My experience with mail has changed now that I live in an urban area in Los Angeles (Santa Monica), California. I previously lived in Houston (Texas) and SF Bay Area (also California).
I assumed that USPS would work similarly all across the US…apparently not! The main difference I’m experiencing in LA is that we need to take our outgoing mail to a postbox on the street corner (every other street corner has a blue USPS postbox). There is no way to send mail from the mailbox where I receive my mail. Outgoing mail (in the blue postboxes) is picked up by a different mail truck than the one that delivers incoming mail.
At the moment we don’t have a lot of Turkish participation on the forum, so I’d like to answer @TheBeaverFamily’s questions with my experience from living in Turkey (2011-2018). I lived in two different parts of town during those years, and the mail service differed.
Do you have to walk to a postbox to send? Yes, always. Turkey doesn’t seem to have the concept of sending outgoing mail from home.
Do you have to visit a post office? It’s safer to send mail from the post office. Unfortunately, many people use the yellow postboxes on the street for trash and cigarette butts …and the mail is not reliably collected every day. Several times, the mail sent from a street postbox never arrived.
Do you have to leave your house? Yes
How does mail arrive to you? My 1st apartment: The PTT would deliver mail to the apartment managers, who would deliver it to the apartment building’s mailboxes. At my 2nd apartment, a PTT person would walk into the apartment building and put mail directly in our boxes. However, I experienced stolen mail and a trainee mail person who (probably) threw away 2 registered packages and at least 20 postcards in 2017. They never found any of these items. I’ve heard similar stories from my Turkish Postcrossing friends… So there is a lot of variation in the postal service in Turkey!
How often is it delivered? At my 1st apartment on a university campus, the mail came very sporadically, maybe once a week, maybe once every 1-2 months. I hated it! Mail delivery usually slows down during the holy month of Ramadan. At my 2nd apartment, our mail was more reliable, delivered M-F (and I received mail on Saturdays a few times, maybe it was delivered very late the Friday before).
How do you purchase stamps? In 2011, I would take a minibus to the central post office in Ankara, an hour-long trip. There, you can sit in the philately office with an employee, who shows you all the books of available stamps, and buy a great assortment of stamps directly from there. I felt bad about taking so much time to choose my stamps, so in 2012, I started ordering from the PTT philately website. It was easier to take my time, change my order, and get access to all available stamps without the 2-hour round-trip bus ride. Sometimes I would buy a few stamps directly from my closest post office, but their selection was always small, and they didn’t have the prettiest stamps available.
One of the strangest things about Turkish PTT is that it’s only possible to buy multiples of small-denomination stamps directly from the post office – from the philately office, small-denomination stamps are sold as part of sets that contain higher-priced stamps. You might need fifty 0,35 lira stamps, but who’s going to use the fifty 15,00 lira stamps that are part of the set?
(Also weird, they often raised the price of postage with no warning, and without already printing new stamps that have the new value. So people would struggle to paste the correct price with stamps available.)