Ken

An Assignment To Izmir

89 posts in this topic

You got an assignment to Izmir? You're gonna love it.

I'd say I envy you, but I live here. I was first assigned to Izmir back in '98, and loved the place so much I decided to retire here (in '99). I still live in Izmir, so I consider myself more qualified to tell you about it than whoever your sponsor is. Posted Image I had a lot of misconceptions about Turkey before I arrived, and I was amazed at how misinformed I was. The only thing I knew about Turkey was from the movie "Midnight Express," a movie in which a lot of what was said about what actually happened was complete fiction. All of my conceptions about Turkey and Izmir were wrong.

First Impressions of Izmir

I thought that Turkey was the same as Saudi Arabia or a lot of other middle-east countries, with veiled women, deserts, and camels. In fact, Turkey has no deserts, camels are not indigenous here, and while you'll see women wearing a headscarf, the majority of the ones you see in Izmir, well, Izmir women are the most attractive women I've ever seen. Izmir women take meticulous care of themselves, and always seem to dress very fashionably, and certainly show themselves off. If you're a single male, you'll definitely love Izmir.

The thing that will strike you the most about Izmir, and Turkey, is how friendly and welcoming the Turks are. They are the friendliest people I've encountered in all of my military assignments. In a lot of ways, they're a lot like Americans. Turkey's constitution reads a lot like the American constitution, and Turkey's founder, an amazing man you've probably never heard about called Ataturk is definitely worth reading about. His reforms of Turkey changed everything, one of the main things was that Turkey would look to Europe and the West for its future, rather than to the middle east. Because of that and Turkey's location, it's a rather fascinating mix of everything. So many civilizations have lived here, for thousands of years.

Izmir itself has lots of European influence, as do the people of Izmir. I recall sitting in outside of a bar, having a beer, and listening to "Sweet Home Alabama." I thought at that time, man, I really like this place! I think the guy inside was playing that for me, since he knows I'm a "Skynyrd" fan.

425th Air Base Squadron

Things have changed since I first got here. Right now we're in a location in Izmir, It's pretty small, but offers decent security, and has been enhanced a lot for security reasons. We have moved a few times. We were in a rather nice office building until al-Qaeda blew up a synagogue, the HSBC bank, and the British consulate in Istanbul. Now we're somewhere else.

Terrorism directed against foreigners is not very common in Turkey. The indigenous terrorist group, called the PKK, is a Kurdish group who basically wants to carve out a piece of Turkey and say it's theirs. That's not going to happen, but despite that fact they still attack Turkish military bases and police stations. They're responsible for some 40,000 deaths. When you consider we lost 58,000 US troops in Viet Nam, it gives you some perspective of what they're facing. Lately it's been rather quiet (knock on wood), and Izmir doesn't seem to be one of the cities they focus on. Most of what the PKK does is in Eastern Turkey.

Turkey has arguably the best counter-terrorism forces in the World (which includes the Turkish National Police, or TNP). They're really on top of things, and I salute them. That said, there's a saying that any country's police force is either good at law enforcement, or counter-terrorism, but never both. The TNP is very good at counter-terrorism, let me leave it at that. What I mean by that is that you should not expect them to act like the police forces you usually encounter in the USA. Do what they tell you to do, and don't give them any lip. I can say that you're safer in Izmir than you are in your own city in the US, or practically anywhere else.

I know it's hard to imagine places like this until you're here. There is no base housing, everybody lives in apartments in town, or near the US facilities. There's a club, combined with a dining facility, with a good breakfast, lunch, and dinner, not unlike other bases you've visited. When they're not serving meals, you can get hamburgers, steak-ums, chicken sandwiches, etc, as you'd normally expect.

Izmir Night Life

Besides the American club, there are LOTS of night venues to visit... My choice is Kybele Rock Bar, and Bios, which have great live rock bands, and Mavi (which means "blue" in Turkish) which is more of the Jazz/Blues type of place when they can get the right band. XIX, or "nineteen" bar, on the same bar street, also serves up Jazz and blues on some nights. You'll be in no shortage of night spots in Izmir.

