Expat Interview: Jennifer Gaudet on Her Life and Business in Turkey
Jennifer Gaudet owns her own shop, Jennifer's Hamam, in Istanbul. In her Quest Turkey interview she tells us about her life in Turkey; the good and the bad sides, learning the lingo and making friends. She also fills us in on her business and how expats can start up their own business, along with good advice for people wanting to move to Turkey.
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Turkey?
I’m from Canada and I’ve lived outside of Canada for the last 12.5 years, 5.5 of which have been in Turkey
Tell us why you decided to move to Turkey?
I was living in Thailand teaching English before I came here. I was at a point that I wanted to do some kind of business. I moved here because their laws for foreigners doing business were more fair and open than Thailand’s laws.
Do you enjoy living there?
Istanbul is a beautiful city to live in. I feel very lucky that I have a thriving business and I’m involved with saving some of the handicrafts that are still left here in Turkey. I wish I had more time to be involved with all the city offers, but I still feel very lucky that it’s always there and available.
What don’t you enjoy so much about living there?
The food is OK, but Thai food was my perfect diet and I miss it more than I can ever express.
Do you speak Turkish? Do you have any tips for expats wanting to learn the language?
Immerse yourself in the language; put yourself somewhere where there is no English and you will learn the quickest out of necessity.
How important do you think it is to speak the local lingo?
You experience a whole other life in a country when you speak the local lingo and that other life will never be accessible to you until you DO speak the local lingo.
And, do you have many friends? Are they expats or Turks?
Because of my business, I know many people both Turkish and expats. As close friends, I have enough and again they are a mix of expats and Turkish people.
How easy is it to make friends?
When you own your business, it is difficult to get out there and meet people because you’re so busy doing your job, but assuming you have time, I think Turks are very friendly, open, gregarious people who are easy to befriend. If you’re looking for expat friends, it’s as easy as participating in one of the many, many groups out there.
Tell us about your work?
I am the owner of 2 shops called Jennifer’s Hamam. Turkish weavers weave all of our textiles and we are unique because of this.The quality of our products is the best you can find in the country. I’m very passionate about my work and with weaving almost extinct it’s very important to me that we help to keep this lovely art alive.
And tell us about your website and blog?
What advice would you give to expats wanting to work or start a business in Turkey?
Get yourself a great accountant that has contacts in the municipal government offices of the area you want to open your business. Have faith and jump in!! Do not hire a lawyer – it’s not necessary.
Would you ever consider moving back to your home country?
And finally, what words of advice would you give to people wanting to move to Turkey? What would you advise them to do?
Try to find a place to live near where you plan to work, to avoid the stress of traffic everyday.