Expat Glossary

Expatriates, like everyone else, come in all shapes and sizes – the mean and the mannered, the classless and the classy, the awful and the joyful. The abbreviated epithet ’expat’ simply doesn’t adequately express the myriad folk who have chosen to live here In Turkey (or anywhere else for that matter). To add a little descriptive colour to the posts of my Turkey days, I devised some new words and phrases to depict the numerous variants of the species.

Expat Glossary

Emigreys

Retirees serving out their twilight years in the sun, most of whom seem to be just a little to the right of Genghis Khan and who bought a jerry built white box in Turkey because it was cheaper than Spain (well, it was at the time). Everyday emigrey life operates within a parallel universe of neo colonial separateness preoccupied with visa hops to the Isles of Greece, pork sausages, property prices and Blighty bashing.

VOMITs* (Victims of Men in Turkey)

Vintage desperate ex-housewives with a few lira to spare who shamelessly chase younger Turkish men. Predictably, such relationships rarely last once the money runs out. A sub-genus of the species is the MADs (my Ahmed’s different) for those delusional VOMITs who think that their Turkish man is somehow different from the rest because ‘he really loves me.’ Who are they trying to kid?

The Sisterhood

A new addition to the Expat Glossary for 2014, the Sisterhood is the antidote to the VOMITing sickness that afflicts the many Shirley Valentines who wash up like driftwood on the beaches of Turkey. Many of the Sisters are reformed VOMITs who’ve been through the ringer, some more than once, but have emerged to tell the tale stronger and wiser. The Sisters stick together (like birds of a feather), because men are rubbish.

Semigreys

Those too young to retire in the conventional sense, and who are living the vida loca on the proceeds of property sales. Plunging interest rates present quite a fiscal test to those trying to maintain a hedonistic lifestyle on dwindling assets while waiting for the pensions to kick in, assuming there will be a pension to kick in.

Vetpats

Veterans who have been living in Turkey for many years. Usually better informed than their peers with a less asinine view of the world, vetpats have taken the trouble to learn Turkish and are better integrated into the wider community. Some have even acquired Turkish citizenship through marriage or toil and are fortunate to have found gainful employment on the right side of the Law.

Bodrum Belles

Single ladies of a certain age, rollercoaster pasts and plucky presents. Some may have once been VOMITs but, unlike many of their sisters, have learned from bitter experience and live quiet and contented lives with a refreshing insight into their lot. To qualify as a Belle you must live in Bodrum Town. Anywhere else just doesn’t cut the mustard.

Emiköys

A rare breed of seasoned pioneers, Emiköys have forsaken the strife of city life and deodorant for the real köy mckoy and eek out a life less ordinary in genuine Turkish villages. They get down, dirty and dusty with the locals, contribute meaningfully to their small rural communities, keep chickens, get unnaturally close to nature and talk Turkish to the trees (well not always, but I’m sure some do).

Sexpats

Discrete (and sometimes not so discrete) grey men of means who are serviced by young Turkish men in return for a stipend.

Hedonistas

Those who enjoy a carefree existence of total self-indulgence liberated from the binding ties of responsibility or the worries of tomorrow. Spend, spend, spend because you can’t take it with you and there are no children to fret about. That’ll be us then.

The Ignorati

A collective term for those who live in utter ignorance of the history and culture of their foster land, shout loudly in English and see the world at large through the narrow-minded pages of the Daily Mail (or The Daily Bigot as I like to call it).

These terms are not mutually exclusive. It’s perfectly possible for an emigrey to also be a vetpat VOMIT and a fully paid up member of the ignoble ignorati, and many are.

*The term VOMIT was first coined by former vetpat Cathy Crawford and originally described a select group of Bodrum Belles who had survived their encounters with Turkish men and lived to tell the tale. Over time, the word has mutated to its current meaning.

PtP Looking Right

See how all this comes alive in the book, Perking the Pansies – Jack and Liam move to Turkey. The sequel, The Sisterhood, Jack and Liam’s Turkish Affair will be out in few months. Expect to read a lot more about the expat rat pack.

