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BLOG Where Do Foreigners Live in Turkey? Official Stats and Comparisons

21 May 2017 / Lifestyle

Living in Turkey

When looking at where foreigners live in Turkey, prepare for a jackpot bonanza of destinations. With its vibrant culture and stunning landscapes, Turkey is increasingly popular for foreigners seeking a new home. From the low cost of living, which outranks European countries, to the friendly nature of Turkish people, many foreigners have overcome the language barrier to call Turkey their home.

While retired foreigners mostly settle in popular tourist destinations, others who still want to pursue a career head to major cities. Families like places with international schools and other expats who like Turkish culture settle in rural villages.

Indeed, for thousands of foreigners, swapping tourist visas for residence permits and daily life in this beautiful country has proven fruitful. Some people even apply for a golden visa, which grants them citizenship. So, let's look at major cities and coastal resorts across Turkey where expatriates have settled.

                                                Where do Foreigners Live in Turkey


                                     Rich Culture in Istanbul: Where East Meets West

Where Europe and Asia meet, Istanbul stands as Turkey's cultural and economic heart. The city's historical significance, marked by iconic landmarks such as the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque, draws expatriates from around the globe. The "best" neighbourhood depends on individual preferences, such as proximity to work, lifestyle, budget, and personal taste. However foreigners have lots to choose from.

Located in European Istanbul, Beşiktaş, a lively district with trendy cafes, bars, and restaurants, ranks as a prestigious area.  Home to iconic landmarks like Taksim Square and Istiklal Street, Beyoğlu excels in cultural, shopping and entertainment lifestyles. While in Asian Istanbul, Kadikoy offers bohemian atmospheres that attract locals and expatriates seeking authentic experiences. Nisantasi, an upscale European neighbourhood, boasts luxury boutiques, high-end cafes, and elegant residences.


Situated along the Bosphorus, Sariyer earns fame for picturesque views, waterfront properties, and lush greenery. Sariyer is popular among families seeking peaceful environments away from the city centre. The one downside to choosing Istanbul is that it is the most expensive city to live in Turkey. (Read the Istanbul area guides.)

                                    Beautiful Beaches in Antalya: Mediterranean Gem

Nestled along the picturesque Turkish Riviera, Antalya, one of Turkey's larger cities, boasts a Mediterranean climate and stunning coastal landscapes. Antalya easily matches European cities regarding leisure and pleasure since it is the top Mediterranean spot for shopping and nightlife. Antalya is also a top spot for foreigners getting a Turkish residence permit and the blend of modern Turkish and Western cultures plays a large part in this.


Another factor is Antalya, which belongs to the Turquoise coast and often ranks as having Turkey's most beautiful beaches, with a blue flag status for environmental cleanliness. When choosing somewhere to live, there is Antalya city centre. But the name also refers to the larger region. This includes other destinations like the historical Side, known for ruins in the centre of town.

Belek, Turkey's golfing capital, earns international fame. Then there is the outskirt district of Kalkan, known for large, modern villas. On the other end, Alanya is growing to become worthy in its own right. Antalya is the 2nd most popular places for foreigners buying property in Turkey, hence the region must be doing something right. (Antalya area guide.)

                              The Popular Destination of Bodrum for Seaside Serenity

Bodrum isn't one of Turkey's larger cities. Yet, it draws fame for its hedonistic vibes, making the region a tourist hotspot. Known for crystal-clear waters and white-washed buildings, Bodrum is popular with expatriates seeking laid-back Aegean lifestyles. The city's vibrant nightlife, historic sites like Bodrum Castle, and the charming Bodrum Peninsula contribute to its popularity as a foreign country for expats.


The Bodrum lifestyle, characterised by sailing, beach clubs, and cultural events, appeals to relaxation and entertainment. In the face of daily life, cultural differences are hard to spot. Indeed, everyone in Bodrum wants to sail and lounge around on beaches, yet traditional Turkish culture can be found if you delve behind the scenes. For those living on a foreign currency, Bodrum is one of Turkey's most expensive expat cities. Still, the region has a reputation as the Saint Tropez of Turkey, which explains everything.

Remember that this is a peninsula, so alongside Bodrum city centre, other coastal towns where foreigners live include rustic Gumusluk, Upmarket Yalikavak, peaceful Gundogan, and luxury Turkbuku. (Bodrum Area Guide.)