Renting an Apartment

The apartment you get will be rather nice. You have a choice on where to rent, and the housing office has listings of apartments for sale. In a lot of cases, the local landlords will jack up the price to whatever the military is paying, so be careful about that. You can also venture off and find a place for yourself. Compare prices and locations, don't grab the first thing you find. Typically the rental contract is a standard one. It's a four-page document, one piece of paper folded in the middle. The first three pages describe the property and the terms, the forth page, on the back, is a payments, page, where you make your payment each month, and you and the landlord sign it. You'll find that everything not nailed down, and some things which are nailed down, have been taken by the previous occupant! Even light fixtures and water heaters are removed. So the place you'll be renting will probably be absolutely bare.

The apartments on the housing list have been inspected. If you decide to go with a place that is not on the list, make sure you coordinate your rental contract with the housing office to make sure you're not getting ripped off.

The post at the top of that forum is one I wrote about renting, I dare say I've rented more apartments in Turkey than anybody I will ever meet!

Anyway, you'll probably find that you have a great apartment and will be living in luxury compared to some of your other assignments. You'll live in luxury by comparison in Izmir.

You can get temporary furniture, which we call "stick furniture," to furnish your place from furnishings management. They'll give you a nice compliment of chairs, a sofa, dining room table, bed, etc., deliver it to your door and set everything up for you. They'll also provide appliances, everything you need. The stuff's not anything you'd decorate your dream house with, but it's not bad at all.

The "Kapici"

A kapaci, literally translated means "doorman," is basically an apartment superintendent who lives with his family on the first floor. Usually his accommodations are nowhere near what you're living in. He's responsible for the general upkeep of the building, cleaning, and general maintenance. In a lot of cases, he'll even pay your utility bills for you and bring you your preferred copy of the morning paper, including certain ones printed in the English language. The base has facilities for this, so you probably won't need it. He will probably be just fine to fix your sink. But if you ask him if he knows someone who can repair your car, he'll probably say that he can do that, too. Unfortunately, many new G.I.s in Izmir figure out too late that if the kapaci knew how to fix cars, he wouldn't be a kapaci. So pass on the offer and go to a reliable mechanic. You'll get recommendations on the base. There are quite a few near where the base is located.

There is no "no" in Turkey

This is deviating a bit, but it's important to know. Sometimes if you ask someone to do something for you, a kapaci, or someone who could use the cash, they won't say no to anything. They'll try to convince you they're capable of doing things like building furniture, metal work, fixing crooked ailerons on F-22 fighters, whatever. And you may find that, after paying half up front, that they were being very optimistic about their skills. And you might find that you've had something done which is very much out of the specifications you laid down at the beginning. Avoid these situations by asking around on base for someone who is reliable and competent to do work like this for you. Some of the locals will tell you anything to get cash in hand. Others you can depend on to do a very good job. Ask around the squadron to find out who they are.

Getting Your House Cleaned

You can get a maid to come in once a week, or however often you want. It's by no means expensive by US or UK standards. But don't choose just anybody, get some references from other people at the squadron first. The good ones will have lots of good recommendations.

Let me warn you of something here. Be wary of claims by maids about their financial problems, that they have a relative in desperate need of an operation, that they borrowed money from the mafia and will be horribly beaten, stabbed, and left for dead in some ditch in the country side if they don't pay the mafia guys by the end of the week.

You'll find that the amount they need is roughly equivalent to the maximum amount of money you can get from an bank machine in one visit. I don't know how often it happens, but it's happened to me.

Oh. One more thing. Typically the kapaci's wife also works as a house cleaner. That's just fine, as long as you don't mind the entire apartment block knowing your business, what a slob you are, or who she saw walking out of your room yawning in her pajamas. Me? I prefer someone who doesn't live in the same building I live in.

Shipping Your Car

First of all, BRING YOUR CAR if you can. Parking can be a hassle, but with what you make in housing allowance, you'll probably have a dedicated place to park it.

