Turkey for Digital Nomads
In the past few years, but especially since COVID, interest has peaked in being a digital nomad in Turkey. The lure is easy to understand. Turkey offers much, from Mediterranean coastal towns to rural areas to city living. The impressive tourism record and expats residing in major cities and small beachside towns already prove the long-standing popularity, but interest grows every year.
For digital nomads with foreign income, the Turkish lira offers an affordable cost of living, and everyone agrees that delicious local cuisine makes visiting worthwhile. Turkey is a multicultural country in many areas, with some districts home to various nationalities, including Brits, Americans, Europeans, Russians and Asia people. In some towns, many nomads don't speak Turkish but still enjoy day-to-day living. So, if we have piqued your interest, let's look at what to know and popular places to live.
Being a Digital Nomad in Turkey
1: Why Turkey is a Great Country
Most coastal towns of Turkey are used to foreigners living among them, and joining local laid back and easy going communities. At the same time, major cities suit digital nomads who want fast-paced lifestyles and to immerse themselves in Turkish culture. But the choice is there with plenty of popular nomad destinations.
The cost of living is affordable compared to European countries, and eating out for traditional cuisine is delicious and cheap at the same time. Digital nomads can explore many places of natural beauty in Turkey, from the stunning white pools of Pamukkale to the waterfalls of Antalya. Lastly, let's not forget the gorgeous weather, beach and sailing scenes, and of course, the low crime rate and hospitality of Turkish people. Digital nomads find making friends easy.
2: The Cons of Remote Working in Turkey
Research your chosen destinations in Turkey carefully. In some places, the concept of digital nomads is non-existent, with no coworking spaces. While there are plenty of coffee shops, trying to work among chat and queues is impossible. One area where Turkey lacks is rent prices. Shop around and review your choices to get good deals. Immigration rules prohibit working, so don't plan to increase your income by taking weekend jobs. There are many primary telecommunications providers throughout Turkey, but not all of them are great. Turkcell is the best for mobile, and Turk Telekom is the best for broadband.
3: Is there a Turkish Digital Nomad Visa Scheme?
The Turkish government has strict immigration rules but doesn't have a Turkish digital nomad visa. This is sad because we think digital nomad visas would raise the profile and attract even more remote workers to Turkey. What digital nomads need to do is visit turkey on an e-visa for tourists. Don't forget travel insurance. The e-visa entitles foreigners to stay for 90 days out of 180 days. To stay longer, look at a short-term residence permit instead. A Turkish residence permit is easy to apply for, but digital nomads need a permanent address in Turkey or, if travelling around, to show proof of accommodation bookings.
4: About Short-term Residence Permits
This official government website (E-Ikamet) lets foreigners in Turkey complete the short-term residence permit application form online. Depending on your situation, the Turkish residence permit system will say which documents to provide for the Turkish residence permit card and the visa fee. Applicants under 65 must have health insurance. The residence permit visa fee will vary depending on your nationality, and increases apply yearly.
This residence permit of Turkey doesn't entitle holders to work, and remote workers need to prove an existing income or savings to support themselves. If living in rented accommodation, they will issue six-month visas. To live permanently in Turkey on long-term residence permits but still be remote workers, digital nomads must form a company to pay taxes, even if their source of income is from another country. This completely different topic can get confusing. This article focuses on digital nomads passing through Turkey on a slow travel basis.
To come to Turkey to study simultaneously as a digital nomad, apply for a student residence permit. Once the residency permit application form is completed and submitted, the system will give an appointment to attend the local immigration office. Once approved, your residence permit will arrive via the PTT local post office.
Waiting times for residence permits vary. We know some people in Turkey who received their residence permit within six weeks, while others had to wait longer. We hope that in future, there will be a Turkish digital nomad visa scheme because the popularity of the country grows every year.
5: Istanbul for Digital Nomads in Turkey
By far, most digital nomads head to Istanbul first for the convenient remote working infrastructure and decent average internet speed. This digital nomad hotspot is a bustling city with everything for remote workers in Turkey. Choose central locations in this big city for more accommodation choices, coworking spaces, and a good internet connection. Sitting on two continents, many digital nomads say Istanbul is safe but apply the same precautions you would at home.
Despite the cost of living being Turkey's most expensive, digital nomads can make the Turkish lira stretch further and cut down on the cost of living by eating Turkish cuisine, buying street food, and buying transport cards. This is just the beginning, in any case. As well as being a digital nomad destination, Istanbul is the most visited tourist destination in Turkey. See the sites like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi palace. Most digital nomads head to European Istanbul for the two continents, but in later years, Asian Istanbul is rising thanks to more affordable prices.
