The Guide To Living On Turkey’s Turquoise Coast As An Expat

An insider guide on living in the Turkish Riviera offering firsthand knowledge of expat life in this region of Turkey.

The Turquoise Coast, also known popularly as the Turkish Riviera, is an area of southwest Turkey that includes the provinces of Antalya and Mugla, Aydin, southern Izmir and western Mersin. 

The Turquoise Coast is prime sun-and-sea territory. In this guide, we will talk about the pros and cons of living here as an expat.

Is living on the Turquoise Coast a good idea?

This region on the Aegean and Mediterranean Coasts in Turkey has a lot to offer expats looking for a relaxed lifestyle.

The map of the Turquoise Coast
The map of the Turquoise Coast, Turkey.

The combination of a favourable climate, warm sea, mountainous scenery, fine beaches and abundant natural and archaeological points of interest makes this stretch of Turkey’s coastline a popular national and international tourist destination. 

This is Turkey at its most staggeringly beautiful: sandy sweeps of shore hug a coastline lapped by jade waters and backed by forest-blanketed slopes.

Among the archaeological points of interest are two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: The ruins of the Mausoleum of Maussollos in Halicarnassus and the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus.

The coastline is especially regarded as a cultural trove that provides background on a fascinating mixture of factual and mythological individuals, conflicts and events, and has frequently been referred to in the folklore of various cultures throughout history.

Covering a massive 1,000 km of shoreline along the Aegean and Mediterranean waters, this large area has a lifestyle for everyone.

It’s an economic hub and is generally considered a very wealthy area of Turkey.

Turks especially prefer to live in this area of their country because of its liberal politics and lifestyle. People in Turkey looking for a western lifestyle, where they can dress and live as they wish, party, drink and enjoy the sun while increasing their income, tend to flock to the shores of the Turquoise Coast.

The Turquoise Coast - Marmaris
Marmaris, a port city and tourist resort on the Mediterranean coast, along the shoreline of the Turkish Riviera.

The area has some big powerhouse cities, including Izmir, Bodrum, Antalya and Kusadasi, meaning all the benefits of living in a major city are easy to find. In particular, Izmir is the third-largest city in Turkey.

With the meeting of the Aegean and the Mediterranean surrounded by olive groves and rolling hills, the lifestyle here is relaxed with plenty of activities in both a city setting and in the countryside.

Outdoor activities are common, and thanks to being in the Aegean micro-climate, the excellent weather makes it possible to spend lots of time outdoors in summer and winter.

Sitting in an outdoor cafe, exercising on the beach and visiting ancient sites are activities that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

For the fans of winter sports and ski resorts, the ski slopes of Denizli are a popular destination in winter.

People here work to live, they don’t live to work. With several big cities and lots of space outdoors to explore, life here is all about working hard, making money, and enjoying your life.

The area has a combination of totally unspoilt, traditional villages where you can explore the local culture, and then some places are packed full of expats and second-home owners. You can find large expat populations in cities like Kusadasi, Didim, Bodrum and Antalya.

The pros and cons of living on the Turquoise Coast

Like most places, there are many pros and cons to living on the Turquoise Coast. Some people love it, some don’t, and realistically, you need to work out what you want and what you are willing to sacrifice.

The Turquoise Coast - Bodrum peninsula
Turgutreis, the second largest town on the Bodrum peninsula in Muğla, boasts 5 kilometres of sandy beaches and a beautiful waterfront with restaurants and bars.

But if you’re looking to narrow down your options and want the lowdown on the pros and cons of living on the Turquoise Coast, here’s everything you need to know.

The pros of living on the Turquoise Coast

1. The outdoor lifestyle here is the best in Turkey

There really is something for everyone. There are wild national parks and protected areas, the Aegean sea, the Mediterranean sea, valleys, gorges and more. If you like being outside and exploring, this area can’t be beaten. 

2. It’s a prosperous area

This area is an economic powerhouse producing a large part of the Turkish GDP. There are a vast number of industries that are always hiring like tourism, real estate, textile, automotive and electronics. If you want to work when you move, you’ll have no problem finding a job.

