When Mancunian Stephen Wright moved to Antalya, 20 years ago, there was little information about what to expect when living abroad and in Turkey. So, with only memories of previous holidays in Turkey, the retiree packed his life up and boarded a flight. We asked Stephen about his experiences - and for his top tips on retiring in the Antalya region. He said that when my retirement was on the horizon, I looked into which country where my pension would do best compared to worldwide income ratios.
Real estate prices and the cost of living in Antalya were low, and having been here before, I realised I could live comfortably. Moreover, other aspects appealed as well, like the landscapes of natural beauty, the expat destinations, easy access to Antalya airport, the long stretch of the city beaches, ancient ruins and the potential to explore other cities. Hence, I bought a one-way ticket, which started a new life in Antalya, Turkey.
About Retiring to Antalya
Buy or Rent Property and Residency Visas
I bought an apartment straight away, a two-bedroom property in Side Antalya near the beach. Other expats have rented property in the city, but as a single person, I didn't want the hassle of moving twice, and I felt sure I was doing the right thing. When I moved, getting the short-term residence permit was long and drawn out, but thankfully, the rules have changed. Property owners are entitled to a year's residence permit, and the process is relatively straightforward.
Then, renew each year. As of current, renters initially get six months Turkish residence permit. Residency visa costs vary from region to region, but the online appointment system details costs and what paperwork to submit. I will add that the rules for getting a residence permit seem to change constantly, but most expats stay informed, and so should you. If you decide to rent, make sure you get a rental contract and compare the cost of living in each area of Antalya.
Private Health Insurance in Turkey
When I first arrived in Antalya, I bought private health insurance in Turkey, but renewing the policy at 65 was costly. Fortunately, the national health insurance scheme, the SGK [Social Security Institution], was in place, and I could join. The system is voluntary, and pre-existing conditions aren't covered, so think carefully. There are a lot of good hospitals and medical healthcare centres in Antalya, and there are no waiting times to see a doctor or for surgery.
Health insurance costs vary, and some retirees buy private insurance aimed at those over 55. Healthcare in Turkey is excellent. Izmir, in the country's Aegean region, is a healthcare expert thanks to the university. In addition, many tourists come to Turkey for cheaper healthcare procedures like dental work or hair transplants.
Receiving a UK Pension in Turkey
Although costs have risen since moving 13 years ago, I couldn't sustain the Turkish lifestyle I have now, back in Manchester. I often eat out and go to the local weekly market for cheap fruit and vegetables. The most significant cost I pay is flight tickets back to the UK semi-regularly to see family, my sons and three grandchildren.
Cars and fuel are more expensive than in the UK, which is unfortunate. I drive but prefer to get around using the cheap and frequent dolmus [local bus]. In later years, the cost of drinking and smoking increased dramatically, especially compared to the Turkish minimum wage. But overall, I have low living costs and pay less out, especially compared to other countries.
Challenging Aspect of Living in Antalya Turkey
Learning Turkish has been a struggle. I'm now proficient enough to deal with day-to-day life, but daily living, like visiting the bank, wasn't easy at first. Increasingly, however, Turks speak excellent English, especially in the city centre of Antalya. Additionally, red tape can sometimes get on your nerves. It never seems to make sense, and two people often do the job of one.
Pros of Living in Antalya Turkey
Like everyone says, the unbeatable lifestyle, low cost of living, permanent sunshine - I live in shorts and t-shirts almost all year round - friendly people, it's easy to get around, good medical care - I feel like living here is a world away from where I grew up and spent my life working. Antalya is a tranquil place to live, with minor crime. There is the odd burglary, and like most tourist areas, a few conmen, but locals soon see them off. Overall, Antalya is a safe place to live.
Leisure Amenities in Antalya
I've taken up golf. Belek is a world-class golfing centre, and Antalya is the start of the famous Lycian way. I'm not quite agile enough to ski, but my sons and their families visit during winter and have done skiing holidays. I joined an expat book club and a hiking club. Otherwise, I enjoy the beachside cafes, and watching the sunset in summer. I bought another apartment I rent and manage, so summer is busy. Aside from that, there are many leisure amenities, and you will never be bored. It is easy to make friends among expats and Turks. There is also easy access to many town centres along the coast in Antalya, and I love exploring other expat and holiday destinations.
Financial Implications When Moving to Turkey
Make sure all your standing orders and direct debits from home are cancelled, and consider downsizing or amalgamating your accounts to minimise the cost. Open a bank account in Turkey for your day-to-day money and living cost. Anyone receiving a pension will be subject to the whims of the cost of exchanging currency. At the moment, Turkey is much better than Eurozone countries. Also, look into your tax status, I am not taxed on my UK pension, but I'm not sure about other nationalities. Finally, remember to carefully budget your money and think in the Turkish lira when buying goods, not your home currency.
Things You Would Do Differently About Retiring Abroad
I would have learned some more Turkish so that I could speak with confidence. Also, I wouldn't have shipped my furniture if I'd known that furniture and household goods were cheaper in Turkey. I had a few problems at customs and had to pay some taxes. The time and effort involved were irritating. If I moved again, I would bring the maximum I could on the flight and either buy new furniture or pick up some second-hand goods from someone leaving the country. Finally, many people don't realise how hot the weather gets in the summer months. In July and August, temperatures are almost too hot in the middle of the day. So, some expats prefer to return to their home country during this time. (Pros and Cons of Living Abroad.)
Thoughts About Antalya City Centre
Out of all the cities in Turkey, I believe Antalya city centre is the best for living. Cities are normally drab with a hurried pace of life, but Antalya offers a unique lifestyle for expats, and is a brilliant holiday destination. Much revolves around the beachfront of Konyaalti and Lara, the best beaches in Turkey.
Additionally, the history and old town part are fantastic. I love exploring Kaleici and Hadrian's gate town area because every corner tells a story from history. Of course, the historical sites can't match the bigger city of Istanbul, but that is the lure. This town is a tourism hotspot with the best nightlife and shopping scenes in Med Turkey. About the city centre of Antalya.)
More About Retiring to Turkey
Antalya is Turkey's second most popular place for expat living, holidays, and apartment purchases. But, of course, Istanbul ranks highly. Istanbul separates into the Asian and European continents, and rather than attracting those looking to retire in Turkey, it often attracts working expats looking to live in Turkey. Istanbul is also the number one spot in the country for real estate investors. Aside from that, many expats retire in Turkey to destinations like Didim, Bodrum, Marmaris, Izmir and Fethiye. Read our guide on making a move to Turkey.
Final Thoughts About Living in Antalya
We are Property Turkey, and as well as selling homes in Turkey, we have advised on how to retire overseas and helped many clients move to Turkey. Some want to retire and enjoy Turkish living; others want to invest by buying property. With offices in every of the country's tourist destinations including Antalya, our local agents are full of knowledge and expertise to help anyone looking to retire abroad or if you have questions about the cost of living, property prices and rental costs, healthcare and more. Alternatively, see our portfolio of apartments and villas for sale in the Antalya region. Then contact us to find out more about that home, arrange property viewings, or you have more questions about how to retire to Antalya.
Just a short two minute walking distance to the beach is this stunning project offering a superb investment value for someone looking to capitalise on all that is great in Antalya today. Placed overlooking the river and with superb facilities for residents - very well priced and one not to be missed.