Costs, Pros And Cons Of Living In Turkey + Digital Nomad Visa Info

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Post author Nicky

Written by our local expert Nicky

Nicky, originally from the UK, is now a local in Turkey. She moved to Marmaris, Türkiye for love 12 years ago and is now your Turkey travel planner.

With its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes, Turkey has become a top destination for those seeking not only a change of scenery but also a way to combine work and travel. Here is my guide to life in Türkiye – one I wish I had when I first moved to Turkey 12 years ago.

Turkey Travel Blog_Pros, Cons, Costs Of Living In Turkey + Nomad Visa Information

Many people ask about the ins and outs of living in Turkey as a digital nomad, and because the situation isn’t as clear-cut as many assume, I’ll give you all the information you need.

Now, from that paragraph, you might assume it’s harder than it’s worth. Well, no, that’s not the case. You can be a digital nomad in Turkey, but only for a specific length of time. But during that period, you’re likely to have the best time of your life.

For me, Turkey is one of the best countries in the world, and with so many friendly locals and international visitors, it’s not hard to make new friends either.

So, to alleviate your concerns and give you all the information you need, let’s examine the ins and outs of being a digital nomad in Turkey.

First Things First: Turkey Digital Nomad Visa Overview

TURKISH DIGITAL NOMAD VISA

Türkiye has just announced its new digital nomad visa, which allows remote workers to stay for an extended period of time while continuing their work. This is great news for digital nomads who want to spend more time in Türkiye than their regular 90-day visa will allow! 

Until now, staying for 90 days out of a rolling 180 days has been possible only unless you apply for a residency permit—a complex process. However, with the new announcement, digital nomads can explore the country to their heart’s content without short time restrictions hampering their adventures.

Find The Details Of The New Digital Nomad Visa For Turkiye Here.

Short-Term Residence Permit

If you do wish to apply for a residency permit (ikamet), you will need to visit the official site to begin your application process.

To apply for a short-term residency permit, you will need:

  • Health insurance for the duration of your stay, either private health insurance or SGK (Turkish state health insurance)
  • A notarized rental contract or, if you own property, a copy of your house deeds (tapu)
  • Valid passport – you will need six months of validity past the end date you request
  • Four biometric photographs
  • A photocopy of your last passport entry stamp
  • Proof of financial means—This can be either in your home country’s bank account or in a Turkish bank and must be 1.5 times the Turkish wage per month for the number of months you request.
  • Receipts to prove you’ve paid the residency permit fee – this can be paid at the local tax office (vergi dairesi)
  • Printed and signed residence permit application form (completed online)

Once you have all your required documents and you’ve completed your online application, you will be given an appointment to attend your nearest immigration office. You must attend on time; otherwise, your application will be canceled. You should take all your documents with you, and it’s a good idea to have photocopies as backups.

For the first application, you’re likely to be given six months. Within 60 days before expiry, you can then apply to renew for up to a year. This is at the discretion of the immigration officer at your interview.

Turkey Remote Work Visa Options

Now, some good news.

Without applying for a residency permit, what you can do is visit Turkey for three months (90 days in a 180-day period) on a regular tourist visa. After those three months, you must leave Turkey for 90 days, but then you can return.

There are options here. Some beautiful Schengen areas around Turkey, such as Greece and Bulgaria, are within the Schengen zone, so you could rotate your time between them.

Visa Application

Turkish Airlines Plane - Istanbul Airport

Many countries can visit Turkey without a visa. All you need is a valid passport with six months validity from the date of your arrival. When you arrive at passport control in Turkey, your passport will simply be stamped, and you will have 90 days available.

However, some countries require a visa, so it’s a good idea to check on the e-visa site beforehand. You can check whether you need a visa here.

If you need a formal visa, e.g., to visit your nearest Turkish embassy, this site will also inform you of what you need to do.

It might sound like disappointing news, but trust me when I say that three months in Turkey is still going to be a wonderful experience, and you can return three months later.

Things To Know Before Moving To Live Comfortably

Now that the technical stuff is out of the way let’s examine why Turkey has become such a sought-after destination for digital nomads who want to spend a few months exploring the country.