On a lot of military assignments, the same cars get bought and sold by military people on location. Not here. There is no "lemon lot" or place to really do this in Izmir. You can make connections with military personnel and transfer their car to you, which involves transferring certain paperwork, but it's a hassle. Just bring your car. It's paid for, and most everything will be taken care of for you. Those things which are not, well, you'll have ample instructions, written and unwritten, to facilitate picking up your car.

You'll need to have it inspected before you can register it and get your plates, which is kind of a pain in the neck. You can pay someone to help you, and you'll find such people by asking around in the 425th. I HIGHLY recommend this. Or, you can do it yourself. That's the way I did it, since I owned a rather treasured Jeep Wrangler and was an insufferable cheapskate besides.

In the states, you can drop your car off at an inspection station, go have lunch, then come back and it's done, with a sticker on the windshield. Not so in Turkey. Typically you have to wait in a long line, so you need to be there before the inspection station opens up. Your mind will be boggled by the number of documents that need to be stamped, signed, reviewed, and stamped and sign yet again. Not to mention the number of stations you have go to and and the number of people involved in inspecting your car. In the states, its one person. Here, it's probably six or more people. The guys at the inspection station have seen foreigners before, and even though they don't speak English, they're pretty good at communicating where you need to go and what you need to do next, even if communicating that to you consists of unintelligible gibberish and frantic pointing. Avoid this. Hire somebody to do it for you. Ask about this during your intro brief.

Import Taxes on Your Car and Other Belongings

Since you're in support of NATO, whether a military, DOD civilian, or contractor, you don't have to pay import taxes. But, don't think you can just bring your slick American or foreign car, stereo, or television into Turkey, re-sell it, and pocket a nice windfall. Ain't gonna happen.

When your shipment comes into Izmir, a Turkish customs agent will go through your stuff to see what is subject to import taxes. This includes your car, electronics, and certain other things. Each item, by description and serial number, will be listed on a document called a beyaname (prounounced "bay uh nah mey"). You need to keep that stuff during your entire time here, and have it when you ship out. If it gets stolen, report it. And by all means, don't sell any of it. If, when you out process, you're missing anything on your beyaname, you'll have to pay import taxes, which can be three times the value of the property when you bought it new.

Don't Let Turks Borrow Your Car

You should get briefed on this, and I'm assuming nothing's changed here. But if a Turk is found driving your car, it may be subject to confiscation. The car was brought into the country for your use, not for the Turks to drive around. All it takes is one jealous girlfriend, boyfriend, or some other such person, to call the police. So don't loan out your car to the locals. 'Nuff said.

Feeling Lost, and Not Speaking the Language

You'll sometimes feel lost here. You'll feel uncomfortable because you can't understand what people are talking about around you, but you'll also find that quite a few Turks in Izmir speak English, and they're happy to speak English with you The younger Izmirians speak it more regularly than the older ones. And if you have a problem communicating, there's probably somebody within earshot who does, and the Turk you're talking to will call them. After you've been on an overseas assignment or two, you'll get used to it and it won't bother you, you'll get used to making do. Turks are pretty good at understanding the plight of foreigners, and you'll actually find Turks apologizing for not speaking English very well. This amazes me, I'm in their country, I should be speaking their language. But Turks are a kind people, and they want you to feel welcome. You will feel welcome. Perhaps uncomfortable at times, but welcome nonetheless.

The base offers introductory Turkish courses, and the University of Maryland, for which I used to teach, offers Turkish I and Turkish II classes which will be VERY helpful to you during your life in Izmir.

One thing which has helped me is having a Turkish friend, or someone who speaks both languages, who I can call. By passing the cell phone back and forth, your friend can do a quick translation for you.

BX/Commissary

The BX and Commissary are in a rather nondescript building in Izmir. It's not marked, but because of the nearby landmarks, it's easy to find. Inside you'll find concessionaires selling Turkish stuff, a TV/electronics repair place, gift shops with some really cool stuff. And of course, the BX and commissary. They're small, but rather well stocked. Also whatever you probably need for your uniform is there. Just as a mention, it's not legal to buy things for Turks from the BX or commissary. Some Turks will ask you to buy things for them, don't do it. Some of them have "black marketing" rackets where they get stuff from the BX/Commissary and re-sell it. There was a place called "BX Alley" (I don't know if it's still there), where they sold stuff from the BX. Don't get involved in it. You also might get requests to use your APO (post office) privileges to ship things to various places because the cost is less. Again, don't do it.

