The Bodrum Guide

Once a quaint little fishing town, Bodrum has turned into a vibrant center that attracts crowds across Turkey, Europe, and even the Middle East.

Since the late 50s, the town has seen burgeoning interest from artists and the famous, growing into the behemoth of tourism and commerce that it is today.

Being located at the junction of the Aegean and the Mediterranean is just one of the many charms that make it Turkey's most prominent destination for beach holidays and sunny retirement.

Is Bodrum the right fit for you? Let's see.

Retiring in Bodrum

Good weather, picturesque sights, a lot of relaxing and delicious food – what more could a retiree desire? Want to take in breathtaking views from the top of Bodrum's hills or relish in seaside vistas from the comfort of your villa? Bodrum offers all.

It will be the ideal destination for retirees, especially Europeans, seeking sun and warmth and a relatively more affordable way of living than southern European resort towns.

More than 300 out of 365 days are sunny, and there is rarely rainfall, even in winter. Fresh produce is also available year-round.

Lifestyle in Bodrum

The peninsula boasts sandy beaches, cafes, restaurants, and shops for everything under the sun. Bougainvillea branches shield narrow streets in the old town, while the mandarin trees adorn rural parts. Bodrum's iconic shade of blue brings a pop of color to its white-washed houses.

In summer, life, and traffic, can get hectic, and the heat is not faint-hearted. In winter, when the magic of sunshine starts wearing off, the cosmopolitan town retreats into its shell but not so much that it's impossible to see a single soul. From December to April, Bodrum does quiet down, but even in the low season, especially in central areas, you'll have your staple bars and cafes bustling with locals. In fact, at the end of fall and early winter, many locals welcome this slowing down in pace and having the whole peninsula to themselves.

Cost of living in Bodrum

As with any other city or town in Turkey, the most significant expense will be the rent. Especially if you are looking at a temporary place for the summers, rent can double or triple. It is also highly dependent on which area or neighborhood you'll be living in. Gündoğan and Turgutreis will be cheaper compared to Bitez or Yalıkavak, for example. Antalya expects the cost of living in Bodrum to be at least 20% more expensive.

The average cost of living is higher than the national minimum wage (around $380); you'll need around $550 a month to live in Bodrum at a 2-bedroom flat. If you want to rent a villa or seek a more upscale home with amenities like a pool, you should expect to pay at least thrice that amount, including utilities, food, and social spending.

If you are thinking of moving to Bodrum and staying year-round, you'll be able to get by on much less, especially if you find a place within your budget and establish new habits such as shopping at the local bazaar and cooking at home.

Of course, if you already own property, that leaves much more room for spending.

Five things you'll love about Bodrum

  • Ultramarine seas and pristine beaches

Whether you want calm waters to dip your toes into or luscious waves to ride, scattered around Bodrum are beaches and coves for every type of person. Yalıçiftlik and İçmeler are great for surfers and optimist sailors while Gümbet and Bitez are great for families with children with their shallow shores.

  • Liberal and cosmopolitan

Bodrum is a melting pot of cultures, which is evident in its expat and retiree community. You'll also be able to see old Turkish ladies in headscarves and people in barely-there bikinis, everyone going about their day and minding their own business.

  • One word: food.

You will have found your paradise—olives, vine leaves, mustard greens, seabass, shrimp, you name it, especially if you are a pescatarian or vegetarian. The town is famous for its mandarins; the iconic taste is infused with everything from Turkish delight to soda and soaps.

  • Friendly, genuine people

Whether a local or an expat, the people you'll meet in Bodrum are some of the kindest and most helpful people, you'll ever meet. Turks are famous for their hospitality, after all, and if you try to utter a few Turkish words, you'll likely have a dedicated friend for life.

  • A new vibe wherever you go

The Bodrum peninsula is home to many villages and neighborhoods with different identities and suits different living styles. Gümbet is party central, and the music and dancing never stops; Yalıkavak is the place to admire luxurious yachts along the fancy promenade and Türkbükü is the cool celebrity hangout, while Gümüşlük is a laidback village to enjoy freshly caught fish at sunset. And there is so much more.

Five things I wish I'd known before moving to Bodrum

  • It can be a mini-Istanbul.

It's become a new reality in the last 2-3 decades after seeing a significant influx of Istanbulites trying to escape the cusps of demanding city life. You'll see this is especially true in summers and during the twice-annual 7-10 day-long religious holidays, where most of Turkey comes to Bodrum for a break from ordinary life. Traffic can get quite horrendous during these months, with queues going on for miles.

  • Don't bother with taxis.

Their taximeters are as ruthless as their driving. Compared to other metropolises across Turkey, taxis are much more expensive in Bodrum – there are always exceptions to the rule, but better be safe than sorry.

  • Pricing changes depending on the season.

Though this is also true for any other town or village that relies heavily on seasonal tourism, you will likely be paying more for the same house, meal, or event during the summer than in winter.

  • Its infrastructure needs work.

Every year, you'll see streets dug up by municipality crews who promise to fix the town's issues with patchy internet, clogged wastewater pipes, and such, but it is seemingly never-ending.

  • It's too easy to stay in your familiar bubble of comfort.

Many expats choose to settle into their global bubble of friends they meet here and rarely venture outside. But for an authentic Bodrum experience and to appreciate the culture, you should mix with the locals and make Turkish friends.

5 nearby towns to visit

  • Kos (a 20-minute ferry ride)
  • Kuşadası
  • Dalyan
  • Datça
  • Fethiye