While expats generally find the cost of living in Turkey more reasonable than in other European countries, this tends to rely on the purchasing power of foreign wages. Although the prices of goods and services appear low, many people who relocate and take up a Turkish wage find they are no better off than they would be at home. Interest rates and inflation have risen in the country in recent years, so anyone being paid in the local currency will need to keep an eye on this and ensure their salary rises to match. Urban areas and the coastal resort towns are the most expensive places to live, while rural and remote areas tend to be cheaper.
Turkey has invested quite significantly in building projects in recent years so whether you want an urban apartment or a country villa there are no shortage of places to live. However, both the prices and the quality of rental accommodation in Turkey vary immensely, often without a particular logic to it, so the golden rule for finding a place to live is to shop around. Always view the property in person as adverts don’t always tell the whole story – for example a property advertised as furnished may have little beyond fixtures and fittings, so don’t be afraid to negotiate for the value you any work that needs doing.
Recent changes to the law mean that if you are moving to Turkey for the longer term and want to buy a property, there are far less restrictions in place than in the past. However, some areas may have restrictions on the amount of land that can be sold to foreign nationals, so consult a local estate agent or lawyer for advice.
You will usually be asked for a deposit of up to three months’ rent to secure a rental property in Turkey. Tenants may also have to pay letting agents or administrative fees. Typically contracts last for a year, but be aware that what constitutes a contract is open to interpretation with some landlords running open-ended or even verbal contracts. Foreign nationals are advised to insist upon a written agreement if possible.
Real estate tax
Properties in Turkey are subject to a municipal real estate tax which is calculated at various levels depending on the usage and classification of the building. All the rates are less than 1% of the value of the property. An environmental tax is also levied against most properties, but this is usually added to the water bills.
Despite a lack of competition in most areas, utility bills in Turkey tend to be fairly cheap. Water is supplied by the municipality and paid for on a metered basis. Electricity is provided by the government-run TEDAŞ, while bottled gas can be purchased through one of a handful of government-owned agencies. Some newer properties may have a mains gas connection but this is not an option everywhere in the country. Internet and telephone connections are available through a range of providers, the largest being the now privatised Turk Telekom.
Instead of a regular TV licence payment, the Turkish state broadcaster TRT receives a one-off payment from every purchase of a television set.
Healthcare and medical costs
The European Health Insurance Card is not valid in Turkey. If you have been living in the country for over a year and contribute to the state social security scheme, you will be able to access public healthcare services. However, with services sometimes limited, particularly outside the main cities, many expats in Turkey opt for private medical cover. International schemes are available, but often it is cheaper to take out cover through a Turkish company as the level of insurance cover and treatment quality is usually comparable. Some employers may offer private healthcare schemes or contribute to the social security scheme on your behalf.
The cost of a regular grocery shop in Turkey tends to be a story of two sides. Markets offer locally-sourced fruit, vegetables and staples like bread at extremely low prices which significantly drop the cost of living. On the flip side though, the cost of imported goods and luxury items can be extremely high, so it can really pay to stick to the essentials.
Value-Added Tax (VAT) is charged on most goods and services transactions in Turkey at a rate of 18%. However, special VAT rates are applied to certain items. For example, the tax rate on books, basic foodstuffs and medical products is 8%, while for newspapers, magazines and agricultural supplies it drops to just 1%.
- Rent on 1-bedroom apartment in city centre – TRY816.54 (≈£227.42) per month
- Rent on 1-bedroom apartment outside city centre – TRY489.38 (≈£136.30) per month
- Price of apartment in city centre – TRY3,004.03 (≈£836.69) per square metre
- Price of apartment outside city centre – TRY1,457.34 (≈£405.90) per square metre
- Loaf of bread – TRY1.16 (≈£0.32)
- Milk (1 litre) – TRY2.14 (≈£0.60)
- Bottled water (1.5 litre) – TRY1.11 (≈£0.31)
- Draught beer (0.5 litre) – TRY7.00 (≈£1.95)
- Packet of cigarettes – TRY9.50 (≈£2.65)
- Petrol (1 litre) – TRY4.98 (≈£1.39)
- Cinema ticket – TRY14.00 (≈£3.90)
Source: www.numbeo.com (accessed November 2014)