Nestled at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Turkey is a land where ancient history meets modernity, where the scent of spices wafts through bustling bazaars, and where stunning landscapes await at every turn. As a travel enthusiast who decided to temporarily call Turkey home, I’ve had the privilege of immersing myself in its rich culture, savouring its delectable cuisine, and exploring its diverse landscapes. In this guide, I will share my experiences, insights, and tips for anyone considering living in Turkey.
The Warm Welcome of Turkish Hospitality
From the moment you step foot in Turkey, you will be greeted with open arms and warm smiles. Turkish hospitality, or “misafirperverlik,” is legendary, and it’s one of the first things you’ll notice as you begin your journey here. Whether you’re a tourist or a temporary resident, locals will go out of their way to make you feel at home. It’s not uncommon for strangers to invite you for tea, strike up conversations, or offer assistance with directions. This innate kindness creates a sense of belonging that makes living in Turkey a truly enriching experience.
The Blend of East and West in Istanbul – Living in Turkey
As the only city in the world that straddles two continents, Istanbul is an extraordinary place to begin your Turkish adventure. With its rich history, iconic landmarks like the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, and the bustling markets of the Grand Bazaar, this city effortlessly blends the old and the new. Living in Istanbul allows you to explore its charming neighborhoods, each with its own unique character. From the vibrant streets of Beyoglu to the historic charm of Sultanahmet, there’s something for everyone.
Savoring Turkish Cuisine
One of the highlights of living in Turkey is undoubtedly the food. Turkish cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavors and influences from the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Central Asia. From the heavenly kebabs to the mouthwatering baklava, your taste buds will be in for a treat. Be sure to try traditional dishes like mantı (Turkish dumplings), gözleme (savory stuffed pancakes), and çiğ köfte (spiced meatballs). And don’t forget to indulge in the Turkish breakfast, a feast of olives, cheeses, tomatoes, cucumbers, and freshly baked bread.
The Exquisite Coastlines and Beaches
Turkey boasts some of the most beautiful coastlines and beaches in the world. The Turkish Riviera, also known as the Turquoise Coast, stretches along the southwestern part of the country and offers crystal-clear waters, hidden coves, and picturesque towns. Places like Antalya, Bodrum, and Fethiye are popular among locals and expats alike. Whether you’re into sunbathing, water sports, or simply sipping cocktails by the sea, Turkey’s beaches have something for everyone.
The Timeless Charm of Cappadocia – Living in Turkey
Cappadocia, located in central Turkey, is a region like no other. Its unique landscape, with whimsical fairy chimneys, cave dwellings, and underground cities, feels like something out of a fantasy novel. Balloon rides over Cappadocia at sunrise are a must-do experience, offering breathtaking views of this otherworldly terrain. Living in Cappadocia means waking up to surreal scenery every day, exploring ancient cave churches, and sipping Turkish tea in charming villages.
Historical Treasures Across the Country
Turkey is a treasure trove of historical sites, dating back to various civilizations, from the Hittites and Phrygians to the Byzantines and Ottomans. Living in Turkey means having the opportunity to visit these remarkable places at your leisure. Some notable sites include Ephesus, an ancient Roman city; Troy, famous for the legendary Trojan War; and Pamukkale, where terraces of mineral-rich water have created surreal pools. Each visit is like stepping back in time and discovering the layers of history that make Turkey so captivating.
Affordable Living and Cost of Living
One of the appealing aspects of living in Turkey is the relatively low cost of living compared to many Western countries. Accommodation, food, and transportation are generally affordable, allowing you to live comfortably on a budget. Cities like Istanbul and Ankara offer a range of housing options, from modern apartments to traditional homes. While the cost of living is lower, the quality of life remains high, making it an attractive destination for expatriates and travelers on a longer stay.
Learning the Turkish Language
While you can get by with English in major tourist areas, taking the time to learn Turkish will greatly enhance your experience of living in the country. Turkish is a unique and melodious language, and locals appreciate when foreigners make an effort to speak it. Enrolling in language courses or using language-learning apps can be a rewarding way to connect with the culture and people on a deeper level.
Embracing Festivals and Celebrations
Turkey is a land of festivities and celebrations, and living here means you’ll have the chance to experience these cultural events up close. From the colorful Hıdırellez celebrations in May to the lively Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr festivities, there’s always something happening. The annual camel wrestling championships, Selçuk Ephesus Festival, and International Antalya Film Festival are just a few examples of Turkey’s vibrant cultural calendar.
Navigating Everyday Life
Adjusting to life in Turkey may take some time, but the welcoming locals make the transition easier. Turkish people value family, community, and traditions, which can provide a strong sense of belonging for expats. The country also boasts a reliable transportation system, including buses, trams, and ferries, making it easy to explore. Embracing the Turkish way of life, such as enjoying leisurely meals, frequenting local markets, and participating in tea ceremonies, will help you feel like a true resident.
Pros of Living in Turkey
- Rich Cultural Experience: Living in Turkey offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a rich and diverse cultural tapestry. From exploring historic sites to indulging in delectable Turkish cuisine, there’s a wealth of cultural experiences awaiting you.
