“Having lived in Bermuda for four years, I was spoilt. I thought I could never find another such beautiful place on earth and then I discovered Turkey”….Dee Edgar
Turkey has for centuries lain undiscovered as a real jewel in the crown of the most desirable
Mediterranean countries. It’s rich cultural history and architectural grandeur sets it apart from other established holiday destinations and makes it appealing in so many ways. Apart from offering everything you would expect - glorious sunshine, sandy beaches, crystal blue seas, tranquil beauty spots, good food and local entertainment, I offer just a few reasons why Turkey has now firmly
placed itself on the map as a property hotspot and is gaining huge popularity with holidaymakers and house buyers alike.
- Enviable climate throughout the year
- Affordable and excellent value for money
- Low cost of living
- Almost totally crime free
- Exceptionally friendly and genuine people
- Excellent investment potential – prices increasing 20-50% per annum
- Direct flights all year round
- High standard of healthcare
- Everything is improving as Turkey inches towards European Union entry.
- Delicious and inexpensive Mediterranean cuisine
- Unspoilt and breathtaking mountains, sea views and countryside
- English very widely spoken
- Straightforward buying process
Turkey is an incredibly laid back and relaxing country and much of its charm lies in its complex history, its natural resources and its people.
If you haven’t time to travel the world in search of your own piece of heaven, just take the time to travel to Turkey. Like so many other discerning holidaymakers (and canny investors), you will discover it’s time to stop looking and time to start enjoying your dream.
“Sunshine, friendly people, low crime rates and a low cost of living make Turkey a hugely desirable place to buy property”
Turkey is a relatively stable, secular and democratic country, despite bordering the volatile Middle East. Its geopolitical position, close to the USSR, made it a key Western ally during the Cold War, and it became a member of NATO in 1952.
The country has continued to be an important friend of the West, although the war in Iraq has recently put this relationship under strain, particularly due to widespread popular discontent in Turkey at events occurring there. Many Turks also feel let down by what they see as European foot— dragging over Turkey’s application to join the EU. Despite this, the political establishment and military remain firmly pro-Western.
The country is currently run by the Ak Partisi, which enjoys a large majority in parliament - a rarething in the usually fragmented world of Turkish politics. Despite his party’s Islamic roots, the Prime Minister, Tayip Erdogan, has proved his commitment to joining the EU by implementing a series of difficult, but much needed, social and economic reforms.
Economically, the country has been unstable in the recent past, with raging inflation and a series of currency devaluations. Also, Turkey is one of the IMF’s largest debtors. The country has, however, recovered well, with the current government managing to reduce inflation and set in motion a string of reforms required by the IMP under its stabilisation package.
Turkey’s population is 99% Muslim but most Turks are far more moderate in their beliefs than their neighbours in the Middle East. The west of the country and the main cities, such as the capital Ankara, plus Istanbul, Izmir and Antalya, are the most developed areas, where industry and commercial activity are concentrated. This is also where the tourist industry and foreign property market are currently concentrated. The east of the country is a poor and predominantly agricultural region. People there also tend to be more conservative in their attitudes and beliefs. However, wherever you are in the country, Turkish people are characteristically friendly and helpful to visitors from abroad.
The crime rate in Turkey is low compared to Britain and other Western European countries. Violent crime is particularly rare. Burglary and car crime are also less common, and almost entirely confined to the larger cities and towns.
Turkey’s official language is Turkish, although significant minorities speak Kurdish and Arabic as their mother tongue. Turkish is a member of the Ural—Altaic language family, and is closely related to Mongolian and Korean. Turkish has a very different grammatical structure to English and Latin—based European languages, which makes learning it a considerable challenge. English is widely spoken in the coastal resorts and main cities, although less so elsewhere in the country. Despite this, it’s well worth learning some simple phrases and words.
Most people arrive in Turkey on a three-month tourist visa, which is available at the point of entry for £10. You’ll need at least six months’ validity on your passport and £10 sterling in cash. Tourist visas can be renewed by leaving the country, a task that simply involves a short ferry hop to one of the Greek islands for foreign nationals living along the coast. Foreign property owners can apply for residency permits, but this involves a considerable amount of paperwork and red tape. You’ll also have to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to support yourself.
Overseas nationals are allowed to work in Turkey with a work permit. Applications are usually made by the employer and can take months to process in Ankara, although it’s general practice to start working once you’ve applied. You can also apply for a work permit if you own a company. It is possible to drive in Turkey with a British driving license, but you’re only allowed to use an imported car there for six months. Details of the vehicle will be logged in your passport when you enter the country and you won’t be able to leave without it. These strict rules are designed to stop people selling imported vehicles, although there’s no problem with foreign nationals buying a Turkish car.
Maintaining a car is far cheaper in Turkey but parts for some foreign cars can be very expensive and difficult to find. Petrol is comparatively expensive at about 75 per litre. The Turkish road system has been greatly improved in recent years, with stretches of motorway and toll roads between the main cities and wide, well-surfaced highways along much of the coast. Minor roads in most areas remain unimproved, so you’ll need to watch out for potholes, narrow sections and poor surfaces. The general standard of driving is low and the country has a very high accident rate which is reflected in the relatively high cost — compared to the general cost of living — of motor insurance. The annual premiums for comprehensive cover, known as kasko, are in the region of £500.
