Ways to Fund Living in Turkey as a Foreigner

posted in: Living in Turkey 8

One question I am frequently asked is how I fund my life in Turkey. People enquiring are generally girls who have met someone while on holiday here, and they would like to stay in the country. Others are middle-aged couples who do not want to wait until pensionable age to experience the life in the sun that they dream of. To spend a summer in Turkey, they want to know what their viable financial choices are.

Now, while some people think I’ve won the lottery, got a rich sugar daddy, or have a miraculous ability to magic money out of thin air, I can assure you that I have none of these. But what I do have are examples of how myself and other people I know, financially support ourselves in Turkey.

Funding a Life in Turkey: Cost of Living

Living in Turkey as a Foreigner

Before we start looking at ways to earn money here, it is worth discussing the current cost of living in Turkey that varies from the east to the west. By far, the most expensive place is Istanbul. Monthly house rents far outweigh the national minimum wage and eating out / shopping is a costly affair when compared to the rest of the country.

I live in one of the smaller coastal resorts of the Aegean coast, and here, it is possible to have a splendid lifestyle for roughly 1500 lira a month, less if you are a frugal person. Some of your biggest expenses will be

  • Rent: This averages about 500 lira a month in Didim for a fully furnished apartment, but more in other areas.
  • Smoking and drinking: The average price of a packet of cigarettes is 7 Turkish lira while beer tends to variate between 8 to 12 lira depending on the venues that I go to.
  • Petrol: Turkey is one of the most expensive places in the world for petrol, but you can get around this by using a diesel car instead.
  • Meat: Surprisingly beef and lamb is extremely expensive here and probably explains why most people in Turkey opt to eat fish or chicken instead.

Otherwise, the other costs of living in Turkey including food, electricity, water, etc. is cheap. My average bills on a monthly basis are

  • Electricity – 120 lira
  • Water – 20 lira
  • Internet – 44 lira
  • Telephone – 35 lira

By far, my biggest expenses, as a self-employed person are business costs like tax, accountant, and health coverage and pension schemes. If you do decide to set up a business in Turkey, or work independently, expect these to take a large chunk out of your monthly budget. Otherwise, the message is that your monthly financial needs are really going to depend on where you choose to live.

5 Ways to Fund Living in Turkey as a Foreigner

Living in Turkey

Cash in on the Monthly Interest Savings Rate

Most expats I know live off monthly savings interest from Turkish banks, which averages about 10%. Obviously, these fluctuate over time and if you plan to stay in the country long-term, keep an eye on the exchange rate. Some people, who have been in the country a long time, changed a significant amount of money when they first arrived and deposited it into a Turkish lira savings account. As the exchange rate has fluctuated, they are thousands of pounds worse off.

Teaching English in Turkey

Around the country, many private English schools need teachers to help Turkish students learn English as a second language. If you are patient and meticulous, it is an ideal job but your chances of getting one increase if you have a TEFL or TESOL qualification. (TEFL = Teaching English as a Foreign Language and TESOL = Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

ONTESOL who run online teaching programs for these qualifications says…

“The duration of the courses to gain a qualification start at roughly 100 hours, and the positive aspect is that these qualifications are internationally recognised so should you at any time decide to leave Turkey and work as a teacher in another country, you could walk straight out of one job into another.”

Depending on the employer and your experience, the average wage for a teacher in Turkey, is about $800.00, which at the current exchange rate, nets you about 2300 lira a month which is an average wage in Turkey.”

Although there are many teaching jobs in Turkey, the hotspot region seems to be the big, bustling metropolis of Istanbul because jobs are going in universities and at private language schools. Reputable schools will secure your working permits and pay your health insurance as well, and the question of whether accommodation is included seems to differ from school to school. One friend of mine that used to do the job topped up her monthly wages with private lessons of which she used to charge 100 lira an hour, so opportunities to make good money are there.