Law Enforcement

The Security Forces have a 24-hour interpreter. So if you have any problems which require law enforcement, you can call the law enforcement desk, and an interpreter can call the Turkish Police for you. You'll get this information when you arrive. Know your address for when you call, as well as landmarks to direct the Turkish Police to get to your place.

Stuff to Do

Lots of stuff to do in Izmir. Just walking around Alsancak, on the "first kordon," which is a stretch of recreational area on Izmir bay, is a nice place to go and relax. You'll find people just sitting on the sea wall and relaxing, as well as lots of bars and restaurants. That leads to a place in the town center called "Cumhurriet Meydani," which the Americans call "Ataturk Square," because there is a big statue of Ataturk on a horse there. You'll sometimes find wreaths placed there from various ceremonies they have there. Izmir also has movie theaters, one in town center and others at malls outside of town. The Hilton hotel, on its first floor, has a bowling alley and arcade, you'll probably find that a source of fun as well.

On the weekends, or if you have time off, the main places to go are Cesme and Kusadasi.

Recreational Trips

Izmir has a contractor who handles trips to various places in Turkey. GO ON THEM. You'll have a fantastic time. Sometimes they're to some incredible archaeological sites like Ephesus or Pergamum, or to one of the most unreal landscapes, where houses are in caves (and perhaps the hotel you'll be staying in), called Capadoccia. There's a lot more to see than that.

If your a Christian or interested in Christian history, well, Turkey has more of that than Israel does. I'm serious. All seven churches of the seven churches of Revelation are there, and there's a trip to see them all, either through the Chapel or ITT. I've already mentioned Ephesus, which was one of them, where the Apostle Paul lived and where the Virgin Mary is believed to have spent her last days. All of these are near Izmir, which was once called Smyrna, and was also the site of one of the seven churches of Revelation.

Istanbul, formerly Constantinople, is a must-see. A typical tour of Istanbul to see the major sites takes two days. There's so much to say about Istanbul I won't even get started here, but see the Aya Sofia, a VERY ancient church which still stands and is one of the top ten construction wonders of the world, the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi palace. Military historians will love the military museum there, but there's a lot more than that.

On other trips, they'll take you to all-inclusive beach resorts at fine hotels, for a fraction of what you'd pay for something like that anywhere else. You'll spend hours on the beach, swimming, riding banana boats, generally having the time of your life. And the food and drinks are all FREE.

The Blue Cruise (AKA Blue Voyage)

You must do this at least once while you're here. They have them along the Aegean coast south of Izmir. A blue cruise is a trip on a Turkish "gulet" (pronounced "goo-let") which is a traditionally-styled Turkish boat. On these trips, your only purpose is to relax and enjoy yourself. They can last from a day, (normally just referred to as a "boat trip" to seven or more days, and they cruise the Aegean, in and out of coves, bays, islands, and just out-of-the-way places where nobody else is. You can snorkel, swim, explore the island shores, or just hang out on the boat. Leave your cell phone behind. It's something you'll never forget.

Cesme

Cesme has some fantastic beaches, and beach clubs. It's on the Cesme peninsula, so you'll be going west from Izmir. There's a main highway going there, so it's pretty fast. It only takes about 45-50 minutes to get there. The town itself is rather small, in the summer the main cobblestone street is blocked to vehicular traffic, and it's lined with shops and restaurants. There's an old Genoese castle at the far end of it, near the harbor. There are a few nice bars/cafes/clubs in town. There are also numerous pensions, or pansiyons, which are quite cheap. They're normally a bed an bathroom, and a simple breakfast, Turkish style, with bread, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cheese included. If there are some European back packers in town, you'll have some interesting company as well. Of course, there are regular hotels as well, both in town, and there are some luxury, all inclusive hotels on the beaches. All inclusive generally means just that, you pay for the hotel stay and get everything, including alcoholic drinks, free.

