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Life in Turkey

Life in Turkey attracts people from all over the world for many reasons: warm climate, good economic conditions, earning opportunities, affordable education. When deciding to move to this country, you need to analyse pros and cons of living among people with a different mentality, know the intricacies of obtaining a residence permit, and obey laws.

The number of immigrants in Turkey is increasing every year.

What is the reason for emigrating to Turkey in 2020

To live in Turkey, you need to issue a residence permit: e-ikamet.

There are several ways to get a document: marry a local resident, get a job, go to university, go to the hospital for treatment, invest in business or real estate. After 5-years period, the person has the right to obtain Turkish citizenship.

Employment for a permanent position

To legally work in Turkey, foreigners need to have residence permit, and then they can apply for work permit given by Ministry of Labor and Social Security of Republic of Turkey. However, the applicants can not be self-employed, they can apply for work permission on behalf of legal employers. To obtain work permit, you can apply in Turkey, or from abroad. To apply from abroad, application must be made to embassy or consulate of Republic of Turkey, where concerned person is a citizen or a permanent resident.

An employment contract executed under Turkish law gives a foreigner the right to receive e- ikamet. 

You can emigrate to Turkey if you are employed for a permanent position.


Family residence permit

Family members of a Turkish citizen (spouses, children, dependents) have the right to obtain a residence permit. The validity period of the primary permit is 1 year, repeated once - 2 years. After that, you can apply for citizenship. Turkish citizens who want to transport their relatives to the country, must comply with a number of requirements:

  • have a permanent income, the amount of which allows you to support your family; minimum wage, not less than 1/3 of minimum income per each family member;

  • medical insurance for each relative;

  • reside in Turkey for one year, on residence permission;

  • have your own home, or a rental agreement for real estate that is suitable for the whole family; appropriate living conditions;

  • not to have any convictions within the last 5 years;

  • be registered on the address provided.

Before issuing a document, a Turkish citizen and his family are interviewed.

Running your own business

If an entrepreneur decides to invest in the Turkish economy (open his own business or invest), this gives him the right to obtain a residence permit. There is a loyal attitude towards foreign businessmen. A company can only be established with one shareholder of LLC or C-Corp. Registration takes up to 10 days. To establish own business in Turkey you need to pay 700-800 EUR fee.

Running your own business
Running your own business gives you the right to obtain a residence permit.

A foreign entrepreneur must employ minimum 5 Turkish citizens for each foreigner.

Study at local universities

Those who have entered a Turkish higher education institution or college, can apply for a student permit. The document is valid on the following conditions:

  • applies only to the student;

  • issued for a period of education training,

After receiving a diploma, a legal specialists have right to start working in Turkey, if they obtain working permission. You need to complete minimum 1 year of your higher education, to be able work as an undergraduate student.

Medical purposes

If a person needs long-term treatment in Turkey, then has the right to obtain a residence permit, which is issued for a period that coincides with the length of stay in the clinic. The period of validity of the document is set by the attending physician. A citizen can come to the country on a referral from his clinic, or on his own initiative.

Medical purposes
A person can get a residence permit if he needs long-term treatment.

To obtain a permit, you first need to enter the state on a short-term tourist visa (if required), and then apply for a residence permit at the migration office. Stay in Turkey is financed from personal funds or from the budget of your state.

Tourist residence permit

The document is for tourists who plan to stay in the country for more than 90 days. To obtain permission, a foreigner must meet a number of requirements:

  • provide the statement showing financial capability;

  • have a valid passport;

  • 4 photos ( not older than 6 months);

  • valid medial insurance,

Own property

If a person has invested money in construction, purchased a real estate object or land in Turkey for living or for commercial purposes, has the right to receive e-ikamet, and then citizenship.

Own property
If a person has acquired a real estate object, he / she receives a residence permit.

The document is issued subject to the following conditions:

  1. Acquisition of real estate or land in the country. The purchase of real estate or land in the country, regardless of the price, can be real estate worth, for example, 30,000 euros. If the price exceeds 250 thousand USD, the owner can apply for citizenship. To confirm the purchase price, you must provide an extract from the register. Ownership is reflected in TAPU – a title deed.

