Living in Turkey: Pros and Cons for Foreigners
Foreigners contemplating the pros and cons of living in Turkey often wonder if it is the right move for them. However, take comfort in knowing the country already hosts thousands of expats. Any member of the large expat population will confirm living here is entirely different to coming in on tourist visas. Yet, for them to leave their home country, get residency and move to Turkey, it was the best choice for living abroad.
Indeed, expat life here has won admiring fans worldwide, who now call this new country for them, a home from home. We are also happy to say everyone experiences more ups than downs in their new home. So, let's look at them, where expats live in Turkey and our guide to settling into a new life in the country.
Pros and Cons of Living in Turkey
1: The Pros and Benefits
Cost of Living: With the current exchange rate, expatriates who receive a pension or foreign income in USD or a different currency get more Turkish lira than ever before thanks to the high exchange rate. Additionally, when relocating to the Republic of Turkey, household bills like gas, water, internet, telephone and council tax are surprisingly cheap. While items like smoking, renting, drinking, and driving a car is expensive, overall, Turkey offers a much lower cost of living than other countries.
Citizenship by Investment: To live in Turkey means getting a residency permit; however, some foreigners and their spouses like to become full-on Turkish citizens. This is where the real estate investment program might help them. If you invest $250,000 or more in property and pledge to keep it for at least three years, you can apply for living and working rights just like locals.
Health Insurance: While retirees over the age of 65 don't have to have medical insurance, any expatriate under that age needs to. There are two choices—either private international health insurance or the government-run SGK system. Regardless of which one you choose; Turkey's impeccable health system ensures excellent care should you ever need to use your insurance.
Expat Community: Relocation to any of the established expat towns means tapping into an already existing circle of foreigners who have been there and done it. Having walked the walk, they can give advice, hints, and tips on how to best adapt to your move abroad to Turkey.
International Schools: Some expat families look for suburban locations to relocate to. In Turkey, this includes expatriate workers dealing in international business who aim to temporarily be in the country. They want schools that teach various languages, including their own, and adhere to an international curriculum with globally recognised qualifications. This is where the international schools, especially in Istanbul, step up to the mark for professionalism and education standards. Working expats have peace of mind their kids' lives will go on as usual when returning home.
Mild Winters: Many expats choose to live here permanently because winter times are exceptionally milder than their home country. After all, many a foreigner seeks out the sun whenever they can. While some places like Istanbul do receive snowfall, the best place to live for roughly 300 days of sunshine a year is Antalya on the Mediterranean coast.
Housing Price-Index: Your financial status largely dictates living and working abroad. Many people looking to retire overseas choose the Turkish republic because the cost of housing is good value for money, especially when compared to other foreign countries. Some expats choose apartments, while others prefer spacious villas with private gardens and swimming pools. If you want to find a property before moving to Turkey, browse our portfolio of homes for sale in Turkey. Each listing contains everything to know, including contact details to find out more via telephone, email or to arrange a viewing.
Bank Interest Rates: Internet banking has never been more exciting because of high-interest savings accounts in Turkey. Indeed, anyone looking to retire overseas should check out the interest rates averaging 10%. Many expats deposit large amounts of money, and after paying tax, withdraw the interest monthly; hence they never have to touch their net worth, and the interest often tops up their pension.
2: The Cons: What to Watch Out For
Culture Shock: Unfortunately, for some expatriates, the culture shock sets them off course. This mainly happens when they retire, expecting their daily life to be like a holiday. Of course, this lifestyle is unsustainable, and as with any foreign country, locals do things differently; you will miss food from back home, and some traditions like Ramadan might seem mind-boggling. The key to combating culture shock is always to keep an open mind and be willing to learn.
Friends and Family Back Home: When moving abroad, we take comfort in the fact we can get on a plane anytime we want. However, for some people, moving to Turkey means they miss their friends and family more than they thought they would. The good news is this is just a temporary stage, and these days, with apps like What's App, Messenger Video Call and Skype, you can keep in touch every day.
Language Barrier: Part of the problem of living in a cross-cultural destination is language barriers. While we say learning Turkish is a rewarding experience, some people struggle at being bi-lingual. Being unable to speak Turkish is the number one complaint we hear from expat communities. However, international living becomes easy because most expats live in tourist resorts with English-speaking locals. (Easy ways to learn Turkish.)
Work Permits: Some people dream of working abroad in Turkey; however, many of the expatriate population are retirees. The reason is simple. Working on a tourist visa is illegal because you don't pay income tax and will evoke fines or deportation if discovered. Secondly, strict rules and regulations for foreign nationals to work abroad in Turkey make it hard to get a work permit. Most end up teaching English or being a holiday rep.
3: Places to Live in Turkey
If you want to live abroad in Turkey but are yet undecided about which destination is for you, know you have plenty to choose from. When moving overseas, American expatriates often choose Istanbul and neighbourhoods around the Bosphorus. Arab nationalities prefer the Black-sea region because of similarities in culture, food, and traditions. British expats love the Aegean and places on the Mediterranean like Marmaris, Fethiye and Antalya.
Anyone looking at teaching English to support themselves financially should choose big cities like Istanbul, Izmir, or Ankara. Additionally, few foreigners head to south-eastern Turkey, because it is landlocked and more conservative. Regardless of where you head to, most expat communities agree settling in is easily done. For more information about the best places to live in Turkey, including those near airports and with a lively nightlife scene, check out our article on multinational destinations for a new life in Turkey.
4: Expat Living
To live and move here is easy for some newcomers and difficult for others. The pros and cons of living in Turkey can be handled with ease, and thankfully, you can settle here with peace of mind by doing your research on an expat life before you make a move. In this article about retiring to Turkey, we discuss common issues and solutions like taxation, making new friends with Turkish people, getting a work permit, opening a bank account, visa requirements, obtaining a residence permit and being homesick. By doing your research, you ensure your dream of moving to the country works in your favour.