Kusadasi

Kusadasi is a cruise ship port. Again, lots of restaurants, cafes, and bars, as well as pensions and hotels. There is also "bar street," which is exactly as the name implies, lots of discos, clubs and bars on the same street. If you have partying in mind, Kusadasi is the place to be.

No-nos

Never insult Ataturk or his memory. If you're a regular type of person not looking for trouble, you'll be fine. Normally it's someone who really goes out of his way to get arrested gets in trouble with this. One American soldier took a pee on Ataturk's statue. He was in prison for quite some time! There is something called an "insult law" in Turkey, where you're not supposed to insult a Turk or you could be arrested. I think this has probably relaxed in recent years, but the legal office will probably brief you on the latest developments when you get here.

While it's not illegal to do so, don't make any derogatory comments about Turkey to your Turkish friends. Turks are very open-hearted, and friendly people. You may end up making lifetime friends with a Turk or two. But they are very proud of their country and can be rather sensitive about negative comments made by foreigners.

You'll get other information about how to dress and act, but generally once you get here, you'll see that Turks in Izmir are not hung up on any of it. Be polite, and appreciate the hospitality. Remember that of all of the human gestures which mean different things in different parts of the world, there is one which is understood internationally -- the smile.

Places to NOT Go

Izmir, and many other cities in Turkey, have these places called Gazinos or Paviyons. They are open late, very late, often until morning. They are very expensive, and feature girls from former soviet-block countries dancing on stage. The drinks there are expensive. There will be a bevy of beautiful girls there, and a man working there will come to your table, and bring a girl to sit with you and chat. Her drink will be incredibly expensive. Now generally, if you want to go to a place like this, most are actually legit businesses, and they'll tell you the prices beforehand if you ask. If you want to pay for a Russian girl to sit with you, it will be expensive, and her presence will last as long as it takes her to drink the incredibly expensive drink you just bought for her. And they are very good at getting you to buy that next drink.

If you don't know about the prices, or don't ask, you may find yourself with an absolutely huge bill. And think you're leaving with a promise to pay later? Well, think again. A goon will take you to a bank machine when you go get the money to pay the bill, and escort you back. You won't leave until you pay, one way or another.

If you do decide to go to one of these places, first of all, don't go alone. Be VERY wary of invitations from Turkish friends you may meet to go to a paviyon. In many cases, young Turkish men get commissions for bringing foreigners there. Your new Turkish friend will have no money and will expect you to pay for everything, and the bill will be huge.

There have been some cases (at Incirlik) where American soldiers have been drugged by the friendly Turkish guy who took them to the gazino/paviyon. What they do in that case is remove your wallet while you're unconscious, run up a huge number of charges on your credit cards, and the next day when (if) you see your Turkish friend, he will tell you that you got so drunk and decided to buy drinks for everyone. Well, you won't remember anyway. The best thing to do is to STAY AWAY from paviyons and gazinos completely. They are also marketed as "Night Clubs" in Izmir. It's the same thing.

Meeting People of the Opposite Sex

I touched on this one before, but I thought I'd expound on it. For women, you may find that Turkish men are rather forward. American women are generally pretty good at handling themselves, especially Air Force or other military members. For men, meeting women in Izmir is normally done through introductions by friends. Women in Izmir generally go to bars or clubs with friends, or even family. It's not appropriate to approach a woman with the "hey baby, how ya doin" kind of line. Simply be friendly and considerate, and show as much interest to their friends as your intended. You may find yourself welcomed into their group of friends.

Additionally, Turkish men consider a woman's honor very highly. If it's perceived that you're annoying a woman, even incorrectly so, a male friend may step in. There will almost always be friends of hers there looking out for her. You'll find that at many bars or night clubs, if you're a single male or group of single males, you'll be refused entry. Don't take it personally. If you don't have girls with you, they're making their decision on one of two things. First, they have enough single males in their place. Secondly, if you don't have girls with you, you'll probably be looking for some inside, and they don't want any fights. Lots of American military men have married women from Izmir. Take a look at the Marriage and Divorce forum for more info on that topic.

