The 7 Best Places To Live In Turkey That Expats Love

From Istanbul to the most popular coastal locations perfectly suited for retirement in the sun - here's an overview of where to live in Turkey.

Turkey has long been a popular holiday destination for those seeking sun, good food, and interesting culture.

As a result, it’s unsurprising that it offers all this and more for those wanting to relocate permanently.

While some of its larger cities have taken on a more modern, metropolitan vibe, there are plenty of places that retain their classic Turkish charm.

Turkey offers an attractive prospect for expats because of its low cost of living and cultural variety. If this sounds ideal, here are the best places to live in Turkey.

1. Istanbul – the professional expat’s choice

For those seeking employment, particularly in the world of business, Istanbul is definitely one of the best places to live in Turkey. It’s the country’s historic, economic, and cultural sector, which is why it’s so good for business.

Best places to live in Turkey
Beyoglu district in Istanbul.

Istanbul would also be a good choice for digital nomads because you’ll likely find the best internet services here.

The cost of living is higher here than elsewhere in Turkey for obvious reasons, but you can get around this by looking in suburbs and commuting to work.

It has everything you could need from a metropolitan space of this kind: vibrant nightlife, plenty of shopping, excellent local and international schools, and, of course, attractions like the Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque, and more.

The weather is good in Istanbul and doesn’t get too hot in the summer (it usually peaks around 24 C). It does get cold in the winter, though, and it’s not uncommon to see snow.

If business isn’t your bag, it won’t be difficult to find work teaching English or in a similar profession. Plus, if you don’t have much in the way of Turkish language proficiency, living in Istanbul will be a good choice because a lot of the population speak English.

2. Antalya – tourism-related business opportunities and retirement

Antalya is a well-known tourist destination and would be ideal for anyone thinking of setting up a business like a restaurant or a hotel. Of course, this will mean the work is seasonal, but it offers good opportunities nonetheless.

Best places to live in Turkey
This amphitheatre in the Antalya park is a part of more than 25 km of scenic waterfront path running along the Gulf of Antalya.

The city itself is clean and safe and sees weekly food markets, which help keep the cost of living down. If you’re thinking of working, the city will be a better choice due to its superior internet speeds and public transport network.

The Antalya coastline would be a great choice for retirees. It offers plenty for lifestyle seekers, such as natural beauty spots, fishing villages, and great countryside walks. As you’d expect, all of this is supported by amazing restaurants and some good shopping opportunities.

In fact, if you’re into outdoor activities, you can attempt to tackle the Antalya to Fatty route, which is one of the world’s longest single trails. At 320 miles, it might take you a few hits to do the whole thing.

Within the Antalya province you’ll find two of Turkey’s best beaches: Konyaalti and Lara. There are also plenty of hidden gems that don’t generate as much interest from tourists.

As it’s located on the Mediterranean coast, you’ll benefit from a warmer climate and far less drastic temperature spikes. It often peaks around 28 C in the summer while it rarely drops below 10 C in the winter.

Living in the city or its outskirts will cost more than living elsewhere in the Antalya district, but a family could still live comfortably in the city for less than you’d expect. The coastal region is one of the most popular areas in Turkey for house sales to foreign retirees, and it’s easy to see why.

3. Bodrum – high-class living

Bodrum quickly boomed into something of a high-class city thanks to its association in the 1960s with foreign artists and writers.

Best places to live in Turkey
Yalikavak Marine in Bodrum.

Nowadays it’s become a popular tourist destination, particularly with celebrities. In the past, the likes of Kate Moss, Bill Gates, Nicole Kidman and Tom Hanks have all been spotted here.

There are plenty of more rustic destinations ideal for retirement within the larger district, such as Gumusluk, Turkbuku, and Gumbet. The last is particularly suitable for those interested in water sports.

The city itself is arguably “ritzier” than the surrounding areas but it’s also more popular with tourists. There are plenty of mega-hotels along the coast, but you’ll eventually find some amazing bargains on houses and villas if you look hard enough.

The Gumusluk International Classical Music Festival held in Bodrum annually is worth a separate mention. It attracts plenty of talented musicians from all over the world as well as classical music lovers. The festival takes place in the magnificent 2500-year-old Antique Koyunbaba Stone Quarry

Bodrum is located on the Aegean and its temperatures reach some pretty staggering highs. Its average summer temperature is 34 C but it’s been known to reach 45 C! Winters bottom out at a mild 15 C, so it’s a good choice if you don’t like the cold.

The city will be a good choice if you’re looking to work or raise a family because you’ll be close to the necessary amenities. But if you’re looking for somewhere a bit more rural for your retirement, there are plenty of options in the larger district.

4. Bursa – the city of heritage

Many westerners prefer the west side of Turkey because it’s considered more cosmopolitan. But if you want a taste of the real Turkey, somewhere like Burse is perfect.

Best places to live in Turkey
These traditional houses in Bursa are part of UNESCO world heritage.

In the 14th century, it was the second capital of the Ottoman Empire, and it hasn’t lost its connection with this heritage. The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its concentration of Ottoman architecture. There are plenty of mausoleums, palaces, and mansions worth checking out.

But, considering it’s a city, it also has plenty of green spaces. It’s known locally as Green Bursa because of the local government’s push to preserve natural spaces, including parks and forests. This makes it a good family destination because it doesn’t feel too urban.

One surprising bonus you’ll find here that’s arguably a rarity in Turkey is skiing. The city’s skyline is dominated by Uludag Mountain, which houses a ski resort. So, if you fancy living in Turkey but don’t want to give up your winter sports, this might be the place for you.

