Facts About Turkey
Turkey has a population of around 74,000,000 and covers an area of some 783,562 sq kms with 8 countries on its borders. These are, going clockwise from left, Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Turkey has 4 seas on its coastline, which are the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, the Aegean and the Marmara. Ankara is the capital city and Istanbul straddles the 2 continents of Europe and Asia. Turkey is a secular Muslim state and the Turkish Constitution forbids any form of religious persecution. Turkey has some of the best preserved Roman ruins in the world and there is major reconstruction work going on in several areas to restore some of the ruins to their former glory.
If you are intending to settle in the Side, Antalya, Alanya or Manavgat areas, you will be served by Antalya airport, a one hour drive from Side. A new airport, Gazi Pasa, opened in 2010 to serve Alanya. Currently, Antalya is the only coastal airport that stays open all year round. Dalaman, a joint civil/military airport closes down during the winter months of October to April and serves the Fethiye area, the most popular area for British ex-pats. Antalya airport is very modern and has 3 terminals, 2 international and 1 domestic terminal for flights to Ankara and Istanbul etc. The airport terminals are currently undergoing a huge modernisation and enlargement programme, which will benefit everybody. Taxi fares to Antalya airport from the Side area are around £60 each way but many estate agents will provide subsidised or free transport for their clients to go back and forth if you ask them. Duty free shops are attractive and competitive on spirits, tobacco and perfume but tourist goods are a rip-off, as are coffee and snacks. You can expect to pay around £12 for a cheeseburger and coffee!! Buy your Turkish Delight and other souvenirs in the many markets in the towns and villages. If you are on your way out of Turkey, get yourself a snack and coffee at the newly opened Burger King in the car park. It is possible to use the duty free shops when you land in Antalya but do not attempt to smuggle more than your duty free allowance into Turkey, as they will come down hard on you if you are caught. The alcohol allowance is a bit of a grey area but I have heard of many people bringing three or four litres purchased outside of Turkey and going through Turkish Customs with no problems, so if you purchase it outside of Turkey, don't be greedy! By and large, officials at Antalya are warm and friendly, until you take liberties! You will have to purchase a visa for £10 (cash) on arrival at Antalya to enter Turkey, unless you obtained one at the Turkish Consulate in London but you will not need an exit visa to leave. It is possible to fly from London Stansted to Antalya from mid April to the end of November from the south-east. At all other times, it is a drive to Gatwick, which serves Antalya all year round. I would advise you to shop carefully to get the best deal. Easyjet, along with Pegasus now fly to Antalya and there is a rumour that Ryanair are going to open up a route to Antalya from Stansted in the very near future.
Any British citizen can purchase property in Turkey, subject to certain minor government restrictions, i.e., not purchasing in a military zone. Your Estate Agent should ensure you follow the correct procedures. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, allow an agent to buy a property for you in his name. Due to the relaxation of rules by the Government to foreigners, there are absolutely no circumstances that would make this necessary. If you have purchased your property already and have used a reputable Agent, then you should already be in possession of some of the required documentation required to live in Turkey legally. If you are thinking about a mortgage, see section on mortgages below. We still hear of many instances where Brits clearly leave their brains back in the UK and some of the stories defy belief, so don't trust any old Thomas, Richard or Harold with your money. We know who the crooks are and many of us have first hand experience. Read more at: www.turkishliving.com and under no circumstances buy a property off-plan until the Turkish Government introduces legislation to prevent you losing your life savings. The normal procedure everywhere with off-plan is for you to pay 33-50% payment when you buy in, then another 25-33% at the midway stage and the last payment on completion. The problem here in Turkey is that many developers have absolutely no financial backing, other than your money. They then waste that money, buying things like flashy cars or building themselves a nice home. If they then cannot find further investors, your property never gets finished and what has been built already, is invariably owned by a bank, the likes of ING, who then whip the property from under your feet and sell it at a knockdown price. The developer disappears, the authorities don't bother to look for him and you have lost everything. You are generally safe with larger well established developers but it is really up to your solicitor (Avucat) to thoroughly check everything out for you, ie, make sure that the company is completely solvent, that the landowner has been paid for the land, that the construction is 100% legal and complies with national and local planning law. You have been warned!
