More people than ever before are now choosing to leave Britain and spend their retirement in Turkey. The decision to move to Turkey comes down to three main factors – a better lifestyle, the cheaper cost of Turkish properties and living, and sunshine. Dilys and Mike Miller, originally from Loughborough, were one of the first couples to choose to settle and retire to Fethiye back in 1994. In our first case study this year, we had the pleasure of speaking to them and asking how they find life in Fethiye.
What originally brought you to Turkey?
“We originally came to Turkey on one of those ‘you don’t know your hotel until you get there’ package holidays. We were lucky and ended up in Ovacik, at the Ucel Hotel.”
Back in the nineties the area was very different. Ovacik and Hisaronu were still very much Turkish villages with a definite distinction between the two. The area was a far cry from the busy resorts of today. It was still very much on the back packer route, all sand roads and farmland. It was only just starting to attract more tourists due to its proximity to Oludeniz beach and lagoon. Hisaronu was merely a village with a few bed and breakfasts and a handful of bars, Ovacik hardly on the map and a scattering of Turkish cottages, farms and the odd family run hotel.
What prompted you to buy a property in Turkey?
“We fell in love with Turkey. We really enjoyed our holiday. We loved the culture, the people were so friendly and we made some good Turkish friends. We just wanted to stay”.
At that time there were no ready built apartments or villas for sale in Ovacik. The local Belidiye (council) had only just been formed and had only recently passed laws allowing foreigners to purchase land and property. Dilys and Mike were two of the first foreigners to commission land and build a project in the area. There were few local English speaking Turkish estate agents then, it was a good Turkish friend that helped them through the process. He took them to the Notary to get their land deeds legalised and found a builder and architect willing to make their dream a reality.
“It’s funny looking back on how things have changed” said Mike. “It’s a very easy process buying a Turkish property now. We were lucky back then that we had friends that helped us and made it possible. It was all very quick. Our build started in the November and was finished by the end of April. We brought the land to begin with, then sat and designed our villa. We got to choose all the fixtures and fittings, even a lovely handmade kitchen”
So why Turkey?
“It’s only when you spend time in Turkey that you realise that Turkish hospitality is not just a show for those on holiday, it’s how they are all the time”
Dilys and Mike continued, “We have been here a long time now and wouldn’t look back. We love our life. We choose not to get too involved in the expat beer and bar scene, we have learnt the language and many of our close friends are now Turkish. Turkey is what you make it. It’s a beautiful country, it’s cheaper living here than England, health care is good and, although it’s a bit like living in the UK in the 60’s, we couldn’t wish for much more”.
How do you find the health care in Turkey?
“We joined the government SGK heath care system and have found it to be brilliant.”
“You pay a monthly fee and can use the state hospitals or get treatment at private hospitals at a fraction of the normal price. It’s not like the UK where you wait forever to get an appointment. You call or turn up and are seen very quickly. If one doctor can’t treat you, you are referred to a specialist that can. I recently had cancer treatment in Antalya and found the system very good” says Mike.
What about the cost of living? How does it compare with the UK?
“The cost of living is definitely cheaper than at home”
“Council tax is only around £35 a year and household bills are far cheaper too. When we first moved there was only one supermarket in Fethiye, none in Hisaronu or Ovacik. We lived like the locals and still do. We buy most of our groceries, fruit and vegetables at the weekly market where the choice and produce is great. You can spend a lot living in Turkey if you want, but if you are happy to cook at home or eat in local restaurants, the cost of living is still very reasonable.”
Is there anything you miss from the UK?
“We don’t really miss that much really, obviously family and friends but they are just a flight away”
Dilys continued laughing, “The rest we miss are silly things really, things like rhubarb, celery and parsnips!”
How to you spend your spare time?
“We like to travel and enjoy life. The weather in Turkey gives us the chance to be outdoors.”
“We both like walking, meeting Turkish people and visiting local friends. We are sponsoring the education of a bright young girl from a nearby village and love going to visit her and her family when we can. They are like our family now and such lovely people. We also like cooking, Mike likes oil painting and we both love travelling. We have taken two world trips so far and plan another trip long haul in the next couple of years”.
How do you know Oceanwide Properties?
“We recently sold our Ovacik home and moved to Tasyaka in Fethiye as we wanted to downsize and be in a more Turkish area. Although Oceanwide Properties didn’t sell our villa, we did buy our apartment through them. Suleyman was very good and helped us secure our apartment at a good price. He was very easy to deal with and is like a friend to us now”.
Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of retiring to Turkey?
“Don’t come to Turkey thinking its England. Come to Turkey and embrace the culture and people. You need to adapt to the Turkish ways and remember that we are guests in their country”
Oceanwide Properties want to say a big thanks to Dilys and Mike for taking the time to tell us their fascinating story. It is always a pleasure meeting lovely people that share our passion for Fethiye and Turkey. They have seen many changes in the 20 years they have been living in Turkey and it’s good to hear that they are still enjoying their life and retirement in Turkey.
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