Living & Working in Turkey

Turkey is a country of contradiction and surprises - a place where east meets west and a bridge between cultures and religions.

Few cities offer the extremes of Istanbul - with exotic bazaars and chic designer shops flourishing side by side, with the call to prayer from muezzins mixing with church bells.

Turkey is not a Muslim country, despite just 1% of the population practising non-Muslim religion.

The constitution demands a secular government and army, and the often expected religious practises of other Muslim countries are not an issue in cosmopolitan Turkey.

Turkey is waiting patiently in the queue for admission to the European Union - nut meanwhile living costs are far below those of most European neighbours.

Istanbul, the other big cities and sunshine resorts along the Mediterranean are typically more expensive than smaller towns and the rural hinterland, but expat money will stretch further and provide a better standard of living that in many other countries.

The Turkish lira is not one of the world’s most traded countries, but local interest rates and inflation can still pile up, and if expat money is paid in lira, make sure regular cost-of-living reviews are written in to any contract of employment.

Housing is expensive as you want to make it - property to buy and rent is available to suit all budgets and is generally better value for money than a similarly sized property in Europe or the USA.

Rent and utilities for a reasonably sized two-bed flat with access to a shared pool costs around 500 lira a month - around £250 or US$400.

Buying a home in Turkey is not an option for all expats - the government allows foreigners to buy property, providing Turks can buy property in the expats homeland.

That does not present a problem for expats from  the US, Britain or Ireland.
Some other restrictions will apply - like buying in villages or military neighbourhoods and purchases of 74 acres or more.

Shop for food in local markets with local produce for sale at knockdown prices. Imported expat foods and, surprisingly, red meat, are costly.
Getting around in some rural areas is a challenge, but is cheap. Buses and taxis are the most popular short-trip options.

Buying and running a car is cheaper than the UK, but fuel is slightly more expensive.

Healthcare standards vary across the country. Private healthcare is cheap compared with Europe, and finding access to a hospital or clinic with good standards is not difficult. Pharmacies often sell prescription medicines over the counter at considerably less than european prices.

Public healthcare is less attractive to expats, although the government is planning to launch a national health service.

A good tip is to look at the benefits and cost of local private health insurance, which often comes in much cheaper than British or European cover.

One quirk to watch out for is how the Turks say no.

Many believe an outright no is rude, so avoid the issue by talking around the point of by hinting with a gesture - a flick of the head while clicking the tongue.