Renting a property as an owner
DO NOT rent your property to a Turk under any circumstances. Once they are in, they can stop paying the rent immediately and there is nothing you can do about it. Read about it here Meliha Kaplan If you rent to a European, make sure that you declare your rental earnings and pay the income tax on everything. Only accept payments for rent through the bank into your account. This shows transparency and is now the law for owner/renters.
The Tapu is the title deed to your property. On new developments, the Tapu is only granted once the local authority have inspected the property and declared it fit and safe for habitation. It will also prove that the property has not been built illegally, ie, without planning permission or on an over developed site. If it is a re-sale property, rather than a new build, the Tapu will just transfer to you but may take a couple of months to come through. DO NOT pay the money UNTIL you have the Tapu and research everything, to make sure the seller has not taken out a mortgage on the property, a common trick, as the debt transfers to you. Be warned!! A solicitor we know of handed over the money for a house to a Turkish seller who then refused to hand over the Tapu. It has taken months to sort out and the Turk was borrowing against the Tapu. A big black mark for the solicitor!! If you are not going to get the Tapu with your property, DO NOT buy it....simple, no exceptions!!
As many of you will know, it is possible to obtain mortgages to buy property abroad for investment. You will also know that it is illegal to buy abroad and not declare it to HMRC in the UK, unless you live here permanently, particularly if you are taking an income from the property. There is a reciprocal tax agreement between the UK and Turkey, which can work both for and against you. We can only offer limited advice on this subject.
Notaries (Noters) and Translators
If you are purchasing property or vehicles, or conducting any sort of form filling for presentation to Government offices in Turkey, at some stage you will need the services of a notary (noter). These are in plentiful supply everywhere, as even the Turkish people have to use them on a regular basis. Because you are a foreigner, you will also need the services of a translator to ensure that you know what you are signing and what your obligations are. Both can cost anything from 60 lira upwards. The translators are a licence to print money here, as many are barely adequate at speaking English. We can recommend some excellent translators, who not only speak English to an excellent level but will not charge you 100TL for translating a couple of sentences in 3-4 minutes. Some translation services carry a set fee, ie, British Passport translation is 60TL
Turkey and Great Britain have a double taxation agreement, which means you can move your money freely between the two countries and will not pay the tax in both countries. This is particularly important if you have retired on a pension, as Turkey does not charge tax on pensions, unlike the UK. The HMRC website has a wealth of info hmrc.gov.uk/individuals/ Go to the Non-Residents section, which has all the relevant info about what you will need to do if you are moving abroad and there are various forms to fill in, which you can download. You should investigate your particular circumstances with your tax office in the UK and obtain the necessary forms to present to your local tax office in Turkey. After the irritation of having to get the HM Dept of Pensions letter translated into Turkish, you should present this to the local tax office in Turkey and get confirmation from them that you now live in Turkey. You present this confirmation document to HMRC in the UK and they SHOULD stop charging you tax on your pension.
My advice would be to come out on a £10 tourist visa and sort out your residency application once in Turkey. The residency application procedure will need to be completed in Turkey as soon as practicable on arrival if you are going to import your belongings from the UK. The residency fee currently stands at £48, which is approximately 130 lira at todays rate.
Now for the fun part! You will now need to think about arranging transport of your worldly goods from the UK and picking the right freight forwarders is very important if you wish to avoid the nightmare that some people endure, with theft and damage. The advantage of using an expensive company is that they will come and pack everything for you and you should not have a problem in getting transport insurance. If you decide to use a cheaper company, the onus is on you to pack everything carefully and securely, as you will probably have your goods sent out as ‘Groupage’. This is the sharing of a lorry or a container with commercial companies. The company will come to your home, pick up your goods, take them back to their depot and palletise and shrink-wrap your goods for onward transmission. IT IS IMPERATIVE that you type out a detailed inventory of your goods for the transport company and it would also be prudent to have a translated copy for the Turkish Customs authorities in Istanbul. Number each box and detail the items inside. If the contents are fragile, use ‘FRAGILE’ tape to identify them. I would advise you, if possible, to have your goods sent by sea. If your goods go by sea, they will arrive in Turkey at Izmir, where the customs authorities are used to dealing with the household goods of ex-pats. If your goods go by road, they will enter Turkey through Istanbul, which can be a nightmare, so be prepared to spend a night or two in a hotel before you can officially claim your goods. Your goods can take anything from 5 to 10 days before arrival in Turkey and you should give yourself at least 1 week in Turkey before your goods arrive, to enable you to get all the proper documentation together for customs. Your Agent will advise you when to fly to Istanbul. I would also advise you to ask him about clearing your goods permanently, otherwise you may have to re-clear them every time you renew your residency visa. The bond money can also be quite high. A customs broker may charge you a substantial fee but the headaches he will save you make it worth every penny.
