is a coastal city on Turkey’s Aegean coast, historically known as Smyrna.
Moving to Izmir was an interesting experience which I will always remember.
First thing I noticed after a couple of days is this combination of East meet West, with the latter having more influence in the sentiments of the city’s everyday life. Izmir consists of eleven districts; Balçova, Bayakli, Bornova, Buca, Cigli, Gaziemir, Guzelbahçe, Karabaglar, Karshiyaka, Konak, and Narlidere. The distance between Balchova and Konak was my familiar route on the bus whenever I wanted to go out to have some fun.
During my stay there, I was able to sense the ease and relaxation after many years of tense work, Balçova (pronounced Balchova) is considered a retirement place for many Turks but also Europeans enjoy visiting its health spas and hotels which are known for their hot water treatments. While there, I noticed that Balchova is less crowded than the other districts and since it has campuses for three universities I could not tell that it was a retirement place until someone told me, there is this youthful spirit to it where you can find cafés. The city is well organized and has bicycles lanes if you want to have a walk by the sea so you won’t be bothered by bikers, although I would suggest if you want to enjoy the nightlife to go to Alsanjack where there are more cafes and restaurants with sea view.
I thought the cost of rent was reasonable, it can cost up to 340 USD for a two bedroom
flat in Balchova per month (during the low season), but there are cheaper places in Buca and Bornova that can cost up to 200 USD per month.
Going from one place to another in Izmir was very easy, my options were using a bus, or dulmush (mini bus) or a tram-train, its better you pay for your bus fare through a Kent card which you swipe as you enter the bus, it is available at many supermarkets. As for eating, the food is super delicious, they have various kind of kebabs, the cost of a meal at the mall can be 5 USD or if you want to have a meal at a restaurant or a café this can be up to 10 to 15 dollars, a fancier restaurant can cost more.
A useful tip is to try to buy Turkish made merchandises as I have found that foreign-made goods are more expensive because of the tariffs applied.
Shopping for clothes, or anything for that matter, was very enjoyable at Konak, with its very busy streets and shops lined across of one another. Another option for shopping is the mall (such as Agora) which can be more expensive, there are also ‘Bazars’ which open on holidays and weekends, this is when local farmers or small shop owners sell their products, you can find handmade clothing, souvenirs, fruits and vegatables but most importantly homemade delicious food and dessert.
At first, it really troubled me that English is not well spoken there, but I managed, so will anyone I guess, people have a helpful and nice attitude towards strangers.
As for a health insurance, all foreigners who intend to stay there for more than 3 months are expected to purchase one as a requirement for their residency application, I bought mine from the Turkish National Insurance agency SGK for an approximate of 200 USD per year, buying health insurance from private health companies can cost you up to 300 USD.
The city has an airport with flights to Europe, not to all cities though so you might need to have a one stop in Istanbul at Ataturk International Airport before heading to your final destination.
Being in Izmir taught me again what it is like to relax and have a slow going lifestyle. I loved this city and will always go back for a visit.