The Expats Guide
The promise of seaside living, healthy eating and copious amounts of sun lures many expats to live permanently in Turkey. While some have holidayed for many years in the country, others are less familiar with the culture, traditions, and the physiological effects of making such as drastic lifestyle change. With that in mind, we put together a small expat guide to ease your transition into your new life. Our tips can also help anyone who is currently considering the move.
Guide to Living in Turkey for Expats
In the 2016 HSBC Expat Survey, 30% of foreigners living abroad said as soon as they made the move, their finances got complicated. Reasons included managing property in two countries, the constant different in exchange rates and the difference in tax laws between their host and home country. When your monetary affairs are not in order, opportunities slip in to lose money. Therefore, get into the habit of managing your money from the get go.
Keep a close eye on exchange rates, bank fees, income, and expenses. Many expats in Turkey also deposit money in high-interest savings account. Shop around all the banks for the best deals and weekly keep an eye on the financial market to keep yourself informed of interest and exchange rates. Some people also compare the cost of goods and services with the equivalent in the UK, but Turkey has a lower cost of living. Get out of this habit to avoid overpaying for items.
The National Identity
Living in Turkey is completely different to holidaying in the country. Once you make the permanent move, the culture, traditions, national identity, and society expectations become more visible. For the first few months, it is worth learning about cultural traditions. However, another great way to familiarise yourself is through travel. Meeting locals and learning about the history of various places slowly unravels the national identity and social fabric of society.
Turks are also notorious for quirky characteristics such as bad time keeping or telling you, what you want to hear. Knowing this prevents misunderstandings or unrealistic expectations. In addition, from the east to the west, traditions and cultural heritage differ significantly, so it is worth treating each interaction as an entirely new experience.
The Turkish Language
Society expectations say people living in another country should know or be learning the language. Many expats living in Turkey do not speak or understand Turkish though and mainly because in most expat destinations, locals speak perfect English. Older people also encounter problems when learning a second language because experts say the best time to become bi-lingual is during childhood.
You can get by without knowing Turkish, but learning the most common words helps daily living situations and improves your confidence. These words include days of the week, numbers, household objects, key phrases, and commonly used greetings. You can also set a goal to learn two words a day if your memory capacity is limited.
Transport and Driving
Turkey excels at many things, and one of them is an ongoing project to improve transportation infrastructure. The new airport of Istanbul, planned to open in 2018 is going to be one of the biggest in the world. Improving connections between countries and the rest of Turkey, expats will mainly use it when airports like Bodrum, Dalaman and Antalya schedule down their programs in winter.
A good domestic airline network is already in place but traditionally, Turks always favour the cross-country bus system, a cheap, frequent, and clean method of travel. Alternatively, owning a car has become more popular in the last ten years because the government introduced easier credit terms.
Expats looking to drive in the country should carefully consider whether bringing their foreign car into Turkey is worth it. Often involving much paperwork, the car also has to leave after six months. Instead, they buy Turkish cars and apply for MB plates showing that it belongs to a foreign resident. Expats can also only drive on a foreign license for six months, and then should apply for a Turkish license.
Turkish Residency and Healthcare
If you enter Turkey on a tourist visa, you can only stay for 90 days out of 180. If you want to live in the country permanently or increase your allocated time allowed, apply for a residency visa. The first application is valid for one year, but after that, you can apply for two years. These laws are also changing all the time, so it is worth keeping up to date with current news and events.
Use the official website for applications or in many places; companies help you through the process for a small fee. When you apply for a residency permit, healthcare is a requirement and many expats sign up to the government’s SGK scheme for foreign residents. Certain restrictions apply, and for those who are not eligible, private healthcare is available. (Read more about the Turkey residency permits in here.)
Buying and Selling Property in Turkey
Many countries have reciprocal agreements with Turkey allowing their nationalities to buy property in the country. Cheap prices and a lower of cost of living are two main reasons why expats choose Turkey. Other people also purchase holiday homes either as a buy-to-let investment or for long term ROI. If you are interested in buying property, the following pages are useful.
Our property portfolio is including many regions such as Istanbul, Fethiye, and Antalya, our property portfolio highlights apartments, and villas for holiday use or permanent living. If a property catches your eye and you would like more information about it, press the “request details” button. We always reply within 24 hours.
Advice about Turkish Property: We covered all aspects you should know in our buyer's guide. Including the purchase process, annual running costs, making a will, we also talk about organising your finances, and Turkish mortgages.
Helpful Tips for First-time Property Buyers: Navigating the real estate market in a country other than your own is a completely new life lesson, so we have listed our tips for customers buying for the first time in Turkey.
We hope this has been an informative guide for you, however, if you still have questions, we are always available to chat whether you drop into one of our offices, call us, or send an email.