What to Know Before Renting a Place in Turkey as an Expat
Turkey, with its great history, scenery, and culture, can be an excellent choice for spending your life at. Whether you are a student who tries to study at one of Turkey’s vast number of prestigious universities or you are someone who has recently retired and wants to have a happy and calm life after years of work at one of Turkey’s gorgeous seaside towns near the Mediterranean or Aegean coasts. Or you just want to embrace the thousands of years of culture that Anatolia has to offer and willing to spend years staying here. These are all excellent choices, but after that comes another very important choice and that is to choose the right home to spend your time in. Whether it is the bigger cities such as İstanbul, Antalya, and Ankara, or smaller and calmer cities such as Muğla, Alanya, and so on, Turkey has a lot of options for a lot of price points, and in this blog, we would like to give you the important information you need in order to find the right place for the right price.
The budget one needs in order to live comfortably in Turkey varies between cities and neighbourhoods. But when compared to other European options, one can argue that it is fairly easy to live in Turkey with a not-so-big budget. According to data provided by Numbeo, a single person's estimated monthly costs without rent is only 312.85€. If you are a retired ex-pat this is still a big difference when compared to other Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Cyprus. But what about the average rent price? They too vary a lot between cities and neighbourhoods. It is useful to have some divisions in terms of types of cities and reasons for staying in order to have a better grasp of the price range. Because comparing the rent of a flat from Istanbul’s Bebek neighbourhood and the rent of a house in a village in Izmir is, to say the least, time-wasting.
Big, metropolitan areas of big cities in Turkey such as Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir have relatively higher rent compared to smaller parts. Average rent in Istanbul is 15₺/m2 but in metropolitan areas of Istanbul such as Beşiktaş (27₺/m2) and Kadıköy (20₺/m2) or even Bakırköy (24₺/m2) can go much higher in terms of rent. These aforementioned areas are the most modern and lively areas of the city, and possibly the country, so these examples are not to be generalized for the entire country or even the entire city. In Ankara, the capital, for example, the general rent is only 11₺/m2. Ankara is not a typical choice for ex-pats, however, it is a nice comparison to make in order to demonstrate the differences between cities. Izmir, one of the big three cities, is somewhat different from the other two. It has its own unique blend of coastal calm villages, metropolitan areas with universities, and “Antalya-esque” vacation spots that are mostly preferred by local tourists. This means that one can have the chance to actually go to their commute or school on the weekdays and have a two-day holiday on the weekends. It is still not as expensive as Istanbul, though. Metropolitan areas are usually 17-20₺/m2 and Çeşme, the most famous vacation spot in the city, is the most expensive with 25₺/m2. These are, of course, big city numbers. One can also want to enjoy warmer weather, and there are also excellent options other than these big cities too.
Fethiye, Didim, Kalkan, Bodrum, Antalya… These are the names of towns and cities that are both very touristic and calm all year round. The added benefit, for the ex-pats, is that there is a considerable amount of ex-pat population living in these places, particularly British. This means that these places are melting pots of British and Turkish cultures, which are themselves also melting pots of many other ones. There are famous historical sites that predate Turkish or even Byzantian empires nearby too. So living in these towns is both calming, affordable, and culturally enriching. It is always important to note, though, that there are also luxury housing sites that can actually be at par, in terms of rent, with their European counterparts. This means that even though there are affordable options, there are options that are targeted towards higher-class consumers too. It is up to the person to choose the best option for their budget. After talking about the most popular places for ex-pats to live in Turkey, there is now an even more important question: How to find the right place and rent it?
Because of the current situation, given there is a global pandemic, it may be hard to just roam around and look for flats walking or driving. Even if there wasn't a pandemic, it is still harder for ex-pats to look for and rent an apartment or house using traditional methods such as just walking and searching or visiting a real estate agency (which are usually not professional enough or adequate enough for the wants and needs of ex-pats) or as we call them in Turkey, “Emlakçı”. If there is no other option than to negotiate with a real estate agent, it is best to have a Turkish person with you or let them talk for you because more usual than not the case is that because you are an ex-pat, you will be treated with a higher rent or rent with different currencies which can result in a much different number than you’d expect for rent. The other more accessible and easier option is to use online websites or applications. Airbnb is a very famous website and can be used for vacation rentals even though there can be a little bit higher pricing than usual, given the fact that it is widely used as a way of renting a place for a smaller amount of time and in Turkey, ex-pats prefer it more (even though this idea changes day to day and it is becoming much more accessible to local people as well). This means that you still can choose Airbnb for renting out a place for a longer period of time, but it can cost more. Turkish people, when they look for a new apartment or house or basically anything, they use Sahibinden.com. It is a very famous Turkish website and mobile app that is used for buying and selling all types of second-hand goods but more importantly for real estate. You can set the price range however you want, change and choose the city and the neighborhood you want, the type of house you want, the number of rooms or even details such as whether you want it with furniture or not. Turkish people mostly have houses that are not furnished and if somebody rents that place they need to buy everything, but it is not always the case. You can also see the detailed pictures of the place and also the exact location from a map. You can also negotiate by chatting from the app itself or call the owner or the landlord. But in order for it to go as smoothly as possible, you might still need to have someone who is a native speaker of Turkish. There is also a very old-school and outdated way of searching for rentals which are using the rental pages in newspapers and looking for listings but you still need to have at least basic knowledge of the Turkish language in order to understand and negotiate the prices. One other important piece of information is that negotiation is very important and the price in the listing is almost never the actual price that you’ll pay as rent. But the better you are at Turkish and negotiation, the lower the price will be. Bills and utilities are also mostly not included in rent and there may be some additional monthly fees too, so beware of them when you plan your budget. But again, given the current currency rates, these may not be a dealbreaker.
To summarize, Turkey has its own unique features for someone that may want to live there. The history, the food, the hospitality, the beaches, the universities, the culture, the weather… you name it! But in order to make the most out of it, one should plan out the budget, the location, the type of housing they want to stay in, and how they will find such a place. It is also a good idea to have at least some basic level Turkish in order to not have any misunderstandings during the contract period and negotiation period. Before making any concrete decisions, one should also research a more detailed list of the cost of living in Turkey and also the currency rates so that there won’t be any last-minute problems. It is always good to see someone, who spent the majority of their lives in another country, choose Turkey as their last resort. Because of this or any other reason, if you want to spend time living here, we are always welcome.