Moving to Turkey : Guide for Foreigners Relocating Overseas

6 mins read

If you dream of a new home and life abroad, consider moving to Turkey. Many expats of foreign nationalities have already left their home country to live overseas in Turkish style. We understand moving overseas is not an easy lifestyle decision. The stress of adapting to an unknown country of abode throws out various challenges that will redefine your beliefs and daily routines.

As with any foreign country, there is also red tape, new social practices, and adapting to unique cultural practises. But as an international real estate agent, we have guided many people, whether they rent or buy a property, with our tips for moving. So here is what you need to know for a successful move.

Guide to Moving to Turkey

1: Financial Matters and Working

Many people ask if they can move to Turkey because of legal requirements and the law. Although the laws differ for nationalities, Turkey welcomes most nationalities to live here all year round. The key criteria is financially supporting yourself. People without pensions or savings, who want to work, have another set of guidelines. Depending on their sector, Turkish companies must adhere to specific rules like only employing one foreigner for X number of Turks. Likewise, foreigners can not work as a dentist, nurse, pharmacist, lawyer, security, notary, or a vet. Most working foreigners, either move for a large international company or head down the route of teaching or au pair. Some holiday companies employ hotel reps on the Aegean and Mediterranean, but foreigners cannot work as tourist guides.

2: Should I Move to Turkey?

Knowing the legal requirement and deciding whether this is the right life move is two different things. To live overseas takes a certain amount of courage and determination. Alongside moving, you also must settle in to achieve your stress-free lifestyle. Most expats agree five core skills for expatriates make their move a success.

  • Open Mind–Now is not the time to pretend you know everything
  • Flexibility–The ability to adapt to a different way of doing things
  • Curiosity – Find out as much about Turkey through day-to-day life
  • Cultural Awareness–From the language to religion to food, history, and traditions
  • Sense of Adventure–Positivity versus negativity

3: Reasons to Make the Move

Oh wow! Where do we start? For all the downsides of expat living, Turkey offers many benefits to make it worthwhile. According to a newspaper report by Daily Hurriyet News, in 2019, Turkey hosted 4.7 million foreigners from 192 countries to prove the popularity. So what is the appeal?

  • Gorgeous weather climate, especially on the Mediterranean coast
  • Stunning beaches and the idyllic lifestyle
  • Low cost of living
  • Geared up for exploration through many tourist attractions
  • A countrywide diet aimed at fresh food, healthy living
  • In expat towns, locals speak English, hence navigating the language barrier is easy
  • High standards of houses for modern living
  • Extensive transport network
  • Ultra-modern, award-winning airports with international flights
  • Interesting historical timeline and UNESCO sites to visit
  • High standard of healthcare
  • Numerous outdoor activities including golfing, windsurfing, and adventure sports
  • An established, streamline process for foreigners wishing to move here.
  • Welcoming hospitality and friendly culture.

To Rent or Buy a Property

A big decision some people make is whether to rent or buy a property. Some do the first, giving them more time to find their dream home, while others dive straight into the housing market. It is a personal decision mainly revolving around finances. If renting, request a contract, and only pay the rent via official bank channels. If buying, browse our portfolio of apartments and villas for sale in many areas including Istanbul, Bodrum, Fethiye and Antalya. Each listing contains all the information to know but use the enquiry details to find out more or arrange a viewing. Likewise, to discuss investing in the real estate market, call us today.

Household Goods and Furniture

Those selling up in their home country often look to shipping their existing furniture in Turkey. However, crunch the numbers, and obtain some quotes to judge the practicality and financial feasibility. Many expats buy brand new furniture here, because it works out cheaper. Additionally, they avoid taxation and customs regulations.

moving to Turkey

Health Care

For standard healthcare, like dentistry work, the excellent news is Turkey’s top-notch dentists offer high standards, know what they are doing, and their prices are lower than western countries. For overall, comprehensive healthcare insurance, there are two options. The first is a private policy, or the second is to buy into the Government-run SGK system. For over 65’s, health insurance is not a legal recommendation, but we strongly advise it, because otherwise, bills can run into thousands.

Language Barrier

To move to some remote village in the central Anatolian or southeast regions, you need to learn fluent Turkish. Likewise, although many Turks speak English in Istanbul, you will still encounter problems, especially if entering the workforce. On the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, locals speak various languages in touristic towns, including English, Russian, and German. So, navigating the language barrier is easy. Having said that we suggest learning as much as possible to improve your quality of life. Even one word a day helps.

move abroad

Residency Permits

To stay longer than 90 days, you need a residency permit. The process is straight forward, and you can start by using the official website to fill in the application, which is here – Supporting documents, include an existing tourist or residency visa, a passport with 60 days validity, six passport photographs, health insurance, proof to support yourself financially, and proof of your address.

Money Management

One essential skill to have when living in Turkey is money management. Remember the current, lucrative exchange rate can go down as well as up so factor this into budgeting, income, and expenses. Many expats deposit money into high-interest savings accounts and withdraw the interest monthly after paying tax, so they do not touch their net worth. If receiving your income in a foreign currency, consider using foreign exchange companies to get the best exchange rates and transfer fees.

Where to Live in Turkey

Past trends show most working expats settle in large cities like Istanbul, Ankara, or Izmir. While retiree expats generally gravitate towards the Aegean or Mediterranean coasts. Our articles about the best place to retire in Turkey talks more about areas, but three stand out.

live overseas

Antalya: This region ranks as the second most popular destination for tourism and foreign house sales. Comprising the city centre and numerous towns, this overall stunning destination offers a great nightlife, and shopping scenes as well as some of Turkey’s most beautiful beaches. Towns and coastal resorts to choose from include bustling Alanya, historical side, golfing Belek and luxury Kalkan.

Fethiye: This region is especially popular with British expats. The city centre and other places to look at relocating to include Hisaronu and Ovacik, on the outskirts of Oludeniz, Calis Beach, and mountainous Uzumlu. Fethiye is home to many places of natural beauty, including the Blue Lagoon, and Butterfly Valley.

Bodrum: This peninsula over on the Aegean coast, has long been a favourite destination for the rich and famous, budget buyers will find bargains. Also consider towns like upmarket Turkbuku, water sporty Gumbet, Peaceful Gumusluk and the main city centre.

About Us: We are Spot Blue, an international real estate agent with our head offices in London and various offices around Turkey. We have helped thousands of foreigners buy summer holiday homes and in their quest of moving to Turkey. Call us with any questions and to speak with a local agent or follow us on Facebook to stay updated with countrywide developments.


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.