This checklist for moving to Turkey aims to help anyone make a smooth transition from their home country to their new abode. Every year, increasingly more foreigners move here, and the lure is easy to understand. From the gorgeous climate to long, sandy stretches of beaches, the welcoming Turkish hospitality and society, foreigners find it easy to settle in.
However, it is still essential to understand the process and have an action plan in place. Inevitably, with such a significant lifestyle change, some things will go wrong, but forearmed is forewarned. This checklist will help potential expats navigate the process, settle in, and detail what to look out for and mistakes to avoid.
Checklist for Moving to Turkey
1: Know Your Finances
Many people think the first step is to find somewhere to live, but it is to know your budget and become an expert money handler, especially if you keep your existing property in your home country. Do not forget that for incomes in a foreign currency, the Turkish exchange rate goes down as well as up. If you transfer money monthly, use a foreign exchange company like Wise to get better exchange rates and transfer fees. Open a Turkish bank account to handle bill payments. Many retired expats living in Turkey also deposit money into high-interest savings accounts to top their pensions.
2: Rent or Buy Property
Some people go straight into buying property, while others choose to rent first for six months to a year to see if they like living here. To purchase property, browse our portfolio of apartments and villas for sale in many parts of Turkey. Each listing contains everything to know, including price, location, home features, and contact details to find out more or arrange a viewing. To rent property, visit local estate agents in your area or join local Facebook groups. Don’t forget to get a contract, a receipt for your deposit, and take photographs of the interior. Rent prices vary, and usually, the closer a property is to the beach or main town centres, the higher rent will be.
3: Transporting Your Belongings
This is where expats need to do research. In some cases, buying new household items in Turkey is cheaper than moving them across because of the high taxes levied at customs. We also knew people who had to wait a considerable amount of time for customs to release the items. Ask overseas removal companies for quotes, and then weigh them against the cost of new household items. Also, find out whether they will bring them in by road or sea because this makes a big difference to time and cost. If you choose to buy new household items, most shops give a discount if buying in bulk.
4: Transporting Pets
Of course, we all want to bring our furry friends with us, and Turkey has an easy set procedure to navigate. Once again, companies will arrange the paperwork and make transfers. Expats can bring two pet dogs or cats in, providing they have the necessary vaccinations and paperwork. The following breeds are banned in Turkey; Mastiff, rottweiler, bull terriers, Staffordshire terrier, Japanese Tosa, American Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Dogue de Bordeaux, Roman, and Bandog Tosa Inu. More about transporting pets.
5: Bringing in a Vehicle
Resident drivers in Turkey need a Turkish driver’s licence, and the process to get one is quite complicated. So instead, some expats make a border run, where they leave Turkey and head over to either Bulgaria or one of the Greek islands. They do this every six months. If you choose to go down this road, know that the stamp can invalidate your insurance in the event of a severe accident. Additionally, if you bring your car in, you can only drive for 730 days, then need to take the car out of the country for 185 days. For this reason, most expats buy a car here in Turkey or rely on public transport.
6: Health Insurance and Residency Visa
Expats can stay in Turkey on a tourist visa for up to 90 days but after need a residency permit. To do that, you need to show proof of address, healthcare and that you can support yourself financially. Upon the first application, the permit is issued for a year and after two years. Online applications are usually approved and received within three months—more about residency permits.
7: Schooling for Children
Expats have two options for education. Enrol in the public school system or go private. Most expats choose to go private simply because some schools offer a curriculum with internationally recognised certificates. So, if your children leave Turkey at a later stage, the education credentials still matter. Most international private schools operate in large cities like Istanbul, Ankara, or Izmir.
8: Working in Turkey
Expats should source a job before moving to Turkey because entering the workforce is challenging. Turkish employers must follow rigid rules like employing five Turkish people for one foreigner. Additionally, owning a business does not automatically entitle you to work. Finally, do not, under any circumstances, work illegally. In the last ten years, Turkish authorities clamped down and will fine or even deport you—more about working in Turkey.
9: Learning the Language
Many expats live in Turkey without knowing the language. They move to touristic resorts where locals speak a variety of foreign languages like English. Hence their day-to-day life is not affected, and when they need a translator, they rely on Turkish friends. Turkish is a complex language to learn, and the grammar and word order rules are mind-boggling. However, it benefits immensely to learn at least one word a day—more about learning Turkish.
10: Buy a Mobile and Get a Turkish Number
You can bring your telephone in, but registering the device is costly, so we recommend buying a new one. The three mobile providers are Turkcell, Vodaphone and Turk Telekom. Each offer contract and pre-paid options that include mobile internet. Shop around to get the best deals.
11: Turkish Society and Culture
Coming to Turkey on holiday and living here is two different experiences. For the first year, learn about the Turkish culture, especially the family dynamic, to help settle in and make friends. Don’t forget the Turks are like the Spanish and never arrive on time! Neighbours will probably knock on the door and give you food or invite you to tea. The Turks also have different ways of doing things, from burials to weddings to circumcisions and births. Find out more about Turkish culture.
12: Home Sickness
Many expats think moving to Turkey will be a utopia from day one. So, are surprised when homesickness appears. But it happens to anyone, even the most optimistic of people. Symptoms may be as simple as frustration or anxiety because you do not know the language or are missing friends and family back home. The vital thing to know is that home sickness is only temporary, so do not make rash decisions. The homesickness usually lingers for 3 to 6 months and then goes away. You can help yourself by taking up a hobby and making sure you are productive with your time. Do not make the same mistake as other expats and spend all day every day in the bar.
13: Making Friends
Thanks to expat communities in most towns, who arrange meetups, making friends is easy when you first arrive. Other expats are also a great source of information. However, be sure to widen and diversify your social circles by also making friends with Turks. Look on Facebook for local hobby groups, or find out what local charities operate in your area. Many of them need volunteers, especially dog shelters that need walkers.
14: Getting to Know All About Turkey
One delight of moving to Turkey is getting to know it, and in our experience, travel is the best way. Whether you choose a weekend getaway in the city, a road trip or a week’s holiday in a beachside destination, travel proves just how diverse Turkey is. Hot spots worth getting to know include the Antalya region and places like Golfing Belek, the old town of Kaleici, or the historical Side. Fethiye is a delight simply because of the areas of natural beauty like Butterfly Valley, the Blue Lagoon, Oludeniz beach and Saklikent gorge. Big cities to explore are the top three; Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir, but also put delightful Cappadocia on your bucket list.
More About Turkey
So, we hope we have given a good checklist for moving to Turkey that covers all topics. Choosing to live in Turkey can be the best move if you research and become knowledgeable about the history, culture, food, traditions, and society. So, you might also like to read the rest of our blog that discusses other topics like real estate investment, food, history, culture, and destinations in Turkey. The pages are full of helpful information written by our team, who have many years of collective experience and knowledge about living in Turkey.
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