Life in Turkey for Foreigners: A Snapshot Expat Guide to the Country

6 mins read

Everyone’s daily experiences are unique, so to stereotype life in Turkey for foreigners would be a mistake. A retired ex-pat sunning it up in the Mediterranean region of Antalya will have different day-to-day routines than a foreigner working at their career in Istanbul. Everyone lives in the country for various reasons, and naturally, the diversity of locations also adds another dimension to the question.

However, if you want to make the move, we can guarantee one thing. We have never heard from a foreigner who said they hated living here. Even ex-pats who return to their home country, say they leave with fond lifetime memories. In this article, we look at common factors such as working, handling finances, language barriers, navigating the red tape, and immersing yourself into Turkish culture and traditions.

Life in Turkey for Foreigners

1: Can You Live in Turkey Without Knowing Turkish?

People often ask us this question. To enter the workforce, knowing Turkish is necessary. Not only to ensure your success but also to enjoy the day. Who wants to be in a work environment where you cannot talk to your colleagues? However, thousands of retired expats living in Turkey all year round, do not speak the language fluently and still enjoy a fruitful life. They mainly settle on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, where tourism is the leading trade; hence locals speak foreign languages.

Russians and Germans favour the Antalya region; thus, locals speak those languages alongside English. The Fethiye and Aegean regions are also popular with British holidaymakers; so, locals speak fluent English, sometimes even with an accent! So, you can live here without knowing the language, but we suggest that to improve your quality of life, try to learn just a few words every day.


2: How Much Money do you Need?

Well, this will differ according to where you live, if you own property and your lifestyle. Istanbul is the most expensive place to live, especially for rent. A varied social life, and the costs of beers and eating out at restaurants soon clock up. The costs of smoking, drinking, and running a car add up. However, swing around to the Aegean and Mediterranean, prices drop drastically, and you can get more for your buck.

An average guideline, to live with a decent lifestyle, factor in about 7000 lira to live in Istanbul, and 4000 lira for other regions. It is worth mentioning that many retired expats have deposited vast amounts of money into the high-interest savings account offered by Turkish banks. After paying tax, they withdraw the interest every month, hence need never touch their net worth.

life in Turkey for foreigners

3: Is Moving to Turkey a Good Life Idea?

If you have a job to come to or a plan for monthly income, then we say do it. Don’t just take our word for it. All around the country, pockets of expat communities thrive thanks to the ideal weather climate and a healthy lifestyle. People’s reasons for moving also vary from the affordable prices of property to the outdoor lifestyles. Turkish hospitality plays an enormous part because locals are welcoming, and it is easy to strike up friendships with neighbours. The following articles will be of use to help decide.

4: Can Foreigners Work?

A Turkish company can employ a foreigner if they have an existing workforce of Turkish people. The number of required workers depends on the profession. Once an employer hires a foreigner, they must apply for a work permit, given with at least six months residency. Foreign workers often go for tourism jobs with enormous companies who require hotel and airport reps or teaching jobs with international private schools. Foreigners cannot perform certain professions like dentistry, security officers and notary officials.

is living in Turkey good

5: Can Foreigners Buy Property?

Yes, all nationalities apart from five can buy property in Turkey. To gain an idea of how thriving the foreign housing market is, in 2019, just over 45,000 foreigners purchased apartments and villas around the country. The simplified buying process is also quick to complete and if finances are in place, takes as little as three to six weeks to gain the freehold title deeds.

Affordable prices per square meter also make it one of the world’s best places for property investment. To get an idea of the property market in Turkey, see our portfolio of apartments and villas on the market. Each listing includes home description, price, location, and an enquiry form to arrange a viewing or receive more details via email.

6: Where do Expats Live?

Expats settle in a variety of locations. These mainly centre around coastal tourist resorts. It is rare for foreigners to live in the landlocked eastern districts because the tradition and culture are stronger, hence adapting is harder. Likewise, locals in the Kackar mountains rarely sell to outsiders because communities are tightknit. The below are popular towns and cities where there are sizeable expat communities.

Bustling Alanya: Nestled at the far eastern tip of the Mediterranean Antalya region, Alanya is growing to become a destination worth recognising. Massive promotion overseas is boosting the tourism industry and along with it, the number of foreigners buying property.

Golfing Belek: Welcome to Turkey’s golfing capital, a destination that hosts world-class championships. It boasts of impressive courses designed by the best and counts people like Tiger Woods and Barack Obama as previous players who chose to take a swing.


Antalya City Centre: This cosmopolitan city hosts the best shopping and nightlife scene in Mediterranean Turkey. To boost that reputation, it also has two of the country’s best beaches; Konyalti and Lara. This destination is ideal for all year round living since the tourism season bucks trends to carry on for 12 months. Find out why Antalya is so famous.

Kalkan: Welcome to luxury villa living and a fantastic Mediterranean Sea view. Kalkan makes a roaring trade in the high-end sector of real estate, and one look at some villas for sale will confirm why. Kalkan’s rooftop restaurants serving fresh fish and seafood are also renowned throughout Turkey. Read more about the districts of Kalkan.

Kalkan old town

Beautiful Fethiye: Often seen as one destination, this region breaks down into various towns like Oludeniz, Hisaronu, Ovacik, and the major centre. Known as a place of excellence on the sailing scene, Fethiye also makes a roaring trade with beach holiday tourism. Those looking for a mountain retreat would do well to consider Uzumlu that is known for its large, private villas.

Didim – Altinkum: This resort nicknamed little Britain has a sizeable pocket of Brits that live in Turkey. Home to the famous Apollo temple, many English bars and restaurants exist, although traditional Turkey still carries on in the main town.


Bodrum Peninsula: Comprising the city centre and many small holiday resorts, the Bodrum peninsula is one of Turkey’s top tourist destinations and a significant sailing hub. Popular places for expats include Yalikavak and the town centre. Anyone wanting a millionaire lifestyle should look at Turkbuku that the New York Times called Turkey’s version of Saint Tropez.

Kusadasi: This destination is a time-honoured Irish favourite although many nationalities live there. Thanks to the nearby famous ruins of Ephesus, it is also a major cruise ship port and enjoys a healthy, multicultural feel. Why people buy property in Kusadasi.

Also of Interest

Buying an Apartment in Turkey: Life in Turkey for many foreigners is more comfortable because they own a property. This article talks about tips, and advice for buying an apartment, and what to expect when signing for the deeds and put your keys in the door.

Citizenship by investment scheme: Many foreigners apply for separate residency visas to live in Turkey all year round. However, if you purchase property worth $400,000 or more and intend to keep it for three years, you can apply for citizenship.


About Natalie

Natalie is a dedicated real estate professional currently working at Spot Blue International Property. With over a decade of experience in the industry, she has acquired a wealth of knowledge and expertise regarding global properties.

Properties For Sale in Turkey