On Arrival in Turkey
The first step is to locate your local tax office to obtain a tax number, for which you will have to produce your passport. You will have to produce your tax number to the bank to open an account unless you already have a Turkish bank account. If you already have a Turkish bank account, then you should already have a tax number, as it is a pre-requisite of the bank. You will be asked for your Tax Number on numerous occasions, so keep it safe.
You now need a bank account, if you don't already have one, to prove you have enough money to live on, before obtaining your residency permit. Be aware that you will need to give the bank your tax number and passport before you open an account. Use well known, established banks rather than the small private banks. The Turkish economy is improving all the time but it is still early days and it is safer to bank with the well established banks such as, HSBC, ABN Amro, Garanti Bank, Akbank and Isbank, which is the second biggest in Turkey.
Currently, if you transfer all your sterling into Turkish Lira and use a Turkish Lira bank account, you can earn around 9% interest PA lira per annum, net of income tax, currently standing at 15% of your interest. It will need to be a Premier account, for which you pay no bank charges and assumes you have an investment of minimum 75,000 lira to a maximum of 250,000 lira.. You can tie your money up anything from 32 days to 12 months and while it is in the account, you cannot touch it. On the anniversary of your chosen lock-in term (The bank will advise you which day), you can have the interest element transferred into a daily account and many ex-pats live on this interest in Turkey, although this is getting harder as the rates dropped from a staggering 18% to 9% in just over 2 years. You can also leave the interest to accrue if you wish. If you decide to keep your money in a sterling account, you will only get around 2.5% in interest. UK bank procedures for transferring money abroad vary considerably. The HSBC charge £10 per transaction if the money is going to HSBC in Turkey and £21 to any other bank. They will transfer a maximum of £10,000 daily by telephone, so if you intend to transfer, say £100,000, arrange this before you leave the UK. You can move a maximum of £9,999 in cash without any declaration but chain it to your wrist if you do this.
Residency Application (Ikamet kah)
Get moving immediately with your residency application, as things can be notoriously slow in Turkey. To obtain your Ikamet Kah, you will need to go to the police station in Manavgat or Antalya with your application form filled out in duplicate (forms are supplied by the police), passport, passport photocopy, 4 passport photos, 1 pink document folder (Available from any stationer), Turkish bank statement to prove that you have sufficient funds to remain in Turkey (Approximately $20 per day for the length of your residency up to retirement age) and the application fee, currently stated at £48 per year. The police will send you to the tax office to pay the money over directly for your permit, so it is advisable to have the services of a vehicle to run you around. YOU WILL NEED to produce your tax number at the tax office before they will take your payment. You should now have everything you need for Customs purposes. Now relax over a cold beer or 3 while you wait for the good news. Once you have everything in place, you can then see about getting your goods delivered. You will need to try and schedule all of this carefully because if your goods are sitting in Customs for too long, you pay a storage fee. Careful planning is required. Email me if you need any advice.
Your agents in UK will advise you of the ETA of your goods (Be near a phone or carry a mobile continually) and once you receive the call, you should immediately arrange your flights to Istanbul and be sure to check your list for documents you will require.
Check List of Documents Required for Customs
1. Tax Numbers. You should have these already if you own a property.
2. TAPU. The deeds of ownership to your property will be provided by the Estate Agent you purchased your property from. If you do not have your TAPU, you will need some sort of proof of ownership of property; i.e. contract between you and the Estate Agent.
4. Ikamet kah, your proof of residency document in Turkey.
5. Bank Statement.
6. A substantial amount of money for the unexpected.
At the current time, these are the only documents that my friend Grant had to produce but legislation in Turkey is changing all the time so, DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
If you have any problems, talk to your broker/agent in Istanbul or phone Grant on 0538 707 6411
You will now need to organise your flights to Istanbul, as the drive is both too long and tiring. The recommended airlines are Pegasus and Atlasjet There are plenty of booking agents in and around the tourist areas but I am happy to put you in touch with one. Flights are cheap, around £20 - £30 each way, dependent on flight times and there are several flights daily to Ataturk Airport. Ask your Broker/Agent if it is possible to pick you up at the airport, although they will probably do this anyway.
