This week I had a very rousing evening watching the celebrations for Republic Day at the new town Square in Didim. What a fantastic site – one which, it has been claimed, cannot be rivalled anywhere else in Turkey. Not even Istanbul!

It got me thinking to how far this city has come since I first landed here back in 2002. My first trip was a cold, wet, grey April morning after a 13 hour bus ride from Istanbul. We offloaded our bags onto the balcony of the little 2-bed apartment my (now) husband had just bought for a price that went into the ‘millions’ but was then only translated into a few quid. And seeing as the nearest cafe just happened to be Alo24, conveniently located just a few doors away, we sat there with steaming glasses of tea to await the arrival of his brother and the apartment key.

The outlook from that same seat in Alo24 is as different today as if we had been transported to another town altogether. Ataturk Boulevard, which now snakes its way from the Temple to the beach, lush after years of planting and landscaping, bustling with activity, new businesses, national and international brand names, was at that time nothing but a long strip of pretty much dirt track which did nothing but encourage the boy (and not so ‘boy’) racers to perform death defying dares.

Since then the town exploded at an unbelievable rate. I recently found some very interesting statistics below which chart the increase in population since 1960:















Source: www.yerelnet.org.tr

With any massive growth spurt there are bound to be problems – and Didim has certainly encountered its fair share. It has been the scene of many a dodgy deal, corrupt goings-on, mayors on ‘gardening-leave’, shootings, international court cases, tax officials descending en masse, raids on government offices, whimsical building regulations, and basically bad bad community decisions (golf course anyone?).

But Didim has also been a destination for thousands of returning European Turks looking to get back to their roots. It has become the permanent home to thousands of UK ex-pats looking for a better quality of life. It has become a mecca for thousands of retired Turks looking to live out at least half their life on the sandy beaches, away from their city centre apartments.

And as the town has increased, so have the businesses and institutions that serve these people – banks, schools, supermarkets, insurance offices, government offices, restaurants, petrol stations, social security offices, doctor’s surgeries, and of course, dentists – all employing often young, professional people who are marrying, settling, and having their own families. When I first arrived in Didim, there was just one ‘pre-school’ (affectionately known as the ‘mushroom’ school). Today there are six that I can count off the top of my head. And they are all busy!

Neighbourhoods are growing and developing their own identities, roads are being laid and the public areas surrounding them landscaped into green areas with ample trees being planted, old, grotty buildings are being demolished and replaced with modern, swanky, glass fronted ones. The marina is settling well into its role in the town, and offering an upmarket alternative to the usual holiday haunts. Whatever your opinion of whether the changes are ‘good’ or not, there can be no doubt that fantastic progress is being made, and will indeed continue to be made.

What a busy, buzzy, 12-month cosmopolitan city Didim is becoming. It is also the place where my husband and I have decided once and for all to stay and raise our own four kids.

But then we are pretty positive people, and throughout all our years here we have chosen to think in a continuously positive and forward looking manner throughout many low, and difficult periods.

There is a great piece of research that I quote constantly to my Thrive trainees – it is called ‘The Undoing Effect of Positive Emotions (Frederikson, Mancuso, Branigan, Tugade; 2000). And I quote directly from the paper:

“Many negative emotions narrow individuals’ though-action repertoires by calling forth specific action tendencies (eg: attack, flee), whereas many positive emotions broaden individuals’ thought-action repertoires, prompting them to pursue a wider range of thoughts and actions.”

“Individuals who express or report higher levels of positive emotion show more constructive and flexible coping, more abstract and long-term thinking, and greater emotional distance following stressful negative events.”

Throughout the years I have been in Didim there has been a lot of negative thinking, talking the place down, looking at it through dirty, grey tinted glasses. While I know that many people have had bad experiences, I also know that those who have dealt with their bad experiences with a positive, ‘can-do’ attitude, have prevailed with their sanity intact (if not always their pockets).

As the research shows, a negative view on life narrows your perception. So ultimately you end up only looking for those things around you that ‘reinforce’ your negative view – whether it is the over-abundance of street dogs, litter, or unfinished roads, for example. A positive outlook enables you to look at, and beyond, all these problems with greater perspective, and see many potential ways forward.

