Can I Live in Turkey Permanently? Guide for Foreigners

Many people often ask if they can live in Turkey permanently. The answer is yes, and we understand the lure. The gorgeous weather, beautiful beaches, and delicious cuisine all speak to our senses and the thought of experiencing it 365 days a year is what some would call their idea of heaven. However, much like any major lifestyle decision, it is about more than just yes or no. Potential expats should ask themselves many wholehearted questions and assess legal ways to do it. In this article, we draw on our team and customer experiences to give helpful tips and advice about whether living in Turkey is best for you.

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Guide to Live in Turkey Permanently

1: Work Permits

The most significant factor when moving is money. Some youngsters plan to work when they arrive, but we strongly advise finding a job before arriving and, in addition, making sure your employer gets the relevant work permit. Gone are the days when working in Turkey at bars and restaurants illegally were tolerated. These days if caught, authorities fine and deport people. Most working foreigners in Turkey work for large companies, media outlets or as a travel rep. Another avenue to consider is teaching English, but you need a TEFL certificate.

2: Non-working Expats

Most non-working expats either reply on private and state pensions. In addition, some also sell their properties in their home countries, exchange cash into the Turkish lira, and deposit it into high-interest savings accounts. They then withdraw the interest monthly after paying tax. For many expats, this allows them to lead a lucrative lifestyle without ever touching their net worth. Remember, interest rates go down as well as up and factor this into your monthly budget.

3: Cost of Living in Turkey

This depends on the lifestyle you want. If money is no object, expats enjoy a luxurious life full of fine food, travel, wine, and fun. Most of us, though, must stick to a budget. Where you live will make a difference. For example, Istanbul, the most expensive place to live in Turkey, easily incurs costs of 10,000 lira a month. On the Aegean or med, in small villages, non-smoking and drinking expats who own property and don’t drive a car get by on 5,000 lira a month with careful budgeting. Remember to factor in yearly bills like residency and health insurance—more about the cost of living in Turkey.

4: Money Mistakes Expats Make

Out of all the reasons why expats go back home, the biggest is lack of money management. Remember, as mentioned above, interest rates on savings accounts can go down. Likewise, now, the Turkish lira exchange rate is high, giving expats more bag for their money than ever before, but the Turkish government is actively working to lower it. If you receive an income in a foreign currency, always have a buffer zone to allow for fluctuations in currency exchange rates. Before moving, have an exact picture of your financial status and stick to a budget every month. Lastly, when buying things in Turkey, do not compare the prices to UK prices because you will get a better bargain when thinking of the Turkish lira.

5: Residency permit and Health Insurance

At present, people on a tourist visa can only stay for 90 days out of 180 days. So, a residency permit is a must to live here permanently, and applicants need to prove two things for approval. The first is you can financially support yourself. The second is adequate health insurance if you are under 65. Most foreigners opt into the government-run SGK system, which operates for singles and couples. Upon first application, expats receive a one-year permit, which then moves to two and five years with subsequent reapplications. Find out more about how to apply for a residency permit in Turkey.

6: Citizenship Investment Scheme

In recent years, the citizenship by investment scheme for foreigners has seen increased applications. Anyone buying property worth $250,000 or more, who pledges to keep it for at least three years, can apply to become a Turkish citizen and receive the same rights. The approval also applies to spouse and children under 18, explaining why it is so popular with foreign families. Read about the application and criteria for Turkey’s citizenship by investment scheme here.

7: Benefits of Living in Turkey

Weather and Climate: Need we say more. Turkey is one of the world’s top summer tourist destinations for a reason. Over 300 days of sunshine a year and cool winters make it the ideal place to live all year round. Do not forget Turkey has several different climate zones, so where expats live is important. For example, Istanbul sees snow in the winter, but the Antalya region often sees foreigners swimming in the sea in February.

Turkish Cuisine: About 20 years ago, fast food took off in Turkey, but despite the trend, it hasn’t taken the shine off what Turks say is the best food in the world. Indeed, Turkish cuisine, which focuses on fresh ingredients and homemade dishes, tempts everyone with variety. Remember, there are more than 40 different kebabs, and vegetarians and vegans have many choices.

