‘Money’s Too Tight (to Mention)’ was the song with which Simply Red shot to fame in 1984. Yet three and a half decades later and when out about town in Kusadasi we frequently hear it played until this very day; it has become an all-time classic apparently enjoyed by us friendly international imports as much as it is by our Turkish hosts and local VJ’s.

Although the character described in this tune most definitely had other issues on his mind instead of hopping on a plane and jetting off to an exotic vacation one thing has not changed since it entered the charts: come the time to consider where to spend a holiday we would need to stick to a certain and usually rather tight family budget. Hence we compare not only ticket or hotel prices but how much we have to carry in cash for expenses on location, too.

This is ever more relevant in case we think about relocating to someplace else; can we live comfortably once there?

Now onto the good news: a study published by a newspaper in Austria on May 17 of this year states that with regards to where our hard-earned funds are worth investing in, Turkey is the winner indeed!

Before we continue to scrutinize that report’s contents a word of caution. ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics’ – an often quoted saying attributed to former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Thus written here are the details.

KronenZeitung broke the news that Turkey holds pole position with a view to how much value you get in return for one Euro spent (In Turkey, Hungary Euro worth the most, own translation, www.krone.at). How did that study quoted by fellow journalists arrive at its positive conclusion? You would use a basket of goods including food, travel, clothes, household goods in general and expenses for services, too, and come up with a sum total in local currency. You then enter exchange rates into the mathematical mix. Assuming that in your country of origin – in this case Austria – and what you get for 100 Euros purchasing power abroad is measured according to the same basket of goods.

You may ask what about Pound Sterling? Interestingly enough the United Kingdom and Austria are almost on a par with regards to how much you get for one hundred Euros, hence we can say the cost of living is all but identical, so the study may be applied to British travelers, too, with currently a ten to fifteen per cent extra bonus whilst exchanging Sterling overseas when compared to what we would get for swapping Euros.

Result? It is claimed that 100 Euros equals 219 Euros in Turkey but only 129 Euros in Spain for example; in other words it is worth just about twice as much as it is back home. At the other end of the list we would find Switzerland where a meager 74 Euros is what the value of our 100 Euros stands at.

Before we now jump to conclusions and declare Turkey as a ‘cheap’ country to holiday or to live in, respectively, let me set the record straight. Turkey is affordable, not cheap as the word ‘cheap’ is associated with low quality. To the contrary, Turkey is a high-quality destination where prices have been kept at acceptable levels which in turn brings in many tens of millions of foreign visitors who nicely invest whilst being abroad. That constantly increasing volume generates more jobs and more investments in infrastructure per return – a real win-win situation by definition.

On the one hand we tourists and long-term residents benefit from our increased purchasing power. Yet on the other hand our Turkish neighbors do so too: as we spend less for identical goods or services when compared with where we originally hail from the net prices here on location are simply less inflated. Our Turkish friends and neighbors thus manage a highly enjoyable yet rather affordable lifestyle, too.

Staying in Disraeli’s picture by adding personal experience one feels inclined to declare that perhaps just this once a statistic is actually correct. Think room per night rates in four star hotels, consider a three course meal in a good restaurant, embark on a journey within the country either by coach, rail or plane; take a look at rentals for top notch apartments or perhaps you decide to buying one;reflect on the costs for health insurance for expatriates or world famous locally made jeans. My own basket of goods shows to me that as we pay what our local neighbors pay Turkey is indeed top quality at extremely reasonable expenses. Granted, everyday prices have somewhat risen over the past decade or so but in no comparable fashion whatsoever with what has happened and with what is happening at home and predictions say it will stay so.

To conclude this column we should however leave the subject of material matters aside for a moment or two. Charles Haddon Spurgeon once wrote ‘It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness’ (brainyquote.com). In this context and if ever another study would be undertaken about the level of happiness amongst us expatriates here in Turkey dare I suggest this country would once again top the list of desirable destinations.

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