Your Agent in Istanbul, along with the appointed Customs Broker/Agent, will handle everything from here on. If you have the proper documentation with you, your goods should clear in approximately 1-2 days. Once your goods have cleared, you will be allowed to inspect them but be prepared for some damage, depending on how well you did your own packing. If you do not have the proper documentation, your goods will remain in the warehouse and you will be charged on a daily basis for storage. You will now need to provide any information the forwarding agent will need to take your goods to your new home.
My overall advice would be to bring as little as possible to Turkey, as the duties can be extortionate and above what the goods are worth. Obviously, this does not apply to personal belongings like clothes and anything else that is personal to you. The best way would be to bring it over bit by bit on your trips to UK.
House insurance is a must in Turkey. The build standard is poor compared to the UK and water and damp problems are common. The larger developers, such as Mecitoglu and Kaya do not seem to suffer these problems as much. Water can come in through poorly sealed windows and doors but it is commonly through the roof, due to badly fitted water tanks and solar panels. Rising damp is the most common problem in Turkey because a lot of older properties have not had a damp course installed. Some of the bigger developers have been installing proper damp courses over the last few years. We have found a method of preventing all the damp and plaster problems but it involves a lot of work and mess, most of which you can do yourself. The materials you will need are widely used by builders in the UK, available from Istanbul and are 100% effective. Be aware that house policies do not cover damage through badly fitted roof water tanks and solar panels. Aviva, the Turkish subsidiary of Commercial Union, offer extremely good cover with an all-inclusive policy, covering building and contents with very little in the way of small print but premiums are quite high. Also, make sure that the company you go with print all policy documents in English. We have paid 600 lira pa for a 225 sq mt living area with 30k lira contents cover and the policy is in English. BE AWARE that house insurance rarely covers Earthquake damage. This is a separate policy that is a legal requirement in Turkey.
You can legally drive on your UK driving licence in Turkey and we have heard rumours that at some stage you are supposed to take a driving test, though we have not yet met anybody who has done so. The requirement that the Turkish Consulate recommend is to get your European licence translated and keep a photocopy with your original at all times. Fully Comprehensive Insurance (Full Kasco), although very expensive, is a must, as the driving skills here vary considerably and the insurance is normally taken out on the car and not the person. Compulsory Traffic Insurance (Trafik Sigorta) only covers damage to 3rd parties. We would strongly advise you to take out Full Kasko, as we are seen as being rich and we have heard stories of Brits being held responsible for damage in accidents that were clearly not their fault. Petrol and diesel are about 15% dearer than UK but diesel is still the most economical, unless you convert your non-diesel car to Gas (LPG). The conversion can cost around £300. A large number of drivers here are complete lunatics and rarely stop at red lights but since this is common knowledge, if you go through a green light and somebody hits you, you are in as much trouble as he is. The Police Force attitude seems to be, that every accident can be avoided, which is true most of the time. My advice would be that, if you are an aggressive driver, like I was in the UK, you will need to become a defensive driver here and always assume the other driver is a complete idiot. Do not expect any road courtesy from drivers here and curb your road rage.
I would not advise importing a vehicle into Turkey from the UK for two reasons. Firstly, you may have problems getting spares or servicing for some vehicles but secondly, why bring a right hand drive car to a country that drives on the right. If you bring your motor vehicle into Turkey as a tourist, you will also encounter a lot of inconvenience, as you will need to take the vehicle out of the country every 6 months for a week. Cyprus is the closest and easiest to get to on the ferry and if you leave Turkey at any time by air during the 6 months, you will need to take your car to a customs pound and retrieve the vehicle on your return. You are charged 15 lira per day for this privilege. Legislation is underway at the moment to improve this situation for foreigners and I will keep you posted. Read the latest on this subject at joli-triste.com This article refers to a vehicle that a friend of mine purchased in Germany in November 2007 and this scheme is ONLY applicable to retired persons on a UK government or private pension. If you go down this route, the only people allowed to drive the car are yourself and immediate family. If you lend your car out and get stopped, it is possible for the authorities to confiscate the car.
