Working in Turkey as a Foreigner

work in turkey
, work in turkey as a foreigner
Emre 2021-05-21

Turkey is a developing country. And room for development means room for opportunity. If you would like to become a part of this growing economy as a foreigner, you are lucky! Whether you would like to become a world-renowned chef in one of Turkey’s excellent restaurants or become a business owner and open up your own restaurant or café, whether you would like to take your talents elsewhere and become a professor, a doctor, or basically anything! The options are endless. But of course, this decision brings a lot of additional questions to the table: How much does an X make in Turkey? Do I have to have a work permit? How can I get my work permit in Turkey? How long does it last? How can I start my own business as a foreigner in Turkey? How much does living cost in Turkey in general?... The questions are endless, and this guide may help you understand and learn the basics. 

First of all, the most important aspect of working in a foreign country: Work Permit. Without a work permit, it is not possible to work in another country, and Turkey is no exception. But luckily, Turkey has a unique system that rewards hard-working people; Turquoise System. It is similar to a Green Card in the USA, a merit-based system that gives foreigners who would want to work in Turkey whether as a scientist, an athlete, an artist or an exceptional person who can be an asset for Turkey, you can have indefinite Work Permit and even citizenship rights. 

Who will be eligible for Turquoise Card?

  • Those who are considered to be a highly qualified workforce in terms of their education level, wage, professional knowledge and experience, contribution to science and technology, and similar qualifications 
  • Those who are accepted as highly qualified investors in terms of their investment or export level, employment, etc. 
  • Scientists or researchers who contribute to scientific and technological development, and conduct studies and researches that are internationally strategic 
  • Those who are successful in terms of cultural, artistic, or sportive activities at the international level 
  • Those who contribute to the international recognition or promotion of Turkey or Turkish culture, and operate at the international level in matters related to Turkey's national interests. 
Turquoise Card<br>

Rights and obligations that are given to cardholders: 

  • They will have an indefinite work permit
  • They will be exempt from military service
  • They will not be able to benefit from the right to elect and be elected
  • They will be subject to the legislation applicable to Turkish citizens regarding residence, travel, work, investment, commercial activity in Turkey
  • At the end of the three-year transition period, they and their relatives will be able to acquire Turkish citizenship, provided that there is no obstacle in terms of national security and public order.

  For a more detailed and definite answer, it is advised to search to-date advice from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

   At the end of the three-year transition period, they and their relatives will be able to acquire Turkish citizenship, provided that there is no obstacle in terms of national security and public order. For a more detailed and definite answer, it is advised to search to-date advice from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.   

Average salaries of various professions in Turkey

As is the case in every other country, salaries will vary in Turkey, between different careers, different positions, and different qualifications. A person working in Turkey typically earns around 7,830 TRY per month. Salaries range from 1,980 TRY (lowest average) to 35,000 TRY (highest average, the actual maximum salary is higher). Speaking one or more foreign languages can also mean an increase in your salary too! Which is almost always the case for foreign workers. In addition to speaking a foreign language, employees in Turkey are likely to observe a salary increase of approximately 8% every 18 months. If we look at the top 10 highest-paying careers, it will not be such a shock. According to data, doctors in Turkey are the highest paid profession, averaging 29,100 TRY a month. CEOs are also well paid, with a 17,500 TRY average salary. CFOs (16,300 TRY), orthodontists (15,700 TRY), college professors (14,000 TRY), and marketing directors (10,500 TRY) are all among the top paid professions that can be fairly open for foreign workers. It is important to once again note that these numbers are average and can be much much more with time and experience.    

Average costs of living in Turkey

In addition to these high qualification jobs, there is also a very open market for foreign workers in fields such as tourism and hospitality too. But with living and working in Turkey comes living expenses. We have already covered how to rent, prices, and the basic cost of living in Turkey, but it is a little bit of a different story when you consider the fact that you are most likely earning a salary with TRY instead of other currencies. With an average rent of a 1 bedroom flat in the city center being 1,541.71 TRY,  if we have a little bit of equation, we can sum up the cost of monthly living in Turkey as 9,129.65 TRY for someone who is living in Istanbul and having a high standard of living. This means that any of the aforementioned professions can lead to a fairly comfortable life in the heart of the city. This price can be a lot less if you prefer to live in relatively smaller cities of Turkey that also can have the advantage of being a coastal town with sandy beaches and good weather, a win-win situation! With all the details kept the same, the cost of living in is 7,588.84 TRY in İzmir, 6,882.76 TRY in Antalya, and 6,042.74 TRY in Muğla. It is not very expensive to have a high standard of living in Turkey, especially if you have the chance to relocate to a quieter smaller city.    

Cost of living in Turkey's biggest cities<br>

Working in Turkey as a Foreigner 

How and what to buy online in Turkey and prices

In order to have a better understanding of current prices in Turkey, we can get even more detailed. A 3-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant is about 150 TRY. Once every two weeks means that it is 300 TRY a month. With a shopping basket consisting of basic groceries, a kilo or liter each; milk (6.60 TRY), rice (12.53 TRY), minced meat (76.18 TRY), chicken filet (26.96 TRY), cheese (47.76 TRY), apple (6.62 TRY), orange (7.04 TRY), tomato (6.43 TRY), potato (2.97 TRY), onion (2.89 TRY), lettuce (4.79 TRY), etc. all adds up to about 200ish TRY. This means that there is at least 800 TRY worth of grocery shopping every month which can go a lot higher if you are an alcohol or cigarette consumer. The alcohol and tobacco prices being a lot higher because of taxes. These prices can vary, but you can check them out using applications such as Getir and YemekSepeti BanaBi, these are the main applications that deliver groceries which can be very handy when you are busy or just tired. Note that these applications are also food delivery services and prices can be a  bit higher than usual considering the delivery and storage fees.   

Turkish people love shopping online, especially for the last 5-6 years. It is cheaper, easier and there are endless options available. Prices are up due to inflation and exchange rate increases but it is still accessible and usually cheaper than Europe or the US. Trendyol is arguably the biggest online shopping site in Turkey, with its huge catalog and year-round sales, Turkish people love buying their clothes, electronics, and basically everything one can imagine. A basic Nike sneaker in Trendyol can be as low as 300 TRY, and a basic jean and T-shirt combo can be as low as 120 TRY. If you want to have your favorite brand, you can always check their website for new releases too, note that prices on those sites are usually relatively more expensive than Trendyol prices. Fast fashion brands such as H&M, Zara, Bershka, and Pull and Bear are all very popular and they all have reasonable prices. Even though still not in Trendyol’s range, if you can follow the calendar, you can get pretty sweet deals. In addition to those, there are also relatively more budget-friendly Turkish options such as DeFacto and LCWaikiki.  

Even though our current situation makes it harder to travel, work and spend time in another country, it is not forever. When things get back to normal, Turkey still will be waiting for people from all around the world who can contribute to the country’s ever-growing economy. We tried to cover the ways to grant a work permit, which profession earns how much, and the differences in cost of living between different cities. There are more detailed numbers that can be found online, and it is always advised to look at the current laws and regulations. You may find more information about visas for Turkey from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. And if you would like to gain some knowledge in the Turkish language so that you can have a smoother day-to-day life and a successful professional one, try out our classes. 

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