One of the benefits about working at my school is lojman or corporate housing. This concept is not uncommon in Turkey, actually we live pretty close to the Belediyesi or public works corporate housing. What I really love about living in the lojman is the company and community. Getting together with friends can be so difficult. Going out after work can be exhausting, you are tired and often times have to get up early the next day for work. If your friends have kids it can be complicated, they need a sitter, or plans change and their husband has to work late and can’t take them for the night, etc.
In the lojman it is easy to have an hour of two of company. My friend often watches her kids play at the apartment complex’s park. Getting together for a chat is as easy as peeking out the balcony to see if she is there, and then going downstairs. If you need help, a potato or a cup of sugar, there are at least 30 apartments in the building you could probably pop in to ask.
We all help each other out. When a co-worker had to go on bed rest during her pregnancy, we organized a schedule to drop off food. I have stayed at the complex’s park with toddlers while their mothers’ ran up to their house to use the bathroom. The other day I called in sick to work, and several co-workers called to see if I needed anything. In the past when Bülent was away and I was really ill, my co-worker sent her teenage son to walk my dog.
It is such a luxury to be able to pop upstairs for for a coffee for a hour and talk with a friend. We are able to get together so much more often because we do not need to arrange our schedule and a time and place to meet. Just send a text, are you there? It also works really well before formal events. I had a wedding last week and needed accessory advice. My friend popped down and consulted on belt, purse and jewelry. What was funny was after all that I forgot to put my second earring in, and rocked an asymmetrical look all night.
It is also great for people with children, there are always lots of kids playing in the apartment complex playground. The older boys organize football tournaments, and some neighbors live close enough to tuck their babies in, go to dinner at a friends and still be able to listen to their child via baby monitor.
Now that I have experienced the lojman -if I ever move out of it, or back to the US- I would search out an intentional community or a communal neighborhood. There are some amazing benefits to living in an area close to others and cooperating with them!