Purchasing Turkish Vehicles
You cannot purchase a vehicle in Turkey unless you are a resident and vehicles can be incredibly expensive. The most popular vehicles seem to be Fiat and Hyundai, followed by Renault and Ford. If you are looking at Mercedes, Audi, BMW and Peugeot, be prepared for a shock, as the duty on imported vehicles is anything up to 80%. It is not currently possible for a foreigner to obtain any kind of finance. There are car auctions in Antalya every week, though they can be very risky to use with inherent problems in establishing ownership but you can try before you buy. My recommendation is to buy from a main dealer and look for something around 6 months old to avoid some of the punitive taxes on a new vehicle. When you purchase a car here, you will get an M plate to show you are a guest.
The Dolmus is the favoured method of travel in Turkey. It is both cheap and reliable in the tourist season from very early in the morning till about 1am but from November through to March, they can be scarce in some tourist areas. If you are living within a tourist area, you can just about survive but if you are living a couple of miles away, you will have a problem getting around. The weather, although relatively warm during the day, deteriorates from December to March and February can be particularly wet. It is not much fun struggling home in a thunderstorm laden with fruit and veg, so a car is probably going to be a must.
Taxi prices are horrendous and equate to around £2 per mile before midnight. After midnight it is always best to negotiate your price before you get in. If he won’t negotiate, then ensure he turns his meter on as soon as you get into the cab. We can arrange airport transfers for you.
Car rental is quite expensive but varies considerably from type of car, the area you are in and the supplier. You can pick up a small fiat for around 25-35 euros daily with air conditioning. A jeep or people carrier will cost you nearly double. Scooters are the cheapest form of travel if you love danger at around 15 euros per day. We can get you a good rental deal.
Barter for everything in the tourist areas but don’t try to kill them! If you think it is worth the money he is asking, pay it. This avoids bad feeling and he will not feel insulted and slag off the English at every opportunity. You can find both excellent and very poor quality fake designer goods and I would recommend you avoid the cheap rubbish and spend a little extra on getting well made products that should last you years. If you are looking for designer rip-offs, check the quality of the stitching. Avoid replica watches like the plague, unless you are prepared to spend around £100 on a replica with a swiss movement and is water resistant. Cheap replicas are likely to die on you if you wash your hands without removing them. Gold and other jewellery has to be the best buy if you are into ‘Bling’ or if you are about to pop the question to your Sweetheart!
If an Estate Agent tries to sell you a property on a co-operative, do not be tempted. Very, very few Ko-ops are run honestly, so my advice would be to avoid them. The materials and labour that are used are generally sub-standard and you will all find yourself replacing site equipment every two or three years. Naturally, purchasing on a completed co-operative is not a problem IF you get the Tapu with the purchase. The co-op system was set up exclusively to help middle income Turks get onto the property ladder but it has been terribly abused and is used as a means to buy a cheap holiday home. It is my opinion that Europeans should not be allowed to buy Co-op property. The Turkish Government only check out a few every year, so 75-85% of the crooked ones escape any sort of investigation.
Everybody in Turkey is earning commission from somebody, so you will often meet people who have a ‘friend’ who is selling a house or car. They will also have a ‘friend’ who can supply you with water tanks, solar panels, ceramics, plumbing services etc. If you need anything, seek out the suppliers yourself and go direct, as this can save you a packet or ask me. The suppliers will often pay the commission direct to the referrer at your expense and without you even knowing. A friend has compiled a comprehensive 'Trade Database' of reliable tradesmen, see below.
“I have now compiled an extensive database of tradesmen, covering everything from water installations to ceramics. I have checked out their work and their pricing levels, or used their services and will be happy to pass on any details you need. Work standards vary considerably here, so please ask me first if you need a service that is not mentioned on my database, as you can rest assured that whoever I find will be checked out thoroughly before I recommend them. The database can be found at www.joli-triste.com”
The standards of finishing in a property bought in Turkey are not the sort of standard you would expect in the UK, so be prepared to do a bit of work in the house yourself. As I mentioned earlier, common problems are water entry, damp, poor grouting on ceramics, draught proofing and poor fitting of accessories. DIY materials are relatively inexpensive and if you undertake the work yourself, you will save yourself a lot of stress and occupy your mind at the same time. There are Turkish equivalents of B&Q and Homebase in Antalya called KocTas and Tekzen, who supply everything you will need in the DIY line.
It is very important to seek out a good English-speaking lawyer. You never know when you may need his services and never enter into any form of agreement or contract without first consulting a lawyer, particularly when buying a house. The Turkish Legal system, though fair and unbiased, can be slow and if you have a dispute with anybody, it could take you up to two years to get him into court. I have located and used the services of two very good English speaking lawyers and although I am not allowed to advertise for them, I will be happy to pass their names and numbers on to you.