Life In Turkey Is Affordable

Uber in Turkey - Paying in Turkish Lira

I’m going to talk a bit more about the cost of living shortly as it’s a subject we really need to discuss on its own, but generally speaking, Turkey is a slightly cheaper country than some other large European options. If you’re being paid in a foreign currency, you’ll have a good standard of life, with lower living costs and high-quality infrastructure.

Whether you choose to reside in cosmopolitan Istanbul, bohemian Bodrum, or charming Cappadocia, you’ll find a plethora of reasonably priced accommodation options along with affordable dining and transportation.

Overall, Turkey’s lower cost of living allows digital nomads to make the most of their budgets while still immersing themselves in the country’s rich cultural offerings.

Excellent Connectivity

DIGITAL NOMAD DONKEY - DONKIMIR AT THE BEACH

One of the pillars of a successful digital nomad lifestyle is reliable internet connectivity. Turkey boasts an impressive digital infrastructure, with reliable high-speed internet available in most urban areas.

Cafes, coworking spaces, and accommodations frequently offer free Wi-Fi, ensuring that you can work seamlessly from anywhere in the country. With strong connectivity, you can confidently connect with clients, attend virtual meetings, and stream without interruptions.

To give you specifics, according to Speedtest, the average upload and download speeds in Turkey are 12.41 Mbps and 40.98 Mbps, respectively. This does vary across the country, so take it as an average. Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya, Ankara, and other large cities are likely to have faster and stronger Wi-Fi than some more rural areas, especially in the southeast of the country.

Thriving Digital Nomad Hubs

Over the last few years, Turkey has become a magnet for digital nomads, with several communities and coworking spaces popping up across the country. Cities like Istanbul, Izmir, and the Antalya region have become vibrant digital nomad hubs, attracting like-minded individuals from around the globe.

These hubs offer a sense of community, networking opportunities, and a chance to connect with fellow remote workers. Engage in coworking events, attend workshops, and collaborate with local professionals to enhance your professional growth while surrounded by inspiring scenery.

Logo of nomad insurance by safetywing, featuring a stylized feather icon next to the text.

 

Digital nomad insurance.

Exploring the vibrant landscapes of Turkey as a digital nomad offers a unique blend of cultural richness and modern convenience. This country, with its bustling bazaars, historic sites, and stunning coastlines, is not just a backdrop for your work but an interactive part of your daily life. One essential aspect of embracing this nomadic lifestyle is ensuring you’re equipped with the right travel medical insurance. Here, SafetyWing Nomad Insurance shines as a pragmatic choice for digital nomads.

Offering a subscription model that charges every four weeks and is recognized as one of the most affordable on the market, it ensures that from the turquoise coasts of Antalya to the ancient streets of Istanbul, you’re covered. The insurance plan stands out with $0 deductible, meaning even the smallest medical needs are taken care of without extra costs.

Furthermore, no pre-approval is required, and the purchase process is quick—just 5 minutes and you can be covered the same day you travel, even if your journey has already begun. Especially for those traveling with family, SafetyWing also covers kids under 10 for free when accompanied by an adult, making it a budget-friendly option for nomadic families.

As you meander through Turkey’s historical marvels and scenic escapes, having a reliable safety net like SafetyWing can enhance your experience, letting you focus on the adventures at hand.

 

Diverse Landscape And Rich History

A fountain in front of a large mansion at Dolmabahce palace

Once you’ve finished your work for the day or on a day off, there is more than enough to see and do, and it’s very easy to travel around the country and explore even more. Picture yourself exploring ancient ruins during the day, indulging in mouth-watering cuisine for lunch breaks, and squeezing in a refreshing swim in turquoise waters in the evening.

Turkey’s diverse landscape offers countless opportunities for adventure, from hiking in the stunning Taurus Mountains to sailing along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. Embrace the country’s captivating history by visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites like Ephesus or the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia.

Warm Turkish Hospitality

Old man selling sweets on the street in Istanbul_Turkey

A visit to Turkey is incomplete without experiencing the genuine warmth and hospitality of its people. Turkish culture deeply values connections and friendships, making it effortless for digital nomads to forge meaningful relationships during their stay.

