If you are thinking of living in Turkey, it is a wise decision. To find proof, look at thousands of expats living in small communities across the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, and enormous cities like Istanbul and Izmir. While some expats have completely sold up in their home country and plan to live here for the rest of their lives, others rent a property to stay for a few years.
Turkey is an excellent place to live, more so for people who don’t have to navigate the schooling or work systems and have the monthly income to support themselves. However, a balanced view of what to expect is essential because no-where is a utopia, so, let us look at the pros and cons.
Weather and Climate: Part of the reason Turkey is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, is the gorgeous weather. Given the size of the country, it has several climate zones, but Istanbul, the west and southern coasts also have warm summers that bring in people far afar. Should you want to live here in winter, look at the Antalya region for cool days, where you can still swim in the sea in December.
Outdoor Lifestyle: The weather also lends weight to an outdoor lifestyle which doctors agree is good for our health. Whether indulging in sports, lounging by the pool or on the beach, pursuing hobbies or alfresco dining styles, the only time people stay indoors, is the rainy season which lasts from January to March.
Healthy Eating: Fast-food chains make a roaring trade, and supermarkets feature frozen food to go, yet despite this, Turks still embrace healthy eating. The local weekly farmers market is the social highlight and traditional dishes featuring only fresh; organic vegetables is the pinnacle point of every family dinner table.
Cost of Living: Another reason many expats choose Turkey is the low cost of living. Albeit for smokers, drinkers or those who run a car, costs soon add up. Other than that, affordable household bills include water that for a family can be as little as 40 lira a month and council tax that is just a fraction of the UK. Many ex-pats who have sold their property back home also deposit sizeable amounts of money into high-interest accounts and withdraw the interest monthly after paying tax.
Transport Network: Over the last 20 years, Turkey has invested billions into upgrading their infrastructure. New highways and bridges cut travelling times down by half, while the new Istanbul airport on the European side will be the most significant air travel hub in the world. For the med and Aegean coasts, three airports; Dalaman, Bodrum and Antalya service resorts and their frequent flight schedules means anyone from around the world can get here in next to no time.
Language Barrier: Most older expats attempt to learn Turkish, but often say they struggle. The pleasant news is if you settle in a resort with an existing tourism or expat community, the language barrier doesn’t come into play so much. Many locals speak foreign languages because it increases their job potential. Should you need to venture into official offices for things like residency permits, or into the hospitals, you need a translator. Still, the language barrier is an ad hoc problem occurring occasionally.
Finding New Social Circles: One downside of moving to Turkey is leaving friends and family behind. This means finding new social circles. In tourist bars, this is quickly done, because many expats meet up there. Also, look for local charities or hobby groups with expats involved. Most places, including Didim, Fethiye, Antalya and Bodrum, have them. Also, take time out to integrate yourself within the community by getting to know your new Turkish neighbours. Turkish culture is hospitable, and they often knock on your door with cakes or tea.
Keeping in Touch and Homesickness: Once the initial euphoria has worn off, some people experience homesickness. This happens a lot, especially with grandparents who want to be part of their little one’s lives. The pleasant news is like the euphoria; the homesickness also wears off. The key during this time is to keep yourself mentally and physically active. Thanks to today’s technology, keeping in touch with friends and family is easy, with apps like Zoom, Skype, FaceBook Video call and What’s App.
Navigating Red Tape: In the old days, expats in Turkey hopped on ferries across to the Greek islands, got a tourist visa and that was enough to keep them in the country. Unfortunately, those days are gone, and you need a residency visa, and healthcare to live here. Another additional hurdle is to own a car. However, long-winded and, sometimes, many trips to different offices for one process can be stressful. There is no way around this, so our advice is to take it as it comes. Be prepared for stress and hassle, and you will deal with it better.
People who receive a monthly income in other than Turkish lira and those who still run property in their home country need to ensure they have a weekly system to managing their finances. Exchange rates and interest rates continually fluctuate, hence keep a careful eye on income and outgoing costs, otherwise you can soon find yourself out of pocket.
One effortless way to feel at home and make Turkish friends is to learn about regional history, food, and traditions. Turkey is such a diverse country, and the culture differs vastly from the east to the west. This does not mean sitting down and pouring over the textbooks. A fun way to do this is to travel, even just for weekend breaks every month. By visiting tourist attractions and individual places, away from your usual haunts, you can learn more in a weekend than through 100 hours reading. There is nothing like personal experience.
As politics has come to the forefront of society in nearly every country of the world, it is easy to discuss current issues, especially when the beer is flowing. Our advice is to avoid this because Turks are very passionate about their political system, and there is a stark divide between the political circles. Much like in other countries, it is a messy game and to enjoy yourself and keep friends, just do not join the conversation.
Advice on Buying a Property in Turkey: International real estate is now the new norm and owning a property or two or more countries is seen as a lifestyle choice. If you plan to live in Turkey and buy a home, this article gives some helpful advice and tips on what to expect.
Where to Retire in Turkey: Turkey throws out hundreds of destinations to live, but if choices overwhelm you, these places soar ahead in popularity. From the working hub of Istanbul to the beach destination of Antalya and other coastal resorts, it matches your lifestyle choices and expectations with the ideal place.
Is Turkey a Good Place to Live? We have read the official surveys and spoken to expats to find out exactly why many foreigners say Turkey is the best country to live in. From hospitality to low cost of living, and schooling, it will tempt anyone thinking of living in Turkey.