Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Living and Working in Bursa

I’m often asked what it’s like living and working in Turkey, particularly what it’s like living in Bursa. Many people want to know about the cost of living in Bursa, how difficult is finding a job and what the quality of life is like in Bursa. I’ll try to cover as much as possible without boring you too much. After all, there are many blogs out there with many different views about living and working in Turkey, the following is my opinion.

First and foremost, I live in Turkey to be with my wife, Duygu. We came here to be near her family and friends and to travel. Working comes second. Since I am a foreigner and my Turkish skills are mediocre at best, I am limited with what I can do to earn money. Naturally, since English is my native language, I chose to teach. There may be some international companies out there that would hire me as is, but it’s all about who you know here and I don’t know many people—yet. I could work in the tourism sector but I am just getting to know the country. It really all boils down to the fact that I am not fluent in Turkish. Once my Turkish improves, I do believe that doors will open.

When it comes to teaching English, there are many private K-12 schools, as well as private language schools. Not all schools are created equally. Some offer housing, some do not. Some will employ you under the table (illegally), others will work with you to secure a legal residency and work permit while in Turkey. My advice to you is that you: stay far away from schools that are not willing to employ you legally. You do not want to face the consequences from the Turkish government if you get caught working illegally.

If you end up working for a private K-12 school, you will typically work a 9-5 schedule with occasional Saturdays—the number of Saturdays depends on your school. If you work for a language school, be prepared to work evenings and weekends, when most people are out of school or not working. The pay is similar between the two for starting teachers with more reputable private K-12 schools typically paying a bit more.  

Bursa is a nice city and is located 2 hours away from Istanbul by ferry. It claims to be the 4th largest city in Turkey after Izmir. The air is fresh, we are near the sea in Mudanya and Mt. Uludag is about 45 minutes from the city center for skiing and other outdoor activities. On the other hand, Bursa is a conservative city. When compared to Istanbul the nightlife here is pretty much non-existent. There are some bars and cafes that you can visit to have a drink and relax, but in the winter, be prepared to make a reservation to go to a Red Robin/Applebee’s style restaurant to eat and drink on Friday and Saturday nights.

Rent in Bursa can be as low as 450 lira per month in the older city center, all the way up to 1200 lira or more for newer places located in trendy new neighborhoods. On Average, expect to rent a 2 bedroom, decent and clean place for around 800 lira.

Like the rest of Turkey, Bursa is relatively inexpensive compared to the US and most of Europe. Meats, electronics, cars and gas tend to be more expensive as these items are considered luxury items by the Turkish Government and are usually taxed accordingly.

If you’re on the fence about coming to Bursa, I would say go for it! It truly is a lovely place to live and work.