Islam and Religion

Turkey is 99% Muslim. In Izmir, you'll find that a lot of Turks aren't very strict about Islam. It's something like in the US, where people will identify themselves with Christianity, but don't always go to church. Alcohol consumption is common, especially of the Turkish national drink, raki. You'll also meet atheists, and there is actually an appreciable number of Turkish Christians in Izmir. There are a few Christian churches in Izmir, which you can learn about from the Chaplain's office. I've found that even though Izmir Turks often don't practice Islam regularly, it is always just under the surface. So be sensitive to their religion, and understanding, don't insult Islam even though it seems like your Turkish friend would be okay with your opinions. Turks in Izmir are very tolerant and understanding of people of other religions and beliefs.

Turkey is a secular state. Ataturk, the founder of Turkey, mandated that the Turkish government be secular, without religious influence. In fact, he had to fight quite a lot to get the religious influence of his time out of the government. So yes, you're being assigned to a Muslim country, but the government is secular, and everybody has the same rights, regardless of their religion. Like we in the US have issues with separation of church and state, Turkey has issues with separation of mosque and state. That's one of the reasons I think our countries are a lot alike.

If You Make a Mistake

Don't worry, you'll be just fine. They tell you a lot of stuff about how to behave in Izmir, but I've never found any cases where a Turk was really offended by any honest mistake. Turks are basically the same as us and have a healthy sense of humor. They are VERY used to foreigners and you will find yourself being very comfortable around them. It's said that if you befriend a Turk, you have a friend for life. Well, I've found that to be true. I have a few "friends for life."

Congratulations on your assignment, or good luck to you in getting it, if you don't have an assignment to Izmir just yet. You're going to love it here.

abeanr and JasonDavis like this

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Ben this is awesome info! You've answered just about all of my questions. I can't wait to get there!!

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You'll like it. Practically everybody does. If you need any more info, this is the place to get it.I added quite a bit more stuff by editing the original post, so you might want to take a look at it again. I'll probably be adding more stuff as I remember it. Better to put it all there, I think, as I think of it.Feel free to post any time you might have questions. I've been there myself, a person having an assignment to Izmir and not knowing what to expect. Any information you can get helps you formulate in your mind what the place is like where you're going. The only thing I had was a book I got from the book store, unsurprisingly called "Turkey," which was mostly useless. I really didn't need to know the stuff about how they make beads in Capadoccia. :eyebrow[1]: We have several forum members in Izmir including retired and NATO troops, a few Brits, and me, but unfortunately no active duty people in Izmir as of yet. I really hope more Air Force people will discover this site and join, it could actually be a lot of help to them. Maybe we need to sponsor some quarterly awards or something! Might be a good investment, for a good cause. Well now, I think I'm on to something here! http://www.turkeycentral.com/public/style_emoticons//Lighten[1].gifWhen you get in town send me a private message or e-mail (you can do so by clicking on my name to the left of the posts), if you'd like to meet up once you get settled in, Bushman an I would like to invite you for a "welcome to Izmir" beer at the local expat watering hole in Alsancak. :P

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Hi Ben,This is wonderful information! I am curious about something: I am an American living in Izmir, but am in no way connected to the base or NATO. Am I still allowed to use the commissary or BX? If so, what kinds of things do they sell there? I am curious to know if I can use it.Cheers!

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Ben, Indeed this is some great info about Izmir. Feels like I have been to Izmir already...lolBarbara, if you aren't connected to NATO, us armed forces or DOD in some way, it has been my experience that you won't be allowed to use the BX or Commisary. Sorry.

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True, you have to have a military ID to get into the base exchange or commissary. Basically they are like a department store and grocery store in the US, solely for military personnel and their families, as well as contract workers. The items sold there are also for their exclusive use, since they are not taxed by the US or the Turkish government. As an Air Force retiree, even I can't use it, since I am no longer on active duty.

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Odd since when I worked in Saudi a colleague of mine was ex-Navy and he used the BX and the Comissary in Bahain at weekends.

