How to Take Calculated Risks When Moving Abroad: Visas, Housing, Wifi

Yes…I’m putting off Istanbul and I’ve got my reasons. One thing you’ll learn quickly when living abroad, from various locations, is to take calculated risks. When I choose a new country; I look at every aspect of living there. The three most important factors being the visa policy, price of housing, and quality of wifi. Here’s a quick rundown and some sites to help make your decision in choosing a place to live a bit easier.

FLIGHTS

DO NOT BOOK ANY FLIGHTS THROUGH THIRD PARTY WEBSITES. Book directly with the airline. Even if you still insist on using Skyscanner, only book directly with the airline. It doesn’t even matter if you buy additional insurance through a third party site. They won’t honor it and will give you the runaround. Save yourself the added stress, bite the bullet and pay the extra f**king $300+ directly through the airline. The best airlines to travel with right now are the following:

  1. Emirates
  2. Turkish Airlines
  3. Iberia
  4. Singapore Airlines
  5. Etihad

I simply changed my ticket to an open one with Turkish Airlines. I have up to two years to use it and they were very polite. Are there any other airlines I should add to this list?

VISAS

At this time, Turkey is offering a 90 day tourist visa for most foreigners. You can check their official site here.

What about the entry requirements for Mexico? How about Thailand? Which countries require PCR tests? Which ones don’t? I will stress that it’s important to travel responsibly since we’re in the middle of a pandemic.

All countries have different procedures for entering right now. The best list I’ve found so far is Travelbans.org. It gives you thorough and updated information on the entry requirements for ALL COUNTRIES based on your nationality! I always double-check their information with a country’s official site and so far they haven’t been wrong.

COST OF HOUSING

I decided against Istanbul at this time because the cost of housing has skyrocketed. No…it’s absolutely f**king insane! One woman had the nerve to quote me 2,000€ and tried to act like it was a good deal. Yeah, I’m not that stupid. Any seasoned traveler will tell you the prices you’ll find online will always be higher than the ones you’ll find once you’re there. Still, you can join Facebook groups to get a general idea of what you’ll be paying.

An important part of my decision to move is the cost of housing. The average cost for a studio in fashionable Moda (neighborhood of Istanbul) was around $300 about four months ago. Since then, I noticed a shift towards the higher. it now costs between $500-$700! It’s still affordable for me, but then I started noticing complaints of landlords kicking tenants out in favor of getting more money for their flat. Check any expat group in Istanbul and you’ll see it’s not uncommon to see these posts.

Istanbul landlords be like “Prime location in Moda–$2000 a month, all utilities separate. Ha! Bitch, please!

Then, the owner of an apartment I booked in Besiktas through Booking.com asked me to cancel my reservation! After taking into account the rising cost of housing; I fully understood why this creep wanted me to cancel. I truly feel sorry for my Turkish friends who are struggling to survive there on salaries of $900/month. Yeah…I’ll wait it out to see if the prices will go down.

So…in short…Check Facebook’s Marketplace and housing groups to see what the costs will be like first! Follow this for a few months and check out old posts. Do you notice any trends in housing costs? Does the cost of housing rise closer to summer? Is it cheaper to get a one year lease in winter rather than spring? You should consider all of these things.

Wifi

My passion is for writing and sharing valuable information about life abroad. Apart from the occasional freelance writing gig; I’m not making much money doing this…yet. About 70% of my income comes from teaching online. This means I NEED TO KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT THE WIFI BEFORE SETTLING SOMEWHERE.

The first step is to ask and search for posts about wifi in the Facebook groups of the cities you’re thinking of living in. Nomad List is popular, but it’s not an accurate account of what the wifi will be like in the city. I don’t really find it to be an accurate account of anything apart from running nomad meetups.

Next tip…Always test the wifi in the room of where you’re going to work from. Questions to ask potential owners…

  1. Does the apartment have a private, unshared modem?
  2. What internet company do you use? -This one is really important because some internet companies are better than others. For example, I’ve learned, through trial and error, that any place using Speedy or Indihome internet in Bali means low ping and constant outages. On the flip side, any company using CB or MTM means I’ll have few problems.

A speedtest used to be a great way to make sure owners weren’t lying about the wifi. Sadly, most still lie about the wifi. They take screenshots from places with excellent wifi and pretend it is your intended place of stay! Then they act surprised when you test it in the apartment and it doesn’t work. Best bet is to only book a few nights. If it’s good…stay. If it’s not…leave.

What are people talking about?

Again, the Facebook expat groups are your best bet to see what the general mood is in your intended place of stay. What really caused worry for me was that everyone was complaining about the rising cost of rent. It didn’t matter if I was in the Expats of Istanbul or Foreign Women of Istanbul group.

Everyone was super pissed off about the price of housing. I also noticed how Istanbul landlords started to show a bit of attitude in their apartment listings. They weren’t answering questions and became snippy with those who did. As an Chicagoan, the “take it or leave it” attitude has never sat well with me.

There you go. I hope these tips help you. It was a very difficult decision to decide to stay here. I’ll happily reconsider Istanbul once the rents become more stable.

My next post will talk about how I’m planning for my retirement as a digital nomad.

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