But more importantly, this positive, broadened outlook on the world helps you to build resilience – ‘a variety of enduring personal resources’. So whereas negative emotions are designed to help in moments of immediate danger (the fight-flight response), positive emotions are there to counterbalance the effect of short-term negative emotions once that immediate danger has dissipated, and long term survival skills are required.

We’ve Been Hacked!

Some of you may be experiencing difficulty accessing our main agency website – www.myturkishhome.com. Fear not – it appears that someone has gone into our website with a great big machete and done a seriously major hacking job!!

I think it is going to take some time to sort out so do please be patient with us. In the meantime please be reassured that MTH is still open for business, taking your calls and emails, and is not going anywhere.

If you need to contact us then you can call the office direct on 00 90 256 8132330, or drop us an email at info@myturkishhome.com.

Home baby home!

Can it really be over nine months since I added to this blog. As I may have mentioned I was pregnant with baby number 4, and I think once the new year set in my brain went into meltdown and all attempts at anything even vaguely intellectual went out the window – even writing this now is like cranking up an old and rusty lawnmower!

Well Sofia Kitty made her entrance into this world back in April, and we’re back in Turkey for the time being where yours truly has abandoned the office once and for all and decided to enjoy these last few months of looking after a young baby as there will absolutely be no more.

And as I write, Kitty is rolling around on her floor blanket squealing into the hot wind coming in off the balcony. The other three are on their last hour of summer school before the Bayram holidays next week, then countdown to the start of the school year again. The new school term will hopefully coincide with a cooling off of temperatures, enabling me to spend more time in the garden – am a definite fair weather gardener – anything too hot or too cold and I prefer to be indoors!

In the meantime, I am quite happy sitting in the breeze and playing footsie with my beautiful little girl.

Sofia Kitty

Turkey’s economy will lure investors in 2011

Turkey’s economy will lure investors in 2011
Turkey’s exceptional economic performance will continue to attract overseas property investors, according to Turkish property expert Steven Worboys. 

Worboys is managing director of Experience International, and he said: “International real estate still remains one of the most popular investments available but many buyers have been stung in the past and are now more cautious, seeking out markets with secure economic fundamentals and developments with realistic returns. Turkey’s economic performance over the past 12 months speaks for itself with over 8% GDP growth expected for 2010 according the latest OECD report and remaining above 5% in 2011 and 2012.”

Turkey’s banking system has managed to steer clear of the worst effects of the recession, and has had its rating upgraded by two international credit ratings agencies.

There is significant economic growth, with the Istanbul Stock Exchange gaining 4.5% in value in 2010 so far. This growth has been mirrored in the Turkish real estate industry, with the construction sector experiencing 21.9% growth in the second quarter of this year.

Worboys said: “”Turkey is now a serious global economic contender; with its robust V-shaped economy the nation bounced back quickly from recession and now is capitalising on its key fundamentals, enjoying a period of growth and prosperity.”

Extracted from the Overseas Property Professional website 8th Dec 2010.

A crystal clear day!

Today was one of those gorgeous cold, crisp days in winter when the skies are crystal clear and you can see for miles around. All being quiet in the office I decided to take myself for a bit of a drive – something I don’t get much chance of without several screaming kids in the back! I headed over to Akbuk where we are building a couple of villas to check on their progress and take a few update pictures. Then I followed the road out of Akbuk in the Milas direction where the road winds high into the pine forests then dips through Kazikli following lush olive groves towards Bozbuk.

The photo I have included here is of Akbuk looking down from the Kazikli road. As with all photos, unless you are a professional the picture never conveys the true beauty and clarity of the view – it is simply breathtaking, expecially on a day like today when the clarity of the air quality enables you to see for miles and miles.

The villas, by the way, are looking very good. You can see the details in more depth on http://www.myturkishhome.com/turkish_property_list.php?cat=Key%20Developments&f_category_id=1, though I have posted a sneaky extra photo here for you..

Unseasonably warm!