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I wish we'd had a guide like that when I got posted abroad in the RAF. It would have helped enormously. Good job Ben.

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Thanks Cukurbagli. I remember quite a few times wondering what my new assignment would be like, and the brochures they give out always seem to have the standard "company line."To reply to nwsharvey, retired US military personnel can use the BX and Commissary in some countries. It depends on that country's agreement with the US military, called the "Status of Forces Agreement." In Izmir, retirees have limited privileges. For example, military retirees in Izmir can use the "APO," (post office) to send mail as if they were in the US, but they are limited to sending and receiving only up to 16 ounces. Active duty military in Izmir have no such restrictions. Retirees can also use the concessions in the BX/Commissary complex, like Anthony's Pizza (where you can get a pizza with REAL pepperoni), and Baskin Robbins, as well as the Turkish concessions which sell carpets and hand-made stuff. But retirees can't use the BX/Commissary.Don't ask where the BX/Commissary complex is, though. We can't allow posts about the locations of military facilities. :nono3: Don't worry, though, You'll find out where everything is during your orientation when you get here. :)

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Coming to Izmir to work with USAF. When looking on the web sites at apartents, which area should i be looking at? Is AC hard to find, most of the ads don't mention, some do?Still considering wether to bring auto or not, hear parking is an issue. How expensive is reerved parking if avalable?ThanksRoy

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When looking on the web sites at apartents, which area should i be looking at?

That kind of depends on where your place of work will be. Izmir is going through some changes, which means there will be work sites in Alsancak and at Sirinye (in Buca). Depending on your job, you may even be in other places that I don't know about.Anyway, it depends on where you're going to be. If you're going to be working in Alsancak, get a place in Alsancak, you can't beat it. However, people who work in Alsancak prefer to live across the bay in Karsiyaka or Bostanli, and they take the ferry across the bay every morning to go to work, and also to get home at night (there is regular ferry service). You can also try Hatay, which isn't far from Izmir, I used to live there too, and it's not bad. There are also some nice places around Konak. If you're going to be working in Sirinye Garrison, well, Buca is the city around that location. Apartment prices there are appreciably lower, but there's not much in the way of night life or stuff to do like there is in Alsancak. It's more boring in my opinion. Buca is about a 10-20 minute drive from Alsancak depending on the traffic. And during rush hour, the traffic is terrible. I lived in Buca once while working in Alsancak, and it was a real pain. I came in early and stayed late every day just to avoid the traffic. I wouldn't recommend doing that.Don't expect your place to be air conditioned, however it's possible to find places which are. They're the exception, not the norm. Generally, Turks take everything that isn't nailed down with them when they move out of a rental place, and the next tenant re-installs everything, including ceiling-mounted light fixtures, water heaters, refrigerator, and stove. That's just the way it is here... however the furnishings management section will provide everything you need... at least they did when I was on active duty in Izmir.Parking IS an issue in the downtown Alsancak area. But a car is nice to have. The parking situation, including in Alsancak, depends on where you live. If you live in the nice places in Alsancak, and have street parking, then YES, it is a problem. But some places have driveways. Paid parking can be had as well, it's probably maybe $3.00 per night, I'm guessing. It won't break you. Again, it all depends on where you want to live. Some places do have reserved parking, but it doesn't mean somebody won't be parked in your parking space when you get home.I hope that helps.

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Roy, I am AF and I got here 2 weeks ago. Don't bother with the online ads. Unless you have a Turkish spouse/relative you should just go with what the housing office arranges. They have a great system set up to get us into housing that is safe, centrally located, and up to certain standards. You will have AC. I just moved into my place yesterday.

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Laidbak, did you ship a car? I have decided to ship one is why I asked about parking in another string to you.Roy

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don't ship your car, public transport is good at izmir. parking will be a big problem at city center.I will rent my house @ feb 2010 it has 2 new ac, 160 square meter. 3 bedroom, 1 living room, 2 Bathroom, 1 toilet and 3 balcony. for your information...roy why you interested about ac izmir max 35 degree only 1 month (Agust) thats all, and TR power is not cheap as US. you can't use ac always and be sure you don't need...

