How and Where to Move,  Turkey

Is Turkey a Good Country? 6 Main Reasons Why You May Want to Move Here

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 

Moving to Turkey

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?

Should I move to Turkey

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 

reasons to move to Turkey
Just an interesting fact about Turkey: The steepest amphitheater in the world is here. Did you know that? It’s in the ancient Bergama Acropolis!
Having a Turkish breakfast is always like a ritual here

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.

Final Word 

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

Have you been thinking to move to Turkey as a digital nomad, expat or retiree? There are many reasons why you should do that! We were living in Turkey for a while and think it is a truly wonderful country to be in | Life in Turkey | Moving to Turkey | Best Places to Live #movingtoturkey
 
 

Anya is originally from Ukraine but in heart she is a citizen of the world. She is working online and that’s why has an opportunity to travel slowly and live in different countries around the world. At present time, she is living between Lviv, Ukraine and Istanbul, Turkey. On this blog, her main goal is to inspire others to travel to under-the-radar-places and discover the world while working remotely.

7 Comments

  • Noreen

    Hello Anya,

    I really enjoyed reading this blog. I am wanting to teach English abroad and I like in the UK. Could you tell me if you know about expats experience teaching English in turkey. As Turkish is their national language and I am optimistic to learn Turkish while I am there in the summer. I’m wondering if there is anything of concern. The teaching style or anything like that? Thanks for your reply. Noreen.

    • Anya

      Hi Noreen, I would love to tell you anything about teaching English in Turkey but unfortunately, I don’t know much. I’ve met a few people who are living and working here as English teachers and loving it but I don’t know the details. The only thing I know is they are based in central Turkey. Usually, schools that are looking for native English speakers in Turkey are located in smaller towns and villages. English teaching positions for foreigners are not very common in cities like Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, or Antalya.
      As for learning the Turkish language, you can easily do it in any part of the country. There are many schools in all major Turkish cities for different budgets, so finding a good school for yourself will not be a problem.

    • Heena Shaikh

      Hi Anya
      I really liked your blog, it is very helpful for people who are planning to move to a different country.
      I always wanted to live in Istanbul, I have 2 school going kids & i’ve heard that international school are quite expensive in Istanbul. Do you have any idea how expensive are those schools & how good is the education system there.

      • Anya

        Hi Heena, I am happy to hear you found some helpful information on my blog!
        Regarding the cost of international schools in Istanbul, education in any private school costs from $5,000 to $ 20,000 per year but you’d probably need to contact them directly to find out details.
        Public schools are free for everyone, including foreigners.

        For quality, Turkey follows the Bologna process and is considered to offer a high level of education (public or private). The educational system fully meets modern high standards but it just has its own characteristics.

  • Elif

    Well there are so many points that you are wrong and it is clear that you didn’t do your research well. As women we never feel safe in our country. More than 300 women were murdered in 2020. Also Turkey might seem cheap for someone who earns dolar as currency but so many people are starving and attempting suicide because they cannot feed their family. Traffic is another major problem. If you move to Turkey, be ready to be angry and stressful all the time.

    • Anya

      Well, it’s pretty clear that you read this post between the lines before dropping this comment, not even paying attention to that part where I distinctly said that I moved to Turkey and live here. What does it have to do with the research? Not clear as well. I have written it solely based on my own experience and perspective. But nevermind.

      Now, about women. I am very sorry you personally never feel safe in your own country. But please, don’t speak for all women. I personally met and worked with a lot of women in Turkey who are happy to live there and feel more than safe. Some of them have lived in other countries but chose to return and settle here. After comparing it to other destinations, they understand what a good place Turkey actually is.
      I have also met many women from Russia and Ukraine who are much happier in Turkey than back home. Everyone’s story is different and things depend on various factors.

      I am very sorry if you had to deal with the situation that made you feel unsafe at home. I did too, so I know how you feel. But please, do not generalize.

      Turkey is not the only country that is dealing with the problem of women’s murder. For example, only in the state of Texas which has a population 2.5 times smaller than Turkey, the number of women murdered by men in the single offender/single victim homicide in 2019 was higher than in Turkey. In 2020, with the pandemic and lockdowns, this number was even higher. Although the US doesn’t use the word ‘femicide’, it doesn’t change the fact that women are murdered. In Mexico, 6-7 women are murdered every single day. And Mexico is one of the leading countries where the victim’s gender is a factor in her death.

      In Ukraine, with a population of 1.5 smaller than Turkey, there were more than 500 murders. And obviously, you don’t know the magnitude of this problem in Europe. Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, all the Balkans countries, Spain… they have insanely high numbers of murders too that just happen on different grounds. And unfortunately, there is just not much attention given to them.
      If you do your research, you’ll see how many other countries have the same problem on the same or even higher level.

      In Turkey, women take it to the streets, spread the word, and share their experiences of the abuse. In Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, for example, women suffer silently. In Russia, women go to jail for speaking up and standing against the violence. There are no rallies, marches, or big social media campaigns in their names. You never hear anything on the International arena about this problem in countries of the former USSR, not even knowing how serious it is.

      Again, I hear your pain and your concern. And I am worried as much as you are. But crimes committed against women, including mass murder, assault, and harm are done to women across the globe, not just in Turkey. Based on statistics and my personal experience (not research as you assumed), I will never say that Turkey is a dangerous country for foreign women. It all depends on where a woman chooses to live, what people to surround herself with, and the relationship to get in. As everywhere else there are dangerous areas where not to go and not to stay but it doesn’t automatically put the entire country in danger.

      Next, about the cheapness and starvation. Somewhere in Turkey that really takes place. As in many other countries around the world, really. I have been to dangerous neighborhoods in Istanbul and saw in what poverty some people live. But I have also seen starving people in Vancouver and Hong Kong, in Spain and the Bahamas. Even the US, a country that many people mistakenly believe is the best place to live in the world, has poverty, desperation, and suicides. Unfortunately, it exists everywhere.

      Traffic, oh traffic. Istanbul’s traffic is horrible as well as Izmir’s, Antalya’s, or traffic in any other large city. That’s true. If you have to commute far by public transportation, traffic is going to ruin your life. But to speak frankly, in any large city in the world you are going to encounter just that.

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