The Izmir Guide
Nicknamed the Aegean pearl, Izmir boasts over 4,000 years of history, fantastic food, captivating natural scenery, and a strategic location in the gulf.
As the third-largest city in Turkey, Izmir is loved by both the young and the old holidaymakers and retirees from Turkey and abroad, welcoming 2 million tourists annually.
The city also holds a special place in Turks' hearts, and Atatürk, the Turkish Republic's founder, is highly respected by its people.
Overall, Izmir combines city life opportunities with a relatively more relaxed lifestyle and the beauties of the Aegean.
Is Izmir the right fit for you? Let's see.
Retiring in Izmir
Izmir is one of the most preferred retirement destinations in Turkey and is favored by Istanbulite retirees. The city is similar to Istanbul in terms of opportunities and activities. Izmir offers a much more relaxed lifestyle and a cheaper living cost with almost as many amenities.
Lower household costs, less traffic than Istanbul, quiet inland villages, and lively nightlife in summer are just a few of the reasons that make it an excellent choice for retirement.
For most of the year, Izmir temperatures are relatively mild, except for the innermost regions in winter and coastal areas in summer, making it an excellent pick for those seeking sunny locations.
Lifestyle in Izmir
Izmir people are warm and friendly and are not hasty like Istanbulites, which makes for a slower-paced, less stressed city life.
The city also hosts many international fairs, exhibitions, and artistic performances throughout the year to keep you entertained. Alaçatı and Çeşme are also frequented by celebrities and play host to many star-studded parties if you are into that.
You can find affordable yet classy places by the sea or large green parks to get a breather and de-stress within the city. Whether you crave a quiet day with a coffee and a book or a vibrant night out in the town, Izmir offers something for everyone.
Cost of Living in Izmir
Renting in Izmir is on average 30% cheaper than in Istanbul. A 1-person apartment can cost as low as TL 900 outside of the city center, but that price will double the closer you come to the city center. Rent prices also go up considerably in coastal towns during the summer.
The average cost of living is higher than the national minimum wage (around $380), and you'll roughly need around TL 3,000 for utilities, groceries, and spending to live comfortably (without rent).
Public transportation is considered affordable, with TL 3.50 for a single fare and about TL 170 for a monthly pass, with further discounts available for students.
5 Things You'll Love About Izmir
- Home of history
Izmir is home to many treasured artifacts and heritage sites that rival historical areas in Istanbul by number and age. From the ancient cities of Pergamon and Ephesus to the Agora of Smyrna and the House of Virgin Mary, there are countless sites to visit to travel back in time.
- Beach-side resorts
Ask almost any Turk, and they will probably name Alaçatı, Çeşme, Urla and Foça as some of the best coastal resort towns in Turkey to holiday in the summer. You can bask in the sunlight to top up on vitamin D or opt for a dose of adventure by going swimming, diving, or windsurfing.
- Undiscovered gems
Go for a cool dip away from the crowds at the secret coves of Karaburun, or walk among satsuma trees and colorful market stalls at the cittaslow of Sığacık (Teos). There are also many sites off the beaten path that deserve more recognition. Homer's Valley, the Izmir Birds' Paradise, Lake Gölcük are a few idyllic places where you can escape from it all.
- An amalgam of tradition and modernity
When you are in the heart of the city in Konak, Buca, or Bornova, you can enjoy all the beauties modern life has to offer — shopping, schools, business, a well-oiled transportation network. But whenever you feel as if you crave a more authentic experience, all you need do is head to Ödemiş, Tire, or Şirince to see - and taste - tradition.
- Land of the free
Izmir is regarded as one of the most liberal and secular cities in Turkey, and the people of Izmir always place great importance on freedom and embrace differences, hence its incredibly cosmopolitan atmosphere. You can enjoy a beer on your walk along Kordon, the Izmir Bay, and dress in whatever you like, and no one will give a hoot.
5 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Moving to Izmir
- Heat in the city
If you live in coastal areas and holiday towns such as Alaçatı or Çeşme, you may not feel as if the heat is a problem. But if you happen to live in the inner regions away from the sea, the heat becomes quite unbearable, especially in August.
- Rush hour and holiday traffic
Although Izmir does not see the level of crowdedness Istanbul does, the city's human and car population quickly grows during holidays and the summer months. Due to its insufficient infrastructure, traffic jams are unavoidable during peak times.
The traffic issue brings parking, especially when the city lacks open parking spaces, especially for the city center where most residential and offices are located. You may be charged as much as TL 20 for an hour in Alsancak if you manage to find a space.
- Housing and rent
Owing to an influx of domestic migrants and retirees in recent years, real estate prices and rent have been ballooning in Izmir. The property market also witnessed another rise after the recent earthquake, with landlords exploiting tenants searching for a sound, quake-proof buildings.
- Unsound urbanization
The rise of shanties against a backdrop of palm trees is the number 1 thing residents complain about in Izmir. The population isn't dispensed evenly, and hence the central districts are jam-packed. The new high-rises built to accommodate rising numbers are deemed eyesores by some.
5 Nearby Towns to Visit