BY LEYLA YVONNE ERGIL
ISTANBUL JUN 03, 2022 – DAILY SABAH
Muğla’s Köyceğis is a quiet town despite it’s breath-taking vistas of the surrounding almost mystical Köyceğiz Lake, and is actually a major hub for agricultural and honey producers. (Shutterstock Photo)
Turkey is laden with off-the-beaten-path destinations to live in nature yet still be connected to a thriving community of expats, digital nomads and urbanites seeking the range life
Geographically, Turkey has a lot of options for any lifestyle, but a lesser-known fact is that the country is predominantly rural. If you plan it right, you can live immersed in nature close to a central hub of urbanites either working remotely or seeking the range life and foreigners and digital nomads alike seeking a slower pace of life.
These hubs in Turkey I refer to are certain towns, or municipalities, located along the western and southern coast of Turkey that also happen to govern a number of villages, some in dozens, that are connected to them. While most of the younger generation that grew up in these regions abandon their villages to pursue their higher education and eventually their careers in cities, there is an increasing trend of reverse migration, in other words an urban-to-rural movement, which unsurprisingly escalated during the pandemic. But this has resulted in a careful balance of newcomers renting out abandoned rural homes that due to their nature benefit greatly from having someone residing in them. These days, many villages also have more modern homes and some even flats, but what most of these rural areas definitely have are surroundings immersed in nature.
So, where are these rural community hubs in Turkey, you ask? Well … starting from the west and quite arguably one of the country’s best cities and greater regions is Çanakkale. Now, while the city itself is bustling with a young university-student population and picturesque to boot as it spreads along the coastline overlooking the legendary Gallipoli peninsula and battlefields, the province’s town of Ayvacık, which is an hour’s drive south, has become the main town servicing upward of 90 villages in the Assos to Küçukkuyu region.
Nearly all of the villages in Ayvacık are nestled in the hills, mostly overlooking the Gulf of Edremit, where mythological gods such as Zeus and his daughters Aphrodite and Athena held the first beauty pageant. Nonetheless, the region is spectacular, with villages in forested mountains overlooking the sea. As for names: From Sokakağzı to Behramkale, Paşaköy, Büyükhüsün, Ahmetçe and Sazlı are just some of the villages where urbanites have transformed their lives into one immersed in nature.
While Urla admittedly now falls into the gentrified boutique town category due to its positioning right in between Izmir, Turkey’s third most populous city and Alaçatı, the country’s premier boutique town-turned vacation destination for the famous and the paparazzi that follow them. While Urla is fast on the rise and has many pleasantries such as upscale cafes and restaurants, the surrounding villages are once again completely hidden away in the wooded hills. Furthermore, many of the villages between Urla and Izmir’s sleepier Seferihisar and the coastal town of Sığacık are comfortably habitable and accessible from Urla. Villages that especially stand out are Kuşcular, Yağcılar and Bademler. Or, instead of veering toward Alaçatı and Çeşme, head north to the remoter towns of Mordoğan and Karaburun, which are now also increasingly becoming year-round residential destinations.
While Datça is a popular summer destination amongst well-established Turks, the entire peninsula houses a dozen or so villages inhabited by outsiders choosing to live in the spectacular natural setting of the region. While Datca is the name of the port town at the tip of the peninsula from where it is serviced by a regular ferry to Bodrum, the whole Datça peninsula spans all the way to Emecik and eventually Marmaris. Villages such as Karaköy, Kızlan, Mesudiye, Reşadiye and Hızırşah are all potential residential options that are close to the main town of Datça, which has new-wave cafes and restaurants bustling year-round.
A funny little town in the sense that there isn’t much going on despite its breathtaking vistas of the surrounding almost mystical Köyçeğiz Lake; however, the town of Köyceğiz is actually a major hub for agricultural and honey producers. The weekly market is huge and the town has everything anyone could ask for, including honey shops where you can taste varieties such as lavender and citrus honey. The surrounding villages of Köyceğiz have also begun to be inhabited by first-generation farmers of specialized artisan products. At the local Slow Food markets, you can find them selling their wares, such as lemongrass teas, sourdough bread, nut butter, and much more.
Fethiye is actually a city on the Mediterranean end of Muğla. However, the region it governs encompasses a vast array of geography and history, from the abandoned ghost town of Kayaköy to the creek-laden Reclus of Yanıklar, which also houses a music “village” with concerts and workshops on Turkish instruments. Fethiye is also home to the natural wonders of Ölüdeniz and Faralya, a village with breathtaking views literally on the ancient Lycian Path. But there are also villages such as Üzümlü that are well-equipped for remote workers. The region is visually stunning and the city of Fethiye is an active hub with all the amenities anyone could ask for.