Living in Turkey

 

Sunshine, friendly people and a low cost of living make Turkey a hugely desirable place in which to buy a property.  Turkey, where east meets west, with steadily growing wealth and economy, is now a top overseas home buyer destination.  

Turkey may border the volatile Middle East, yet it is a stable, secular and democratic country. Its geopolitical position, close to the USSR, made it a key Western ally during the Cold War, and it became a member of NATO in 1952.

The country has continued to be an important friend of the West, although the war in Iraq has put this relationship under strain, particularly as there is widespread popular discontent at events there. Many Turks also feel let down by what they see as European foot – dragging over their country’s application to join the EU. Despite this, the political establishment and military remain pro – Western.

The country is currently run by the Ak Partisi, which enjoys a large majority in parliament – a rare thing in the usually fragmented world of Turkish politics. Turkey’s population is 99% is Muslim, but most Turks are far more moderate in their beliefs than their neighbours in Middle East. The west of the country and the main cities such as the capital Ankara, plus Istanbul, Izmir, Adana, Antalya, Bursa, are the most developed areas, where industry and commercial activity are concentrated. This is also where the tourists industry and foreign property market are currently concentrated.

The crime rate in Turkey is very low compared to Britain and other Western European countries. Violent crime is particularly very rare, Burglary and car crime also less common and almost entirely confined to the larger cities and towns.

Health Care and Education

Turkey has a three-tier health system with state hospitals and health centres, hospitals funded by the equivalent of National Insurance, and privately run clinics and hospitals. In general, the quality of care and equipment is best in the private sector, and easily on a par with, if not better than in Britain.

Private hospitals in resorts areas and the main cities will generally have some English speaking staff; though don’t count on this elsewhere. You will be expected to pay for any treatment at the time and then reclaim the cost later if you have health insurance. Foreign residents can arrange private health insurance through a Turkish Bank or insurance company.

Turkey’s education system is based on the French model, and has both government – run and private schools. Children of foreign residents are entitled to go to state schools, which tend to have larger classes and fewer facilities than their equivalent in Britain. Private schools, found in the most cities and large towns are better resourced, though standards of tuition may not be high as the best state schools – known as Anadolu Lisesi…

Currency and Banking

A new currency, the new Turkish Lira, was introduced at the beginning of 2005 to replace the Turkish lira, whose valued had been eroded by years of rampant inflation. The old coins and notes were legal tender until the end of 2005, though you can still change them for new Turkish Lira at many banks in 2006.

There is a large choice of high street banks in Turkey, offering standard banking services to foreign nationals living in the country. You will need a residency permit to open an account, but you can cash travellers’ cheques and withdraw cash from ATMs using British credit cards, as well as some debit cards. Making international transfers to and from Turkish bank accounts takes at least 10 working days, and often considerably longer.

The mortgage system in Turkey is still at a very early stage of development and loans are not available to foreigners, although this may change in the near future.

Cost of Living

Foreign visitors with hard currency enjoy a high purchasing power, with the cost of living far below European levels, even in the relatively expensive coastal resorts. For example, the cost of a mineral water is about 50p, while a beer in a bar costs around £1. Dinner with local wine in a restaurant in a tourists are a typically costs about £12 per head – although you can eat for a fraction of that elsewhere.

Modern supermarkets are now commonplace, but shopping for locally grown fruit and vegetables in a market is extremely cheap, as well as being fun. Local produce is of very high quality and available on a seasonal basis, with some imported items available in the largest supermarkets. The selection includes temperate species such as apples, pears, plums and cherries, in addition to more.

Meat is central to the Turkish diet and is extremely tasty. As well as the ubiquitous doner, there are a large number of other kebab varieties and grilled meat dishes to try.

Bread
Kg 50p
Wine 75cl £2.30
Macaroni
Pack 50p
Meal Out
Per head £12.00
Veal
Kg £4.50
Natural Gas Per m3 10p
Milk
Lt 50p
Rent
Month £200
Eggs
5p
Daily Hotel Rate Per person £15
Butter
Kg £1.20
Electricity Per kw 5p
Mineral Water
74c £1.50
City Bus Fare One way 30p

Insurance and Utilities

Electricity is supplied by the state run Turk Elektrik Koruma, and you can pay bills monthly by direct debit or at a local bank branch. In large cities, mains gas is available, while elsewhere people use gas canisters for cooking and heating water. These canisters are delivered free in most towns, or are available from shops, or petrol stations in rural areas.

