The Essential Guide for Expats in Turkey

18 February 2022

From the sun- kissed Mediterranean coastline to the vibrant cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, Turkey offers expats a rich and well balanced lifestyle.
Seen as a bridge between East and West, Turkey has a unique cultural heritage with a strong Middle Eastern influence.

If Turkey is a potential destination for either retirement, relocation or simply the perfect destination to spend family holidays, here’s a look at some information that you could potentially find very useful.

A recent building boom means there are plenty of properties available to buy, and the cost of living in Turkey is lower than many other popular expat destinations in Europe.
The extensive public transport network makes both local and long- distance travel very easy.

What’s Turkey all about?

Turkey is a large country steeped in history, has diverse landscapes with grand mountains, vibrant cities and of course, the deep blue Mediterranean Sea.
It’s controversial, with a fantastic mix of Eastern and Western cultures. It is a Muslim country but the feeling is pretty secular.

The Turkish people are very hospitable, helpful and friendly, and in the seaside resort destinations especially, they are multilingual with English, German and Russian spoken.

There are some locations in Turkey that can be quite conservative, but this is not found in expat popular locations.

Is Turkey a good choice?

Turkey offers its residents a beautiful climate, especially in the South and Southwest in locations such as Mugla and Antalya. The lifestyle is active and healthy with global restaurants which are sure to please expats who miss food from home.
Most expats will say they get much better value for their money in Turkey than in other countries.

Learning a little of the Turkish lingo will benefit you greatly and the Turkish people will very much appreciate the effort.

A steady income is very important and much better if coming from one of the major currencies, not in Lira.

Before you move

If you choose a non- touristic location, you won’t find many people who can speak English, which can make life extremely challenging.

Be aware that driving in Turkey is very different from other places, especially the UK. The Turks can be quite ferocious and some rules are quite different, so doing a bit of research beforehand is a good idea.

Employment in Turkey

Turkish laws are not very welcoming to foreign job seekers, and most will want a decent amount of the Turkish language to be known.
You will need a work permit for legally working and this can be obtained by your employer or by yourself, but it is not an easy process.

Turkish Bureaucracy

When you wish to sort out your residency in Turkey, try to obtain a work permit or import a vehicle and household items, be prepared for mountains of paperwork. You will have to visit dozens of Government offices and information given can be contradictory.
Unless you are going to an expat hot spot area, most officials will not know much English, making the process pretty stressful.

Getting used to the stray animals

In Turkey, there are very many street cats and dogs, which can be a bit shocking at first for expats.
The situation is improving slowly and more is being done for their welfare. Most of the stray dogs and cats have ear tags fitted, which means that they have been neutered and inoculated.
There are many organizations, especially in touristic locations, where you can help with donations and volunteering. Many expats either adopt a few animals or make sure to feed them daily.

A wonderful way of life

Most of the year in Turkey the weather is ideal. Hikes and outside activities can be enjoyed from summer all the way through till winter due to the picturesque beaches and grand mountains perfect for winter sports.

Plenty or vitamin D

During the summer, and most of the year in some locations, the sunshine boosts vitamin D levels and promotes a general feeling of happiness and well being in most people.
During the warm months the Turkish people love outdoor activities such as BBQs, beach days, sailing, fishing and socializing with family and friends.

Wonderful and Delicious Food Culture

The wide variety of locally grown fresh produce is amazing in Turkey, with weekly markets held in most towns. The culinary culture in Turkey is second to none, with plenty of healthy produce and lots of olive oil.
In tourist resort destinations, worldwide cuisine can easily be found with lots of restaurant varieties, but to be honest, Turkish cuisine is difficult to beat.

A low Cost of Living

If your income comes from outside of Turkey such as investments or a pension, you will find it goes a lot further than back in your home country.
Locally grown produce is very affordable, as is eating out in restaurants and going to bars.
Property is also much cheaper than many other countries. If you live in Turkey it’s possible to live on a fraction of the income you need, for example, in the UK.

The Cost of Living in Turkey

Turkey is a great value for money destination and many expats with outside income find that it lasts a lot longer in Turkey than in their own countries. This is because, on average, the cost of living in Turkey is so much lower than in most other Western countries. This does however also depend on your chosen location.

If you plan on living in a city you must be prepared for higher expenses. Like most countries, you will pay more for urban living.
Istanbul is one of the most expensive places to reside in Turkey. Its rents are much higher, and things like transport, utilities and dining out are also more expensive.
If you choose a location near the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts, the prices are more reasonable.
Some popular coastal locations like Fethiye are about twenty percent cheaper than Istanbul, and for many expats, a place like Fethiye is much more like a home from home.

Is it Easy for Visa and Residency?

To visit Turkey for tourism or business purposes, you can very easily apply for an E Visa. This is visa is for visits of 3 months or less.
Citizens of some countries don’t even need to apply for E Visas for entry into Turkey, so it’s best to check with your consulate or embassy to be sure.
If you plan to stay in Turkey for more than 90 days, you have to apply for a residence permit.
This permit allows for you to remain in Turkey for longer and is available in 1 or 2 yearly permits.
This permit will also allow you to get a tax number, open a bank account, purchase property investments, marry in Turkey and apply for a Turkish driving license and much more.

Healthcare in Turkey

If you have been a legal resident for a year, you are eligible for the state healthcare in Turkey known as SGK.
This is a monthly paid scheme, paid by the participants, that gives you access to many services in state hospitals.


Education standards vary in Turkey’s public schools so many expats send their children to a private or international school.
The academic year runs from mid- September through till early June, with the main holidays in Jan/ Feb and June- September.

So to conclude, Turkey has so much to offer. Many expats love living in Turkey and would never consider going anywhere else.

Doing research before hand is of the upmost importance, to help you make the move. Spend some time in Turkey in various locations and talk to other expats via social media to get advice.

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