Relocation to Turkey: the Sea Is Warm, and the Medicine Is Top Tier. Potato Pancakes Are Already Here.
How much does it cost to live in Antalya? Why are Ikamet being canceled in some areas? Is it better to own a car or use renting? IT specialists from Belarus, Andrey Nemilov and Katerina Pyko, share their experience of moving to Turkey especially for Anywhere Club.
— Andrey Nemilov, Software Developer at C.T.Co., explains: We made the decision to move at the beginning of March 2022, and were already in Antalya on April 1st. In June 2022, we were planning a wedding. Due to the situation in the world, however, we had to quickly choose a place for relocation and get married before. We considered Poland and Turkey. It is more difficult to legalize in Poland compared to Turkey. Plus, in October 2021, we were in Turkey on vacation, and we really liked it here. Once we decided on Turkey, we chose among three cities: Istanbul, Izmir, and Antalya. We thought: Istanbul is too noisy and crowded; there are difficulties with the issuance of a residence permit in Izmir; and Antalya is a resort city with beautiful nature, a warm sea, and delicious fruits. Our choice was made.
Katerina Pyko, account manager at PandaDoc, picks up the story here: We knew firsthand about Turkey. Coincidentally, we spent our last vacation on the Antalya coast and just fell in love. Plus, the company I work for prepared a whole guide for relocation to Turkey. All of this helped us with the choice of the country, and with understanding where it would be quick and easy to legalize.
— Andrey explains: Turkey is one of the easiest options for Belarusians to legalize. Before flying to Antalya, we booked accommodations through Airbnb for a week, during which we planned to find an apartment for long-term rental. We contacted real estate agents but, three days later, we found an apartment by ourselves - through the site sahibinden.com. Signing a rental agreement is the first thing that a relocator needs to do. On the basis of the rental agreement, everything else is drawn up. Together with the realtor, in one day we signed agreements for electricity, gas, water, and we notarized the lease agreement itself.
Then, the preparation of documents for the Ikamet began. The Ikamet is the identity card of a foreigner living in Turkey. It is a kind of tourist residence permit, or a long-term visa. The documents necessary for submission can be filled out by a specialist for only $20. Approximately another $60 will need to be spent on annual insurance, plus photos. In total, about $100 will be sufficient for all of the documents needed for a residence permit for one person. The Ikamet is being prepared for up to a month now, and it is issued to Belarusians for 3-6 months. It is important to know that an Ikamet does not give you the right to work for a Turkish company. After six months, an Ikamet can be extended using a simplified procedure. Now, however, there is a list of districts where the primary Ikamet will no longer be issued. Our area was just added to this list. This is due to the influx of relocators in Turkey. Real estate rental prices have also risen sharply. At the same time, the average salary for locals is $300. Now, the situation has arisen in which Turkish citizens cannot afford to rent housing in their own country.
A bank account can be opened based on a lease agreement. If you have a lease agreement, but you don’t yet have a residence permit, you can still open an account. Or they may decide not to open it for you. The beauty of Turkey is that if one branch of the bank refuses to open an account for you, you can go to a different branch (of the same bank), and they may open an account for you without any problems.
— Katerina tells us more: An apartment with two bedrooms (a three-room apartment in our understanding) now costs an average of $800-1000 without including utility bills. We hope that prices will be lower at the end of the year. In the off-season, we paid $30 for our utility bills. In the winter, or during the months when air conditioners are running around the clock, they can go up to $100. An issue you may encounter is that some landlords ask you to pay six months or a year of rent immediately – up front – in advance. You need to be prepared for this. We were lucky, no one asked for any money in advance. But you also need to consider the additional cost of a realtor, since the search for an apartment in Turkey is always accompanied by a realtor from one of the parties. You must pay the realtor an amount equal to the cost of one month of rent. A security deposit, usually equal to 1-2 months of rent, has to be provided as well. This money is returned when you leave the apartment, if the apartment is in order.
When renting a home, you also need to consider a very important factor. A few years ago, I was visiting a friend in Turkey and every day at around 6 in the morning, I was awakened by the loud call to prayer. When we were looking for an apartment, we made sure that there were no mosques nearby. This can be a bit difficult: there are many mosques, and they all seem to be nearby.
