Ask any expats in Turkey, and they say living abroad in this country was the best lifestyle move they made. Don't just take our word for it, either. Thousands of expatriate circles exist in towns, villages, and cities. According to the annual expat survey by HSBC bank, they also ranked Turkey as the seventh-best country for overseas living by foreigners.
Reasons varied but included the low cost-of-living, ease of relocation, and welcoming hospitality by locals. However naturally, any potential expat looking to move to Turkey from their home country has many questions. We understand because settling in a foreign country where the culture, language, food, and traditions is different takes specific character skills. So, here we present our tips and advice for expat life in Turkey.
Guide for Potential Expats in Turkey
1: Manage Your Finances
For expats residing abroad, a common reason for failure is a lack of money management. After all, you will handle the currencies of two foreign countries if you rely on pensions. Now, people who live here and receive an income like a UK state pension enjoy a high exchange rate, giving them more Turkish lira per month than ever before. But know that the exchange rate is abnormal and can drop drastically within the next five to ten years. Newcomers should handle their finances with precision and accuracy. Also, take advantage of current high interest rates by opening a savings bank account. Some Turkish banks offer as much as 10 to 12% on monthly deposits.
2: Learn Turkish
Most expats agree when moving to other countries permanently, one thing that frustrates them is learning the language. For foreigners, some say English speaking locals in expat destinations like Antalya, Fethiye, Bodrum, and Marmaris make their life easier. However, enhance your new life in Turkey by learning the lingo. You don’t have to be fluent, but knowing the basics goes a long way. Before you move to the country, attempt to learn at least one word a day. A good understanding of complex Turkish grammar also helps. (About navigating the language barrier in Turkey.)
3: Settling in and Home Sickness
Many expats assume that the lifestyle change won't affect them because they holidayed in Turkey for decades. But it does. Expect to miss friends and family back home and favourite foods. Remember, no place on earth is a utopia and no matter where you retire abroad, you experience hick-ups. One big obstacle when living in a foreign country is the sudden amount of free time. Be careful you don't end up in the pub all day, every day because it is not a holiday. (How to deal with homesickness.)
4: Adjust to the Culture Shock
As mentioned before, some expat communities expect their new home in Turkey to be precisely how it was on holiday. However, when you move to another country, certain daily practices will be outside your way of thinking. This may be something simple, like the long-winded bureaucracy for everyday paperwork or the monthly practice of Ramadan when some Turk nationals fast. The east of Turkey is vastly different and more conservative than the west. Likewise, Turks from the black sea region have a different culture and lifestyle. To settle in with ease, don't stereotype the culture of Turkey and keep an open mind. (About Turkish culture differences.)
5: Making Friends in Turkey
For expatriates living in Turkey, there are masses of daily opportunities to make new friends. The country is a cross-cultural destination with Europeans, Russians, Asians, Americans, and other nationalities. Think of yourself as globally connected. Unfortunately, some expatriates stick to certain circles from their home countries, which hampers experiences of living overseas. For a successful new life abroad in Turkey, widen social circles with those you have a common interest in. Many destinations have charities or hobby groups. Likewise, join local Facebook groups to find out about community events. Also, make friends with Turks. They are a valuable resource to help adapt more quickly.
6: Residency and Healthcare
A foreigner can temporarily stay within touristic visas' rules; however, residency is a separate process. To do so, expats over the age of 65 don't legally need health insurance, but they pay their medical costs. Any member of the expat population under 65 must have health insurance to get a residency visa. Some opt for private international health insurance, but many opt into the government SGK scheme. We strongly emphasise the importance of staying up to date with residency and healthcare arrangements. In the event of something serious like a heart attack, medical bills will bankrupt you. Likewise, the authorities are not lenient with people who go over their residency expiry date and can ask you to leave Turkey.
7: Citizenship and Permanent Residence
When moving to a new country, some expats would like to be citizens. There are several ways to gain it in Turkey, including the citizenship by real estate investment scheme. Turkey excels when compared to some countries because their minimum investment level is $250,000. This means anyone relocating to Turkey gains the same rights as a Turk national. The only requirement is homeowners keep the property for three years. (About citizenship by investment scheme.)
8: Buy Property or Rent
This is a personal choice dependent on budget and long-term plans. Downsides to renting include high prices and a lack of ownership, so many expats buy property. One reason is the housing price index is extremely cheap when compared to other countries. With starting prices of roughly £50,000 for an apartment, expat couples prefer to be property owners. If you want to buy property, browse our portfolio of apartments and villas for sale in areas of Turkey. Each listing contains all information to know, including contact details to find out more or arrange a viewing.
9: Where do Most Expats Live in Turkey?
Specific destinations lead the way as the best places to live in Turkey, which is evident by the large expatriate communities who inhabit them. Generally, working expats stick to larger cities like Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir. This includes those teaching English. Retirees tend to move to the Aegean or Mediterranean coasts, and coastal areas like Antalya, Fethiye and Bodrum. Let's look at the best places to retire in-depth.
Antalya Region: This area is the second popular destination for tourism and for expats to move abroad to Turkey. Boasting of the best nightlife and shopping scene in the Mediterranean, it also offers the best year-round climate. Popular resorts include Alanya, Side, Belek, and Kalkan for those looking for a luxurious lifestyle.
Fethiye Region: This destination is a firm favourite of British expats who settle in the city centre or resorts of Calis Beach, Hisaronu or Ovacik. Additionally, if you fancy heading out to the countryside, Uzumlu is another firm favourite. One advantage of expatriate living in Fethiye is the gorgeous landscapes of natural beauty, including the Blue Lagoon, Butterfly Valley, and sandy beaches. Expat families love the Fethiye region.
Bodrum Peninsula: This cosmopolitan destination is the ideal place for living international vibes. It has long been a favourite place for wealthy celebrities, Russian businesspeople, and Saudi royalty, yet it also accommodates budget holidaymakers. Coastal resorts include upmarket Golturkbuku, budget Gumbet, the town centre and Yalikavak, a hub for international mega yachts from around the globe.
10: Summary - Is Turkey Good for Expats?
Expatriates living in Turkey enjoy a good lifestyle. The gorgeous weather, outdoor activities, healthy cuisine, excellent healthcare, and a low cost of living ensure most stay for the duration. It is only personal circumstances that make a few return home. Of course, when moving here, there are a few hurdles to overcome, but once done, expats all agree it was the best lifestyle choice they made.
We are Property Turkey, an investment and real estate company that has helped many expats buy a property and move to Turkey to permanently live a life in the sun. We took all our years' experience and local knowledge to form a blog about Turkey for those looking to invest and live here. As well as talking about the history, culture, destinations, food, and traditions, we give plenty of advice for those who want to become expats in Turkey.
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