Turks are such friendly people; they have an eagerness to share stories, and a genuine interest in other cultures will make you feel right at home.

If you choose to stay in a popular area for digital nomads, such as Istanbul, Bodrum, Izmir, Antalya, Ankara, or Fethiye, you’ll meet many other like-minded people with whom you can network and socialize.

Brands We Use And Trust

  

Pros And Cons Of Living In Turkey As A Foreigner

I’ve given you the reasons why Turkey is great for digital nomads, but we all know that no location is perfect. I love Turkey, but even I am willing to admit that some things could be better and a few frustrating things, to say the least. The good news is that most of the downsides can easily be overcome by simply focusing on the positives.

LIVING IN TURKEY PROS

Pros Of Living In Turkey As An Expat

There are the benefits of living in Turkey

Cost of living

Turkey offers a relatively low cost of living compared to many other popular digital nomad destinations, making it an affordable choice for those on a budget. If you are paid in a foreign currency, specifically dollars, euros, or pounds, you’ll also benefit from the exchange rate.

Vibrant culture

With its rich history, diverse cuisine, and beautiful architecture, Turkey is a cultural melting pot, offering digital nomads plenty of opportunities to immerse themselves in a vibrant and unique lifestyle.

Natural beauty

From stunning beaches along the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts to awe-inspiring rock formations in Cappadocia, Turkey possesses abundant natural beauty that can inspire and invigorate digital nomads. Seriously, this place is jaw-droppingly beautiful.

Connectivity

Major Turkish cities like Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir offer robust and reliable internet connectivity, enabling digital nomads to stay connected and work efficiently.

Safety

Turkey has a generally low crime rate and is considered a safe country to live in. Local people are known for their hospitality and friendliness, creating a welcoming environment for digital nomads. Of course, it goes without saying that you should use your common sense, especially in large cities, but I have never felt unsafe.

Istanbul is somewhere you do need to keep your wits about you, specifically in areas like Sultanahmet and Taksim, which are extremely touristic. Still, even there, it’s more likely to be a petty crime like pickpocketing. Simply use your brain, and you’ll be fine.

LIVING IN TURKEY CONS

Cons Of Living In Turkey As An Expat

There are disadvantages to living in Turkey

Language Barrier If You Don’T Speak The Language

While people speak English in major tourist areas, the overall level of English proficiency in Turkey may be lower compared to European countries, which can sometimes pose a language barrier challenge for digital nomads in daily interactions. Of course, there is one quick way around that—Google Translate will help you speak Turkish. It has saved me many, many times.

Visa Issues

I’ve already discussed visa rules and what you need to do, but staying longer in Turkey can be a challenge at the moment.

Accommodation Challenges

There are many hostels in the large cities, especially Istanbul, and you’ll find many Airbnbs too. However, on the south coast, you’re mainly looking at more expensive Airbnb (aimed primarily at tourists) or hotels. During the peak months, this can be a costly business.

So, I would advise visiting during the shoulder months or the winter to keep cash in your pocket. And don’t worry about the weather; spring and autumn are my favorite times, with warm weather and, thankfully, cooler nights.

Turkish Time

This is what I call the slow pace of literally everything. Trust me when I say that if you want to sort something out, you should expect it to take at least three times longer than it should. You will probably also have to visit several different offices to complete one job. It’s frustrating, but you need to take a deep breath.

Average Cost of Living in Turkey

Living in Turkey comes with a price tag that’s noticeably lighter than what you’d find in many European countries. This means you can enjoy a pretty comfortable lifestyle without having to spend a fortune. Of course, like anywhere else, where you choose to hang your hat in Turkey can make a difference in your monthly expenses.

So, let’s dive into what makes the cost of living in Turkey both affordable and appealing.

Food Costs

In Kas, Turkey, a woman sits at a table with food on it.

The good news is that you can do a lot to reduce prices by being clever. Eat at home rather than eating out, and you can easily shop for your fresh produce at the local bazaar. This is an experience in itself, and you’ll get the most delicious products to take home with you.

You might find yourself walking away from the market with a week’s worth of fresh fruits and veggies for around 1000 Turkish Lira (about $30), which is pretty hard to beat.