— Andrey shares: We were surprised that medicine in Turkey is at such a decent level. Medical tourism is very developed here. Cosmetic surgeries in good clinics, with a rehabilitation period in a hotel at the clinic, are several times cheaper than in other countries. I have already managed to meet with a dentist. In a high-level private clinic, I paid $60 for a tooth extraction and cleaning. They say that the insurance that you buy to apply for the Ikamet does not really work, and is only useful for some emergency cases. Better insurance will cost you about $200 per year and, with this better insurance, you can go to the medical center for illness.
— Katerina explains the situation with food: Prices in cafes and restaurants are approximately the same as in Minsk. Seafood prices are lower than in Belarus, and everything is fresher. I really like that in many cafes and restaurants you can choose your own fresh fish, which will be immediately grilled for you. This will be served with vegetables and sauce. The price in a restaurant for such a fish is about $20 per kilogram. In the store, of course, the price of seafood will be lower. Every Saturday, we buy vegetables and fruits at the local market. A huge variety of vegetables, fruits, and herbs are grown here, and this is a major plus! Everything is always fresh and tasty; there are no ‘plastic’ tomatoes here. Prices for vegetables and fruits are much lower, but the quality is higher. Usually, we buy fruits and vegetables for the whole week for $20-25.
I don't eat meat at all, but I do eat fish. For me, living here is paradise - inexpensive fish, and the vegetables and fruits are always fresh and very tasty. I haven't eaten such delicious vegetables in a long time! Andrei likes the local meat dishes. They are always deliciously prepared. In general, the food here is a strong plus.
You should know, however, that Turkey has a very specific taste of coffee. Turks love very hot and bitter coffee. Even a cappuccino will be piping hot everywhere. But we are lucky. Not far from our house, we found a cafe that was recently opened by a Belarusian woman. It has everything that we would miss: cheesecakes, potato pancakes, and delicious coffee!
— The IT community in Antalya has just begun to emerge. To be honest, though, we don’t really focus on this. We heard that there are co-working spaces in Antalya, but since we work from our home office, we did not pay much attention to where they are located or the exact prices. I know that my colleagues often meet in cafes and work together. And a couple of times a month, we meet with colleagues in a bar to share the delights of Turkish life. Recently, we went to Alanya to visit one of our colleagues from PandaDoc. He shared that the IT community is developing faster there - people work together, and organize events and leisure activities. Members of the community opened the coworking space Dottt. Dottt then formed the basis of the Mesto project in Turkey, which helps IT specialists in different parts of the world with relocation. Now, there are 3 co-working spaces in Antalya. The cost is up to $150 per month. They are all located in an area where a large Russian-speaking population lives. You can also meet colleagues there.
— Basically, all of the entertainment here is associated with traveling along the coast. Almost every weekend, we try to get out of the city. We have already found our favorite place — the city of Kas. Kas is an atypical Turkish town — there are no all-inclusive hotels, and it looks more like Greece than Turkey. Plus, the city is well situated near all of the interesting historical sights of the coast.
A couple of times, we went with friends along the famous Lycian trail. The expected bonus of a long hike turned out to also offer a beautiful wild beach where there is no one!
We also tried a new activity here — paragliding. This is when you jump from the mountain on a paraglider. Memories for years to come!
In June, a jazz festival was held in Antalya: it was great.
Many complain that there is not enough cultural life here, and that all entertainment relates to nature. The part about nature is true, but we're just enjoying it for now.
— Andrey covers important information about vehicles as follows: To travel long distances, you need a car. You can stay in the country with your car for two years, but then you need to leave or sell it to another relocator. Buying a car in Turkey is not a realistic option. The car prices here are exorbitant. A Volkswagen Polo, which costs about $10,000 in Minsk, will cost $30,000 here. We decided not to buy a car; we use rental cars instead. It costs $30-50 per day. Gasoline has become more expensive now, so it's more cost-effective to rent a hybrid. At its peak, gasoline was almost $2 per liter. Turkey also has very high inflation. The annual inflation rate here now is more than 70%.
Belarusian driver's licenses are valid here for six months. After that, if you have any higher education, you will be able to replace them with Turkish licenses.
— So far, we like almost everything about living here: the presence of a warm sea; the sun; fresh and delicious fruits. The few minuses we have noticed, if you can call them that, are:
- Expensive equipment;
- Not a very high level of service; and
- That tasteless coffee.
— In Antalya, you can feel that the city is a tourist city, and that the local population will always be treated better. If you learn a few Turkish words, however, and start a conversation in a cafe with Turkish phrases, the service immediately becomes better. We have already verified this.
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