Expat Life

An Ex-Pats Guide to Living in Turkey

In 2014 over-65s lost the century-old income tax break that meant they pay tax on a lower threshold than workers. The so-called “Granny Tax” meant that some pensioners could be nearly £300 a year out of pocket, not taking into consideration the rising cost of petrol, utility bills and even fresh fruit and veg.

The cost of a weekly shop in the UK has risen considerably over the past couple of years so it’s not surprising that, against a backdrop of paltry interest rates on savings, British retirees are looking overseas for a better quality of life. After a couple of years of a strong Euro against the pound, countries without the single currency – like Turkey – have also had extra appeal.

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Why do people retire to Turkey?

A combination of climate and affordable cost of living have provided this for couples such as the Halls who have relocated from Stoke on Trent to Altinkum on Turkey’s popular south-west coast. They bought a four-bed duplex apartment for £47,000 in 2005 and have upsized to a villa in the same area.

“We considered moving to Spain but realised that our money would go further, both in terms of the property we could afford to buy and also cost of living,” says Ken. “Like everywhere, some things are more expensive than others, but generally things are a lot healthier.”

Turkish monthly bills

Weekly shop: £45 “We spend less than £45 a week on our grocery shop, because local fruit and veg is very affordable at the local market – a lettuce is 27p for example – and a loaf of fresh bread at the local bakery is about 21p.” He says that whilst meat and imported goods are more expensive, eating at local cafes is also good value.

“An English coffee at our local café will cost £1.15 – local chai (tea) is about 28p – and a pide (Turkish pizza) there will be 120 Turkish lira (TL) and you’ll get a free salad, starter and tea thrown in.”

Monthly bills are also generally much lower than they would be in the UK.

“Our water bill is peanuts – £5 a month; our electric bill is £15 a month; and our landline phone bill is very affordable at about £12; and unlimited broadband is about £6,” says Pat.

Turkish healthcare

A big consideration for retirees abroad – has also been relatively affordable. Being residents we are eligible to go to local hospitals and medical centers which charge one-off fees for different types of treatment, affordable healthcare for residents.

“A one-off visit to the GP is free as long as you are registered, or the cost for an X-ray is 120 lira” If you are under 65 years old it is mandatory for foreigners who have residency in Turkey to have medical insurance. This starts from around £100 per year for private healthcare.

Incidentally, British expats have a choice when it comes to healthcare, opting to pay as you need it (like the Halls), join the Turkish government’s new SGK Healthcare scheme introduced in 2013. Currently the price is 3220 Turkish Lira per month (a contribution-based system, see www.ukinturkey.fco.gov.uk for price updates). 

Car costs in Turkey

In contrast to healthcare, cars are relatively expensive to buy. However, cars do hold their value in Turkey and due to the year round good weather they stay in peak condition. Road tax on their Volkswagen Golf is 1532.50 Turkish Lira twice a year, with car insurance from £130 per year and mandatory traffic insurance from 200 lira a year.

“If, as a foreigner you both drive a car you have to both buy insurance, separately, unlike local families who just pay once for all drivers,” says Ken “It would be a lot cheaper using the great local buses, or dolmus, which we did do for first few years,” she adds. A 30 minute journey on the local dolmus is about £1.00. A taxi in the local area is currently £2.90

Ken & Pat Hall, Interview for A Place In The Sun 2013. The prices have been revised in December 2023 (today’s exchange rate is 36.37).

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