Where Should I Live in Turkey as an Expat?
Whether you are looking to move to Turkey for work, a change of pace and scenery, or retire in peace, you will be spoilt for locations as an expat. Expats’ top choices for areas to settle in can be divided into two central regions in Turkey: the lower south coastal areas or metropolises.
If you want…
- an already established expat network to act as your support system
- the year-round sun that warms your bones, beach sunsets, and turquoise waters
- little rain and almost no snow at all
- a chill, laid-back life where people are not always in a hurry
- a breathtaking natural landscape fit for many sporty adventures
- historical ruins and cultural tours to feed a curious mind
- not much trouble learning a new language (aka Turkish) and would like most locals to understand you
Then it would be best if you were choosing the southern or southwestern coasts.
This is also the category often chosen by retired expats looking for a slower life and better weather to escape from rainy Europe.
It is possible to swim from April to December in most locations along the Mediterranean and lower Aegean coasts. However, if the cold does not bother you, you could even have a dip in February as the locals do.
Some prefer to stay year-round in these southern towns for a relaxing, enjoyable, and carefree lifestyle, but most prefer living in these cities for 4 to 6 months of the year.
The sunny south is often likened to the Mediterranean coasts of Italy, Spain, and France, with more authentic culture and cheaper cost of living.
Bar Izmir and Antalya, you won’t see many, if not any, high rises or apartments in coastal towns and villages, and most houses will have their garden. Muğla and Antalya are also the top cities for expats choosing to buy second homes or vacation homes.
You’ll have a wide range of seaside cafes, pubs, bars, and restaurants to wine and dine for entertainment.
As with popular resort towns, expect these destinations to be more crowded in summer when most expats and local vacationers rush to the beaches to get rid of the year’s stress.
The city or town you choose will also have various areas that cater to different crowds.
For example, in Bodrum, the Gümbet neighborhood is a budget-friendly party destination. At the same time, Yalıkavak is reserved for the well-off, with a million-dollar marina drawing in the most luxurious yachts from around the world.
Further south, Marmaris, Datça, and Dalyan have thriving expat communities, though compared to Bodrum, they are much quieter.
Fethiye, especially the promenade leading to Ölüdeniz beach, will feel all too familiar to the British with fish and chip shops and football matches blasting from TVs. Fethiye is also a famed center of adrenaline-filled activities. Whether you seek kilometers-long treks in the mountains, paragliding over crystal waters after jumping off from Babadağ, or looking down from head-spinning heights in the Butterfly Valley.
Going further east is the next big city most preferred by expats: Antalya.
Anywhere between the Konyaaltı and Lara beaches are highly popular. Those seeking to be more reclusive choose to live in locations such as Kalkan and Kaş. Although more expensive than many places along the coast, many expats opt for these areas for peace of mind.
However, if You Want
- a hustling and bustling city that (almost) never sleeps
- an excellent network of professionals and peers to connect with
- an endless array of art and history museums, streets overflowing with creatives
- to live through all four seasons – a snowy winter, chilly fall, warm spring, and sizzling summer (but do not mind not having the sun peek out every single day)
- academic and learning opportunities to grow
- quaint neighborhoods or picturesque views but still be close to the center of the action
Then you’ll likely find the northwest or the west more suited to your needs. In central Turkey, in and around the capital, Ankara would also be a safe bet.
Younger expats and professionals often choose these areas.
However, among all the locations favored by expats, one city stands out: Istanbul.
As Turkey’s largest, most developed, and crowded metropolis, Istanbul is also the country’s economic, cultural and historical hub for locals and foreigners. The highest number and concentration of expats in Turkey, especially working expats or students, is undoubtedly here.
What makes the city so appealing, besides the beautiful Bosphorus dividing the city and the European and Asian continents, is the many unique districts and neighborhoods.
Taksim and its famed shopping street Istiklal Avenue, Cihangir, the creative center for artists and actors, boho Moda and lively Kadıköy, and the upscale Bebek and Arnavutköy neighborhoods, are just a few of the areas expats are more densely populated.
Meanwhile, Izmir can be included in either category, depending on which district you want to live in. Expats who wish to sea, sand, and sun tend to live in areas such as Alaçatı, Çeşme or Foça while Konak and Alsancak offer more professional opportunities.
People of different nationalities also tend to have their favorite cities. For the British Bodrum, Marmaris or Fethiye have been top choices for decades, while Antalya as a whole, and in particular Alanya, are the top picks for Russians and ex-Soviet nations.
So, if We Were To Make a List, Where Do Most Expats Live in Turkey?
- Istanbul – the city of two continents, beauty and chaos
- Izmir – the pearl of the Aegean and land of ancient cities
- Ankara – the capital and city of history and bureaucrats
- Fethiye – the land of adventure to “experience more than you can dream.”
- Bodrum – the land of eternal blue, a white town painted with bougainvillea
- Marmaris – the land of green (olive and pine trees) and crystal waters
- Antalya – “all in Antalya,” the pearl of the Mediterranean
- Alanya – “where the sun smiles,” famed for its lemon and orange gardens
- Kalkan – for luxury living, the land of sailing
- Kaş – a quaint fishing town turned tourism favorite
- Dalyan – the land of virgin nature and loggerhead sea turtles
- Bursa — It suits Bursa to be a neighbor to the stars
- Konya — Konya is entrusted to Mevlana.
- Trabzon— Loving you is an attitude, learning to love for free.
- Mardin — We are rising, Mardin.