What is the Best City to Live in Turkey as a Foreigner?

Turkey has many cities that are very suitable for those who will come and move from abroad. Of course, the factors that people consider regarding what makes a city suitable for moving from abroad will be different.

However, some cities are more “available” for living comfortably as someone who was born and raised in another country. Culture is not something that one can overlook, and this applies to moving into another country.

Additionally, it is inevitable to have some expectations and standards when one is moving to another country. So, the most convenient thing to do would be to evaluate options.

Regardless of long-term or permanent stays, I will share the Turkey’s best cities to live in as a foreigner. All the cities will be evaluated regarding five criteria: lifestyle, enjoyment, culture, and cost.

Istanbul

Istanbul is the first-ranking city regarding the foreigner population, which might be evaluated as a signal that it is a good city to live as a foreigner. Foreigners typically prefer Istanbul for its aliveness and opportunities.

In terms of lifestyle, Istanbul is a place where one can observe both extremes, just like any other part of the world. Istanbul has wealthy parts, as well as poor areas. However, away from the economic situation, the lifestyle in Istanbul can be described as “busy.” Since the city is very crowded, many people are rushing to get things done.

However, it is possible to find everything in any place in Istanbul. Since the city is very developed, and more than 16 million people live there, they had to improvise. Everything you need can be found easily (especially in the central areas). The transportation network is quite developed, and there are many different means of public transportation. Even though some points are quite far away from each other in Istanbul, there are traffic-free options such as metro, metro bus, and ferry.

One downhill to mention here would be the traffic. Given that there are over 16 million people, it is indispensable for traffic to be a problem. However, as people spend more time in Istanbul, they learn how to adjust themselves to the traffic.

Regarding enjoyment, Istanbul is known for being a city that never sleeps. Any time of the day, one can expect to see people on the streets. Additionally, Istanbul is culturally rich, which means that there are many activities to do, concerts to attend, galleries to visit, landmarks to see, and restaurants to go to at any time.

Culture in Istanbul is open for novelty. Given that the area has always been a diverse place, people are used to it. Overall, the general Turkey culture applies to Istanbul, but one should note that Istanbul has the most minorities in Turkey.

About the cost of living in Istanbul, it can be said that living in Istanbul is more expensive than the average Turkey city. This is because of the law of demand – if there is more demand for something, the price of it will increase.

Bodrum

Bodrum is a district of Aegean city Muğla, and it is an important tourism center of Turkey. Housing and living in Bodrum would be an entirely different experience than in Istanbul. Insomuch that, while the population in Istanbul is 16 million, this number in Muğla is around 1 million (which drastically increases in tourism periods).

Some of the main reasons why people (both foreigners and Turkish people) prefer Bodrum as a place to live are the chill lifestyle, natural beauties, exquisite beaches, luxury options, and historical landmarks. Indeed, Bodrum is known to be a more “luxurious” part of Turkey. Of course, this differs from region to region.

In terms of lifestyle, Bodrum’s lifestyle can be described as laid-back, entertaining, positive, and comfortable. It must be mentioned that since Bodrum is a tourism center, the industrial and economic features are mainly dependent on it. In other words, career opportunities in other cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, and İzmir would be a lot abundant. However, Bodrum is still a very much developed area, and you can find everything you need there.

When it comes to enjoyment, it is one of the main reasons people move to Bodrum: it is known to be pleasant and entertaining. The nature, the abundance of activities to do, historical landmarks, and closeness to other holiday destinations make Bodrum enjoyable, according to tourists and people living there.

Culture in Bodrum can be defined as one of the most modern cultures of Turkey. People are very much respectful, non-interfering in someone else’s business, friendly, and upbeat. Since Bodrum is a tourist place, everybody there is used to foreigners.

About the cost, Bodrum is known to be a luxurious and highly costly place, especially in the touristic regions. However, the situation has changed a lot in Bodrum city center. The cost of living in the center is less than living in the touristic regions.

İzmir

İzmir is another convenient place to live in Turkey as a foreigner. İzmir can be described as the “middle” of Istanbul and Bodrum; it has both coastal tourism opportunities and career options. The city is typically preferred by those who want stability and comfort.

Regarding lifestyle, İzmir has a modern, young, and dynamic population. There are several universities in the city, making the population younger and more diverse. People are welcoming, modern, and friendly in İzmir.

One downhill of living in İzmir is the earthquake risk. The city takes place in a high-risk place for earthquakes, and throughout the year, many earthquakes occur. Even though not all of those earthquakes are serious ones, they are enough to create fear. However, this obstacle may be exceeded with earthquake precautions and housing resistance to earthquakes.

In terms of enjoyment, İzmir allows its residents a little bit of everything. As mentioned earlier, İzmir is a balance point between economic and career growth and tourism activities. The city includes many touristic destinations such as Çeşme and Alaçatı.

The culture in İzmir is typical of Aegean culture. Great importance is given to food, especially those with olive oil. The cultural heritage, in general, is quite rich, and there are many different historical landmarks to visit in İzmir.

When it comes to the cost of living in İzmir, it can be said that it is pretty average. Of course, there are regions where one can live a life full of luxury, as well as regions to live with a cost below average.

Antalya

Another preferred destination for foreigners to live in Turkey is Antalya. Antalya takes place in the Mediterranean region of Turkey, with a Mediterranean climate. The climate of Antalya is one of the reasons why it is preferred as a place to live.

In terms of lifestyle, Antalya is known to have a lifestyle that is more Westernized. The people are pretty modern and open to novelty, insomuch that some state the Turkish culture is not so prominent in Antalya.  Those lifestyle characteristics are especially valid for tourism seasons when millions of people visit Antalya. Of course, some regions of Antalya have Turkish culture as well.

At this point, one disadvantage of living in Antalya can be mentioned, which would be the extreme crowd during tourism seasons.

In terms of enjoyment, Antalya has many different activities to do and places to visit. The city offers both “regular city” opportunities as well as the advantages of being a tourism center. Within the same city, both alternatives can be lived through. Antalya has a good transportation network, meaning that getting to one point from another is possible through different means.

As mentioned in the lifestyle section, the culture in Antalya is modern and Westernized. It must be highlighted that this is not valid for every section of Antalya, especially regions that are not touristic preserve a strong Turkish-Mediterranean culture characterized by friendly people, welcoming atmosphere, and positiveness.

The cost of living in Antalya is greatly dependent on which part of the city you are choosing. However, if you choose a place close to the center and not in the touristic districts, the cost will be close to Turkey average.

Final Decision: Which City is the Best for Foreigners?

The answer to this question remains uncertain and quite subjective. Each city has its own advantages and disadvantages, which can only be evaluated by personal values and preferences.

In general, life in Turkey as a foreigner can be quite good. General points to consider would be the language barrier and the cost of living. Even though a good proportion of people know English in Turkey, the majority do not speak English, so it would be to learn Turkish basics first.

Additionally, Turkthe ish Statistics Authority announced the poverty line as 9332 Turkish liras for a family of four in 2012, which is around 1000 US dollars. This can be a baseline about the cost of living in Turkey in general. However, of course, some regional differences would be present.

Lastly, it is important to know that there can be big differences within a city, from region to region. It is crucial to do research about the district you want to move to earlier and get to know everything you need to know

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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