Every month, a few clients ask if they can live permanently in Turkey, and the answer is yes. Many expat, students, and foreign working people live in various towns, villages, and cities of Turkey. Turkey offers much more than typical sun, sea, and sand vibes, so we understand the lure. As an overseas living destination, Turkey rose the ranks and now competes with other popular expat destinations like Spain, Portugal, and France.
Yet, Turkey has one bonus because various destinations stretching from the large cities like Istanbul to the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts do not just attract one nationality or western expat communities. Turkey is an all-rounder, attracting European, Asian, Middle Eastern and African communities. The country feels like home to anyone who chooses to make these shores their permanent dwelling place. So, let us look at what to know about living permanently in Turkey, how to go about the move, and famous places for expats.
Can I Live Permanently in Turkey?
1: Money Matters in Turkey
Whether you can move to Turkey permanently is all about finances. Many expat communities along the southern and western coasts are retirees. They either rely on pensions or deposit vast amounts of money into high-interest accounts, which they withdraw the interest monthly to live on. Working expats, especially those who move here with their companies, tend to gravitate towards big cities. Working in Turkey legally is a minefield to navigate. Don’t expect to arrive, and be working within the week. Find employment before you arrive. (About working in Turkey.)
2: Cost of Living
Once you know your financial situation, determine the cost of living and your budget. At present, the Turkish lira exchange rate is constantly up and down and inflation and prices, so search local Facebook groups to ask expats for the latest advice about the cost of living. Generally, you will need more money in the big cities, where rent and eating out are more expensive. (More about the cost of living)
3: Rent or Buy Property
Many retired expats own a property outright with no mortgage to pay. The prices of Turkish real estate are reasonable compared to other more developed countries; however, if you cannot afford to buy, you will need to rent. This is a significant part of your budget. The average price in small coastal resorts is 3000 TL, but in big cities more. Also, factor in yearly rent price increases. If you rent, remember to get a contract for a fixed term. Landlords in Turkey must adhere to rules and regulations as well. (What do I need to Buy a House in Turkey?)
4: Healthcare in Turkey
Decide what to do about healthcare. We do not recommend paying as you go. We know of one man who had a heart attack, and the cost ran into thousands. Some expats living in Turkey buy private insurance. Just check small print, terms, and conditions thoroughly. Most expats who permanently decide to live in Turkey buy into Turkey’s government-run SGK system, of which the price for a couple is the same as for single people.
5: Turkish Residency Visa
Foreigners can stay in Turkey for up to 90 days out of 180 days on tourist visas. After this, they need to apply for residency. To study in Turkey, you need an education visa. Likewise, if you come to Turkey to work, as well as residency visas, you need a working permit. Most of our clients are retired and apply for short-term residency, which requires two significant factors. The first is that they can support themselves financially. The second is that they have healthcare coverage if they are under 65.
6: Be Prepared for Day-to-Day Living Setbacks
Some people who want to live in Turkey all year-round approach moving somewhat naïvely. They assume Turkey to be like a utopia where nothing goes wrong. This is mainly from having holidayed in Turkey for many years before. However, living here and holidaying here are two different things. Be prepared to deal with setbacks, such as red tape, language barriers, homesickness, and culture shock. Give yourself time to adjust, and treat each experience as a learning curve. It is easy to settle in and cope with setbacks if you take the move day by day.
7: Turkish Language Barrier
You must know Turkish to work. This ensures success and enjoyment of your job. However, thousands of retired expats living in Turkey all year round do not speak Turkish fluently and still enjoy a fruitful life. Turks speak English, German, and Russian in most holiday resorts. So, foreigners can live here without knowing Turkish, but we suggest learning at least one word daily to improve your quality of life.
8: Can Foreigners Get Turkish Citizenship, rather than Residency?
Yes, they can. From our experience, most foreigners we know apply for citizenship after three years of marriage. However, those not getting married should consider the Turkish citizenship by real estate investment scheme. To apply, foreigners must purchase government-approved property worth $400,000 or more and pledge to keep the property for at least three years. The system applies to the applicant, their spouse, and dependents, making Turkey one of the world’s most popular golden visa schemes. Read more about Turkish citizenship.
9: Popular Places to Live in Turkey
Antalya: On the south coast, the Antalya region offers much to expats. As Turkey’s second most popular tourist and foreign house sales destination, it comprises a large city centre and smaller coastal resorts. The cosmopolitan atmosphere draws in foreigners worldwide and established expat communities have quickly settled into Mediterranean life. Expats choose the region because both destinations operate all year round, unlike some smaller resorts that only operate during the summer tourism season. Districts of Antalya.
Fethiye Region: Its stunning beauty, laid-back lifestyle and affordable costs of living have drawn in large groups of retirees, especially Brits. Some live in smaller resorts like Hisaronu, Ovacik and Calis, while larger communities set up homes in the town centre with year-round shopping, eating out, entertainment scenes and transport systems. Fethiye is also close to Dalaman airport, making getting there for friends and family easy. Another bonus is low property prices. (About living in Fethiye.)
Bodrum Town: This place commands the Aegean touristic trade and has large expat communities of many nationalities. Bodrum embraced foreigners in the late 1950s when the peninsula became the go-to place for wealthy international celebrities; hence every retiree feels at home.
Also belonging to the Bodrum peninsula, Yalikavak took over as the significant sailing hub when the glitzy Palmarina opened its doors for business. Such was its instant popularity, the town’s reputation was boosted, and real estate prices rose overnight. Often marketed as luxury, this attracts many international retirees, but Yalikavak still offers old Turkey through the early town part. Area guide to Bodrum.
Istanbul: This vibrant city counts itself as one of the world’s most prominent and ranks alongside Rome, Milan, and Paris. Istanbul’s population of nearly 16 million people makes the city Turkey’s most populated and biggest. In addition, Istanbul’s large expat community enjoys Turkey’s best shopping, nightlife, art, culture, and gastronomy scenes. Istanbul separates into two continents, Asia, and Europe. However, in recent years, much development in outskirt European districts makes Istanbul ideal for international real estate investors.
So, now you know you can live in Turkey permanently. If you plan to buy property in Turkey, browse our portfolio of apartments and villas for sale in many areas. Each listing contains everything to know, or call us today and chat with a local agent about the real estate market in Turkey.