Don’t worry, we’re not putting away our backpacks We are still traveling the world, with trips to a nearby location in Europe and Southeast Asia planned soon. But after four years of full time travel, we’d like to take a break every now and then and also to have a home again. We had heard a lot of great things about Turkey (which by the way is now called Türkiye) and so we decided to come here to check it out for ourselves. And it didn’t take long: after just a few months we realized that this is the right place for us. But no place is perfect of course, and there are just a few things that concern us as well. So let’s get to the pros and cons of living in Turkey.
(Go to this link if you would prefer to watch a video with the same information: Are We Moving to TURKEY?)
We’ve always said that safety is our top priority wherever we go. And we feel safe here. We don’t feel like crime is a major problem. But nowhere is perfectly safe, including Türkiye. And it varies greatly by neighborhood (just like everywhere else in the world). But we generally feel safe here. Remember that the safety situation anywhere in the world can change quickly so it’s always good to get the latest information.
PRO: Cost Of Living
Türkiye is one of the least expensive countries we have been to. The rent for a decent apartment in a decent neighborhood can be just a few hundred US dollars per month (depending on the city of course). We quite often go out to eat and get a full meal for just US$5 for the two of us. Transportation within a city is usually under US$1 (sometimes more than half that amount). And we don’t feel like we are sacrificing a good quality of life in order to live cheaply here. That’s important!
CON: Economic Stability
The most concerning thing is the inflation rate here. We have seen prices, just in the few months that we’ve been here, absolutely sky rocket. And yes, inflation is happening everywhere in the world right now. But here it is literally 10 times higher than the world average. The exchange rate with the US dollar helps water down this inflation effect for us. As inflation goes up, so does the exchange rate generally (at least for now). But for the people who live here, whose wages don’t even come close to keeping up with inflation, it’s tough and can be a little depressing.
PRO: Self Sufficiency
Türkiye seems to be pretty economically self sufficient, and what I mean by that is they make a lot of their own stuff here. Everything from electronics, clothes, textiles, and food is locally produced. I’m not saying there are no imports at all, but it seems like they rely less on imports compared to a lot of other countries.
PRO: Turkish Food
What more can I say except just get ready to drool. The meat here is focused on durum, which is the chicken or beef that spins around on a poll and gets shaved off for our culinary pleasure. The pastries and desserts here are unbelievable, and a lot of it is honey based. It does take a lot of self control to not overindulge in the food here, and we are not always successful with that.
CON: International Food
International food is not always easy to find. It’s here, it’s just difficult to locate at times. Fortunately the delish Turkish food mostly makes up for the lack of variety in the international food.
PRO: Food Sanitation
Food sanitation is generally good here. *We’ve been to other countries where, no matter how careful we try to be, we repeatedly get sick from the food or water (I’m looking at you Mexico). We haven’t had any problems so far.
PRO: Health Care
This is important to us. But I have to be upfront that we haven’t been here long enough to be able to assess the health care based on personal experience. But we think it’s pretty good based on our research. There is a strong medical tourism industry here, and that’s usually a good sign. We have had one trip to the dentist and it was an excellent experience.
I’m labeling the process for getting a residence permit as a pro. But I hesitate. The process is getting more and more difficult. The rules are changing very frequently right now. We were able to get a residency permit, but the process was not a pleasant experience. It was stressful. But it all worked out in the end, and that’s what matters.
When we first arrived in the country the requirements were fairly reasonable. It fact, it was one of the reasons why we considered Türkiye as a potential long term destination. The only requirement for a one year tourist permit was proof of a rental agreement. No minimum monthly income No deposit in the bank.
On the day we were traveling between Antalya and Izmir we saw the news that the rules were changing. The maximum tourist permit would be six months. On top of that several new requirements were added to qualify. Even worse, over the next few weeks we read stories of people who fully met these new requirements being rejected for their permit with no explanation.
Once we realized that getting a permit under the tourism category was going to be challenging, we looked into another method. Another way to get a residency permit is through property ownership. A check of the facebook groups showed that these permits were still relatively easy to get. There were no restrictions on the type or location of the property.
So we looked into the prices for purchasing a small apartment abd found out that the costs is actually less than the deposit requirement that a lot of other countries have for residency. We quickly contacted a real estate agent, toured a few apartments, picked one out, and made the purchase. And we did this just in time. Just two weeks after our purchase the rules changed again, and now there is a minimum value of US$75,000 on the property to qualify for the residency permit )our purchase was well below this amount, so we made it just in time). And now there are also restrictions on which neighborhoods the property is allowed to be in.
Two other frustrations in getting our residency permit were: 1) Dealing with the language barrier. Google translate just doesn’t cut it. Although our agent spoke English, some of the real estate agent’s staff had very limited English. 2) Dealing with the state of Florida to try to get an apostilled copy of our marriage certificate (required for the residency permit in Türkiye). We had heard about the bureaucracy and incompetency in Türkiye. Florida is worse.
That’s a lot of information, I know. But really it’s just the tip of the iceberg when telling our story of going through the immigration process here. I may write a more detailed post about this experience in the future, so stay tuned…
Transportation between cities within the country is a positive, with no hesitation in this category. Buses are frequent, fairly reasonably priced, and generally very comfortable. They are much more comfortable than flying in our opinion. Some of the bus companies will even come pick you up in your local+neighborhood for free to take you to the main bus station to catch your bus. And the buses have servers who come to give you food and drinks during the trip, for free!
CON: Learning The Language
We are trying to learn Turkish. We are finding it challenging. We are indeed learning, but the process of learning is taking a lot longer than we hoped.
CON: Cigarette Smoking
One thing that we had trouble adapting to at first was the amount of cigarette smoking here. We’re starting to get a little used to it, but really it’s just something to be aware of.
PRO: Internet Connectivity
We are averaging around 30 megabits per second download. Although not the fastest internet in the world, it’s fast enough for us. We’ve had a few outages but were back online reasonably quickly.
PRO: The People
I saved the best for last: the people here. The Turkish people have a well deserved reputation for being very hospitable to strangers like us. We have seen so many smiles. We have seen so much friendliness. We have seen so much patience in putting with us even though we can’t speak the language. Turkish hospitality is real. It is genuine. And it is very much appreciated. Thank you and teşekkürler!
Once we decided to move to Türkiye we then had to pick a city. There are four cities we considered and have links to posts that profile each of these:
After weighing the pros and cons we decided on Izmir! We are excited to start our new life here. We plan to write articles about everyday life for us in Izmir. But we are not done traveling and will continue to focus on bringing content from all around the world. Thanks for traveling with us!