  2. The owner cannot sell or donate the property before the period of 5 years (otherwise has to pay tax). 

Country visa regime

A visa must be issued to all foreigners who plan to stay in Turkey for more than 90 days. For some countries, there is a visa-free regime.

The document is issued to the following groups of people:

  • tourists;
  • businessmen;
  • owners or tenants of real estate;
  • students;
  • families of residents of Turkey.
Country visa regime
All foreigners who stay in Turkey for more than 2 months need a visa.
When issuing a permit, you must provide evidence of the purpose of your stay, own a property, or have a rental agreement.

Illegal migration

Now the problem of massive illegal emigration is not acute. After Turkey and the European Union entered into an agreement between themselves in 2016, the situation has stabilized. The procedure for obtaining a residence permit is simple and does not take much time.

Most migrants prefer to legalize their stay in Turkey, but there are also illegal immigrants. Most often they are Syrians, Afghans, Ukrainians, and Kazakhs.

If the violator is caught, he is obliged to leave the country, and when crossing the border, he must pay a fine. An illegal refugee cannot officially get a job, buy housing, or receive medical assistance.

Life in Turkey: a detailed analysis of the spheres

Before you decide to emigrate and live in Turkey, it is wise to study the peculiarities of this country, its culture and customs, delve into the specifics of various spheres of life, and understand the local mentality.

Attitude towards migrants

The attitude of indigenous Turks towards newcomers depends on the nationality of the migrant and the city in which they settled.

Attitude towards migrants
The attitude towards migrants is friendly.

In resort cities, for example Antalya or Alanya, foreigners are perceived as friendly. Tourism is the main income in holidays resorts. In remote settlements like Konya, people are distanced, especially towards those who do not follow local rules.

The largest foreigners communities are located in Antalya, Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir.

Visitors prefer cities with developed infrastructure and avoid rural areas.

Local mentality

Life of Turkish citizens is built on the canons prescribed in the Koran, but the country is different from other Muslim states. It is a secular republic. Some residents of Turkey, and especially those who live in the cities or touristic areas, hold broad views, and are open-minded, they often give up religious principles, typical for Muslim states. Most often, people with the same beliefs live in the same area: religious beliefs and secularity mix together.

Turkish people have a friendly attitude towards foreigners. They are very kind and considerate. Socializing with foreigners is a kind of Turkish culture. They are always willing to help, and easily make friends with foreign residents.

Family life is an important issue to them. Most of Turks start a family at quite young age, and usually decide to have more than one child.

Turkey is perceived as hard-working nation: giving an example, in resort areas during seasonal period, they work long hours, day to day. Most premises are open from early morning until late night, and hotels and most tourist-directed services work round the clock.

Get married
Foreign women tend to marry locals.

Many foreign women decide to marry Turkish citizens. In most cases, these are women from Russia, who came to Turkey on holidays, but found here love, and a new home. Beside Russians, there are also women from European countries, like Germany, Ukraine, UK or Poland, who are married to Turkish citizens, and moved to Turkey permanently.

Differences in culture and customs

The difference between the local culture and daily life:

People in Turkey are very hospitable.
  1. Sociability and hospitality. Turkish hospitality is known all over the world. Turks are very open-minded, they like to meet people and organize parties. Turkish culture is very family oriented and life revolves around the family. They like to invite guests and visit each other as often as possible.
  2. Joint celebrations. Family events, regular cheerful meetings, and communication with relatives. All this is accompanied by dancing, singing and fun - especially, during National holidays. If a wedding is being celebrated, not only relatives are invited. The festivities drag on for several days.
  3. There are no strict prohibitions for Turkish women. They are allowed to appear in public places, enter cafes, pubs, discos etc. There is no obligation for women to wear burka, hijab, or chador. All dress codes are of  personal choice, or family religious beliefs.
  4. Turkish people are never in hurry. Like most southern countries, they never rush, and always have time for everything.
  5. Alcohol is legal in Turkey. You can buy alcohol drinks in chains of Migros or Carrefour markets, and also in local convenience shops. Although, huge tax imposed on alcohol, makes prices highly expensive.
  6. Turkish bazaars. Local open-air market stalls, with fruit, vegetables and goods. On bazaars, you buy cheap and high quality hand-made and in country manufactured products.