So while the rest of you are shivering in the UK snow, we are still basking in temperatures which are well into the 70′s. Have not even brushed down my lightweight winter coat yet  – even a cardigan can be too warm during the main part of the day! It is unseasonably warm. Thankfully so, as we have decided to only use our central heating in the very extreme of needs to try and save on electric bills. On cooler evenings we light the fire which blasts out enough heat to warm the main part of the house. And having dug up our wooden basement floor after a flood last year, we have a lot of it to burn! Other than that, my own internal heating system seems to be working overtime at the moment.

The weather has affected the garden as well – I think it believes that spring has come again. We have had flowers galore, the lilac has been flourishing for several weeks now, the geraniums have taken new roots, the lilies are sprouting again, the roses are budding and the bougainvillaw is as glorious as ever.

I rather wish I could feel some of that icy cold! It’d probably make me appreciate the continuing warmth that little bit more.

Two Christmases!

We have just got back from our Bayram holiday – a week at an all inclusive in Sarigerme, not far from Dalaman. The weather was so fantastic that we spent every day either by the pool, or on the beach – not bad for a November. Even coming back to Didim the weather has been hitting the early 20s – all very well but I want to wear my new Uggs, and it is just too hot!

The timing of Bayram this year meant that the country more or less closed down for a week. Every year this annual festival is 10 days earlier than the previous year, and as it has been out of season, it has been a good excuse for us to close the shop and relax for a few days. Though of course being in November, it makes it very close to Christmas, and even though I reside in a predominantly Muslim country, I could never even contemplate not celebrating Christmas as well, so in effect it has felt these last few years that Christmas definitely comes twice a year.

Bayram is as important to the Turks as Christmas is to us, and certainly offers the same commercial opportunities with which we are bombarded as soon as Guy Fawkes is over! Probably some of the biggest winners during this time are the mobile phone companies. Previous generations sent Bayram cards in the post, now the finger happy Turks send text messages to practically everybody in their mobile address books. Our holiday was peppered with the incessant bleeping of my husband’s mobile phone, receiving texts from just about everybody he has spoken with done business with or just passed by in the street with a curt nod. Multiply this constant beleeping with the number of mobile phone possessing, phone obsessing Turks the world over, and you have some very happy phone companies!

It was a good week. We took a package which included two concerts featuring Gunes Gundes, and the favourite uncle of all Turkey, Ibrahim Tatlises, who has been serenading Turkey for as long as I have been on this earth. This ex-construction site worker is a self made millionaire loved by millions, and to see him up close and personal is to truly understand how this level of professionalism and success cannot be manufactured. He has something special. 

Of course being an all inclusive was a bit of a waste for me. 21 weeks into the pregnancy and my stomach has is so squashed I cannot eat as much as I would like to have eaten, nor could I imbibe the vast quantities of free flowing wine I would normally have enjoyed! Still, at least my husband made up for it!

More Yesilkent villas!

We are very excited to be adding to our portfolio of Yesilkent villas this winter.  I have loaded up the plans of one of them onto our website www.myyesilkentvilla.com. As build progresses I shall be adding new photos, with the end result appearing about June time next year. We hope to start digging the foundations after the Bayram holiday, just as soon as the plans have been approved by the council. Don’t forget – we would consider part exchanges if anyone would like to upgrade!

A season’s end review

As we approach the end of the summer season, I think it is safe to say that it has been a difficult one for everyone. Yes, we are in a recession situation worldwide, and this has had a serious effect on the resort as a whole.

It started off shakily with the ash cloud (remember that). For that one week so many people were forced to change their travel plans. Some had to cancel altogether, others who were stuck here decided they could not come back a second time during the course of the summer. Flight prices went through the roof and were difficult to get hold off. Extremely frustrating to say the least.

Add to this, three airlines that were crucial to the Turkish holiday market all went bust – Cyprus Turkish Airlines (KTHY), Goldtrail and Kiss. I personally lost over £1000 worth of flights on KTHY. I know that Atlas was picking up on some of the lost flights, but unfortunately it was not running the same routes - the route we were offered was not suitable or convenient for our purposes, so we simply had to swallow the loss.

The holy month of Ramadan also fell right in the middle of the busiest Turkish holiday season, so many who would have been visiting and spending towards the local economy, simply were not.

And of course there was the crazy decision not to go ahead with the golf course. Harumph… I have already said my piece about that particular piece of stupidity.

