Turkish delights in the eastern Med

UK buyers love Kalkan Bay in Turkey for its rustic, relaxed atmosphere - but beware of wannabe builders and agents
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The Independent Online

The Turkish village of Kalkan is certainly attracting interest - and not just because it is tourist season. This summer will see many holidaymakers visiting the eastern Mediterranean resort, but more and more Brits are deciding to make it their home. Mary Kenyon first visited the small resort with its steep, cobblestoned roads in 2000: "I met a very special man and decided I wanted to spend our time together, so I went back to UK, sold my house and moved out to Kalkan."

Kenyon explains the area's appeal: "I love Kalkan, its beauty and serenity. The village is picturesque with its winding streets and harbour. The people are gentle and the life here is good." Thousands of mainly British tourists visit the village in peak season, but in winter months Kalkan changes: "Summer life is a buzz but winter is so different. All the gift shops closed and very few eating places are open."

Kenyon is not the only foreigner living permanently here. Dutch and Americans are among her neighbours, but the British community is sizeable and growing - as are the estate agents who have opened up both to meet and fuel the demand. Kenyon and her partner Engin have a four-bedroomed, four-bathroomed house with pool, which they let: "We decided to build our own property so that we could incorporate our own personality into the design of the house with some of the best Turkish and European features."

The couple have almost completed another house nearby with stunning views over Kalkan Bay which they will move into, and plan on building a house a year for the foreseeable future, depending on land availability.

Kenyon describes the process so far as "fairly easy" but she admits that having a Turkish partner helps: "I could not have done this on my own, not only due to the language problems but there are so many rules and regulations and you have to do everything correctly." There can be practical difficulties, too, in managing your own building project: "The worst bit is getting the right labour for the work and the best materials for the job. Kalkan does not provide all the necessary materials so you have to travel around and get the best prices and equipment."

Kenyon is about to sell her original house at a profit but warns: "It is a risk that if it pays off, all well and good; if not you are landed with money being tied up and you must play the waiting game." She cannot imagine returning to the UK: " My life here is with the man who loves me as I love him. We are happy together and want to spend our time here where I feel more safe."

Barry Whitney of Eastern Mediterranean Properties (EMP) sees many British buyers like Kenyon who settle happily into new lives in Turkey: "They are mainly retired as people now realise that you can come here, live on £50 per month, and be quids in." He says the UK housing boom has made most people equity-rich and they are using their surplus to fund new lives in Turkey. EMP has a range of property, including one-bedroomed apartments with communal pool for £39,000 or a single-storey detached four-bedroomed villa for £145,000.

Prices have risen so steeply in recent months, however, that Whitney urges anybody considering buying to act fast: "Do it now, otherwise even in one month's time, prices will have risen further." But he also advises buyers to do their homework: "Use a reputable company. You can go it alone but you will need to speak Turkish - not because you will be conned but because it is very easy to be misinterpreted."

Whitney inspects all properties himself: "We don't take on anything that is older than two years as the building regulations are different [now]."

Architect Damla Yaltirik works alongside Avatar International, who sell property in Kalkan, and she warns buyers to be wary of other estate agents there: "There are too many ordinary houses here. Everyone in Kalkan has become a building contractor and many estate agents claim to be builders but have no real knowledge of it."

Yaltirik has noticed an increasing demand to be based further out of the village because of noise, but she is careful to interpret her clients' briefs and create interesting properties rather than the "many ordinary houses" she fears are blotting the landscape. Avatar International has a plot for sale that is 400m2 with plans for a two-storey, 200m2 interior, 100m2 open-terrace villa and a 320m2 garden with a sizeable swimming pool for £160,000. The high-specification property will have stunning views over Kalkan Bay.

Avatar International's Amar Sodhi does not believe that increasing interest in this area will mar the village's beauty, however: "If anything, interest only drives up the standards. Many buyers don't mind spending over £100,000 or £150,000, and now that the spotlight is on Kalkan you are getting luxury villas and buildings that are of a very high standard."

Avatar International: 08707 282827

Eastern Mediterranean Properties: 020-7247 7407