As anybody familiar with the Istanbul property scene will attest to, there are an abundance of compound-style real-estate accommodations to be found throughout Istanbul, particularly outside the city center, where land is cheaper and the full array of facilities (which are almost standard for this type of housing) can be provided in a more cost effective manner. In Turkish, these compounds are referred to as a “site” (pronounced “seetay”). They are often seen advertised on billboards throughout the city and usually show fantastic computer generated images of an almost idyllic lifestyle, with bikini-clad women frolicking around deep blue pools and children whiling away the hours on basketball courts and well-equipped parks. Of course, not all of the compounds achieve this harmony in reality. So, what makes for a good compound in Istanbul?
First and foremost, in my mind, is the relative proximity to good transportation links. If it is not well-connected, you may not get many visitors, feel isolated and over reliance on the car is not great way to live in istanbul. Public transport makes coming and going much easier. Istanbul is still underdeveloped in terms of the underground, but it is getting much more advanced and looks set to continue. So, before you jump in and buy, it might be worth checking how far the compound is to a metro (underground) line.
In general, the closer the better, with property prices showing a strong correlation. Of course, good access to main motorways is also a must, as well as convenient bus routing.
But perhaps one of the most significant aspects is the reputation of the developer, and this is often overlooked by budget seekers who merely look at the bottom-line prices. Developers who are popular with the local market are usually that way for a reason. They deliver what they say they will, and mostly on time. There are a few very successful examples and those developers can often sell most of the properties even prior to completion, while others may struggle. The reasons for their success are usually simple: they deliver a quality finish according to the technical specs laid out in their marketing materials and they are able to do so at a reasonable price.
Another, less obvious, factor that İ have observed is that they are able to create that all-important atmosphere that is integral in order to prevent the compound from becoming one of those sterile environments. They provide a good range of facilities from high spec gyms with swimming pools, squash (my favorite) and tennis courts, outdoor green spaces and “relax” areas where people can just chill and get out of their apartment. The successful ones, if size permits, are also able to sustain coffee shops, restaurants, and even large grocery stores. Obviously, having access to these facilities in a 24 hour security environment has appeal to many urban dwellers.
İn fact, it brings me back to the word “site” itself. İn Turkey, in many senses, these large compounds are designed to provide all the amenoties of city life right within the compound.
There are many criticisms that have been made against the lifestyle offered in these compounds, but İ have witnessed well-functioning ones which seemed to offer a pretty varied and relaxed life. The flip-side of course is a kind of dystopian modernity with lots of concrete, few people, and the much-maligned “soul-lessness” of compounds that fail to achieve any organic sense. But with good research and by sticking to trusted names, you can find yourself a pretty comfortable spot. Culturally, different countries have had different experience of compound life. British often associate compounds with post 2nd world war municipality attempts to relocate out of inner city slums, Americans often have a similar view and are less inclined to get excited about them.
However, some Northern European countries have a much more positive view whilst Middle Easterners can see them in a very rosy light pointing a very clear path forward for the future.
And remember…if you do get restless, just jump on that (hopefully) nearby underground and head down to Taksim. Just keep in mind that if you are going to crash at my place for the night, you owe me a pool pass and a chance to smack some balls on your squash court.
I’ve assessed a good few and these are the ones I’d recommend -