If you do want to eat out, avoid tourist restaurants at all costs. This is where you will quickly lose your cash. Instead, go to local traditional restaurants, or better still, make some local friends and learn how to cook Turkish food!

A meal at a spot catering to visitors might set you back about 1000TL ($33), but local places often charge around 400TL ($13) for a hearty meal and a drink.

Transportation Costs

Istanbul Card - transport in Istanbul

The good news is that getting around is relatively cheap. If you live in Istanbul, you buy an Istanbul Card and then top it up periodically when you want to use the bus, Metro, tram, or ferry. One journey is only around 7 lira (at the time of writing), and you can travel pretty far for that.

If you want to travel between towns and cities, you can use the long-distance bus network, which I think is one of the best in the world.

The buses are comfortable, they have seat-back TVs and WiFi, they stop regularly, and you have regular snack and refreshment services throughout your journey. Alternatively, domestic flights connect all major towns and cities.

It’s hard to give a general number of what you will need to live per month comfortably because the price of accommodation varies wildly across regions. But as a general idea, if you happen to be on the south coast, perhaps in Bodrum or Fethiye, you can use that as a benchmark for the most expensive scenario.

Accommodation Costs

The cost of living in Turkey used to be quite low, but over the last few years this has increased quite a lot. It really depends on where you are going and what prices you’re looking at, but places like central Istanbul, Izmir, and the South Coast resorts are quite expensive in terms of accommodation.

Renting a one-bedroom apartment will cost around 15,000 Lira per month, with rent and electricity on top, which can be anywhere between 1000 and 3000 Lira depending on usage, especially if you use air conditioning in summer. You then have food, drinks, transportation, and social outings on top of that, which you can budget to your specific needs.

Best Places To Live In Türkiye: Digital Nomads Hotspots

You can be a digital nomad anywhere in Turkey as long as you have a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection, but there are some specific areas where remote workers congregate more often.

Istanbul

A bird flies over a Maiden’s Tower - Kiz Kulesi at sunset

The bustling metropolis of Istanbul is a perfect hotspot for digital nomads. With a rich history, stunning architecture, and a vibrant atmosphere, this city offers a unique blend of East and West. From trendy coworking spaces to stylish cafes, you’ll find plenty of places to work from.

Explore the bustling streets of Sultanahmet, sip tea in a traditional Turkish tea house, or experience the vibrant nightlife in Beyoglu. Istanbul truly offers a perfect balance of work and play. If you’re careful with your spending, the cost of living here is also just slightly lower than the south coast resorts.

Bodrum

Known for its azure waters, vibrant nightlife, and luxurious resorts, Bodrum is a popular hotspot for digital nomads seeking a laid-back coastal lifestyle. With an array of coworking spaces and beachfront cafes, you can work with a view of the Aegean Sea.

During your downtime, explore the charming Bodrum Castle, relax on one of the many stunning beaches, or indulge in some water sports. Bodrum offers the perfect balance of work and relaxation.

Antalya

Hadrian’s gate Antalya leading to a courtyard in a city.
Hadrian’s Gate

Situated on the stunning Turkish Riviera, Antalya is a dreamy destination for digital nomads who want to mix work and leisure. The city boasts beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque mountain views.

With a growing number of coworking spaces and cafes, you can soak up the sun while working remotely. While in Antalya, don’t forget to visit the historic Old Town (Kaleici), check out the stunning Duden Waterfalls, or embark on a boat trip along the coast.

Izmir

Situated on the Aegean coast, Izmir offers a vibrant and dynamic environment for digital nomads. With its modern infrastructure and lively atmosphere, it’s no wonder the city is often dubbed “the pearl of the Aegean.”

You’ll find numerous coworking spaces, trendy cafes, and bustling markets to explore during your stay. Enjoy the lively street performances, visit the historical sites such as the Ancient City of Ephesus, or relax on the scenic beaches of Cesme. Izmir offers a perfect blend of work, culture, and seaside charm.

Alacati

Alacati Travel Guide: Explore the charming stone alley adorned with vibrant purple flowers and complemented by charming blue shutters.

