Moving to Turkey

Expats relocating to Turkey find wonderful contradictions are part of a daily life that flawlessly marries the ancient and the modern, and where Europe and Asia meet across the Bosphorus. Although there are higher risks of terrorism than elsewhere in Europe, Turkey is still a relatively safe country with low incidences of crime.

The country has a population of about 81 million people. The vast majority of the population are Muslim. Despite this, the constitution states that Turkey is a secular republic and the army is a fierce guardian of secularism in Turkey. Other religious beliefs are respected and expats are welcome to practise their own religion.

Turkey's most popular city and the centre where most expats are based is Istanbul. Though there is much more to the country than just one city. Turkey has a wide range of landscapes and sights that will readily appeal to history buffs, nightclub fanatics, archaeology nuts, sun worshippers, city lovers and shopping addicts. 

Due to the country's strict employment laws, it can be difficult for foreigners to secure a job. Despite this, most new arrivals either find employment in finance, tourism or teaching English within the Turkish schooling system. 

Those moving to Turkey should ensure they have all the relevant paperwork in place. Visitors are now only able to stay in Turkey for a total of 90 days in any period of 180 days and visas need to be applied for before entering the country. Those wishing to reside in Turkey long-term need to obtain a relevant residence or work permit.

Expats will find the cost of living in Turkey more reasonable than in neighbouring European countries. It has yet to be admitted into the EU. Those expats with foreign purchasing power can make their money last longer and reach further, even if choosing to live in the largely popular expat areas or the coastal resort towns.

The country’s healthcare system may not be up to the standards that many Westerners are used to. However, good private healthcare facilities can be found in the major cities of Ankara and Istanbul. Many doctors in these facilities will be able to speak English.


Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Turkey

Population: About 81 million

Capital city: Ankara

Other major cities: Istanbul, Antalya, Izmir, Bursa

Neighbouring countries: Turkey is bordered by Bulgaria and Greece to the west, Georgia and Armenia to the northeast, Iran to the east and Iraq and Syria to the southeast. Cyprus sits just off of Turkey's southern coast.

Geography: Situated on the Anatolian Peninsula, Turkey straddles both Europe and Asia. It is surrounded by water on three sides, giving the country access to the Black Sea as well as the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. Its geography is varied and consists of rolling hills, an elevated central plateau and high rocky mountains. As Turkey sits along one of the world's major fault lines, earthquakes can be a common occurrence.

Political system: Presidential republic

Major religions: Islam is the dominant religion with more than 90 percent of the population practising the faith. 

Main languages: Turkish is the official language, but some English is often spoken and widely understood in the main cities and tourist areas.

Time: GMT +2 (GMT +3 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).

Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. The European two-pin plug is standard.

Money: The Turkish Lira (TRY) is divided into 100 kuruş. To open a bank account in Turkey, most banks require proof of address, a passport and a Turkish tax number.

Internet domain: .tr

International dialling code: +90

Emergency numbers: 155 (police), 112 (ambulance), 110 (fire)

Transport and driving: Cars in Turkey drive on the right side of the road. Major cities have adequate public transport, but a car may be necessary if living in more remote areas.

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