3 piece suites tend to be colourful and very firm, so you may have to search a long time for something soft and less painful on the eyes. Beds are a very good buy and the storage beds are a brilliant idea for hiding the bed linen and towels. Curtains etc are very reasonable and cheap to get made up but fabrics vary in price considerably. Quilts are nothing like the UK, so we recommend you bring them with you. TOG ratings up to 7 or 8 are more than adequate for even the winter climate.
Furniture, (Mobilya), shops are prolific and beds, wardrobes, suites, cupboards, tables and cabinets etc are far cheaper than in the UK. Furniture can also be handmade to your own spec in either solid wood or very superior quality MDF. Look out for 'SPOT SHOPS', as they sell good quality budget and second-hand goods.
We do not advise you to bring anything in the way of larger electrical goods to Turkey. The import duties are horrific and in some cases up to 100% of the value of the goods. White goods are roughly the same price as in the UK but with fantastic guarantees, commonly up to 3 years and more. Beko and Arcelik are very reliable Turkish made products available everywhere here. After all, why take something to Turkey that may break down the week after you arrive? Televisions, DVD players and Hi-Fi equipment etc are also reasonably priced here and prices are dropping fast on luxury items like 42” LED TV’s, even laptops can be purchased for around £300 now but you may have a problem getting them with UK keyboards.
I would recommend a self build Tower PC, which I can arrange for you but you can buy ready made systems very cheaply. Casper and Beko are just two Turkish companies that have moved into computers and are very reliable. If you have any sort of computer problems or want any advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Hotel prices start from as little as £5 per night per room, in a small pension, to £60 a night for a hotel with all amenities. Pensions are prolific in tourist areas and are basic but comfortable and friendly. If you need any advice or would like me to sort out accommodation for you, please email me.
Restaurants vary from cheap to expensive and expect to pay UK prices and more for seafood. BEFORE you go into a restaurant, find out precisely what you will get for your money, as many of them are very crafty with their promises. If they say only 5 lira for a beer, ask them if it is a large bottle! The Turkish diet is very healthy and portions tend to be on the large side with emphasis on the locally made bread and fresh vegetables. Expect to receive complimentary starters with every meal; so don’t go overboard with the courses. Chinese and Indian restaurants are few and far between and very expensive. I have identified some great restaurants in the local area that are reasonably priced and friendly but eating out is definitely not cheap everywhere, unless you get well away from the tourist areas and stick to locally produced foods. Alcohol prices are on the high side, with the exception of beer, so expect to pay around 5 to 8 lira for a 500cl Efes beer, 9 to 12 lira for a local vodka/gin and tonic, 12 to 20 lira for any imported spirit, ie, Bacardi, whiskey, Baileys etc. I can recommend an excellent restaurant/boutique hotel called Conny’s, who offer high quality cuisine.
Shopping for groceries is an amazing experience in the many markets. Fruit and vegetables are fresh, incredibly cheap and the bill for the week can be as little as £10 for the 2 of you. Fresh Yoghurt is around £1.50 for 3 Kgs and makes for a healthy breakfast mixed with varied fruits. The local everyday bread is 50 – 70 kurus (20 - 30p). Milk tends to be the longlife UHT type in cartons but Migros are now selling fresh pasteurised milk regularly. You can also find many farms that will sell you fresh milk at around 1 lira per litre and it is very easy to pasteurise it yourself. Eggs are around £1 for 1 dozen, cheese is available as the white type (fetta) and Kasar (very mild cheddar) with many different flavours and types in between. Unfortunately, like the UK, the better cheeses can be quite expensive. Tulum is a very strong cheese and reminds me of a ripe Stilton without the blue and we have also found a lovely cheese call Eski Kasar, which has a strong flavour similar to a good cheddar. Supermarkets are cheaper than UK for very basic foodstuffs but luxury and convenience foods, which we take for granted in the UK are a lot more expensive. Migros, the Turkish equivalent of Sainsbury’s, seems to be the most popular with ex-pats and also provides a loyalty card. Butchers are amazingly clean and you can expect to be offered a chair and cup of tea while waiting for them to make up your order. Red meat is very expensive but turkey and chicken are very cheap, particularly breasts, in fact the breasts are so cheap, that it is cheaper to feed your cats with them than catfood. We have also found Bim, the equivalent of Aldi here and another well known French company by the name of CarreFour are also making an appearance in many towns. Kipa (Tesco), M&S and Metro (Makro) are also now firmly established here, so get yourself a Makro card before you move here.
