

In among all this, we’re trying to keep the business ticking over, our daughter has GCSEs to do and there’s the usual domestic chores to keep on top of.

I guess we’ll get there, one way or another. In just under three months, I’ll be sitting on our balcony in the sunshine and all this will feel like a distant memory,

Hang on. Just under three months? That’s roughly 11 weeks……


Taking Up Residence

So another month has gone by…. So much has happened and yet there’s so much still to do!

I’ve been back in Fethiye for two weeks, the aim being to get the house ready and make sure we’ve got services like internet and electricity in place. I also wanted to apply for my residency permit, so that at least one of us can come and go as necessary.

I expected to have tales of a long and tortuous process to tell, based on what I’d heard from others. But, yet again, my Turkish heroes rode to my rescue – and it proved so simple as to almost be an anti-climax!

We collected the list of what was needed from the Passport Polis office and returned just an hour later with the necessary admin and paperwork completed. Handed it in, along with my passport, and received a slip of paper to help locate my documents when I returned. Job done. It’s amazing what happens when you have people who know where they’re going and who the need to see.

For those that aren’t so fortunate, you can hire people to help make it equally straightforward. (I’m not sure so don’t quote me, but I think it’s about 150TRY.) You can also, of course, do it yourself – but it can get complicated. On the day I collected my permit, a fraught-looking American lady returned for the fifth time trying to put in an application for her son. On each occasion, there was something just not quite right and she was nearing the end of her tether.

No matter which route you choose, remember you need five passport-style photographs of yourself – they will take them all but for some reason you’ll get one back with your permit – and a photocopy of your most recent bank statement, showing you’ve got sufficient funds to support yourself. I’d read initially that you needed a Turkish bank account in order to get residency, but that’s not true. In spite of my earlier post, my optimism proved somewhat premature and, more than two months later, ours still isn’t up and running. It would have been quicker to do it in person. However, for residency purposes, a UK account with a lump sum in it was fine.

I was thrilled to collect my little blue permit that said I was entitled to stay in Turkey for three years (assuming I don’t break any rules!) and I’m rather looking forward to the next time I come through Turkish passport control!



Home is Where the Heart Is

So much for good intentions. I’d planned to write more frequently while I was away, but that didn’t happen. I was so happy to be back in Fethiye that – as well as the various bits of running around that had to be done – I got a bit lost in just enjoying it.

I’d also intended to be incredibly choosy when it came to finding somewhere to live. We have a track record of going for the first property we look at, because it ticks all the boxes or just feels right. I was determined that wouldn’t happen this time.

And it didn’t – I went for the third place instead! A gorgeous house in Kaya that was pretty much exactly what I’d imagined, if at the top end of our budget.

If you’re looking for somewhere to live in the Fethiye area – obviously I can’t speak for anywhere else – I would say there’s no shortage of people offering to help. There are numerous Facebook groups, forums and websites where you can post your requirements and you’re guaranteed offers of assistance. Be wary, though. Ask questions. And don’t trust someone just because they’re friendly. Property agents have a bad reputation anywhere, but as a yabanci you are a prime target for those without scruples. Emlaks are supposed to be regulated, as I understand it, but it seems almost anyone will claim they can help you.

It’s also worth noting that things can move pretty quickly. I started putting out feelers a good couple of months before my trip, but it quickly became evident that was far too early. Everything I liked was gone within days and, with my own house, I said I wanted it on a Tuesday and signed the rental contract the next day. Make contacts, by all means – but don’t set your heart on anything too far in advance.

I’ve been very lucky in having a couple of good Turkish friends who were willing to help me. They’d found a dozen different places for me to look at and helped negotiate an acceptable price. They’ve also come with me to get my tax number, recommended tradesmen and will keep an eye on things while I’m back in the UK. They are invaluable, and ask nothing in return but a large bottle of Jack Daniels!

Renting a house feels like a huge step towards our final move and I’m so excited. I’ve already booked my next flight when I’ll sort out a few more things – crossing my fingers I can actually stay there when I go!


Lady of the Lists

Where does the time go? I swear last time I blogged was only a few days ago….but no, here we are, pretty much at the end of January.

Still got my fingers crossed that we’ll complete our house sale in the next few weeks, but thoughts are now turning to my next trip to Fethiye – which is just over a week away.

Someone asked me last night if I’d started packing. I haven’t. I have, however, made copious lists. These include ‘Stuff to Pack in My Handluggage’, ‘Stuff to Pack in my Suitcase’, ‘Questions to Ask Property Agents’, ‘Vitally Important Things I Must Take With Me’…. It goes on.

These join my other lists that are more to do with the move itself. I’ve had to put these into groups to keep them in some kind of order – they have titles like ‘Selling The House’, ‘Finance’, ‘Moving Logistics’ and each one has a set of sub-lists.

It’s no fail-safe, of course, but I feel as confident as I can that I’m covering everything and for once I’m grateful for my need to be organised!

In the meantime, we try to juggle ‘ordinary’ life alongside our plans….helped by copious daily to-do lists, of course! Next on mine is ‘Make a coffee’…..


On The Move

It’s deliberately been a while since the last post, simply because – and I know how daft this sounds – I didn’t want to jinx what I wanted to write about. But if I take that view it could be another couple of months or more, so here goes….



We’ve sold our house.

It went on the market on Friday, December 6 2013 and we formally accepted an offer on Monday 23 – less than three weeks later. It was the best Christmas present we could have hoped for.

Now, in theory, it should be a simple transaction. Neither party is in a chain and our buyers seem lovely, reasonable people. There’s every reason to expect it all to be done and dusted in – what? Eight weeks? (It’s so long since we bought or sold any property I have no idea what the average is these days.)

But there’s always that little niggle, that fear that something will go wrong. There’ll be some issue that can’t be resolved, feet that will be dragged, or what if they simply change their minds?

Soon after the euphoria came the anxiety, and I don’t think that will really dissipate until we exchange contracts. So I’m having a few sleepless nights….any tips for coping with those welcomed!


Passports & Paperwork

I had a bit of an anxious moment earlier this week which seems (crosses fingers) to be unfounded.

After checking our passports, I realised that our daughter’s expires in May 2015. I’d read that in order to get a 12-month residency in Turkey, you needed 14 months left on your passport – which means we’d need to apply for hers in March next year at the latest. As that might not be possible, we obviously need to renew it first.

Except when I looked into it….. Well, to me at least, this page on the Government website makes it pretty clear. You can’t renew a child’s passport until there’s nine months or less left on it. That means we can’t renew until September 2014.

Hence the panic. She wouldn’t have enough time left on her passport to qualify for residency, but her three-month tourist visa would have expired before we could get the renewal.

I decided to call the Passport Office. After all, we can’t be the only family that has ever been in this situation. The chap I spoke to was lovely and I can’t fault the service. He told me that I can apply for her new passport any time and they’d add on up to nine months, the same as for an adult document.

“You’re sure?” I asked. “Even though she’s under 16?” Yes, he replied. It was something that a lot of people got confused about.

Having looked at the website, I’m not surprised. It’s certainly how I read it.

But as it seems my fears are unfounded, I’m headed for the Post Office this weekend to pick up a renewal form. Might as well get it done quickly while turnaround times are shorter.

The next task might prove more difficult, though. I need to persuade my daughter to get her hair out of her eyes in order to get an acceptable photograph taken…. Wish me luck.