Since moving to Istanbul one month ago, a common question I hear from Turks is, “Why would you move to Turkey? All of us are trying to move to America.”
Undoubtedly, Turkey is in an economic crisis. Inflation has, in fact, bloated consumer prices to a painful degree. I feel that discomfort almost as keenly as Turks because in my new position as an English copyeditor I earn Turkish liras.
For instance, I pay the equivalent of $25 for one bottle of shampoo. A small bag of kibble for my American feline companion, Cleopatra, costs what would amount to $80 in the United States. Thank
My penny-pinching lifestyle contrasts with my vacation here in November 2018. Then fortified with U.S. dollars, Turkey seemed an inexpensive and exotic shopping wonderland. Due to the dramatic gap between the value of the U.S. and Turkish currencies, everything I bought with U.S. dollars was effectively 80-percent off. Since November, the gap between the two currencies has only widened.
Perhaps more perplexing to my American friends was why as a journalist, I would want to go to a country that holds the worldwide distinction of jailing the most journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
While I weighed those factors in my decision, I was more concerned with how the experience of living in Turkey would fit in with the overall arc of my life. My longtime goal has been to live abroad. What kind of experiences could I have here that were outside my reach in other places? On that basis, Turkey fulfilled most of my desires.
If I live in only one country outside the United States, Turkey seems to offer the most varied experiences in one place. Where else than Istanbul can I within 10 minutes visit both Europe and Asia without leaving the city? Turkey is one of the few places where I can experience European and Middle Eastern culture at the same time.
Around every corner, the land offers spectacular views of nature and geographic wonders – such as the whimsical cone-shaped rock formations in Cappadocia in central Turkey and the stunningly white, travertine-encrusted terraces and hot springs in Pamukkale.
Meanwhile, the historical and archaeological finds are so numerous and rich that even the locals have a hard time keeping up.
The Turks have made me feel incredibly welcome here – a fact that contrasts with the impression many Westerners have about whether Turkey is a safe destination. Complete strangers have helped me for no reason other than to be kind.
As a colleague remarked upon hearing my reason for moving here: “Turkey is the perfect synthesis of Europe and the Middle East” and of nature and civilization.