Our tips for living in Turkey come from our own experiences and customers, who have bought property and moved here for year-round residence. Overall, many people comment their move was stress free, and they settled in easy. Turkish hospitality plays a large part in that, with ex-pats making Turkish friends alongside international ones.
However, all of us have a tale to tell of something we wished we had done differently. Also, the must-do tips make the difference between staying long term or giving up and going back home. For the large part, an open mind, flexibility, and patience will ensure your lifestyle change continues for years to come, but we have also listed specific tips below.
Good Tips for Living in Turkey
1: Good Money Management
If anything will mess up your new life in Turkey, poor money management will. From the start, know your weekly, monthly, and yearly bills, and factor in a budget for the cost of living. If your income is a foreign currency like a pension also build in a buffer zone, since the volatile exchange rate is up and down like a Yo-Yo. Be realistic.
A budget for a couple living in their own property in Didim will not last a renter in Istanbul, which is Turkey’s most expensive city. One good aspect of money is the high-interest rate from the savings account. At roughly 10%, this is a great way to increase your capital net worth without expenditure and durations range from 31 days to a year.
2: Importing Furniture and Household Goods
Everyone we know who has shipped across household furniture says it was a waste of time, money and caused unnecessary stress. The complicated Turkish import and tax systems are hard to understand at the best of times and often delay movement of large bulk goods. The cost doesn’t save money, and you might as well buy new furniture here.
While white products are expensive, many outlets often promote exclusive deals and when purchasing in bulk give a discount. Another option if buying property in Turkey is to look at resale homes which sell on a basic or fully furnished basis.
3: Get Health Insurance
Anyone in Turkey under the age of 65 and living on a residency permit must have health insurance. However, it is not compulsory for over 65s. This is fine if you have loads of money in the bank, but if not, the monthly cost is worth it for peace of mind, because a stroke, heart attack or significant operation can run into thousands of pounds. Some people opt for private health insurance while others pay into the government SGK system.
4: Working in Turkey
Years ago, many foreigners worked illegally. Those days are gone. Even in summer holiday resorts, it is hard to get a job as an entertainer without the proper licence. Unless you line up for a job with an international company or work in media, it is tough to find legal employment.
Some people choose to teach English but to do so, need a TEFL certificate. Others work for holiday companies along the Aegean and Mediterranean, but for the large part, this is seasonal work. So overall, don’t move across and expect to quickly find work. If you need to work, line it up before moving out and ensure contracts and working permits are in place.
5: Anticipate Culture Shock
Being on holiday skims the surface and is a far cry from what daily life is like. From the annual Kurban Bayram which involves the sacrifice of a goat or sheep to respecting your Turkish friend’s decision to fast for 30 days, the culture really shines through when you live here. From weddings where hosts serve only coke and nuts, but everyone still dances all night to the next-door neighbour who does DIY at 10 p.m. Throw in red tape, and the Bos Ver (never mind) attitude, and unless you change course and go with the flow, culture shock will show its ugly head.
6: Don’t Stereotype
For culture, food, history, football, politics, weather and daily life, Turkey is so diverse and impossible to stereotype under one umbrella. In the Aegean resort of Didim, British influences are everywhere, thanks to the large ex-pat community, but over in Antalya, Russians are the most significant foreign group.
Likewise, conservative Konya, in the central Anatolian region is completely different from Istanbul. But Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city has a reputation for its cosmopolitan attitude and leads the way in fashion and trends. However, the mind-boggling diversity is a blessing in disguise because exploring places and learning about the food and history is super fun.
Last, on our list of tips for living in Turkey is to relax, take it easy and give yourself time to settle in. The country has a lot to offer anyone who chooses it as their home from home. If you haven’t yet decided where to move, this article talking about popular ex-pat destinations gives more tips and advice. Also, call us if you plan to buy Turkish property and would like to know more about investing in the real estate market.
Also of Interest
Area Guides: Our area guides talk about major regions of Turkey and why they stand out for property buyers and anyone choosing to live in the country. From small coastal resorts like Kusadasi to major destinations like the Mediterranean coast, they are full of local and regional tips and advice.