Last Updated January, 2021
The idea to write this post came to me after a few random conversations with some of my acquaintances. They were really curious to find out what were our reasons to move to Turkey. And why after traveling here and there and living in different counties, we decided to make a base in Istanbul.
Yeah, I can understand why a lot of people question Turkey. Media in some European countries and the US does a good job representing it in a bad light. For some reason, political tensions between Turkey and other countries automatically call into question the safety and quality of life here. So definitely, people will show interest and be on guard at the same time.
This is why I decided to start sharing more about our life and travels in Turkey. I want to show you that it is not only an incredibly beautiful country but also a good place where to live.
There are multiple reasons for moving to Turkey, buying a property, or just coming here as an expat. Also, there are many reasons for digital nomads, people who work remotely, and those who think to retire here. Below I explain why.
Psst: If you are coming to Istanbul for the first time, you may want to stay in the neighborhood where we stayed on a first visit. And you may like our apartment. Check my posts about the most dangerous Istanbul areas and the best areas where to stay or live.
6 Main Reasons You May Want to Move to Turkey
Getting a Residence Permit in Turkey is Quick & Easy
When I started to write this post about reasons to move to Turkey, I thought for a while what should be a first bullet point on this list. And then I decided to begin with the residence permit since without it you won’t be able to stay long-term in any country.
So, getting a residence permit in Turkey is a very easy thing to do. Any foreigner can just come here and apply for residency from the first days in the country. And after 5 consecutive years as a resident, it is also easy enough to obtain Turkish citizenship.
The process of getting a residence card requires you to lease an apartment for a year, fill a few forms, and apply in one of the Immigration department offices in the city where you are based. You can do it on your own or hire someone to help. I will be writing a separate post about our experience in getting a residency card in Istanbul. More details are yet to come.
But the point is that Turkey is only one of a few countries where you can become a resident quickly, without spending much effort and money on it. A lot of countries around the world that have a high quality of life also have a very strict and complicated process of obtaining a residency. Turkey, on the contrary, being a developed country, made it extremely easy to become a resident and settle here.
The government every year makes some adjustments to the legislation regarding residency. But requirements for application stay pretty basic.
Turkey is a Very Safe Country to Travel & Live In
When Mark and I were traveling around budget destinations in Europe, trying to find a country where we could settle down for a few years, a few things came as a real surprise. For instance, I didn’t expect to see so many homeless people in literally every city we have been to in countries of the European Union. And I didn’t expect to find out how many people lived below the poverty line.
But besides the homeless, we often saw drunk people in the streets, lots of beggars, gypsies, drug addicts, and simply very poor people. Surprisingly for many reasons, we didn’t feel completely safe in many large cities around the EU.
The US, where I spent almost 10 years of my life and where I was robbed by the guy who pretended he had a gun, where my car was almost stolen, and where I was abused and harassed, didn’t prove to be a safe place. I always put this country on a pedestal in regards to safety but it failed to be the one.
The reason why I am saying it came as a surprise is because for a long time I had this picture in my head that western world countries shouldn’t have had those issues at all.
Turkey, as shown in the media, is often having problems with refugees, terrorists, homeless, and ethnic groups who are constantly conflicting with each other. Some European countries along with the US have tight relations with Turkey. So no wonder why their media like spreading a myth that Turkey is poor and not a safe destination. And that’s what we also believed before getting here. And it was such a mistake.
So Why Is Turkey Safe?
Yet the reality turned out to be so different.
Turkey is a very safe destination. In fact, we personally feel definitely safer here than in any of the countries in the EU (besides Norway, Austria, and Switzerland) or in the US. Actually, it surprises us a lot when people ask if we are doing fine in such an unstable country like Turkey.
Unstable? Unsafe? Who told you that? Media?
If you won’t settle in the far, far south-east where tensions with Syria are seen on the ground or in the most conservative cities like Konya for example, then you shouldn’t worry about safety.
All big cities in Turkey where expats usually choose to live such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Bursa, Antalya, Bodrum, Fethiye, etc. are very safe. The entire Turkish coastline, including the Aegean coast and Turkish Riviera, is incredibly safe too. In the cities, you won’t see drunk people walking on the streets. City centers rarely have any homeless or beggars. Of course, there may be some dangerous neighborhoods to avoid (like those in Istanbul that I mention above). But if you stay away from them, you will be safe.
In a lot of neighborhoods of Antalya, Alanya, Izmir, and even Istanbul, you can be walking in the middle of the night with children and be totally safe. We can leave our personal belongings on the beach, go swimming, and know that when we return, everything will be in place. The sense of community in Turkey is very strong and people help each other.
That being said, you shouldn’t trust media or big-name online sources that say that Turkey isn’t safe. It’s better to listen to people who live in this country. As they are the only ones who can share the first-hand experience.
Understand Turkey Better Through These Books
People With Low Income Can Have a Good Quality of Life in Turkey
Another point which I find extremely important for an average person who wants to move to Turkey is the quality of life here. And that you don’t really need to make a lot of money to be able to live comfortably, travel, eat well and simply be happy. Of course, the more you make, the more you can afford. But there is no need to be rich and famous to have a beautiful life.
There are multiple cities around Turkey where you can live on $1000 per month and the standard of living is very high. Istanbul is more expensive but even this city has options for a tight budget if you don’t mind a modest lifestyle.