3. Good amenities and infrastructure

With so many people working hard and producing so much for the country, the area has fantastic public services and infrastructure.

If you need something or want to travel, it’s not going to be complicated. The airports in Izmir, Bodrum and Antalya are international airports with direct flights to many European destinations.

All the cities in the region are interconnected with modern roads and you can usually catch a bus going anywhere in Turkey upon your arrival at the bus terminal.

Hospitals in the region are top-notch with highly educated medical specialists and the latest medical equipment.

4. High quality of life

The quality of life in this region is one of the highest in Turkey. Everything from food, culture, public services, outdoor hobbies, and friendly locals makes the Turquoise Coast very popular.

The Turquoise Coast - Dilek national park
Dilek National Park not far from Kusadasi with fine beaches, paths and all the facilities you need for a great day out.

5. Affordable cost of living

Although the country is going through an inflationary period, the cost of living remains very affordable compared to other destinations in Europe.

If you receive a salary or a pension in dollars, pounds or euros, you will find that your cost of living is very advantageous compared to what it would be in your home country.

6. Lack of bureaucracy

Getting your residency permit is a very quick and painless process.

You will only need to show that you have Turkish private medical insurance coverage if you are under the age of 65 (the annual cost of this coverage is around $30) and that you have a rental contract or a title deed for a property.

You can find all the options regarding your health cover in our guide Health Insurance For Expats In Turkey.

Buying property in Turkey is also a very easy process. Taxes on the sale or purchase of property are very low and the yearly taxes on property rarely surpass $50.

The cons of living in the Turquoise Coast Region

1. Lots of tourists

Some parts of the region can be very touristy, especially the beaches in summer. It’s best to visit the specific area you want to live in at different times of the year to see if it is too touristy for your liking. 

The Turquoise Coast - Denizli
Ski lovers will love these chalets and winter accommodation houses in the Bagbasi plateau in Denizli.

2. The weather can get very hot in summer

Although the cities on the Turquoise Coast enjoy a favourable microclimate where winters are not too cold and summers are not too hot, some cities like Antalya can see temperatures rising to the mid 40° Celcius.

You can expect temperatures in the Summer to vary between 32° and 45° Celcius depending on the month and your location on the Turquoise Coast.

3. Political instability

Turkish politics today is more unstable than at any time in recent years. Serious economic problems have resulted from political decisions made by the ruling party.

The proximity of Turkey to nations such as Syria, Iran, Iraq and Ukraine is another factor of political and economic instability. 

4. Seasonal variations in the job and rental market

Lots of work here is seasonal. The local population works during the summer months, with the official tourism season going from April 25 to October 25.

Winter is a quieter season when most shops and hotels close. If you plan to seek employment in the tourism sector, you can expect to make most of your earnings for the year during the summer.

5. Language barrier

Most older expats attempt to learn Turkish, but often say they struggle. Should you need to venture into official offices for things like residency permits, or into the hospitals, you need a translator.

How much does it cost to live on the Turquoise Coast?

Arguably the biggest upside to living on the Turquoise Coast is the cost of living.

With the current exchange rate, expatriates who receive a pension or foreign income in USD or a different currency get more Turkish lira than ever before thanks to the high exchange rate. It’s no wonder that Turkey is a hot spot for digital nomads and retirees looking for cheaper living.

The Turquoise Coast - Bodrum
Yalikavak Marina in Bodrum

Depending on your lifestyle, you can spend between $1,000 to $1,500 per month while living on the Turquoise Coast.

You will need to set aside about $250 – $500 for rent depending on the type of space you wish to rent.

With $250 you can rent a comfortable apartment, while $500 can get you a villa.

You will need a minimum of $100 for your electricity bill; $10 for home internet; between $3 – $10 for mobile minutes and data; and about $30 for water and utilities. 

The price of food will vary according to whether you choose to cook most of your meals or eat outside. With only $5 you can enjoy a meal in a local restaurant.

Local farmers’ markets are a great place to buy fruits and vegetables. With $20 you can buy all the fruits and vegetables you need for a week. The local climate offers a variety of fruits and vegetables according to the changing seasons.

