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Fethiye, Turkey: Paradise or Expat Disaster?

If you’ve been following our story then you know by now that we are in Turkey (which recently changed it’s name to Türkiye).  And we had two reasons for wanting to come to Fethiye.  Of course we wanted to come to enjoy the typical things a short term visitor would experience, like the beaches, and the food, and the tourist type activities.  But we actually had an additional purpose for coming to Fethiye, and that’s to consider the idea of establishing ourselves here over the long term.  We’ve been traveling the world for four years, without a home, and now we are looking to have a home base somewhere.  And that brings us to Fethiye, and our list of things we like and also things that we don’t like about Fethiye.

(Go to this link if you would prefer to watch a video with the same information: FETHIYE TÜRKIYE: Paradise or Expat Disaster.)

👍 The People

Let’s start with the people here in Fethiye.  Our interaction with the people everywhere in Türkiye has always been good. But here in Fethiye the friendliness seemed especially genuine.  The locals appeared to us to be really laid back, easy going, and playful.

👍 The Beaches

The Blue Lagoon has one of the country’s most beautiful coastlines.

Next up is the beaches, and let’s start with Çaliş (pronounced cha-lish) Beach.  This beach is located in the northern part of the Fethiye area.  The thing we really like about this beach is that the water was warm.  It is also a very wide and open beach, so there is plenty of room for everyone.  And the sand was really nice here, making it very pleasant for walking along the water.  

The other beach we really enjoyed is the Blue Lagoon.  It’s actually a bit outside of Fethiye, down in the Ölüdeniz area.  The highlight of this beach is the beauty of the water.  It starts near the shore being crystal clear, but then it turns into a stunning deep blue as you start swimming further and further away from the shore.  One drawback is that this beach has rocks instead of sand.  It’s also a little more crowded so we made sure we arrived early enough to get a spot in the section of the beach where we wanted to be.  We were planning to come to the Blue Lagoon just once, but  we changed our schedule to make time to come back twice.

👍 The Food

I have to start talking about the food in Fethiye with a shout out to a restaurant called ADO Döner.  The dürüm wraps they use here are somehow different from all the others we’ve had in Türkiye.  I can’t exactly be sure what is different, I think maybe they use thinner wraps but double layer them.  Another great thing about ADO Döner is the price for food.  It was around $2.75 (in US dollars) for the massive dürüm, fries, drink, and a dessert.

The second restaurant we want to mention is Nefis Pide.  It’s in the old town, so it’s a little touristy.  But the prices are good considering its location.  The thing we really liked about this restaurant is that there is a wide variety in the menu.  You can get basically every kind of Turkish food you can think of here.  The seating area outside is very pleasant under a canopy of grapevines, making it cooler if it’s hot outside.

👍 Cost of Living

We were pleasantly surprised by the cost of living in Fethiye.  It’s not the cheapest place we’ve been in Türkiye.  But the prices seem reasonable to us considering its’ a beach resort.  The little apartment we rented at the beginning of the high season and in the old town district was US$35 per night.  Our total spending for our short term stay averaged US$59 per day for the two of us.  For long term living, we think we could do it comfortably for around US$1400 per month.  Keep in mind that the prices here, the inflation rate, and the exchange rate with foreign currencies can change quickly and drastically.

👍 Walkability

There are great walking paths around the pleasant harbor.

We like to get around on foot as much as possible, and Fethiye is great for that.  There are really nice and wide walking paths along the coastline.  We especially like the paths around the marina because it’s fun to look at all different kinds of boats.  We also like that there are separate bike lanes so that the bikes and walkers are not competing for space with each other.

👍 Weather

The weather here in Fethiye is generally sunny and pleasant.  The winters are a little cooler than we like (about 15°C or 9°F for the high temperature in January).  And summers a little hotter than we like (about 31°C or 90°C for the high in July).  The spring and autumn are perfect.  Fethiye generally gets a lot of sunshine, and we think the overall weather deserves a thumbs up.

👎 Seasonality

There is a large seasonality effect in Fethiye: It is very quiet here in the winter, and very active with tourism in the summer.  This drastic change in the atmosphere between winter and summer is a minor annoyance.  It would certainly not be the determining factor as to whether or not we would live in Fethiye, but we would prefer a more consistent level of activity throughout the year.

👍 Communication

Our Turkish language skills are pretty sad.  But here in Fethiye there was no need for us to worry too much about the language barrier because there is a lot of English spoken here.  For example, I needed to get some repair work done on my laptop and it was easy to explain the problem.

👎 Expat Community

Are we in London?

The expat community in Fethiye is very large.  We thought the expats we met were very friendly, and we’re expats too so we have nothing against expats.  But when the expat community is so large that it starts to modify the culture of the place, that’s when we start to hesitate.  Sometimes we felt more like we were in London, not Turkey.  Fethiye felt to us like Ajijic, an expat-heavy village in Mexico.

👍 Markets

Stock up on produce at the Tuesday market.

We like to support the local market sellers whenever possible, and that’s why we like the Tuesday market.  Once a week this market gets going right in the heart of Fethiye.  There are beautiful fruits and vegetables, a wide variety of clothing, household items, and really probably just about everything you can get at the grocery store.

👍 History

An entire city was suddenly abandoned about 100 years ago.

There is a lot of history in the Fethiye area, and really all over this region of Türkiye.  You’re never too far from an archeological site here.  But let me focus on a site just outside Fethiye called Kayaköy.  The thing that makes this place different from most of the other sites is that the ruins aren’t that old.  This is a city that was abandoned just about a hundred years ago.  I won’t go into a detailed explanation of what happened here, because it’s kind of a sad story. But it is fascinating to hike through the ruins and imagine what it was like living here.

👎 Utility Outages

There can be occasional power and water cuts here.  They are sometimes announced ahead of time so it’s not a surprise, and they don’t usually last too long.  But this is one drawback to the Fethiye area. 

👍 Transportation

A dolmuş is a large van that travels on set routes around the area.

Fethiye has a dolmuş system that works.  It is the answer to public transportation, and it’s common throughout the country.  It’s basically a system of minibuses that go on a set route between two One of the advantages is that they run frequently, about every five minutes or so depending on the route.  The prices are very reasonable and the system is relatively easy to use.

You saw a lot of those thumbs up emojis, right?  We do indeed like Fethiye.  And our negatives might actually be positives for you. But we have one more place in Türkiye we want to visit before deciding where in the country, if anywhere, we want to make our long term home base. Check back for future blog posts!

Thanks for traveling with us!

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