Religion in Turkey

The country has freedom of religion. In 1928, Islam was officially separated from the state. Kemal Ataturk proclaimed Turkey a secular country, but there are more representatives of the Islamic faith here than other religions.

When visiting someone's home, remember the following rules:

  1. Take off your shoes before entering. This tradition originated from the Muslim religion.

  2. Eat all the dishes served so as not to offend the hostess.

  3. Be prepared to eat at the table while sitting on the floor.

  4. After dinner, you can offer the hostess assistance in cleaning the dishes.

Religion in Turkey
Islam is separated from the state.

The circumcision of boys aged 12-14 are mandatory.


Food variety

Most of Turkish cuisine is based on meat: beef, lamb, chicken. The garnish is usually served with beans, vegetables, rice, bread, greens. Pork is not officially banned, but it is not sold in stores. Soups are prepared from finely chopped offal. A popular dish is kebab, which resembles the familiar shawarma.

Food variety
There are many vegetables and fruits in Turkish markets.

There are always many products from local farmers in Turkish markets: vegetables, fruits, meat, milk, honey, olives etc.

Turks love sweets based on honey, cheese and jam. The most popular drinks are tea and coffee. They are served in small tulip shape cups. Popular alcoholic drinks include aniseed vodka and wine.

Buying or renting your own home

When choosing property, you need to be aware of distance of the object from the sea, mountains, city centre, local amenities, tourists’ sites. The value of real estate is influenced by: the type of an apartment in a residential complex, if a property is a private house or a villa. The more expensive the purchase, the more money it can bring when renting out.

Buying or renting your own home
The value of the property is influenced by the area and type.

Every foreigner can buy property in Turkey. But a number of requirements must be met:

  • you can own only one object;

  • a property cannot exceed 30 hectares of area;

  • you cannot acquire property near military facilities;

  • before the transaction, you need to open a bank account and register with the tax office.

Most often, properties are sold ready-to-move-in, repaired and furnished. Turks pay great attention to comfort and presentable appearance, so the choice on the market is wide.

Cost of living in Turkey

Living in Turkey is cheaper than in other Mediterranean states, so foreigners often choose Turkey for resettlement.

Payment for housing and communal services

Monthly maintenance costs vary in price. All depends on kind of complex and facilities provided. The price does not include the use of gas, running water, electricity, Internet, TV, telephone. The most expensive item of expenditure is electricity, especially in winter. Old air conditioners are electricity – consuming.

Payment for housing and communal services
Payment for housing and communal services is cheap.

The difficulty of obtaining citizenship

The design scheme for permanent residence in Turkey is one of the softest in the world. State policy allows for dual citizenship. The received document allows you to freely visit more than 100 countries in a visa-free regime.

Who can claim?

Approval for obtaining citizenship is not received by everyone, but the person needs to meet categories established by law:

  • live in Turkey for a long time - at least 5 years;
  • be born in Turkey;
  • children adopted by Turks;
  • children born in another country, provided that the parents are Turkish nationals and are officially married.
Born in Turkey
Those born in Turkey can apply for permanent residence.

To obtain citizenship after 5 years, you need to meet a number of requirements:

  • legally stay in the state throughout the entire period (have a residence permit), 
  • define your plans to stay in Turkey;
  • know the local language (exam checks your proficiency level);
  • being independent, have a regular income;
  • must not have criminal records,

List of required documents

To become a citizen of the Republic of Turkey, a package of documents is required:

  1. Statement. It must be downloaded from the website of the migration office, filled in and personally signed.

  2. Valid passport.

  3. Residence permit.

  4. Grounds for obtaining a permanent residence permit: TAPU (document confirming ownership of real estate), rental agreement.

