It has taken almost five weeks to find a flat. I’ve slotted in viewings between shifts and on every available day off. What a flipin drag!! I’ve been left fed up, tired and totally disillusioned.
There’s no shortage of vacant properties in Istanbul, it’s more because apartments within my budget are decorated with furniture left over from the Ottoman Empire. Add to this the extraordinary colour of walls, carpets and curtains and you begin to a picture how frustrated I have been. The size of most 2-bed flats are small with terrible light and even a hobbit would be challenged. Most days I have wandered round aghast!
One apartment I went to view had pink walls. Yes pink. Actually no, it was vomit pink. A really stark colour that would make you wince if it didn’t encourage you to throw up yourself. I wish I had a photo to show you. After viewing the flat, I turned to the landlady and said, “Would you consider repainting the walls white?”
She replied, “You’d have to pay for that.”
I sighed wearily and added, “How about I pay for half the cost?”
She retorted, “You would still have to repaint it back pink once you leave!!”
What planet is she on? It has sat empty for a reason and it aint because of the location. Wake up woman!! Pink, sorry vomit pink is a very specific colour and unless you are colour-blind no one in their right mind is going to live there. She doesn’t even live there!
The price of rentals is high. Much more than I anticipated. Being an ex-pat I have dollar signs visible to only landlords and estate agents stamped on my forehead. The difference in price that a Turk would be offered compared to a foreigner is shocking. Despite my haggling techniques I have still managed to go above my budget because I have been held to ransom.
Some of my colleagues have braved the task of furnishing an empty flat themselves. Yes definitely better value but for the agro that comes with not being able to speak the language I decided to skip that opition.
What a nosebleed it has been to watch, let alone experience. Ordering goods online having 10 different delivery dates to negotiate while working shift. Most sleeping on an air matress because the bed has not arrived, or the matress they want is no longer available for the bed they bought. Then there’s fitting applicances. No handy man speaks English. Not so handy. Plus there’s the Turk time keeping – TIT – unfortunate acronymn This Is Turkey. Getting utlity bills in your name when your residency has not come through yet. A lot of people are taking cold showers every day.
So my new pad which I move into tomorrow is in Cihangir. An uber hip and trendy neighbourhood. Think NY East Village. It is leafy and has many cafes, bars, restaurants and supermarkets selling organic and veggie/vegan options. I have been cooking non stop since getting here as I am sick of paying for over-priced less than medicore food because I havea view! It is full of well heeled Turks and ex pats and some say it is too cool for skool, but I haven’t noticed that vibe. It is next door to the antique/furniture district.
I fell in love with the flat as soon as I saw it. It is bright, modern, spacious and not on the 8th floor of a building without a lift. I have had to wait 2 weeks because there have been some modifications. There was no storage space at all and I asked for more cupboards and a chest of draws. I also asked my landlady to ditch the dishwasher and put in a brand new oven instead.
Sadly I wont be able to enjoy my new home for a week as I am being deployed to the Syrian border this weekend to cover the refugee crisis. The stories of migrants has moved me greatly and I am horrifed at how some EU nations, Britain included are behaving.
The human cost is tragic. Everyday the bulletin is stuffed with numbers of people who have died and the lengths at which survivors have gone in a desperate bid for a better/safer life. It is extraordinary and it makes me value what I have even more.
I am so greatful that when I return I will have a roof over my head and a beautiful flat to call home.