Nestled on Turkey’s western coast, Alacati is a hidden gem that’s increasingly attracting digital nomads. Known for its charming stone houses, cobblestone streets, and relaxing ambiance, this small town offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

With its picturesque cafes, boutique shops, and tranquil beaches, Alacati provides an inspiring setting to work remotely. Spend your free time exploring the vineyards, windsurfing, or simply indulging in delicious local cuisine.

Fethiye

Fethiye sits on the turquoise coast of southwestern Turkey and is a charming destination for digital nomads seeking the perfect blend of work and relaxation. This coastal town offers a vibrant mix of modern amenities and natural beauty, making it an ideal spot for remote workers seeking inspiration.

With its mild climate, stunning landscapes, and welcoming local community, Fethiye provides a tranquil setting conducive to productivity. During downtime, you can indulge in exploring ancient ruins, relaxing on picturesque beaches, or embarking on thrilling outdoor adventures like paragliding.

Ankara

Things to do in Ankara Turkey - Ankara and Kocatepe Mosque

Ankara, the vibrant capital city of Turkey, offers an excellent environment for digital nomads looking to blend work and adventure seamlessly. With its modern infrastructure, high-speed internet connectivity, and numerous coworking spaces, Ankara provides all the essentials for a productive remote work experience.

The city’s affordability makes it an attractive destination, offering a range of affordable accommodation options and cost-effective dining choices. In between work sessions, you can explore iconic landmarks such as Anıtkabir and the ancient Roman Temple of Augustus or unwind in the beautiful parks scattered throughout the city.


Is Turkey Safe For Expats

Living in Turkey offers an enriching experience with its vibrant culture and stunning landscapes, but like any destination, it’s wise to stay informed about safety.

Overall, Turkey is considered a safe place to live, though crime rates vary by region. While the country has made significant strides in ensuring visitor safety, it’s still important to be cautious, especially in areas less frequented by foreigners, and to stay updated on any regions advised against visiting.

Public Transport

Public transport is generally reliable and safe, but always be aware of your surroundings.

Terrorism

Terrorism has been a concern in the past, so staying vigilant and informed about current issues is crucial.

Before traveling, familiarize yourself with safety precautions and know what steps to take if you encounter any problems. With the right preparation and awareness, your life in Turkey will be both safe and enjoyable.

If you’re planning to live and work in Turkey and have security concerns, this comprehensive guide on crime rates and safety measures in Turkey will help.

Final Word On Being A Digital Nomad In Turkey

A sunset over Akyaka with palm trees.

Okay, I know the lack of a digital nomad visa and difficulties with residency permits weren’t the news you probably wanted. But look on the bright side. You can still visit Turkey on a tourist visa and really immerse yourself in everything this wonderful country has to offer.

With its blend of rich history, stunning landscapes, warm hospitality, and affordable living costs, Turkey has all the necessary ingredients to become the perfect base for remote work.

From bustling metropolises like Istanbul to charming coastal towns like Bodrum and Antalya, Turkey offers a diverse range of destinations to suit every taste and preference. Whether you’re looking for a bustling city atmosphere or a serene beachfront, Turkey has it all. Trust me, you’ll never be bored.

And let’s not forget about the food! The local cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavors that will tantalize your taste buds, while the unique traditions and customs will offer you a glimpse into long-standing traditions.

Of course, Turkey’s affordability makes it an appealing choice for digital nomads on a budget. Accommodation, transportation, and dining costs are generally lower compared to other popular destinations for remote workers across Europe. This allows you to stretch your budget further, giving you the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the country’s beauty and experiences.

Additionally, Turkey’s strong digital infrastructure and growing coworking scene make it easy to find comfortable workspaces and reliable internet connections. Whether you prefer working in a traditional office environment or prefer coworking spaces with like-minded individuals, Turkey has the facilities to cater to your needs.

Finally, the friendliness and warmth of the Turkish people cannot be understated. The locals are known for their hospitality and are always eager to lend a helping hand. You’ll quickly find yourself making friends and feeling at home in this welcoming country. The likelihood is that you won’t want to leave, but you’ll have memories to keep for a lifetime, and you can always return.

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