There are mains water supplies in most cities, towns and villages and water tankers will deliver to houses that aren’t on the main supply. Although mains water is chlorinated, most people tend to drink bottled water.

Apartment blocks generally have communal heating systems, with each unit contributing towards the fuel costs, as well as the upkeep of the building and gardens. These charges are agreed annually and are normally paid on a monthly basis.

Turkey has modern telephone network with digital exchanges in most areas. Requests for new lines are normally processed quickly (about 2-3 days). The country also has a well developed mobile telephone network with several rival operators.

Cable television is readily available is most areas from the Telephone Department district office. English language channels include BBC World, Prime, MSNBC, CNN, Eurosport etc…

Types of Visas

Tourist & Business Visas

  • A visa may be issued for a single entry, multiple entries or transit purposes. Visas issued upon entry are valid for three months
  • Citizens of some countries may obtain their tourist visas upon entry at any point in Turkey or from the Turkish consulates in their country. However application for a business visa must be made in advance, before entering Turkey
  • Any passengers who are in transit through Turkey and who do not leave their port of transit do not require visas

Residency Visas

Anyone wishing to stay in Turkey for longer three months – for study, research or employment – has to apply for residency. You can apply for a one-year, two years or three years residency visa

Work Visas

Application for work visas are reviewed by Turkish Consulate and forwarded to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for approval. This means that the applications must be submitted at least six weeks in advance. When this waiting period is over, you can re-apply to the same office with your passport and visa fee to get your work visa. Applications without relevant visas are not allowed to work in Turkey.

Working Hours

Government Offices:
8:30am – 12:00am; 1:30pm – 5:30pm (closed on Saturday & Sunday, open daily)

Banks:
8:30am – 12:00am; 1:30pm – 5:00pm (closed Saturday & Sundays)

Shops:
9:30am – 7:00pm ( in tourists areas, closing times vary, some close around midnight)

Summer Hours:
In the Aegean and the Mediterranean regions of Turkey, government offices and many other establishments are closed in the afternoon during summer months. These summer hours are fixed each year by the provincial governors.)

Official Holidays

New Years Day – January 1
Sacrifice Festival
National Sovereignty and Childrens Day – April 23
Ataturk Commemoration & Youths and Sports Festival – May 19
Victory Day – August 30
Feast of Ramazan

Important Service & Telephone Numbers

Traffic Police: 154
Police: 155
Gendarmerie: 156
Fire: 110
Emergency: 112
International Operator: 118
Municipal Police: 153

Postal Systems

Turkish post and telephone offices are easily recognizable by their "PTT" and "Turk Telekom" signs. Major post offices are open from 8:00am to 12 am Monday to Saturday and 9:00am to 7:00 pm on Sunday. Small post offices have the same opening hours as Government offices (see below).

Poste restante
Poste restante letters should be addressed "postrestant" to the central post office ("Merkez Postanesi") in the town of your choice. It is only necessary to produce and identification card when collecting your letter. This service is for sending and receiving documents from other countries.

Fax Office
Fax service is available for sending and receiving documents from other countries.

Valuable Dispatch
This service is for sending valuable belongings or important documents.

Other PTT services
It is possible to exchange money at some PTT branches at the current international exchange rate. International post orders and travelers cheques can also be exchanged. An express postal service (Acele Posta Servisi -APS) operates from Turkey to 72 other countries for letters, documents and small packages. Stamp collectors will be delighted with the wide range of special stamps available from the philatelic section. International subscriptions are also available.

Phone calls
The most economic way to telephone in Turkey is from a PTT telephone booth (Found in all towns). Telephone cards are available.

Miscellenious Facts

Local Time: GMT+2hours (summer).
Electricity: 220 volts AC all over Turkey (A European adaptor will be suitable).
Tap water: Safe to drink in all cities since it has been chlorinated.
Weights and measurements: Metric System
Foreign Newspapers: Available in large cities and tourist areas.
Interpreters-guides: Ministry of Tourism Offices and travel agents can provide professional interpreters/guides. Travel agents are obliged to provide a professional interpreter/guide on all of their tours.