6: Be a Nomad in Antalya City
Although this city of Mediterranean Turkey doesn't offer the same remote working infrastructure for digital nomads that Istanbul does, the region portrays this multicultural country in all its glory. Very few countries can boast of a destination that excels in history, shopping, nightlife, beaches and comfortable living standards like this corner of Turkey. There are fewer coworking spaces than in Istanbul, but plenty of quiet cafes to use the internet connection if you buy food and drinks.
Most cities are full of drab urban landscapes, but not Antalya city. Fronting the Mediterranean Sea, digital nomads should get away from their coworking spaces to explore surrounding places like golfing Belek and the historical Side. This is another destination in Turkey to save money on the cost of living.
7: Stay in Ankara - the Capital City of Turkey
Of major cities in Turkey, Ankara ranks as the second largest in population. As well as Turkey's capital, the city ranks highly for university education. There are also more choices of coworking spaces for digital nomads than in Antalya. The one downside is that Ankara is inland, so remote workers need to give up the dream of a beachside lifestyle; however, exploring the surrounding rural areas is fun. The traditional cuisine of Ankara is in a ballgame of its own because the central Anatolian region has different cooking styles and ingredients. In addition, Ankara's tourism industry revolves mainly around the Anitkabir, the castle, culture and history, so there isn't the same atmosphere as coastal resorts of Turkey.
8: Remote Workers Love Fethiye
Ah, one of our favourite places in Turkey. We only know of three coworking spaces in Fethiye, yet there are plenty of places with peace for digital nomads. The beachfront location, backing mountain range, and many areas of natural beauty compensate for the low choice of coworking spaces in Fethiye. Of course, many places serve Turkish cuisine, but Fethiye is also an all-rounder, and nomads can taste every corner of the world.
The bonus of Fethiye is plenty of short-term accommodation for rent, from villas to apartments. In winter, digital nomads will find an affordable price for accommodation with an internet connection. For stretching the Turkish lira, Fethiye is ideal, thanks to cheaper costs of living. Furthermore, there is no need for private transportation in Fethiye because the public transport network is excellent.
9: Bodrum for Higher Budgets
While Bodrum is not the cheapest place in Turkey for digital nomads, for higher budgets, the town is an excellent short-term base. Like Fethiye, short-term accommodation is abundant for rent. Traditionally, Bodrum's reputation stems around rich and glitzy. After all, this is where Saudi royalty spend their summers docked out on mega yachts. Yet, digital nomads can save money by steering clear of tourist restaurants in favour of traditional establishments serving Turkish cuisine or street food and resorts like Turkbuku that host celebrities of Turkey. The beauty of Bodrum is exploring. The place is a peninsula, and for digital nomads, three months spent in Bodrum perfectly introduces western Turkey.
10: Izmir for Good Nightlife
Lastly, we come to Izmir, Turkey's third-largest city sitting on the Aegean. With an ample choice of coworking spaces and a more westernised, relaxed atmosphere, digital nomads will feel at home in Izmir. Like Ankara, the significant university presence and the younger generations of Turks lead to decent nightlife scenes. Moreover, for those digital nomads who get long-term residence permits, Izmir offers more yearlong affordable accommodation, especially when compared to Istanbul.
Many Turks have moved from Istanbul to Izmir because of the cost of living. Izmir ranks number four for the best average internet speed in Turkey, and when digital nomads are not at your desk, explore the surrounding areas of Cesme, Foca and Alacati. Izmir is also near the ancient ruins of Ephesus, one of Turkey's top-visited attractions.
More About Life in Turkey
Best Supermarkets: While these supermarket chains cannot replace the popularity of the traditional Turkish market, they have changed the way people shop in Turkey with western food retail practices, discount stores, convenience stores and online shopping. People use local shops for ad hoc purchases of cigarettes or alcohol, but many visit supermarkets for their weekly shops.
Turkish Greetings: For language learners of all levels, knowing typical day Turkish greetings and expressions go a long way in daily life. People use daily greetings in Turkey everywhere, from workplaces, conservations with friends and family, or only doing the weekly shopping. Turks love using them from the common "hello and goodbye" and "how are you?" to expressions from Islamic traditions.
Easy Ways to Learn Turkish: Knowing the language helps nomads see their temporary adopted country from an insider's viewpoint. The good news is that some simple language hacks make the process seem less daunting, making travelling around the destinations for Digital nomads in Turkey even more fun.