Here are the 10 most common questions expats have about living in Turkey.
What is it like to live in Turkey?
Living in Turkey can sometimes feel like you live in Mediterranean Europe, especially if you live in the sunny southwest along sandy beaches overlooking turquoise waters. But then, when you hear the mosques' call to prayer, you realize you are in a Muslim-majority country.
Then, if you head to Anatolia and go further east, you see the steppes, historical ruins from ancient civilizations, and Turkish villagers herding their animals in scenes evoking Asia.
Istanbul, meanwhile, is something else. It is neither the West nor the East. It is chaotically beautiful, lively but tiring. You deal with the nuisance of traffic every day, but you also have some of the best hospitals, schools, entertainment, and shopping centers right within your reach.
Every corner of the country offers you a different, magical experience. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.
If you like order, you may be in for a rude awakening when you realize Turks like to go with the flow, not stick to plans and despise queueing.
They can be too social and quite expressive in their everyday lives, making you feel suffocated if you value your personal space.
But overall, living in Turkey is an adventure, challenging yet rewarding.
Can I afford expat life in Turkey?
If you were to compare the cost of living in Turkey with other countries, such as the Netherlands, the U.K., Spain, the U.S., or the United Arab Emirates, you would see that it is much more affordable. There are also many areas to live in that can suit a variety of budgets.
The depreciation of the Turkish lira has also made Turkey cheaper than ever for those earning pounds, euros, or dollars.
For example, if you have a basic state pension from the U.K. at around 400 pounds a month, that would equal about 4,600 Turkish liras, almost double the national minimum wage. As long as you can keep your rent and utilities relatively low, you could get by on your own with that amount.
Or take Germany, for example, and a pension of 1,300 euros. That would be over 13,000 liras, which is akin to an executive-level salary in Turkey, meaning you would be able to live very comfortably.
Eating out is also much more affordable than in Europe or North America, while public transportation is also cheaper than in many other cities.
The only areas where Turkey is probably more expensive are cars and fuel and electrical goods.
If you would like to have a more detailed insight into the cost of living in some of the best cities to live in Turkey, click here.
Is it easy to find love in Turkey?
Is it easy to find love anywhere nowadays?
Turks, in general, are super friendly, helpful and enjoy spending quality time with their loved ones. But it all depends on what you are looking for in a person.
Most Turks attach great importance to traditions and family relations, so if that is a deal-breaker for you, you may have difficulty finding love in Turkey.
Not knowing or not being willing to learn Turkish can also disadvantage as communication is key to love.
If you look at all the bilingual babies in Turkey's southern towns, you will see that finding love in Turkey is not that hard; it just requires patience, practice, and willingness to compromise.
What is it like to work in Turkey?
We would say it depends on the field you work in and who you work for.
If you are young and don't mind working long hours in exchange for social and traveling benefits, you might like working seasonally in the hospitality or the travel industry.
Suppose you are a highly-trained professional such as an engineer, teacher, or medical professional. In that case, you will easily find work in private firms, especially if you can speak Turkish as well, though some may not even need language skills.
The typical weekly working hours in Turkey are 35-45 hours. The minimum mandatory annual leave is 15 days for the first year, and from the 5th year onwards, you are entitled to more. However, if a good company employs you, you will likely be given more holidays.
As with any country, flexibility in working hours, what is expected of you, and your rights, such as parental leave, will be dependent on the company you work for.
The only thing you need to make sure of when working in Turkey is that your work visa is renewed in time, so make sure to keep abreast of the timing and paperwork.
For more on working in Turkey as a foreigner, click here.
- Salaries and taxes in Turkey
The net minimum national wage is over TL 2,800, which is less than 300 euros. For an entry-level or basic job, this is what you will start with for most fields.
The minimum for medical fields, law, teaching, and engineering changes, depending on your area of specialty, the city you work in, and the company you work for. On average, you should expect it to be higher than TL 6,000.
For more senior roles and executives, the lower end of the spectrum will be around TL 8,000-10,000, and the upper limit does not exist.
When it comes to taxes, Turkey is probably somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. It may not be as tax-free as the UAE or as tax-heavy as Japan and Denmark, but you will often hear locals complain about taxes.
The individual income tax rate ranges between 15% and 35%. The Turkish standard VAT rate is below the OECD average at 18%.
Certain items are taxed quite heavily, such as electric cars, the special consumption tax rate on which can reach as high as 60%.
Can I afford to buy a home in Turkey?
Yes and no. It all depends on what you earn, your savings, and which city you live in.
In the current market, you can find houses or apartments for as cheap as TL 150,000, but you can also find mansions and luxury villas for a few million dollars.
Istanbul and towns like Kaş and Kalkan will be more expensive to buy homes in, but even in Fethiye, you could find 2-story houses for 40,000 pounds, an amount unimaginable for the U.K.
Click here for more on how to buy a home in Turkey.
What is it like being a woman in Turkey?
Despite what people may think, women are free in Turkey and can wear what they want. You will see some women wearing headscarves and some women in shorts and bikinis in the same city; they all co-exist peacefully. There are conservative women and liberals.
Women can drive and work wherever they want. Although traditionally more women were homemakers, you will see that an increasing number of women are now in the workforce and male-dominated professions.
Just like there are good and bad areas in all cities, as a woman alone, there will be places that'll advise you to stay away from at night, but that is true for many countries worldwide.
What is it like raising kids in Turkey?
Raising kids is expensive, wherever you are in the world. But you can control this spending in Turkey with the choices you make, such as going to a state school instead of a private college or moving to a smaller or cheaper city.
Going to a private school or university can cost anywhere from TL 5,000 a year to over TL 100,000.
If you live in a smaller city or town, you may still be able to witness authentic Turkish neighborhood culture ("mahalle kültürü"), where you will see kids running around the backstreets, playing ball games or in the sand if by a beach.
Most Turkish mothers like their kids to be social and active, and family relations are important while growing up.
What is the healthcare situation in Turkey?
If you come from a country where there is no universal healthcare or pay high monthly premiums to be covered, you will be glad to live in Turkey and become a part of Turkey's SGK state insurance system for all matters of health. This insurance covers all treatments at state hospitals, including emergency visits, and can even get you discounted prices at private hospitals.
Turkey also has many different private hospitals offering services at various price points.
Although the best healthcare centers and hospitals are in Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir, you will always have a family healthcare physician in your area.
For specialist care, you may have to seek private help in smaller cities or travel to the nearest big town, but apart from that, you will always be in good hands.
Here's more on all things health in Turkey.
What is the worst part about living in Turkey?
If you earn Turkish lira, you may start to realize that prices seem to go up quite often due to the lira's depreciation. Buying a brand new car is also a far-fetched reality for a lot of people.
If you love to eat pork products, you might be sorry to hear that very few places sell them, and when they do, they are costly. Compared to Europe, alcohol is also quite expensive.
What is the best part about living in Turkey?
Whether it's the fact you'll experience all 4 seasons and have a true, sunny summer or eat fresh fruit and vegetables from all corners of the country. Or have universal healthcare without having to worry about astronomical hospital bills, there are so many advantages to living in Turkey.
But perhaps for most, the endless possibilities of adventure and travel and the hospitable and friendly people you meet along the way are the best part of living here.