“The book’s originality lies in it’s honesty.” Time Out, Istanbul

“Empathetic, respectful and pretty acute.” Turkish Daily News

88 thoughts on “Expat Glossary

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  3. Aussies assimilate all those terms into one commonly used word that encompasses all situations …. “Wankers” :-)

    I have many Turkish friends here in Wollongong, Australia and it is their favourite word.

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  35. Great post! Great social analysis!
    I was just searching for reputed blogs on Turkey and find yours. I have to say I enjoyed reading your posts.

    Well, I’m writing here because I’m thinking on fleeing the harsh Bulgarian winter and travel to beautiful Turkey to a warm and nice spot.

    These last days I was busy searching on the web houses for rent in the area of Antalya, Mugla, Fethiye… It is indeed a tricky tast as there are son many web sites with tourist prices. And when I finally found some Turkish sites they were all rather dull, obsolete and hard to navigate through.

    I wonder if you or somebody who reads this can please help me, does anybody know any efficient and serious rental agents or some way to get a nice house for a reasonable prize? We are looking for a small or medium sized villa for a 6 months period, from November untl April or March. I understand the area of Antalya and Mugla have mild winter temperatures. Anybody knows some other warm areas in Turkey to spend the winter?

    Well, thank you for letting me comment this on your blog, congratulations and keep on writing, I’ll be reading from now on… :-)

    Love and kisses,

    Julieta

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    • Hi Julieta, Thanks for the kind comments.

      It can be lovely here in winter, but a word of warning. Although winters in Southern Turkey are relatively temperate compared to parts of Bulgaria it can get surprisingly cold and many houses simply aren’t built for that. It can also be incredibly wet – dramatic storms, torrential downpours and freezing temperatures can afflict all parts of Turkey, including the South Coast on occasion Thankfully, winters are relatively short in this part of Turkey (I’d say 2 months of the really difficult stuff), but if you are renting you will need to think about heating solutions and the associated costs. Central heating is rare and expensive to run.

      As far as locations go, you need to stick to the coastal areas bordering the Aegean and the Mediterranean to get the best of temperatures. Generally, the further south you go, the better. For example, Antalya has a reputation for having some of the mildest winters.

      Of course, it’s not just about the weather, location is important. The bigger towns, particularly those that support a Turkish population (so not just tourists) will have a better infrastructure and you will have more to do. We live in Bodrum because it’s a living, working town, open all year round. Some towns on the Bodrum peninsula become more like ghost towns in the winter. It depends what you want. Being stuck in a nice villa on an empty site, miles from nowhere may not be that much fun.

      When it comes to rentals, the standard site used most by Turks is Sahibinden.com. Here’s a link to their rental section in English:

      http://www.sahibinden.com/en/search.php?b%5Bsearch%5D=for-rent&c=16622

      If you want to deal directly with English speaking owners, sites like http://www.ownersdirect.co.uk can be useful. Many of the owners will consider a long term let at much reduced prices.

      Another very useful and route is to ask on one of the Turkish Forums. Two of the most popular are:

      http://www.turkeycentral.com/

      http://www.turkishlifeforums.com

      Hope this helps and good luck with your search! Feel free to e-mail me if you’d like any more info.

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  36. Jack:
    Thank you so much for all the information, it is of great help!
    I’m going to check out all the sites and forums you recommend.
    Thank you again, have a nice weekend!

    Julieta

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  46. Just came across your site Jack and wanted to say how much i enjoyed it. Love the glossary – rings very true. Like the Bodrum Belles! Looking forward to getting a copy of your book and hope our paths cross in Bodrum at some point in the future. Great blog title by the way. Keep up the good work!

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  47. Just came across your site Jack and wanted to say how much i enjoyed it. Love the glossary – rings very true. Like the Bodrum Belles and the Vetpats! Looking forward to getting a copy of your book and hope our paths cross in Bodrum at some point in the future. Great blog title by the way. Keep up the good work!

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    • Hi Peter. Thanks for stopping by. I really hope you like the book. So far the reviews have been excellent so I think the book’s ‘got legs’ as my publisher put it. A review from you would mean a great deal. Let me know if you’re ever in Bodrum and I’ll buy you a coffee or maybe bribe you with something stronger! Best wishes, Jack.