Volunteer Your Services

A rather cool, short-term option that is particularly suitable for people who want to travel around the country, is to volunteer your services in return for free accommodation, which can save you a lot of money. Sites like Work Away display businesses that will give you accommodation and sometimes food in return for roughly 4 to 5 hours a day of work. Jobs vary from help on local farms to hostels and hotels to tourist retreats.

House Sitting

If you are not in the financial position to buy property, your biggest expense while living in Turkey will be your rent. Another short-term option to get around this is to house-sit. People who are willing to open their house to you are generally pet owners who want them looked after while they are away, so you have to be an animal lover. Some jobs lasts for just a few weeks while others stretch  into months. For the full low-down on what house sitting entails, check out this post by Hecktic Travels.

Buy to Let Property Investment

Turkey has been and still is experiencing a building boom and because of the low price of property, the buy-to-let market has become a viable option for people who are savvy in that field and have spare cash for a second home.

To maximise the chance of rental they opt for city apartments in business districts hence attracting working renters or a favorite second choice are the coastal resorts because this taps into the holiday rental market, which is very lucrative if you are able to fill the property up for the whole duration of summer.

Ultimately with this choice, because it is also an enormous financial commitment as well as a source of income, do your homework first. Revenue gained from rentals has to be declared for tax reasons, and some coastal resorts are already flooded with holiday rentals, therefore, driving the daily price down. You also need to consider costs such as rental management if you are not going to be in the country permanently.

But What About Working?

If you want to work in Turkey, check out this article, which discusses other options, and work permits. You may also be considering working illegally but before you do this, think carefully. There is a huge fine to pay if you get caught and you also face the risk of deportation.

Note : If you want to stay in Turkey, longer than 90 days, you will need a residency permit that requires you to show evidence of supporting yourself financially as well as health care coverage. For this reason, many expats that I know of are choosing to split their time equally between their home country and Turkey.

Live in Turkey


Follow Natalie:
Hi. I'm Natalie, a freelance travel blogger and writer specializing in the country of Turkey. I love hot summer days, historical sites and coffee.

8 Responses

  1. Pamela

    Thanks Natalie I’ll do that. Keep up the fab work on here……still working my way through the many articles lol.

  2. Nat

    Hi Pamela, I don’t know of any forums but try searching Facebook Groups. You could just type regions like Fethiye, Marmaris etc in the search bar and a list should come up. Most are very informative and regularly updated from a variety of users.

  3. Pamela

    Thanks for the quick reply Natalie. I love the Mugla region, quite vast I know! Thanks for the link, I had a quick look and have bookmarked to read it properly later, looks very informative though. Do you know of any good forums for people looking to come for a few months stay etc?

  4. Nat

    Hi Pamela, To be honest, it depends where in Turkey you plan to live and also your lifestyle. If you are a non drinker, don’t smoke or drive, then it can be very cheap. The most expensive outlay will be your rent, which starts at an average of 500 lira a month in resorts like Didim, but can be as expensive as 1500 lira a month in places like Istanbul. Have you seen this post? https://www.turkeyhomes.com/blog/post/the-cost-of-living-in-turkey

  5. Pamela

    Fab article Natalie. I first came to Turkey last summer for a holiday and have been back twice since……totally fallen in love with the Country. I’m considering coming over probably next summer for 3-4 months (although I’ll probably be over a few times in between, can’t keep away lol). Wanted to ask in your opinion what amount of money I would possibly need to fund 3-4 months in Turkey. I’ve only just started thinking about this and trying to find out as much information as I can.

  6. Nat

    Not heard of that before Phil but I am assuming that each case would have to be looked at individually. So for example voluntering would only be accepted if the establishment was a registered charity or none profit organization. For the exchange of services, sites like workaway are really aimed at travellers so durations are short term only. Obviously, if you stay permanently in the place, then yes, I am assuming the authorities would take the view that you are working.

  7. Phil

    Nice useful article. From what I understand, volunteering or working even just for experience or something like accommodation is considered working and subject to work permit requirements. Any ideas if that is the case?

  8. Ronald Feathers

    Well written and quite informative. Residency permits are a hassle but not as much as they were. There are also many free Turkish courses available on the internet to help in the transition.