- Breathtaking Landscapes: Turkey’s stunning landscapes, from the Mediterranean coast to the surreal rock formations of Cappadocia, provide endless opportunities for exploration and adventure.
- Warm Hospitality: Turkish people are known for their hospitality, making living in Turkey a heartwarming experience. You’ll find locals eager to welcome you, offer assistance, and make you feel at home.
- Affordable Cost of Living: Compared to many Western countries, the cost of living in Turkey is relatively low. Accommodation, food, and transportation are budget-friendly, allowing for a comfortable lifestyle.
- Historical Treasures: Turkey is a treasure trove of historical sites, offering the chance to visit ancient cities, ruins, and monuments, enriching your understanding of history and culture.
- Festivals and Celebrations: The country hosts a variety of festivals and celebrations throughout the year, providing a vibrant cultural experience for residents.
- Diverse Expat Community: Turkey has a growing expat community, especially in major cities like Istanbul and Ankara. This diversity allows you to connect with people from around the world and build a global network.
- Access to Turkish Cuisine: Living in Turkey means having daily access to delectable Turkish cuisine, including kebabs, baklava, and Turkish delight, among many others.
- Mild Climate: Many regions of Turkey enjoy a Mediterranean climate with mild winters, making it an attractive destination for those seeking a temperate climate.
- Reliable Transportation: Turkey has a well-developed transportation system, making it easy to navigate the country. Trains, buses, trams, and ferries are readily available for travel.
Cons of Living in Turkey
- Language Barrier: While English is spoken in tourist areas, the language barrier can be challenging in more remote regions. Learning Turkish is beneficial for a smoother integration.
- Bureaucratic Red Tape: Dealing with bureaucracy in Turkey can be time-consuming and frustrating, especially when it comes to visas and residency permits.
- Political Instability: Turkey has experienced periods of political instability in recent years, which may raise concerns for some expats.
- Traffic Congestion: Major cities like Istanbul can suffer from traffic congestion, leading to long commute times and increased stress.
- Inflation and Economic Uncertainty: Turkey has faced economic challenges and high inflation rates, affecting the cost of living for residents.
- Air Pollution: Some urban areas in Turkey, particularly Istanbul, struggle with air pollution, which can impact overall health and quality of life.
- Cultural Differences: While Turkish hospitality is a pro, adapting to cultural differences, such as different social norms and customs, can be a challenge for newcomers.
- Security Concerns: Turkey’s geopolitical location has led to occasional security concerns, with some regions being less stable due to conflicts in neighboring countries.
- Education System: Expats with children may find the education system in Turkey to be different from what they are accustomed to, which may require adjustments.
- Healthcare Variability: While Turkey has modern healthcare facilities, the quality of healthcare can vary, and some remote areas may have limited access to medical services.
In conclusion, living in Turkey offers a wealth of cultural, natural, and historical experiences, but it also presents its own set of challenges. The decision to live in Turkey ultimately depends on your personal preferences, adaptability, and willingness to embrace the pros while navigating the cons of this vibrant and diverse country.
Is living in Turkey worth it?
Whether Turkey is a good place for living depends on your individual preferences, needs, and priorities. Turkey is a diverse country with a rich history, stunning natural landscapes, and a unique blend of Eastern and Western cultures. Here are some factors to consider when evaluating whether Turkey is a good place for you to live:
Cost of Living
Turkey generally offers a lower cost of living compared to many Western countries. However, living costs can vary significantly depending on the city or region you choose.
Turkey has diverse climate zones, from the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts with mild winters and hot summers to the more continental climate of the interior regions. Choose a location with a climate that suits your preferences.
Culture and Lifestyle
Turkey has a vibrant culture with a mix of modern and traditional elements. It offers a wide range of cultural activities, culinary delights, and a lively social scene.
Turkey has a relatively high standard of healthcare, with modern hospitals and medical facilities. Healthcare services are affordable compared to many Western countries.
Immigration and Legal Requirements
Understand the visa and residency requirements for foreigners in Turkey, as they can vary depending on your nationality and intended length of stay.
If you have children, consider the quality and availability of education options, including international schools, if needed.
Before making a decision, it’s advisable to visit Turkey, explore different regions, and conduct thorough research to ensure that it aligns with your goals and expectations for living. Additionally, consulting with expatriates who have lived in Turkey can provide valuable insights into the daily life and challenges of living in the country.
Conclusion: A Turkish Adventure of a Lifetime
Living in Turkey is not just a chapter in your life; it’s an adventure of a lifetime. From the enchanting landscapes to the warm hospitality, there’s something magical about this country that draws people in and keeps them coming back. Whether you’re exploring the historic streets of Istanbul, gazing at the surreal landscapes of Cappadocia, or simply sipping çay (Turkish tea) with newfound friends, Turkey has a way of leaving an indelible mark on your heart.
As a travel enthusiast, I can attest that living in Turkey has been an unforgettable journey filled with discovery, connection, and a deep appreciation for this diverse and dynamic nation. So, if you’re considering living in Turkey, I encourage you to take the plunge and embark on your own Turkish adventure—you won’t be disappointed.