Water. There is an abundance of water in most areas and you will only be charged for what you use in the house, as most of the garden water is supplied by independently dug wells. Expect to pay around £3 to £10 per month, depending on your property size. If you buy an office type water cooler (around £60), you can get a 19 litre bottle delivered for only 4-5 lira.
Electricity. Is more or less the same as the UK price and is metered but expect lots of power cuts when thunderstorms are about or at times of high requirements.
Gas. Is only provided in bottles and one bottle will last about 3-4 months if you cook on a gas hob. The cost of the bottle is around £25 and £22 for a refill, which is delivered to your house free of charge. We strongly recommend that you have a gas hob and an electric oven. Natural gas is allegedly coming in the future.
Matab. This is the ‘dirty water’ charge and is now included within your water bill and shown seperately from your water usage. If you live on a complex, the management may pay in bulk but either way, CHECK IT OUT to be certain.
Telephony. The government owned Turkish Telephone Company (Turk Telecom) provides telephone services in all of Turkey and the Internet service supplied is ADSL or wireless, as they do not have Broadband yet. There are many internet packages to choose from, depending on your personal requirements. An unlimited internet account is now 62 lira monthly. Fibre Optik cables are being laid in many areas, so the service will definitely improve. You can only get telephony services if you are a Turkish resident and will need to produce your Ikametkah and passport at the Turk Telecom office to have it put on. It will cost you 10 Turkish Lira currently for connection and 20 lira approx monthly plus call charges. You will need an electrician to actually come to your house to install wiring etc, as TurkTelekom are only responsible for cables to the main box. If you are not permanently living in Turkey as a resident, the only way, once again, is to have a telephone installed through a Turkish friend. Skype is now the most economical way to ring the UK at 1p per minute and you can download it here: SKYPE
Television. Digital TV is available from Digiturk through a dish and will cost about £30 for the dish, receiver and installation, with a monthly charge dependent on your package. Sky TV is extortionate!! Digiturks basic package, currently 26 lira pm, will provide you with a superb selection of around 100 channels, a lot of which are Turkish but you also get National Geographic, NatGeo Wild, History, Reality, BBC Prime, CNBCe and all the major news channels plus 3 good film channels. Some big budget films are available but if you want full access to all the major film channels, the cost goes up to around 62 lira per month. DO NOT bother with Hotbird. It is expensive and the channels are continually being scrambled.
Working in Turkey
Forget it! Obtaining a work permit in Turkey is not easy and can take 1-3 years. If you are intending to apply for a work permit from the ministry of labour, you will need a letter or employment contract from your UK employer, along with your passport, tax numbers and your Ikamet Kah. You are unlikely to be granted a permit working for a Turkish company, as you are seen to be taking employment from a Turkish citizen. I would not recommend anybody working illegally in Turkey, as they will probably revoke your residency status and throw you out for a minimum of one year. Most of the work permits granted to UK citizens relate to the property and tourist sector. For any other sector, things are far easier if you have a Turkish partner you can trust and you are investing yourself with the prospect of creating employment for local people. Even this has its problems, as you are only supposed to supervise your staff and staff have to be employed at the rate of 3 Turks to 1 foreigner. My advice is, DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, go into business with a Turk, unless you trust them implicitly. We have heard so many terrible stories from people who have lost thousands of pounds at the hands of unscrupulous Turkish partners. I'm sure there are many reputable entrepreneurs here but the bad eggs spoil it for the genuine ones. The latest news is that, as of 18 months ago, one can apply for a Turkish passport and hold both, as there is an agreement between UK and Turkey. You can do this after 5 years of unbroken residence (excluding holidays). The conditions are no criminal record and a requirement to hold a conversation in Turkish. Once you are a Turkish citizen, you can legally work.
The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira but the Euro, Pound and Dollar are widely accepted and you will frequently find things priced only in Euros. We urge you to boycott all businesses pricing solely in Euros, as they only do so to rip off the tourists. The Turkish Government are aware of this vile practice and one minister wants it stopped, after all, when did Turkey join the Euro? Currently, you get around 2.8 lira for £1.