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      • Appreciate the swift reply Jack. Yes, impressed by the reviews. I’m sure you must be delighted. Will see if I can read it a bit later in the year when things have calmed down a little. Coffee or something stronger – sounds super. Pleased to have made contact. All best, Peter

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  59. Hi Jack, just read part of your book on Amazon, ‘Surviving the Expats’, brilliant! :) I spent a year in Turkey and time in Thailand and yes, surviving the ex-pats can be challenging, to say the least :) My friends Paul & Nigel won a copy of your book, ‘Perking up the Pansies’ as well as their UK friend and they thoroughly enjoyed meeting you both in Bodrum before your return to the UK. I am going to purchase both of yours and indulge in your wit and insights. I am currently writing a book that also has revelations of ex pat living, in a different sense. Reading your blog, I wish I had done that, its excellent to show the ‘other’ side of life as an ex-pat.. Like you, I have also found that ‘without family, language and roots’, it isn’t worth it, and have decided to return home. I am not sure I fit into any of your categories, I work as I travel, freelance writing and avoid the lairs of turkish waiters like the plaque although I did succumb to a relationship in Thailand, (although not a waiter and my own age!! :) cultural differences made it nigh on impossible for a relationship to succeed. We remain in touch, sporadically both hopeful or defeated or neither. I may not fit into your categories, as I am always only a fleeting ex-pat, fully aware that the lifestyle is not enough for me, to indulge in a not-so-happy-ever-after in a land that you can never fully integrate into. I am not one to settle for less, hence may never settle at all, though I hope that is not the case. Sorry for the essay, Good luck with your life back home and your writing, xx

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    • I should have thought of a category for you fly by night working types ;-) (Flitpat, perhaps?). We have a really fun time with Paul and Nigel. It’s a pity we didn’t get to know them sooner. Good luck with your own book. I found writing to be a great way to make sense of the emigrey madness we found ourselves immersed in. Writing it all down was a cathartic experience. I’d never written before so starting a blog was a fantastic apprenticeship and helped build up a following. Sounds like you’ve got your own rich seam to mine which promises to be an absorbing read. Relationships are hard at the best of times but trying to cram a square peg in a round hole is a challenge to say the least. Liam and I have each other. We know how lucky we are. Others are not so fortunate. Too many people we met were running away and trying to re-invent themselves. Few really succeed and many have little to go back to. I’m sorry to hear that the Thai connection hasn’t worked out. Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be. You sound like you’ve got your head screwed on and know when a change needs to happen. It’s a great instinct to have. Get that pen out and get it all down :-). Cheers Jack.

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  60. Thanks very much for your reply Jack, yes, I am a flitpat, like to indulge for a spell, but get out quick before i fit into one of the other categories :) ‘be careful who you spend time with, for you shall become them’. Wow, you had never written before, you were meant to go to Turkey for your talent to be discovered, you have put me to shame, with all your books published, reading your stuff yesterday has inspired me to get cracking!! What’s your next one to be? A question: the people you have wrote about so colourfully, what has been their response? I laughed a lot as I could just envision them with your descriptions, and I could envision their reactions to it. Do tell! I’m going to stop worrying about writing and blog my experiences, it suddenly seems so silly why I haven’t yet. I am actually looking forward to ousting the expats now, cathartic assistance welcome. Haha, maybe it was trying to fit square into round, or maybe it also was partly due to not knowing how to round off the edges, knowing but not applying in the right way. We are also very similar personalities which can add fuel to a fire. It is great you have found each other and greater still that you can acknowledge how lucky you are, that will nurture your relationship enormously. Yes, finally learnt to trust my instinct and know what’s not right. Mostly! Yes, Paul & Nigel are great, Paul is currently quite unwell, after suffering a stroke, he is improving slowly but surely and like you two, they have a strong relationship and aware of their fortune. It will stand to them now. Thanks for the inspiration, have a great weekend, Caroline.

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  64. Hi there – I came across your blog from the WordPress highlight. This is hilarious! There are may expats here in the Philippines and I secretly categorize them as well. Might write a post inspired by this. I’ve already got about 5 in my head!!

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