If we are to answer the question, is Turkey good for expats? Our answer is always going to be yes. Our team of Turks and foreigners have spent many years in the country. Combined, they have much experience and knowledge of the history, traditions, culture, food, and daily lifestyle from the big cities like Istanbul to small, hidden, unknown destinations.
Of course, considering we sell property in Turkey, you might accuse us of biases. So, in this article, we will look at the pros, advice and potential aspects to watch out for if you make a move. After all, nowhere is like heaven. We know the hurdles expats face and factors that can be the downfall of their new life abroad. So, let’s start first with some official stats.
Is Turkey Good for Expats?
1: Need to Know – Stats and Geographical Location
Last year, the Turkish government released information on the number of foreigners living in the country, and they said it was just over 5 million. However, not all of them are expats. Roughly 3 million were Syrians under temporary protection status. Many Syrians settle in the big cities close to the Syrian border like Sanliurfa, Hatay, and Gaziantep, and the city status means finding work is easier. Whereas, if we talk about retired expats with pensions or sustainable sources of income, they tend to settle in smaller communities alongside the Aegean and Mediterranean coats. They don’t have to worry about work, raising a family or finding education resources for their children. They enjoy more relaxed lifestyles outside of the significant urban landscapes, and in the case of many, the seaside atmosphere where tourism is big business fits their ideal of a good life in Turkey.
2: High-interest Savings Accounts in Turkey
Many retired expats say high-interest savings accounts are one good aspect of living in Turkey. With many accounts averaging 10 to 14% interest, expats convert their money into Turkish lira, then withdraw interest monthly after paying tax and use it for income. However, if this is something you plan to do, think carefully if at any stage you want to convert it back into your home currency and withdraw it from Turkey. For example, some people swapped their currency at an exchange rate of 10 lira to the pound. When this article was published, the exchange rate was 20 lira to the pound. If those expats were to covert their money back, they would lose.
3: Cost of Living in Turkey
Across the world, people are complaining about the cost of living. With weekly price increases, people in most countries must tighten their belts. However, while expats in Turkey have noticed the rising costs, many still remark that Turkey is cheaper than their home country, and if they returned, they would not be able to survive. Therefore, should you make a move, our advice is to factor in buffer zones to accommodate rising costs and the fluctuating exchange rate if you receive your pension in another currency. So, for example, if your monthly budget is 800, try and live on 700 instead to accommodate changes. Additionally, always have rainy-day pots. Finally, one way to save money is to use specialist foreign exchange currency companies like Wise to get better exchange rates and transfer fees than banks.
4: Should Expats Rent or Buy Property?
This is purely personal based on your lifestyle preferences and expectations. There are bonus and pus points for each option and an equal number of responsibilities. The downside is that for many Turks, rent is expensive, yet expats remark that it is cheap for them, thanks to the exchange rate. If you rent, get a contract. If you don’t have one (quite common in Turkey) and your landlord decides to sell or up the rent price, you don’t have any legal rights. We advise on buying property, including the buying process, taxes, inheritance laws, capital appreciation, investment, and property ownership. Contact us today or browse our portfolio of apartments and villas in many areas of Turkey to understand what you get for your money.
5: Bringing in Pets and Cars into Turkey
Now, this is one area we don’t like. The red tape, rules, regulations, and ever-changing procedures mean always staying one step ahead. To bring pets in, firstly check for banned breeds of dogs, and we advise using specialist companies who know what they are doing. They are well worth the money. Most expats don’t drive cars, but those who purchase vehicles in Turkey, simply because expats must take foreign cars out of the country after a specific time.
6: Learning and Speaking Turkish
In our estimation, we live in a small Aegean town called Altinkum, and roughly 80% of the expats don’t speak Turkish. It is not through want of trying. They complain that they can’t retain information, and science backs up this statement. Experts say the best age to learn foreign languages is 7, so for those expats above 50, the time has indeed run its course. But funnily enough, the language barrier is not problematic. Many Turkish locals in Aegean and Mediterranean tourist towns speak foreign languages like English, Russian, and German. They hire a fixer to translate or complete the procedures for residency permits or something official. So, expats can still enjoy life without knowing Turkish, but to work in Turkey, knowing Turkish is essential to learn the work culture and cultivate relationships with work colleagues.
7: Easy Turkish Residency Application Process
Now, this is where we think Turkey excels for expats, with an easy residency application process that is cheap and fast to receive approval. Foreigners can stay in Turkey for up to 90 days on a tourist visa. After that, expats must go on to residency, and all you must do is have the financial means to support yourself and healthcare coverage if you are under 65. Please note that there are common misconceptions among some expats aged over 65 that if they fall ill, the government covers their medical costs. This is incorrect; while the governments do not legally require expats over 65 to buy health coverage, they or their family members will still have to pay medical bills. In the event of something serious, this can eat into your savings or cause expats to sell assets like property.
8: Other Good Aspects About Living in Turkey
- Gorgeous weather and climate of hot summer and mild winters
- Delicious national cuisine
- Exciting history, culture, and traditions to learn about
- Friendly, welcoming hospitality
- Excellent travel network from the international airport to cross-country buses
9: Too Much Free Time
Now, this is one downfall of many expats, and what seems good at first can lead to homesickness, expat syndrome, or a giant beer belly, thanks to afternoons in bars. Retired expats often look forward to lie-ins, breakfast on the terrace, days spent by the pools and generally relaxing. However, they are so preoccupied with this dream lifestyle that they fail to spot the signs of boredom. Without realising it, they miss friends and family back home; some who fall foul of the expat syndrome start to criticise everything and anything, while others become permanent fixtures in bars. Be sure to pursue hobbies and those interests that have always captured your attention. Many people would love to have carefree days with no obligations so use your time wisely for more meaningful days living in Turkey.
Also, About Expats in Turkey
Turkish Citizenship: To get Turkish citizenship by property investment is to buy into one of the world’s best golden visa passport schemes. Buying property abroad to gain the rights to live, work and study is nothing new. But Turkey’s scheme comes out on top with a lower minimum purchase price, easy-to-apply system, fewer restrictions, and quick processing time.
Where do expats live in Turkey? Ever since living abroad became popular with retirees, potential expats often look at Turkey as one of the countries that may become their second or even first home. Expat destinations tend to be more influenced by the nationalities living there and are very different from the rural mountain villages rarely featured in travel books. People asking this question do not want to get so far off the beaten track, so alongside asking is Turkey good for expats, it is helpful to know the destinations that expats flock to in Turkey.