With Turkey’s rising fame as an ideal expat destination, many people want to know about living in Turkey permanently. I understand the lure, and while it is not all roses and sunlight, my lifestyle in Turkey is better than if I had stayed in the UK. For me, the move was easy. I didn’t own property in the UK and walked straight into a job in Turkey with a holiday company. Additionally, I moved to the country of Turkey when it was more like the wild west.
Many holidaymakers in Turkey long term worked illegally in bars, estate agents and restaurants, and every three months, we got on a ferry and headed to the Greek islands to renew our tourist visas. The government of Turkey did not know how many foreigners were in the country, where they were and what they were doing. However, those days are gone, and now the government regulates the system for moving to Turkey. Everybody’s experience is different, but let us look at where to start.
Guide to Living in Turkey Permanently
1: Work or Retire in Turkey
Finances and costs are the essential aspects of a move to Turkey. So if you want to stay here, and have a source of income like a pension, congratulations, the biggest hurdle is over. Remember, though, the government does want to lower the incredibly high exchange rate of the Turkish lira, so when figuring out how much you must live on, factor this buffer zone into your budget.
When transferring money to Turkey, use a foreign exchange company like Wise because they offer better exchange rates and lower transfer fees than banks. Another thing to consider if you have a substantial amount of cash is to exchange money into Turkish lira and deposit it into monthly high-interest savings accounts of banks in Turkey. Then, each month withdraw the Turkish lira after paying tax and never touch your net worth. Remember, interest rates go down over time as well as up.
If you need to find a job in Turkey, do so before arriving. Gone are the days when an expat can work illegally in Turkish bars or restaurants. These days, Turkish employers must get foreign workers a work permit. Suitable professions in Turkey where foreigners often work include holiday or airport rep, hotel entertainment, au pair, or English teaching in large cities like Istanbul. Read more about finding work in Turkey.
2: Find Property to Rent or Buy
If you want to rent property in Turkey, get your feet on the ground first, rather than trying to find somewhere before you leave. Browse local Facebook groups and local Turkish newspapers to find apartments or walk around the local estate agents. If renting, agree on all terms with the property owner, get a contract. Also, fully clarify the deposit terms and conditions. If you want to buy property in the country, head across and speak to my Turkish friend Tolga, who runs Turkey Homes. He has offices in many parts of Turkey, including Istanbul, Antalya, Fethiye and Bodrum, and he would be happy to answer any questions about living here and in your search for a home.
3: Where to Live in Turkey?
If you have not yet decided where to live, you could follow general trends. Working foreign residents head to big cities like Izmir, Ankara and of course, Istanbul. In contrast, retirees like living in the coastal resorts of the Aegean and Med in Turkey that thrive on tourism. Middle-Eastern nationalities prefer the North of Turkey simply because of similarities in daily life, travel, culture, and traditions. Popular places in Turkey where expats end up include…
Alanya: Sitting at the far eastern tip of the Med, Alanya, once a tiny fishing village, thrives as a central town of Turkey. The mass promotion has increased tourism and foreign house sales in recent years, and neighbourhoods like Mahmutlar present many benefits for anyone looking to live in Turkey.
Antalya City Centre: Belonging to the region of the same name, the major Antalya city centre often tops the list for having the best beaches in Turkey; Konyaalti and Lara. With backing residential districts, the sandy beaches add an alternative twist to the term “urban lifestyle.”
Expensive Kalkan: Sitting on the outskirts of the Antalya region in Turkey, Kalkan commands respect for the large, luxury villas that cover the hilly landscape. Most were built to emphasise beautiful Mediterranean Sea views that awaits all who resides in her.
Family Friendly Fethiye: Sitting in the middle of the Med coast in Turkey, Fethiye city, a central sailing hub of the Turkish riviera and backed by Lycian rock tombs, grows in popularity every year and is just a short ride away from towns like Oludeniz, Calis Beach, Hisaronu and Ovacik.
Great Bodrum Town: Heading around to the Aegean coast, we arrive at the centre location of non-conformity in Turkey. Bodrum has been a lifelong inspiration for artisans and, over the last 50 years, also attracts foreign royalty, celebrities and high profile, international business people.
Yalikavak Area: Home to the mega-yacht marina, Yalikavak on the Bodrum peninsula of Turkey is another high-profile destination, yet look carefully still to find traces of bygone days within the old town. Yalikavak sits near the delightful coastal resorts of Gumusluk and Turgutreis.
4: Healthcare and Residency Permit
Once you arrive in the country of Turkey, you have 90 days before you need to get a residency permit, and for those expats must have health insurance. Some people buy private policies, but many opt for the government-run SGK scheme in Turkey. The set monthly cost increases every year and is the same whether for couples or singles. SGK policyholders use public health establishments in Turkey instead of private.
In addition to healthcare, for residence permits, Turkey’s authorities require expats to prove they can financially support themselves and proof of address. Make the application online, and upon first approval, you will receive one year permit. After that, apply for two years. The price of residency permits in Turkey increases every year.
5: Get to Know About Turkey
Holidaying in the country and living in Turkey are two different things. Every week, you will discover something standard you did not know. Therefore, everyone should give themselves time to settle into their new life. Additionally, travel to other places in Turkey and stay there to learn more about this country’s history, culture, and traditions. This blog about Turkey offers helpful information to settle in, but the most frequent question that prays on people’s minds is whether you need to know Turkish.
If you plan to enter the workforce in Turkey, you must speak Turkish. Unfortunately, many retired expats live in Turkey without knowing Turkish because they live in tourist towns, where many locals speak English, German and Russian. However, even if you only learn one word a day, it will significantly enhance your Turkish experience, social circles and increase your chances of living in Turkey permanently.