American Expat in Turkey - Interview With Ellen

Published: 18 Mar at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Turkey
Ellen Rabiner fell in love with travel as a teenager when she toured as a violist with a youth orchestra, traveling to China, India and Nepal. After practicing law in Los Angeles for a few years she returned to New York and embarked on an international career as an opera singer, performing in France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Japan. In 2010 changed careers again, and decided to explore a different part of the world. She moved to Antalya, and now writes for various travel publications in addition to maintaining her blog, Ellen in Turkey (see listing here), about her personal experiences in Turkey and wherever she happens to be.

Meet Ellen - Amercian expat in Turkey
Meet Ellen - Amercian expat in Turkey

Here's the interview with Ellen...


Where are you originally from?
New York.

In which country and city are you living now?
Antalya, Turkey.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I've been here almost three years and have no plans to leave.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I came here because it was time to make a change in my life. My singing career was winding down, and living in New York was too expensive. So I started thinking about where I'd like to live, and when I came across a photo of Antalya on the web it caught my attention.

Did you bring family with you?
No.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
There were a few things to get used to, and of course learning to speak Turkish is a challenge, but on the whole it was a smooth transition.

A picnic/bbq organized by the Antalya Expat Social Group
A picnic/bbq organized by the Antalya Expat Social Group
Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It's very easy to meet people here. There are many activities organized by expats, but I also participate in activities organized by Turks. Facebook is a big help in finding out what's going on, and people here always seem to welcome newcomers.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
The main attractions of the Antalya region are the beaches and the ancient ruins, and one of the best things to do is to take a boat ride on the Mediterranean. For expats, I would recommend frequenting the weekly market (pazar) in your neighborhood for fresh produce and good value on household items and clothing.

In Cappadocia, at the potter's wheel
In Cappadocia, at the potter's wheel
What do you enjoy most about living here?
What I most enjoy about Antalya is the beautiful weather we have most of the year, and the fact that I can appreciate it on my balcony. After being cooped up in a tiny New York apartment for twenty years, this is a real luxury. I also like the relaxed pace of life here.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
My apartment in Antalya is about three times the size of my New York apartment, and my rent here is one sixth of what I paid in New York. That's the most dramatic difference in the cost of living. Groceries, except for meat, are also much less expensive here.

In Saklikent, Antalya's ski resort
In Saklikent, Antalya's ski resort
What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The biggest negative for me is simply that Antalya is so far away from the U.S. It's quite a hassle traveling to California to visit my parents. Other than that, the negatives are the minor inconveniences of occasional power outages and the fact that Antalya doesn't have a sufficient drainage system for the rain storms that flood the streets periodically. Antalya also has extremely hot summers (but that's when I escape to the U.S.).

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
The one piece of advice I'd give is to expect things to be different here than in your home country. I would hope that people become expats to experience these differences rather than to avoid them.

Antaya's Kaleici harbor
Antaya's Kaleici harbor
What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The hardest thing for me has been learning the Turkish language. I've always been very good at learning foreign languages, so I expected to be fluent here within a year or two. I seriously underestimated the difficulty of this language.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Try to speak a bit of Turkish. Nobody expects you to be perfect, and any attempt is appreciated.
  2. Be patient and open to new experiences.
  3. Eat everything, but watch out for hot peppers.
  4. Enjoy the weather, but use sunscreen.
  5. Use the internet. There are expat forums, blogs, and all sorts of sites with helpful information.


Hadrian's Gate, Antalya's Roman ruins in the city center
Hadrian's Gate, Antalya's Roman ruins in the city center
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog started out as a way to let friends and family know what I was doing. Once other people started reading it, I began to include more information that could be useful to travelers to the region, such as descriptions of tourist sights, and to other expats, such as where to find expat social events. I also write about other countries when I'm traveling from here. In the past year I've been to Italy, Germany and Scotland. So some of my posts are about those visits.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
I can be contacted through my bog, my facebook page or on Twitter @ElleninTurkey.

Ellen blogs at http://www.elleninturkey.com/ which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Ellen in Turkey has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Ellen, please also drop her a quick comment below. Ellen is also one of the Local Experts to feature in the new Local Expert Series.

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Comments » There is 1 comment

Michael wrote 6 years ago:

Is Ellen still in Antalya? I read somewhere that she had left

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