  5. Receipt for payment of state duty.

  6. Proof of monthly income of 500 euros or more.

  7. No criminal record.

  8. The verdict of the examination committee on language proficiency.

  9. Medical certificate confirming the absence of serious illnesses.

  10. Colour photographs (4 pcs.).

  11. Marriage or divorce certificate (if any).

  12. A certificate from the tax office.

international passport
To become a Turkish citizen, you need a passport.

All documents must be prepared in duplicate and placed in 2 folders for originals and copies.

When moving to Turkey with children, you must additionally collect a birth certificate, passport, written parental consent to move, certified by a notary.

Organizations dealing with applications

To consider the application, you need to contact the Turkish Ministry of Internal Affairs with all the necessary documents. After that, the person is sent to the police for fingerprinting and interviewing. Then, again returns to the Ministry, where the final stage of registration takes place.

How much will a permanent residence view cost?

Paperwork costs 90 euros. This money is used to pay the state duty. In case of refusal to the applicant, they will not be returned.

Failure Actions

Foreigners rarely receive a refusal, but if a similar situation arises, a citizen has 2 months to disaffirm the decision in court. It is best to hire a professional lawyer to file an appeal. It is allowed to reapply not earlier than after 1 year.

Failure Actions
In case of refusal, the citizen can challenge the decision in court.

How to adapt in a foreign environment?

To quickly adjust to life in a foreign country, we advise you to:

  1. Lear Turkish language. It helps to communicate in every day situations and small talks.

  2. Spend more time with local people. Go to local cafes, restaurants etc.

  3. Join the group of your mother-tongue speaking community in Turkey. There you can share experience, ask for advice, make friends.

  4. Make friends with your neighbours. They will help in acknowledge of local traditions.

  5. Study local legislation, history, culture, customs.

  6. Choose a tourist city to live in. The attitude towards foreigners is more friendly. You can get a job in a tourism sector.

Summing up

Before deciding to move to an eastern country, it is worth weighing all the advantages and disadvantages of such a step. While being on holidays at a resort, you may get a distorted opinion, because life in real Turkey is different from a short stay. It is necessary to understand the peculiarities of the local mentality, customs, culture, economic and political spheres of life, to adjust to the new reality.

Migrants choose Turkey for its ecology and climate.

Pros of living in Turkey

People choose Turkey for migration for the following reasons:

  • favourable climate: warm air, clear sea, plenty of sun;

  • affordable housing: average price - 1000 euros per 1 sq. m;

  • favourable environment - by developing tourism, the government allocates money to improve air quality;

  • acceptable costs for food and utility bills - lower than in European countries;

  • fresh products all year round: vegetables, fruits, milk, meat;

  • developed infrastructure and transport network;

  • low alcohol or drugs abuse;

  • high quality medical care;

  • opportunities for organizing your own business, a simple procedure for opening an individual entrepreneur and LLC for foreigners;

  • affordable prices in stores - local factories produce clothes, shoes, cosmetics, household goods;

  • simple system for obtaining a residence permit.

Cons of living in Turkey

The following disadvantages of living in Turkey are noted:

  • difficulties in finding a job;

  • non-observance of traffic rules;

  • limited food variety;

  • high alcohol prices;

  • difficulties in learning Turkish.


Reviews of migrants in Turkey

Oksana, 25, Izmir: “I moved to Turkey to live with my husband. Our marriage has already been officially registered. Parents were against it. I myself was afraid of the new culture, terrified by the sad stories of women in eastern countries. But the adaptation was easy. I spoke English at first and then gradually mastered Turkish. I have never regretted moving: I live in a holiday resort, on good terms with my beloved man. "

Ekaterina, 27 years old, Alania: “I live in Turkey on the basis of a tourist visa, I regularly renew it. I work as a freelancer and have an income of 1000 euros. This money is enough for rent, food, travel and shopping. Every day is active, I have many friends who are easy to make here. Life among Muslims is not uncomfortable. I plan to apply for a citizenship and stay here forever. "