You can use your UK mobile phone in Turkey but beware the sky-high roaming charges. If you wish to use your mobile phone in Turkey, make sure you contact your UK service provider to ensure you have roaming enabled. Your best bet is to buy another telephone and get yourself a Turkish Sim card. This can be purchased at the airport as you leave departures. Your Sim card will include some free units (Kontors) and subsequent top-ups can be purchased from many shops as and when you require. One text message sent within Turkey is 2 units and a text to UK is 3 or 4 units. If you are going to live here, go straight onto ‘Super Tariff’ as the savings in call charges is massive. When you come to live in Turkey, make sure you bring proof of purchase for your mobile phone or it will not work with a Turkish SIM card for more than 2 or 3 weeks. BE SURE to produce this at a Turkcell 'Extra' shop within 30 days of arrival in Turkey, along with your passport. They will take all your personal details (passport photocopy) and generally connect you within 2-3 days. You can bring a new UK purchased mobile phone once a year to Turkey but you must register it within 30 days of your last date stamp.
Healthcare in Turkey is nothing like the UK and you would be strongly advised to take out health insurance, as the alternative of jumping on a plane to use the NHS may be a little inconvenient with a raging toothache or broken limb. It can be purchased for about 75% less than private UK healthcare and is dependent on your health to start with. Dentists and Doctors are very good and are used to dealing with ex-pats in the tourist areas. A visit and prescription can be anything from £5 to £30. Generally, you cannot fault the service and treatment in private hospitals in Turkey. Health tourism is also becoming very popular and many ex-pats come for breast augmentation, facelifts, dental treatment etc and combine it with a holiday. Be aware that the age limit for joining a private healthcare system is 64 but once you are in it, you can renew your policy every year, albeit at increased rates due to age increases.
It is possible to use the local state hospitals and although people poke fun, they are more than adequate if your life needs saving. I have spoken to a few people who have used them and they have nothing but the highest regard, the only problem being the language.
Turkey does not have the same strict procedures for importing pets and bringing dogs and cats is not a problem. Vets are fairly abundant and slightly cheaper than in the UK. If you bring a pet, PLEASE ensure it is neutered or speyed,
The most commonly used language in Turkey, other than Turkish, is German and a surprisingly high number of Turks speak fluent German. There are a few areas, such as Fethiye, where English takes precedent over German. The favoured language everywhere is obviously Turkish and you will score a lot of brownie points with the local people if you make an effort to learn their language. It is a difficult language to learn but very gratifying to go into a shop or restaurant and order in Turkish. The Turkish will do everything to help you learn if you show willing and naturally, if you intend to live in Turkey, it is good manners to speak the language. A highly recommended Turkish language course is RosettaStone and although it is not the cheapest, it is superior in its teaching methods to any other course I have ever seen.
Making Your Home/Project Management
Once you have purchased a property, whether for rental or permanent residency for yourself, whether you have bought off-plan (planning stage only), re-sale or a new build, at some stage you will need to think about fitting out your home. If it is off-plan, you will have plenty of time to think about it. If it is a re-sale, you will probably want to put your own ‘stamp’ on your home. If it is a new build, you will need to arrange the fitting of your interior. One thing is for sure, which ever of the above applies, it will be difficult to oversee work on the property if you are still in the UK, after all, ‘What the eye doesn’t see…’etc! I can provide you with a complete Project Management Service and I will oversee all aspects of the renovation or redecoration. This includes making sure they use the correct materials for the job. Waterproof grout on the terraces and in wet rooms, silicone sealer around door and window frames, toilet pans and sinks, making sure that exterior rendering is bone dry before waterproofing and painting, checking the insulation on the roof after water tank installation, mess cleaned up before the workmen leave and making sure the ceramics and marble work is done properly. I will decline any commissions offered by service and material providers and ensure the savings are passed on to you. Never allow the estate agents to fit out your new home without talking to me first. Some estate agents will use cheap materials and labour but you will not get the savings. I have been there, I know!
Not being a golfer, I can’t be too enthusiastic on the subject. What I can tell you is that the Mediterranean Coast in Turkey will become a golfer’s paradise. Golf courses are springing up everywhere. Belek is famous for its championship golf courses and most of the hotels in that area are specifically geared towards the golfing community.
If there is anything else you would like to see added to this page that may help other people, please let me know and I will add it.