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Selcuk, the year before last the temperature was about 40 degrees from the end of June right through until September. :)

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Selcuk,Thanks for the offer and info. I'll have to go through the unit for apartment. AC is important to me to sleep....soft i guess or spoiled, whichever it is, it's a requirement. The car is not so much for everyday but rather the freedom to travel and see Turkey. Sunny,wow 40 is hot..to warm to sleep well, I'll have to tighten the belt a little to stay cool since electric is expensive.ThanksRoy

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No I did not ship my car. Everything my sponsor and others told me seemed to warn against it. So far its not been a hardship for me at all. In some cases people said they were here a full 3 months before they were able to clear their cars and drive them. For me that's pointless if I'm only gonna be here 1 year.Driving here can best be descubed as 'people making up the rules as they go along'. Its downright dangerous; but there are those who do it with no issue.

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don't ship your car, public transport is good at izmir. parking will be a big problem at city center.

That's a new one for me, I shipped my car here and was glad I did, especially for trips down to the beaches in Cesme or Kusadasi. The driving style is definitely more aggressive here, but I got used to it after a week or two. And, the parking situation in Izmir is a problem! Of course shipping your car is a personal decision, but my vote would be "bring it."

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FYI:They don't sell gas coupons anymore. You have to get a special electronic collar attached to where your gas cap goes and you pay through an AAFES STAR card account. You can only get gas at stations that support the electronic billing. Otherwise you have to pay the regular prices with cash or credit card.TechGuy

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Bringing a car....Looking on the web sites, it appears there are apartments with parking and the travel on weekends and vacation are important.Wonder how many stations are equipped with the electronic payment system? Sounds great unless those stations are hard to find when traveling.Checked on insurance and found Liability thru USAA for less than $200 per year.Is there any issue with using home credit cards on the local economy?

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More and more of the Petrol Ofisi gas stations can support the electronic collar. You just have to find them. I'm sure that AAFES and the local personnel can tell you where they are located. There was the same issue with the gas coupons when they issued them as not all Petrol Ofisi gas sations would accpet them.You will not believe the number of gas stations that they have over here. They have plenty of them.I just renewed my liability insurance through a Turkish company and it was just 130 TL or around $87 for a year. That is for the minimum required by law. The rates for minimum liability car insurance are set by the Turkish Goverment and are the same for everyone each year.The USAA insurance quote may include more than the minimum liability coverage.They are no problems using credit cards on the economy although you will pay a 1-3 percent international service fee charged by Mastercard or Visa on international transactions.TechGuy

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Great informative post going on here... and certainly nice to see some Americans have retired to Izmir. I spent my youth as a British kid in the 1970's kicking around Izmir, lots of American influence then, military personel everywhere, american markets, large big cadilac cars from the 1960's up and down the roads and many american friends. Great days as a youngster spotting the military jets at Cigli airbase and running along the tarmac before aviation security was ever thought of. Izmir is a great place, very relaxed and probably the most Western city in Turkey. The most important thing for a Turk is to look after a guest, you will always receive a warm wlecome in Turkey and people will go out of their way to give you what they have not got themselves. Enjoy yourselves and please as I am sure you will do, always be polite back to the Turks, similar to air miles manners and politness go a long way in Turkey and open many doors.Enjoy what Turkey and its people have to offer, you won't be disappointed, its Fantastic!

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Thank you for that post and welcome to our forum BoarSquadron.You are right, most of us expats find Turkish people very friendly and courteous, that's perhaps why so many of us end up staying here. :)Would you like to go to 'Meet and Greet' and introduce yourself and perhaps tell us a bit about yourself please? :)

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Hi BoarSquadron!Wow, a lot has changed since then, hardly any Americans around any more, and few American cars driving around. The Brits have left Izmir completely. I remember hearing stories about how it was back in the '70s and '80s, they used to have a big hotel on the 1st Kordon called the "Kordon Hotel," man I've heard some stories about that place!Have you ever read a book called "Scotch and Holy Water?" It was written by an American who was stationed here around that time, it's quite hilarious, I don't know if it's still in print though!

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