Where to live on the Turquoise Coast

Being an economic powerhouse in Turkey, the cities of the Turquoise Coast offer a quality of life that can’t be matched by other areas in Turkey or even in Europe.

Living in this region offers access to all the amenities offered by big cities like access to airports, transportation systems, financial institutions, medical institutions, universities and cultural centres, shopping malls and expat communities, while being on an exotic beach setting and enjoying a relaxed lifestyle.

The cities of the Turquoise Coast offer the best of both worlds.

1. Izmir

Izmir is the biggest city on the Turquoise Coast and the third biggest city in Turkey after Istanbul and Ankara. It is an important economic hub and as such has got a great national and international airport and is a popular cruise port.

The proximity of Izmir to coastal vacation towns like Cesme, Alacati, Foca and Kusadasi makes it possible to alternate between a big city setting and a smaller beach town setting. Being in Izmir offers endless opportunities for weekend travels.

2. Antalya

Antalya is Turkey’s largest city in the Mediterranean.

In addition to being the best nightlife and shopping scene in the southern part of Turkey, it hosts two of Turkey’s most famous beaches: Lara and Konyaalti.

With the Kaleiçi district at Antalya’s core, you have one of Turkey’s best-preserved old towns. This neighbourhood of Ottoman-period mansions leading down to a Roman-era harbour, with views that swoop across the jagged, mountainous coastline, provides enough tourist attractions in itself.

Antalya also sits on the doorstep of many major archaeological sites. Aspendos, Perge, Side, and Termessos are just a day trip from town.

You will find more details on expat life in Antalya including the cost of living and the best areas, in our guide What It’s Like Living In Antalya, Turkey as An Expat.

3. Fethiye

Fethiye is a small city of 100,000 and is one of Turkey’s most popular places to visit along the Mediterranean coast.

The Turquoise Coast - the blue lagoon
The famous blue lagoon is just half an hour’s drive from Fethiye.

It offers plenty of outdoor activities for expats interested in sailing, paragliding, yachting and boat trips.

Fethiye is a major yachting destination. The harbour here is also the departure point for Turkey’s most famous sailing itinerary: the three-night Blue Cruise, which takes in some of the best coastal panoramas along this stretch of coast.

Fethiye is also the closest city to the famous beaches of Oludeniz and Butterfly Valley.

4. Alanya

Alanya is by far one of the fastest-growing places for tourism and expat retirement in Turkey.

This city has experienced a real estate boom in recent years with the development of numerous real estate projects. Because of these recent developments, the prices of real estate in Alanya are relatively low compared to other cities on the Turquoise Coast.

5. Kusadasi

Kusadasi is a personal favourite with many Irish and UK expats who live in this growing seaside town throughout the year.

The Turquoise Coast - Kusadasi
Kusadasi on the Aegean Sea in Turkey – the promenade and waterfront.

Kusadasi has the advantage of being one of the lesser talked expat resorts meaning that prices in this town are still affordable to expats who live on a budget.

It’s also 45 minutes away from Izmir’s International Airport, being a major Aegean coastal port and offering the opportunity for various outdoor activities. You can find out more in our guide The Pros And Cons Of Living In Kusadasi.

Final thoughts on living on the Turquoise Coast

The Turquoise Coast region has a lot to offer. From bustling cities to tiny remote villages, vineyards, olive groves, ski resorts, wildlife parks, a beautiful coastline and more.

If you want to move to Turkey as an expat, the Turquoise Coast region is the perfect place to start looking for your dream home.

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Lila Sanders
Lila Sanders

Lila is a freelance writer from New York City who is now based in Kusadasi, Turkey.

Lila has a passion for travel, discovering new cultures and learning new languages. She has lived in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France, Egypt and Turkey.

Lila is fluent in English, French, Arabic and Turkish.

After traveling on 5 continents and over 20 countries, Lila decided to settle in Turkey in order to focus on her writing career. When she is not working, Lila helps the local animal rescue association look after street animals.

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