- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Turkey Guide (PDF)
Situated on the Anatolian Peninsula, Turkey straddles both Europe and Asia. Expat will discover that, while the country consists of rollings 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 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.
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 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.
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 will be able to 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 extremely affordable in Turkey, although imported goods and petrol tend to be a lot more expensive than places such as the UK and US. Although 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 will be able to make their money last longer and reach further, even if choosing to live in the popular expat areas or coastal resort towns.
Expat families and children
Although public schooling is free for all residents, the majority of expats send their children to international schools in the country. Majority 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 extraordinarily high fees.
Alternatively, those who have young children and who plan on staying in Turkey permanently should consider a local Turkish school. This will help the children to pick up the language quickly, assimilate into the culture and make local friends.
Climate in Turkey
Turkey is a large country with huge variability in climate. Along Turkey's coastlines, expats will find that the weather is influenced by the adjacent sea. While the Mediterranean Sea produces its famed hot summers and mild winters, the areas close to the Black Sea have cooler summers and less extreme ranges in temperature. 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 wanting to dip their toes in the rich culture and vibrant lifestyle of the beautiful country will discover just how much Turkey has to offer.
Official name: Republic of Turkey
Population: About 85 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.
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.
►See out 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.
"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.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global can tailor an international health insurance plan to perfectly fit the needs of you and your family. With 86 million customers in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.