The housing market is particularly favourable for younger expats and those with families because the city was quite late in developing it. This means house prices are still incredibly low and are ideal for first-time buyers.

The weather in Bursa typically peaks around 31 C in summer and drops to around 10 C in winter. A major benefit of having a mountain so close is that you can easily go for a short drive to a comfortable altitude if the weather gets too hot.

While it might not be your employment area of choice, Bursa is Turkey’s main hub for automotive production. It’s home to factories for Kia and Renault, along with factories for companies like Bosch and Coca-Cola. In short, it’s always got plenty of employment opportunities.

One potential drawback is that Bursa isn’t home to any specific international schools. It’s far more in touch with its traditional heritage than places further west and pretty much every school teaches in Turkish.

However, if you already have some Turkish under your belt and are willing to learn, Bursa offers a completely different taste of national culture than what you might be used to.

5. Izmir – perfect for retirement

If retirement is the purpose of your relocation to Turkey, you won’t do much better than Izmir. It’s one of the largest cities in Turkey and has all the amenities you’d expect to come with such a title.

Best places to live in Turkey
Izmir is best known as the most Western-oriented Turkish city

Importantly, it’s got great national and international transport links and is a popular cruise port. The city itself features plenty of pedestrian routes if you don’t feel like taking the bus anywhere.

Along with the city is the Izmir metropolitan area. This includes plenty of smaller towns that might be more suited to retirement lifestyle. Luckily, they’re still well connected to the city itself.

Izmir is located on the Aegean Sea and so comes with all the benefits you’d expect. These include plenty of watersports, sailing opportunities, and a good climate.

In the summer, it typically reaches 33 C at its height and drops to around 13 C in the winter. It can get a bit rainy in the colder months but this makes a welcome change from the drier summer months.

If you fancy coastal living away from the city, popular expat destinations include Cesme and Foca, or somewhere like Alacati (Turkey’s surfing capital) is a good choice if you want to be active.

Providing you’re happy to do some searching, you’ll come across some attractive property prices, too. And, as Izmir is often labelled as one of the most westernised areas of Turkey, communicating with estate agents will be much easier than elsewhere.

6. Alanya – fast-growing hotspot

Alanya is a city and province located on the south coast of Turkey on the Mediterranean. It’s roughly 133km from Antalya and is one of the fastest-growing expat destinations.

Best places to live in Turkey
A very impressive medieval castle, amazing beaches and mountains perfect for an active outdoor lifestyle, and a very appealing cost of living – that’s what you get if you move to Alanya.

Although a city, Alanya is a fairly small one. Importantly, this means it has plenty of rural-feeling suburbs that offer some very attractive property prices. Places like Mahmutlar are even some of the lowest in Turkey.

It’s a good choice for those seeking an active lifestyle because it’s got plenty of walking spots and, of course, plenty of watersports. There are also numerous annual festivals, including a jazz festival and an international culture festival.

A surprisingly large portion of the province’s population consists of expats from various countries, many of whom move there in retirement. As of the most recent census, more than 17,000 expats own property in the city.

Many are likely drawn to Alanya by its combination of rural areas, good amenities, low property prices and good international connections. In short, Alanya has almost everything you could need from a Turkish retirement destination.

7. Marmaris – a sea lover’s dream

Marmaris is located in southwest Turkey on the Turkish Riviera. As you’d expect from such a title, it comes with a certain sense of exclusivity and lifestyle that can only be found in other Rivieras.

Best places to live in Turkey
A quiet residential area in Marmaris.

The city is a national hub for sailing and diving and is a popular choice as a wintering location for boaters. It has numerous beaches and small marinas that are ideal for keeping a boat in.

But if you fancy more land-based activities, Marmaris has you covered for those, too. There are options for bike riding, safari tours, climbing, canoeing, and much more to keep you active.

The area has a great natural history, too. One particular highlight is Nimara Cave on Heaven Island, which is just off the coast of Marmaris. It was a site of religious worship for thousands of years and is definitely worth a visit.

Marmaris also has lots of historical landmarks, making it perfect for history lovers. It was a key site for the Ottoman Empire and plenty of its buildings (such as Marmaris Castle) reflect this.

Of course, the weather is important, and you won’t be disappointed here. Summers can hit the mid-30s and winters usually drop to around 15 C. Winter is the rainy season, but it’s a welcome break from the hot summer.

Marmaris is a tourist hotspot and can see up to 400,000 visitors each year. This may or may not be a good thing depending on your perspective, but it does mean there are opportunities for setting up tourism-related businesses if you wish.

The best places to live in Turkey – summary

Even in the more westernised parts of Turkey, you can expect quite a shift in culture. All but the most tourism-heavy areas retain their language and lifestyle, and it’s important to do plenty of research to ensure it’ll be a good fit for you.

But no matter whether you’re looking at Turkey for retirement or work, there are plenty of ideal places to choose from.

One ideal way to find out the right answers to your questions is to reach out to expats in the country. Turkey is a surprisingly friendly place and this is true for both locals and expats.

So, locate some expat communities, travel around the country for a while, and maybe consider renting a place or two to get a proper feel for the area.

This isn’t necessarily a decision to take lightly seeing as you’re looking for a permanent destination. But, with the right preparation, you’ll be sure to have an amazing new life in Turkey.

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Jacob Powell
Jacob is a freelance writer based in Swansea, Wales. He lives with his partner and two dogs, Merlin and Matilda. After gaining his BA and MA in English Literature, Jacob decided to take his writing full time. He writes for Expatra alongside a number of other regular clients. After his parents emigrated to France in January 2020, Jacob has a special interest in all things expat related and even plans to retire abroad himself someday.
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