- Download our Moving to Turkey Guide (PDF)
Situated on the Anatolian Peninsula, Turkey straddles both Europe and Asia. Expats moving to Turkey will discover that, while the country consists of rolling hills, an elevated central plateau and high Rocky Mountains, it is also surrounded by water on three sides. With access to the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea, Turkey is blessed with gorgeous coastlines.
Expats relocating to Turkey will discover that wonderful contradictions are part of a daily life that flawlessly marries the ancient and the modern, where Europe and Asia meet across the Bosphorus Strait.
Living in Turkey as an expat
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 work in finance, tourism, construction or teaching English within the Turkish schooling system.
Those moving to Turkey should ensure they have all the relevant paperwork in place. Visitors can now only 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 must obtain a relevant residence or work permit.
The country’s healthcare system as a whole may not be up to the standards that many Westerners are used to, but top-notch private healthcare facilities can be found in the major cities of Ankara and Istanbul. Many doctors in these facilities can also speak English.
Cost of living in Turkey
Expats will find the cost of living in Turkey more reasonable than in neighbouring European countries. Everyday expenses are affordable in Turkey, although imported goods and petrol tend to be pricier than in places such as the UK and the US. While accommodation is comparably cheap in Turkey, expats will find this to be their biggest expense. Even private healthcare won't break the bank.
Those expats with foreign purchasing power can make their money last longer and reach further, even if they choose to live in the popular expat areas or coastal resort towns.
Families and children in Turkey
Although public schooling is free for all residents, the majority of expats send their children to international schools in the country. Most of these schools can be found in Ankara and Istanbul. While these schools teach international curricula in international languages, expats wanting to send their children to these schools should be prepared to pay high fees. That said, parents will often find these fees justified, as international schools often offer excellent facilities and teaching standards, as well as a wider range of extracurricular activities.
Alternatively, expats who have young children and plan to stay in Turkey permanently should consider a local school. This will help the children to pick up the language quickly, assimilate into the culture and make local friends.
Climate in Turkey
The climate in Turkey is highly variable thanks to the country's large geographic size. Along Turkey's coastlines, the adjacent sea influences the weather. While the Mediterranean Sea produces its famed hot summers and mild winters, the areas close to the Black Sea have cooler summers and measured ranges in temperature. The weather in Turkey's interior features an even greater contrast, with hot summers and cold winters.
Although Turkey's most popular city and the centre where most expats are based is Istanbul, 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. Expats moving to Turkey to dip their toes in the rich culture and vibrant lifestyle of the beautiful country will discover just how much it has to offer.
Official name: Republic of Turkey
Population: About 85.3 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 Turkey's southern coast.
Political system: Presidential representative democracy
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.
Electricity: 220V, 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 individual number (TIN).
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.
►See our Moving to Istanbul guide to find out more about living in this city.
►Read the Frequently Asked Questions about Turkey to learn more about what other expats have wondered about moving to this country.
What do expats love about living in Turkey?
"The friendliness of the people, feeling safe and the climate where I live now. I have a better standard of living here than I would in the UK, even when I was working on a much lower salary. I couldn’t afford to live in the UK on my pension, but I have a good standard of living here. Every day is like being on holiday!
I speak fluent Turkish and immerse myself in Turkish culture, enjoying an authentic life in a traditional village. I feel lucky to be living the dream in this little piece of paradise." Read about Faye's experience of life in Turkey in her interview.
"We enjoy the warm welcome that most Turks offer immediately upon meeting a new person. There have been countless times where we have met someone on the street or in passing and have ended up sitting for hours, drinking tea with them and getting to know their lives. The pace of life here is different than we experienced in our home country. America tends to be “get things done” oriented. Turkey relaxes those expectations in us and reminds us to take time to be with people." Learn about Emily and Jesse's experience of moving to Turkey and how they've adjusted to the culture and the people in the country.
Are you an expat living in Turkey?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Turkey. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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