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25 August 2006

Where to live in Izmir - Part Two: Zeytinalan

If you are looking to live in a house - rather than an apartment - and prefer to live away from the bustle of the centre, then Zeytinalan may be an area for you.

Zeytinalan, I am told, means olive land. The air is clean, the silence golden and time is marked by the call to prayer, the sound of crickets and birds chirping.
It's a great place to live if you're here with your family, kids and/or dog(s).
If however, you are here on your own, then we recommend you live closer to more "happening" areas.

It is located approximately, 27km from Izmir centre, and about 8km from the town of Urla (although Zeytinalan is technically in the district of Urla).
The highway access in Güzelbahçe (Cesme-Izmir Otoyulu Seferihisar exit) is about 7 minutes away by car, and will speed your trip up considerably, although the coastal road will take you to Narlidere, Balçova, Konak, and Izmir centre. Although, an Urla-Izmir minibus exists, we strongly recommend that you dispose of your own vehicle and don't mind driving too much.

Zeytinalan has lots of Sitesi (or condominiums) of varying sizes and styles.

Some are very recent and have been built to withstand earthquakes, others are older but will provide you with the rare thick shade of tall trees.

Most Sitesi in this area are not too large (25 houses) and include a shared swimming pool (very enjoyable), a club-house (not very popular as far as I can see), shared gardens, and security. Some also have tennis/basket ball courts.

The gardens and pool are well kept by the gardeners, and the grass is beautifully green. Access to the condominium properties requires a security code or magnetic key. Garbage is removed daily, technical support is provided.

Zeytinalan village, sprouts a number of useful small shops including;
at least three Pharmacies (Eczane), fruit and vegetable mini markets, a couple of convenience shops (cheeses, bread, fruit and vegetables, shampoo, soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, crackers and biscuits, beer, juices and sodas, etc.) a hairdresser, a water/gas supplier, a Photo shop, and a couple of cafes, a post office, and a Mosque.

In Zeytinalan, "life is good", as they say... The houses and grounds are spacious and well kept, neighbors are international (Spanish, German, Italian, Turkish, Dutch in the one we live in), easy access to the swimming pool is wonderful. Nevertheless, for me, living in Zeytinalan took some getting used to.

I have lived out in the countryside before, but in a small city (Geneva), where distances are not an issue. Driving into town was initially a bit of a hassle.

Also, Zeytinalan "centre" is anything but international (I have yet to see a women in a cafe here, accompanied or not! Unlike in Izmir town or even in Agora's Starbucks) and most women wear a head scarf (again, not the case in town, where the crowd is remarkably multi-cultured). It also struck me, that just a few steps outside Eden-like compounds, the grass is dry, the roads are partially asphalted, and the housing very different....

Markets & Shopping:
Every Thursday sees an open
air market in Zeytinalan, similar to the one in Bostanli or Balçova, although much smaller. Still, it is practical for fruit and vegetables, the odd plastic container, scarves, bath mats, and other bits and bobs.

For more serious food and household shopping, you'll want to drive to Balçova, (depending on traffic, about 25 minutes along the coastal road) and depending on what you're looking for, go to:
-Kipa or Migros (for food, books, electronics, kitchen ware, toiletries, toys, etc.)
-Agora (books and CDs, clothes, shoes, cinema, optician, electronics, Starbucks, Marks & Spencer's, jewellery, decoration and some furniture and house linen)
-Koçtaş (DIY)

Alternatively, Narlidere (about the same distance), will offer an array of smaller shops, cafés and restaurants. Closer by, Güzelbahçe has quite a few mini markets.

All in all, it is a beautiful and calm area, ideal for families. Once you get used to the drive to town, it's really not that far. I have recently discovered the ferry which makes the trip to Karsiyaka much more enjoyable, and a few friendly cafes near by.
More on the latter in coming posts... stay tuned.