Living and working in another country is a dream for many people, whether they are retirees, students with a gap year or someone who purely wants to experience different cultures. Over the last ten years, Turkey has become a potential country for such people. Obviously the summer climate is a strong lure but how exactly does Turkey measure up compared to living standards and costs in the UK?
Living in Turkey versus the UK
Property Prices for Buying
The cost of property in Turkey is immensely cheaper than the UK. According to a report by the UK land registry, the average price of a house in the UK is £179,492 and in the capital London, average prices rise to £458,283.
£179,000 pounds in any coastal resorts of the Aegean and Mediterranean areas of Turkey will definitely get you a top-of-the-range four-bedroom detached villa with sea view, private swimming pool and all modern facilities and decor. You can live like a king!
Although the capital of Turkey is Ankara, it is better to compare city prices to one Istanbul property market, of the most distinguished property markets of Turkey. In Istanbul, £458,000 pounds will get you a three bedroom house. Alternatively you could opt for a luxury and modern, 2-bedroom apartment in one of Istanbul’s elite neighbourhoods.
With both options, buyers will find themselves with money left over should they want to invest in a second buy-to-let property.
Rental Prices of Property
Monthly rental prices vary throughout the country. According to the organisation Numbeo, who compares living standards worldwide, average rent prices range from 445 lira to 1324 lira a month.
The lower prices refer to places such as Didim on the Aegean coast while higher rent prices are seen in cities like Istanbul that along with tourism is also a major financial and business hub.
Using an average exchange rate of 3.5, this put rental prices in the range of £125 to £385 a month.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Turkey has risen dramatically over the last 10 years but compared to the UK, it is cheaper or the same cost, depending on your lifestyle. Smokers and drinkers suffer because it goes without saying that these are highly taxed items.
It also surprises many people to learn that Turkey has one of the highest costs for petrol in the world. At the time of writing this article, the cost of Super 95 fuel in Turkey was 1.57 Euros while in the UK, it is 1.49. If you want to drive in Turkey, purchase a diesel vehicle instead.
These high costs though, can be offset against the cheap price of household utilities. Last month, I paid:
- Water: 20 TL (My property has a water metre)
- Electricity: 150 TL (My neighbour never pays above 100 lira)
- Unlimited household Internet: 70 lira (Cheaper, limited-use options are available)
- Communal property maintenance: 100 lira a month (Includes swimming pool maintenance and 24 hour security)
Using an average exchange rate of 3.5, these monthly costs in GBP amounted to just under 100 pounds. Note: Council tax is a yearly charge of which last year I paid 76 Turkish lira.
Food and Drink
When eating out, a decent 3-course meal is an average of 100 lira, although most expats prefer to stick to local Turkish restaurants serving traditional food because a 3-course meal can be as little as 25 lira (£7).
For shopping purposes, milk sells for an average of 2.50 lira while bread is 75 kurus. Lamb and beef are expensive here in Turkey, but chicken and fish is cheap and in abundance. The latter applies specifically to the coastal resorts. A lot of money can be saved by simply using the local weekly markets instead of big chain supermarkets.
Additional Costs that you don’t Pay in the UK
If you plan to stay in Turkey, for no longer than 90 days in a 180 day period, than you can live on a tourist visa costing £10.00. If you want to stay longer, you need to apply for a residency permit of which the rules are constantly changing but applicants now should factor in a cost of £50 per person for 1-year permits.
This is just the cost of applying and does not include using translators or third-party companies to help.
This is a controversial topic among expat communities and one of the biggest factors to consider because the free health care that you receive in the UK does not exist here. If you stay in Turkey on a tourist visa, it is wise to buy an insurance policy.
Otherwise, if you apply for a residency visa, under 65s can join the government SGK scheme which costs an average of 75 pounds a month, or source their own private health insurance. Over 65’s can also source private health insurance or be prepared to pay if something happens.
Over 65s that choose to fund their own healthcare should be aware that chronic or serious illness could incur hefty medical bills that can leave you and your family financially drained. Issues such as dental care and eye tests are not covered with most insurance policies but the costs of these are cheaper compared to the UK.
Assessing Your Monthly Income
Savings Interest Rate
One of the reasons, Turkey became a popular destination for expats was the interest rate on savings accounts. Whereas the UK interest rate has always been poor, it used to be around 14% in Turkey and expats deposited huge amounts of money, and then withdrew the interest monthly.
Those rates now average between 8 and 9.5% dependent on the amount deposited and anyone using this as a source of income should be aware that the Turkish government wants to bring the rates down even more.
While it is tempting to look at the savings rate as an added bonus because it is far higher than you would ever receive in the UK, it is wise not to rely on it, or you should opt for a fixed rate period from the bank.
Working in Turkey
Turkey is not in the EU so rules for EU workers that exist in the UK do not apply here. Working hours and conditions are drastically different from the UK.
Unfortunately many expats work illegally because the working permit process is complicated and unpredictable. The minimum wage is also around 350 pounds which will take carefully budgeting if you want to save money or return to the UK often. Also be prepared to live without credit from the banks.
When comparing your new life in Turkey with that in the UK, there are a lot of contributing factors such as the exchange rate of currency, area that you plan to live in, age and lifestyle. Generally while there are additional costs such as residency and healthcare, these can be offset against the cheap prices of household utilities and food. A smoker and drinker, who likes to socialise, does not drive and owns their own property in Turkey can have a decent lifestyle at an average cost of 1500 to 2500 lira a month.
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