The cost of living in Turkey
The cost of living in Turkey
One of the great attractions of Turkey is the relatively low cost of real estate. Flats and villas in coastal resorts like Bodrum or Antalya sell for much less than in western Mediterranean destinations like southern France or Spain while offering similar attractions.
But what about the cost of living in Turkey? Is that affordable too?
Figures from Numbeo show that property buyers benefit from a significantly lower cost of living as well as lower real estate prices. For instance, it puts the cost of living 51% lower than in France, while rent is 72% lower (and you can guess purchase prices are about the same level, too).
If you've recently paid €30-40 for a nice meal in a French village restaurant, think about spending as little as 25 lira for a Turkish meal - that's just four euros!
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How much is it to live in Turkey?
Buyers attracted by bargain property prices in some locations can fail to spot expensive services and utilities prices. But that's not a problem in Turkey, where utilities for a good sized apartment might cost €67 a month - less than half what you'd pay in London. Local taxes can be as little as €40 a year, against hundreds in most western European destinations. And with a price war between internet and telephone service providers, you won't need to spend much more than €15 a month to get all you need in the way of bandwidth.
Costs within Turkey do differ from place to place, but not by a huge amount other than as regards real estate prices. For instance, renting in Istanbul costs nearly double what it does in Adana. The cost of restaurant meals in Ankara or Istanbul will also probably be higher than in other cities. Overall, you can probably add 20% to the average cost total cost of living if you're heading for Istanbul, but other costs such as utilities, your food shop and transport will probably be pretty similar.
Of course, your cost base will depend on how you decide to live. The cost of your grocery shop will depend on whether you're wedded to your regular diet - French cheese, Heinz beans, oreos and Marmite, for instance, are going to cost you quite a bit extra - or whether you're happy to shop for what's available in local markets. (You may also find that being a carnivore costs extra - good meat, particularly beef, can be surprisingly pricy.)
What are the daily life expenses?
Western clothes brands can also be expensive in Turkey. But again, if you are happy to buy local goods, you'll find prices more to your advantage. If you're a fashionista, though, you might have to add quite a bit to your budget - or take a shopping trip elsewhere once a year!
On the other hand leisure pursuits will usually see you saving a considerable amount, whether you're headed to the gym, or spending an evening at the movies (where a ticket will set you back less than €4.)
The bad news? There are a few items that will definitely cost you more. For instance, running your own car is not a cheap option - imported cars are expensive, and petrol is not cheap. Luxury cars are particularly dear - buy a Range Rover in Turkey, and it will cost you nearly €112,000 (£100,000) against €33,000 (£30,000) or so in the UK.
On the other hand, public transport remains very competitively priced, and the bus network is quite effective at getting you most of the places you want to go. Domestic flights are also surprisingly affordable. Pegasus offers the one-hour flight from Istanbul to Ankara for as little as €25 (though Google Flights, oddly, also offers a €3,919 Lufthansa flight which takes a day and half, routed through both Frankfurt and Munich!). Or you could take the five-hour luxury coach journey for half that - and a Turkish friend pointed out that once you've added the trips from city centre to airport, plus check-in time, the coach isn't actually all that much slower.
If you like a couple of glasses of wine with your dinner or do most of your socialising in the pub, you'll be disappointed to find that alcohol is highly taxed in Turkey. It's still not expensive compared to Europe or the US, but it's not dirt cheap - budget €2-3 for a half litre bottle of beer.
Find your place on the Turkish seaside
A couple of things you'll need to pay for as well
You'll also need compulsory earthquake insurance (DASK) for your property, something not required in most other countries. But since a two-bed apartment might cost €45 a year to insure against earthquake, and you'll pay about the same amount for your 'regular' property insurance, this isn't a major cost. (Insuring, say, a small flat in London or Paris could cost €450 (£400) upwards.)
If you want to reside full time in Turkey (or over 90 days at a time) you'll also need your own medical insurance (unless you're over 65), and €50 or so for the annual residence permit (plus any translation costs). That could cost €1,000 up - of course it will depend on your age and state of health; it will be lower than private insurance in the US, but if you're used to a mainly free or subsidised national health system, it's an unwelcome extra cost. (Since 2012, foreigners have also been able to join the Turkish SDK health system.)
What does this all add up to? Well, in Istanbul, a couple could live fairly well in Kadiköy for TL 3,000-4,000 a month, well under €1,000. Living closer to the centre of the city, of course, would push that cost up considerably. A retired couple in Bodrum might spend €1,300 or a bit more on all their regular bills, and a family of four can live for not much more - even private school fees, around €5,000 a year, are half UK levels.
All things considered, Turkey is an inexpensive country to live in - and best of all, the sunshine is completely free!