Mark and I have been living in Istanbul for almost a year but within the first a few weeks after arrival we noticed one thing. We can afford much more here than in a small town in Europe, spending the same amount of money as in Ukraine. Bonus. If curious, you can read my guide to Istanbul prices to find out how much things cost.
If you are thinking to retire in Turkey or come and settle here as a digital nomad, this country is a wonderful destination for that. You can easily have a higher level of comfort, without spending much.
Turkish food is delicious and healthy, beaches in Turkey are one of the best in the world, fruits and vegetables are naturally grown… There are literally tons of things to do and see, and people are very welcoming. If you don’t feel like living in the city, there is a chance to move to a smaller town or even one of the cutest Turkish villages. We have been also living for almost two months in Bodrum and enjoyed it very much.
When it comes to travel, you are also able to travel often around Turkey. Even if you do not have your own car. Intercity roads are of excellent quality, and, thanks to this, a bus network is also well-developed. The prices of bus tickets are very reasonable and buses run in different directions. Domestic flights in the country many times cost less than dinner in a nearby restaurant. Finding a cheap car hire in Turkey is also possible.
So yes, Turkey really offers a good life even for people on a budget.
Low Costs of Property Maintenance & Low Annual Tax
One of the reasons we moved to Turkey was a desire to live here a bit and see if that’s the country where we’d possibly want to invest in property. We started to think about buying a home a long time ago. But with all our travels, it was hard to decide on a place.
And then surprisingly, Turkey happened in our life.
Buying a property in Turkey is quite popular among Ukrainians (as well as Russians, Brits, and Germans). So we thought why not come here by ourselves and test the waters. Who knows, maybe this is a country for us for the long run.
After talking to some real estate agents, lawyers, and expats, we came to the conclusion that Turkey is actually one of the best countries for housing investment.
In fact, with its real estate value, low taxes, economical development, and cost of living, Turkey is way ahead of countries such as Spain, Portugal, and Greece. Buying a home in Turkey is simple and transparent. And annual taxes are quite affordable for the buyer with any budget.
For example, the equivalent real estate in Turkey costs 3.5 times less than in Spain. The annual real estate tax amounts to 0.1 and 0.2% of the cost for residential real estate and land without a building permit.
A tax for land with a building permit amounts to 0.3 and 0.6%. And this tax amount uses only the cadastral value of the property. And if the owner owns the house, he/she needs to pay only residential property tax. There is no requirement to pay land tax in this case.
The Climate in Turkey Suits Everyone
Another important reason why you may want to move to Turkey is definitely the climate. This sunny, warm country has 300 sunny days a year, mild winters, salty air, and pleasant comfortable temperatures year-round.
Every region of Turkey has a bit different climate but overall, all cities where foreigners choose to live are very comfortable in terms of temperature and weather.
The only exception is the South of Turkey which sees scorching heat in July and August.
Cities as Antalya, Alanya, Bebek, Side, Kemer, Kas get incredibly hot. But having a sea nearby and knowing that winter is going to be mild and warm, is really inspiring for many. Well, and those who love snowy winter days, can visit the ski resorts that are scattered throughout Turkey. In the south, by the way, you can swim in the sea until the end of November.
The climate and weather in Istanbul are also extremely favorable. Due to its unique geographical location, winters are also mild and short. It rarely rains for many days in a row (except for January) as in many countries in Northern and Eastern Europe.
This past winter was our first winter in Turkey and honestly, we loved it much more than anywhere in Southeast Asia, Spain, or Montenegro. Winters in Montenegro and winters in Spain have a similar climate with Turkey, but there is one problem with them. None of the apartments in Spain or Montenegro have heating. It can be real trouble for many folks.
Health Care in Turkey is Affordable & High-Quality
Health care services in Turkey are affordable if you have insurance. But as a foreigner who plans to live here, having insurance is a must anyways.
The quality of health care in Turkey is quite high and is comparable to health care in Germany and Israel, albeit it maintains affordable prices and costs much less. This applies both to minor treatment during the year, and to more serious issues, including various types of surgeries. By the way, many Turkish clinics perform surgeries with the assistance of robots.
All Turkish hospitals, even those in small towns near the border with Syria, have the latest equipment, all needed materials, and tests.
If someone happens to travel in Turkey and needs medical help in a small village in the middle of nowhere, a local clinic will send this person to a neighboring hospital 10 or 15 km away. Such a hospital has everything necessary one may need.
Being a doctor in Turkey is considered prestigious as local doctors study abroad and make good money. This is why you can be sure that Turkish doctors are highly qualified and skilled. They are caring, courteous, and attentive to everyone who turns to them for help. In addition, they do a good job of maintaining the confidentiality of patient records.
Also, Turkey is among the top 10 countries in the world with the most developed medical tourism. As a matter of fact, according to the Turkish Healthcare Travel Council, medical tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in Turkey.
Even during the pandemic, Turkey proved that its health care system is an example to follow.
If you have been reading this post, most likely you were (and probably are) thinking about a possible move to Turkey. I know, there may be still hundreds of questions without answers. But I hope I was able to shed light on some of them.
Honestly, there are many more reasons to move to Turkey. And you may have your own ones. To be able to understand if this is a good country for you personally, I suggest you plan a trip to Turkey. But don’t come as a tourist on a 2-week vacation. Come to rent a flat and spend some time. If you will be in Istanbul, see my guide to the best areas and neighborhoods where to stay.
For more resources, check all my Turkey posts.
Are you moving soon? I encourage you to read my checklist for moving abroad.