7000 Kilometres of Coastline: Four seas bordered Turkey, which means miles of gorgeous coastline to enjoy their stunning beaches. Many on the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts are Blue Flag, and some beaches in the Antalya district constantly rank as Turkey’s best, as ranked by Trip Advisor users.

Attractions, Sights and Things to Do: One thing is sure. No one gets bored in Turkey. Many touristic places tap into attractions like museums, theme, and water parks. Historical sites are in abundance. Even beaches lend their weight to water sports, while harbours and marinas lure in international sailors worldwide. No matter what your passion is, you will find it in Turkey.

Outdoor Lifestyle: From morning coffee on your balcony to days around the pool to alfresco style dining on rooftop terraces, living in Turkey is all about the great outdoors. The bonus is doctors say this is good for our health, so take time out for a beachside stroll.

Ultramodern Airports: Turkey has invested billions into modernising and updating its air travel hubs. The new airport in Istanbul, set to be the world’s biggest, is just one example. Antalya airport, another award-winning operation, hosts millions of passengers every year smoothly and quickly.

Infrastructure and Transport: At the same time as improving air travel, Turkey has also invested billions into motorways, roads, bridges, transport networks and infrastructure. This makes getting around the country easy, so adventurous expats head to the nearest bus station and take their pick of destinations.

Healthcare: Did you know Turkey is the go-to destination for medical tourists? Whether this is dental work, implants, hair transplants or IVF assistance, the medical professionalism of doctors and nurses puts this country on the map.

Family Friendly: For decades, Turkey has been known for its family-friendly environment, which isn’t a tourist gimmick. Family bonds and lifelong friendships are ingrained into its culture and traditions.

Low Cost of Living: Lastly, a strong lure for many expats worldwide is the low cost of living. Not only do they get good value for their currency thanks to the current lucrative exchange rate, but household bills are just a fraction of what they cost in many western countries.

Living in Turkey

8: Cons of Living Here

Culture Shock: Many expats first arrived on holiday and fell in love with Turkey. However, living here and being on holiday is two different things. Behind closed doors, away from the tourists, Turkish culture is strong and firmly engrained into society. Expats should be open-minded. 

Education: Out of all the foreigners we know who have kids of school age, many do not rate the educational system. Some expats living in large cities choose to put their children into international schools because of globally recognised curriculum and qualifications.

Language Barrier: Experts say the best age to learn a foreign language is aged 7, which will explain why many expats struggle with Turkish. Our advice is to learn one word a day. In the event such as legal matters, expats hire a translator.

Home Sickness: Even expats with the best intentions to live here all year round get homesickness. It often kicks in through missing friends and family or even simple little things like food. Our advice is to stick with it because homesickness wears off the longer you stay.

Expat Syndrome: Yes, it is real. This is when one thing goes wrong, and the expat develops a jaded view of their host country rather than looking at the big picture. Additionally, a massive amount of free time also leads to boredom, so now is an excellent time to start a hobby—more information about being an expat in Turkey.

Beach in Turkey

9: Best Places to Live

When choosing somewhere to live, clear trends stand out. Working expats tend to gravitate towards the big cities like Istanbul, Izmir, and Ankara. In contrast, retired expats head to coastal resorts of the Aegean and Mediterranean. The Antalya region is an all-encompassing pot of various nationalities, while the Fethiye region is a firm favourite for Brits. Heading around to the Aegean, the bedrum peninsula attracts many with non-conformity vibes that encourage self-expression. Other popular places include Altinkum, Kusadasi, Marmaris, Kalkan and Alanya. Read more about the best places to live in Turkey.

10: Buying Property

Due to excellent property prices, many people moving to Turkey buy an apartment or villa. If you want to enter the property market, browse our portfolio of properties for sale in many areas all around Turkey, including Antalya, Bodrum, Fethiye, Istanbul and more. Each listing contains everything to know, including price, location, home features and contact details to find out more or arrange a viewing. When buying property in Turkey, the process takes as little as a day to three weeks so that you could be in your new home in next to no time.

About Us: We are Property Turkey, an investment and real estate agent with offices all around the country. We’ve taken our many years of experience and local knowledge to form our country blog about everything to know, including how to live in Turkey permanently.

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