One thing is certain – spending time away from Kuşadası whenever personal reasons or professional obligations so dictate, respectively, and only thinking about our fine resort puts a smile on ones’ face, or does it not?

That very smile then turns even bigger once the return journey is almost completed which for your friendly columnist mostly features the beautifully long and winding road coming into town from nearby İzmir; to be more precise, it turns bigger the moment one can spot the blue seas beneath the lush green hills. We have arrived, again.

But there is of course more to enjoying a particular place then simply feeling happy for a few seconds, or minutes. In order to successfully swap homes and/or countries we all compile an often rather extended ‘wish list’ so that we are sure that relocating is really the right thing to do.

In this context: the author of these lines is asked quite regularly whether, and if so, one can correctly define ‘quality of life’. Perhaps nothing but a time-consuming academic exercise? Far from it – as a matter of fact reflecting on this issue allows for something truly tangible being the final result.

Standard options or personalized choices?

Actually, the first time I had been asked that question was up in İstanbul many years ago. It came out of the blue indeed as the original topic was preparing for an event about an economic subject for a local university.

Yet business dealt with, soon the conversation branched out if that is the appropriate terminology to focus on more personal items and my opposite number inquired about what according to me constitutes a high quality of life. She was curious if there are differences, originally hailing from Türkiye and me being the new kid on the block.

Most definitely me looking surprised nevertheless a kind of soul searching began, both of us intent of coming up with serious answers and not just playing to the verbal diplomatic gallery.

The emerging list of potential hot picks was equally a surprise. Let us be honest, many if not most of us and unless really embarking on an extended phase of reflection would at once say, ‘money’.

Not in our case – in unison we both stated housing, the way we live at home but regardless of size. We agreed that having a comfortable, cozy fixed abode is what matters most. Of course: no cash, no apartment but money should not be regarded as what automatically guarantees a happy existence.

Next up: family. Whether big or small, leading the single man or single woman life did not appeal to either of us.

And last not least – respect. This became another point we agreed about on the spot. She had asked me whether I felt accepted and respected in my new country and I said, absolutely. She said she as a woman feels exactly the same in her native country.

It was my first longer conversation with a complete stranger initially matched by university to come up with a good road map for a conference about cross-border business ventures. All off a sudden we exchanged opinions about our private approaches to living a happy life, benefiting from a high quality of life… Other topics popped up but those three were our all-time favourites.

Now it is up to you dear reader: Home comforts, family life, feeling respected – would you agree or prepare a totally different train of thought? But that does not matter at all as long as you have started your journey towards defining quality of life, your very own model for finding happiness.

Which brings me to my overarching, or underscoring if you wish, opinion for this month. Whether you prefer your own hit-list or agree with (some of) mine, one additional aspect should not be overlooked: the town or city where we live as even if you have the perfect home, a loving family and are respected in a new country the very town or city that becomes the backdrop for all of this is a vital ingredient, too.

And that to me is ‘The Kuşadası Factor’. Starting from bottom to top in reverse order let us think respect. If one thing is absolutely certain our Turkish neighbours, friends, colleagues do the utmost to make new arrivals feel at home in an instant, talking with us eye to eye and letting us understand that they treat us with respect. Of course, it soon is our turn to reciprocate.

Then family. Even if we had wheels down as a singleton and only later on find a partner over here or are already a complete family: we can learn so much from the same Turkish friends as family life is cherished and treasured and the word solidarity amongst family members a key aspect of daily life. Unparalleled!

Which brings us to our own four walls – fantastic apartment sizes, balconies, some with pool others near the waterfront anyways. Windows, many with double aspects. Clean, comfortable.

Granted – if we find all of this and more in Berlin, Brisbane or Brussels or Birmingham for that matter we are blessed as well. And chances are we would. But now that we are here in Kuşadası there is this extra special feeling that in all likelihood will not let us look down on other fine countries or cities but will let us realize that of all the possible relocation places on our shared planet Earth we arrived in the right spot. All smiles then – enjoy!

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