                         The Coastal City of Fethiye is on Turkey's Mediterranean coast

As one of the growing Turkish cities, Fethiye city centre on the southwestern coast is a hidden gem for more tranquil settings. The town's expatriate-friendly atmosphere and proximity to Oludeniz Beach and the ancient city of Telmessos attract nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Indeed, as the end of the Lycian way, the Fethiye region is home to many historical sites worth exploring.


Thanks to the weather, expats enjoy an active lifestyle, and the vast range of restaurants delivers abundant international cuisine. Calis Beach and Ovacik are popular neighbourhoods, offering a range of housing options from cosy apartments to spacious villas. Hisaronu and Uzumlu are two other destinations expats like.

 Like Antalya, expect gorgeous beaches and friendly Turkish citizens who openly embrace their foreign expat communities. Overall, Fethiye is one of Turkey's top expat cities. The foreign population is vast, but Fethiye doesn't have working city vibes; hence, foreigners quickly settle in.

                           Expats in the Modern City of Izmir: Aegean Elegance

As Turkey's third-largest city, Izmir city centre has a cosmopolitan atmosphere that appeals to many expatriates who like bustling cities, and the Turkish language barrier is easily overcome in Izmir because many locals speak foreign languages.  Izmir's strategic location on Turkey's Aegean coast provides easy access to nearby attractions, including the ancient cities and UNESCO World Heritage site attractions of the historic port city of Ephesus and Pergamon.


Izmir isn't one of Turkey's most beautiful cities, but delivers for international destinations and friendly people.  Public transport is excellent in Izmir city centre, and there are many family-friendly areas. Alongside the Izmir city centre, there are other neighbouring towns and villages, when choosing somewhere to live. Alacati earns fame as Turkey's windsurfing capital, whereas Cesme commands fame as a luxury retirement destination for Turks.

                            Foreigners in Ankara - The Capital City of Turkey

Ankara, the capital city of Turkey, presents compelling reasons to live there. The city maintains a balance between urban amenities and relaxed atmospheres, making this place ideal for Turkish citizens and foreigners who appreciate city living without overwhelming hustle and bustle. The city's broad avenues, green spaces, and well-planned infrastructure also contribute to comfortable lifestyles, providing residents with community spirit in less hectic environments.


Residents can explore the historic Citadel, an iconic landmark, and the Atatürk Mausoleum, honouring the founder of modern Turkey.  Additionally, the central location in the country makes the city strategic for exploring other parts of Turkey, with easy access to highways and transportation hubs. These factors, combined with more relaxed lifestyles and rich cultural heritage, make Ankara appealing for working expat families.

                                       Living in Didim in Aegean Turkey

Also called Altinkum, Didim, nestled on Turkey's Aegean coast, is favoured for idyllic lifestyles. One primary draw is the town's stunning beaches, such as Altinkum, which translates to "Golden Sands." In previous years, Didim had a reputation as "little Britain" because of British expats. Yet, in recent years, other nationalities have flocked here.


One bonus is that the property price is lower than in other high-profile places like the Bodrum peninsula. As well as the town centre and beach districts, some foreigners choose outskirt places like Mavisehir or the next town of Akbuk. Altinkum is your typical tourist hotspot. So many locals speak English, and although things scale down outside of tourist seasons, the region is excellent for daily living.

                                    Why Foreigners Choose to Live in Turkey

Historical Marvels: Turkey's landscape is adorned with historical monuments from ancient civilisations. The country testifies to ancient cultures, with sites like Ephesus, Troy, and Hierapolis showcasing the remnants of bygone eras. Turkey always surprises everyone, from the underground cities in Cappadocia to the Hagia Sophia and the old architecture of Mardin.

Cultural Diversity: Eastern mystique and Western cultures are evident in every facet of this Muslim country, from cuisine to architecture. Moving to Turkey provides chances to experience diverse cultural influences, offering residents a multifaceted experience. Westernised cities attract many foreigners, but don't neglect the traditional places to experience Turkish culture.

Warm Hospitality: Turkish hospitality, known as "misafirperverlik," is legendary and rarely matched in any foreign country.  Turkish people's warmth and friendliness make newcomers feel welcome and embraced. Whether in the bustling markets of Istanbul or serene Aegean villages, the genuine hospitality of Turkish people becomes a cornerstone of daily life. Being embraced by your Turkish neighbours and friends also improves the quality of life.