On the positive side… the sun still shone, the sea was still warm, and Yildiray and I are expecting our fourth child. Ultimately people are having difficulties the world over, and the fortunes of Didim will wax and wane along with the best of them. It still remains a place which has some great potential long term while still offering a haven of peace and warmth in the meantime. With a population of 40,000 full time resident, and growing (we are certainly making a positive impact there!!) Didim has some great opportunities for those with the vision and clarity of forethought to discover. I am as ever looking to a positive future.


Copy of article that appeared in Voices Saturday 9th Oct 2010 

Kate Ashley-Norman – My Turkish Home

 Like many who have invested both time and money in Didim, I am bitterly disappointed with the decision not to go ahead with the golf course. I don’t know any specific facts and figures about what golf could bring to the region, but it does not take an idiot to know that golf attracts serious spending from serious spenders.

I worked for many years in the window industry where the major decision makers (particularly when the times were good), would regularly go off for golfing weekends – 4 day jollies on expenses when business relations were sealed, deals were struck and much merriment was made. Some evenings were spent in the hotel, others on evenings out in the local town’s bars and restaurants. There was no denying the much welcome revenue these spenders brought to the local areas. Corporate golfing is an international industry in itself.

Now I am not a golfer, but I do know that the destinations of these golfing trips were often chosen through word of mouth and reputation of the resort. A Didim golf course was to be the perfect opportunity to bring Didim and Altinkum into the 21st century of serious moneyed tourism.

These same people, contacts that I have maintained and cultivated for well over a decade now, often spoke to me about their wish to visit, and possibly invest, once the golf course was up and running. A three and a half to four hour plane journey was viewed with no more trepidation for a long weekend jolly than a road trip from London to Manchester. A £50,000 2-bedroom apartment was considered exceptional value compared to the quarter of a million many of the Spanish and Portuguese resorts were demanding. £30-50 a head restaurant bills represented excellent value when it came to wining and dining potential million pound contracts. None of this is now going to happen. As much to their disappointment as mine.

Of course, the loss to my business is going to hurt. But more importantly is the loss to the town as a whole. As many who have read my articles over the last eighteen months will know, I always air on the side of optimism. I am excited and impassioned by the massive progress made during the rapid growth of a once small fishing village, I always prefer to give the benefit of the doubt, and can see both sides to any argument. Rome was not built in a day, but Didim is not far off.

But I do believe that we are maybe at a crossroads where there are many strands of development that need to be brought together if the town is not to lose its forward momentum. And with the current council incumbents hanging around in no man’s land, I am not sure who is able to make any proactive decision.

You see, Didim is not just a town of holidaymakers and second-homers. The town also houses schools, hosptials, banks, supermarkets, humdrum everyday businesses which give daily sustenance to humdrum everyday lives – nurses, orderlies, doctors, teachers, council workers, blue and white collar workers who keep the wheels of Didim’s 40,000 strong population well oiled in Turkey’s own indefatigable manner. These people are creating a stronger, deeper community from the roots of tourism. Historically towns grow around a single industry source, and the only way they can survive if these wobble is to diversify out from this single source.

Tourism is to Didim what steel manufacturing was to Sheffield. I saw the golf course as a serious step to diversifying away from the bucket and spade tourism into new markets.

The world may be in recession and people all over the globe are having to tighten their belts, but that does not stop a stupid decision being a stupid decision for the long term prosperity of a community as a whole.

I was having a little fantasy the other day while sat in the Didem language school awaiting the arrival of my Turkish teacher. The classroom overlooks the waste ground opposite the governor’s house – a dry and arid patch of prime land that floods in winter, and offers no active municipal use.  I have always been told that this area was to be the town ‘marching parade’, but to date nothing has been done with it.

In my fantasy I had the power to develop that waste ground into a thriving city centre park and covered summer/winter play area for kids of all ages, with tree covered walkways, shady tea gardens. In my fantasy it became a busy halfway house between town centre and beach resort which brought another dimension to Didim life.

There are so many more simple changes which I believe would make a world of difference to the town. As a Brit in possession of a kimlik, am I eligible to stand for mayor?

I would promise you one thing – I would make darn sure those men at the Ministry of Tourism thought again about scrapping our golf course.

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