Culinary Delights: Culture shock doesn't happen with Turkish cuisine, which contains flavours, textures, and aromas. From the savoury delights of kebabs and mezes to the sweet indulgence of baklava, Turkish food efficiently promotes gastronomic journeys.

Natural Beauty: Whether it's pristine beaches along the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts or snow-capped peaks of the Taurus Mountains, Turkey offers many natural wonders. Living in this country means waking up to awe-inspiring vistas and exploring stunning natural wonders right at your doorstep.

Affordable Costs and Exchange Rate: Many consider Turkey their new home because of living costs and standards of living. The cost of living in Turkey is notably lower than in many European countries, making it ideal for expatriates with limited income in their home country. From housing to daily expenses, living in Turkey allows individuals to enjoy quality lifestyles without sacrificing financial stability or comprising Western standards. Many foreigners also deposit money into high-interest bank accounts and withdraw interest monthly to increase their pensions. The cheaper costs are a winner, especially compared to the long list of now-expensive countries.

Modern Infrastructure of a Foreign Country: Turkey embraces modernity with state-of-the-art infrastructure. Cities like Istanbul and Ankara boast efficient public transportation, modern healthcare facilities, and rapidly developing technology sectors. Old-world charm and contemporary amenities make Turkey appealing for balanced and comfortable lifestyles.

Language and Education: For those eager to broaden their horizons, Turkey offers opportunities to learn a new language while experiencing unique cultural contexts. Turkish, with its roots in the Turkic language family, opens doors to communication and cultural understanding. Additionally, Turkey is home to reputable universities and educational institutions, making the country attractive for pursuing higher education.

Mild Climate: With its Mediterranean and Aegean coastlines, Turkey enjoys diverse climates that vary from region to region. Individuals can choose a climate that suits their preferences, from hot summers and sandy beaches to snowy eastern winters. The mild Mediterranean climate in many coastal areas makes Turkey ideal for temperate environments and ample sunshine.

Eastern Gateway: Turkey's strategic location makes the country a gateway to Europe and Asia, offering foreigners opportunities to explore neighbouring countries easily. Whether weekend trips to Greece or Silk Road journeys, living in Turkey opens up several travel possibilities. The country's well-connected airports and efficient transportation networks make international travel convenient and accessible.

Public Health Insurance: Foreigners have many choices when choosing healthcare providers. They can buy private healthcare insurance or tap into the government social security system. Either way, they can expect top-quality healthcare. If you buy into the Social Security system, remember yearly price increases.

What to Know About Turks

Turks love football, and they also have much respect for their elders. Turks are enthusiastic celebrators of festivals and public holidays, with each event marked by lively parades, music, and traditional dances. Turkey is a Muslim country, yet Turks are free to practise as they wish, or in some cases, don't. You won't see religion in daily life, like council offices, because Turkey is a secular country.

But the call to prayer echoes through cities and villages alike, and Mosques adorned with intricate architecture symbolise religious devotion and architectural mastery. So, while Turkey is predominantly Muslim, the country also embraces secularism. One person revered across the country by Turks is Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. As Turkey's founding father, Turks adore him. Additionally, don't disrespect the flag in any way because you will upset Turks. (More about Turkish culture.)

Residency and Private Health Insurance Plans

Before finding somewhere to live, check out residency permit rules. From long-term residence permits to family residence permits to the golden visa, the type of visa, future legal residents apply for is essential. Additionally, you must have private health insurance to apply for a temporary residency visa when under 65. Read more about residency visas here.

Cost of Living, Income, Foreign Exchange and Taxes

You will pay income tax if you have a home in turkey that you receive rental income on. Additionally, if you are a tax resident, you will pay income tax on your wages regardless of where they come from. Setting budgets is essential, but do factor in inflation and currency exchange rates. If your income is from abroad, factor in foreign transaction fees. Currently, the currency rate is like a yo-yo and likely to change drastically, so always have a buffer zone. Popular banks that expats use include HSBC, Garanti, and Denizbank.

Summary of Foreigners in Turkey

In conclusion, when looking at where foreigners live in Turkey, several destinations await expatriates. Whether it's Istanbul's bustling energy, seaside serenity in Bodrum, the Mediterranean charm of Antalya, the natural retreat in Fethiye, or the Aegean elegance of Izmir, each destination provides blended culture, history, and lifestyle. If you are moving to Turkey and want to buy property, see our portfolio of homes for sale across the country. Alternatively, call us today and find out how we can help you choose somewhere to live in Turkey.

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