The country has an excellent long-distance bus network, with modern, air-conditioned coaches running regularly between cities and towns. The state-run train system is largely un-modernised and offers only limited coverage. For long journeys, flying is the fastest and most convenient option. Turkish Airlines have several daily flights to most regional cities from Istanbul and Ankara, while several cut-price private operators have recently started routes between the main centres.
Health Care systems
Turkey has a three-tier health system with state hospitals and health centres; hospitals funded by the equivalent of National Insurance and privately run clinics and hospitals. In general, the quality of care and equipment is best in the private sector and easily on a par with, if not better, than in Britain. Private hospitals in resort areas and the main cities will generally have some English-speaking staff, though don’t count on this later if you have health insurance. Make sure you contact your insurance company before undergoing any treatment. Turkish banks can arrange private health insurance or insurance companies for foreign residents.
Turkey’s Education System is based on the French and has both government-run and private schools. Children of foreign residents are entitled to go to state schools that tend to have larger class sizes and fewer facilities than their equivalent in Britain. Private schools, found in most cities and large towns, are better resourced, though standards of tuition may not be as high as the best state schools — known as Anadolu Lisesi.
Currency and Banking
The local currency in Turkey is the Turkish lira, abbreviated in signs to TL.
There is a large choice of high—street banks in Turkey, offering standard banking services to foreign nationals living in the country. You’ll need a residency permit to open an account but you can cash traveler’s cheques and withdraw cash from ATMs using British credit cards, as well as sonic debit cards.
Making international transfers to and from Turkish bank accounts takes at least 10 working days, and often considerably longer.The mortgage system in Turkey is still at a very early stage of development and loans are now available to foreigners.
Cost of Living
Foreign visitors with hard currency can enjoy a high purchasing power with the cost of living far below European levels, even in the relatively expensive coastal resorts. For example, the cost of a bottle of mineral water is about 4Op, while a beer in a bar costs around £1. Dinner with local wine in a restaurant in a touristy area typically costs about £12 per head — although you can eat for a fraction of that elsewhere. Modern supermarkets are now commonplace, but shopping for locally grown fruit and vegetables in a market is extremely cheap, as well as being fun.
Local produce is very high quality and available on a seasonal basis with some imported items available in the largest supermarkets. The selection includes temperate species such as apples, pears. plums and cherries, in addition to more Mediterranean fruit, such as oranges, peaches and nectarines. Yoghurt, cheese and other dairy products are another speciality; along with excellent local cheeses. Meat is central to the Turkish diet and is extremely tasty. As well as the ubiquitous donner, there are a large number of other kebab varieties and grilled-meat dishes to try. Vegetarianism is very rare and eating out can be difficult for strict vegetarians as many vegetable dishes are cooked with meat stock.
Turkey has a long history of winemaking, stretching back thousands of years. Today very drinkable wines are produced in regions like Thrace and Cappadocia by producers including Turasan. There are several varieties of domestically brewed lager with Efes Pilsner being the most popular. Other imported brands are now available in most supermarkets.
Buying a Property
Property prices are generally far lower in Turkey than in more established foreign property market, such as France or Spain. Having said that, certain enclaves, where demand is high from foreign buyers and Turkish second-home owners, have experienced dramatic price increases over the last few years.
It’s possible to buy a three-bedroom villa for less than £125,000 in many of the coastal resorts, although in some, such as Kalkan, it may cost significantly more. For a basic three—bedroom apartment in a modern block, say in Altinkum or Alanya, prices start from as little as £45,000, although you should expect to pay considerably more for a desirable location, or for facilities such as a communal pool.
As a rule, the costs of buying a property should amount to about 10 per cent of the purchase price. These costs include a four per cent stamp duty although newly-built properties are exempt. Legal fees will typically be £500-£1,500 depending on the complexity of the transaction. A three per cent commission is paid to the agent by both buyer and seller, and there is also a 1.5 per cent fee payable to the Land Registry for changing the title deeds.
There is an annual property tax based on the declared value of the property although this is often much lower than the actual value. This tax currently amounts to 0.1-0.2 per cent, depending on the type of property. Private individuals aren’t liable for capital gains tax, though companies are, at a rate of 30 per cent. If you’re working in Turkey you’ll be subject to income tax based on your earnings. To become exempt from UK income tax you need to satisfy the requirements for registering for non- domiciled status.
Insurance and Utilities
Other costs include household insurance, which can be arranged through Turkish banks or insurance companies. Electricity is supplied by the state-run Turk Elektrik Koruma, with bills paid monthly by direct debit or at a local bank branch. In large cities, such as Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, mains gas is available, while elsewhere people use gas canisters for cooking and heating water. These canisters are delivered free in most towns or are available from shops or petrol stations in rural areas. There are mains water supplies in most cities, towns and villages, or if not, then water tankers will deliver to houses that aren’t on the mains supply Although mains water is chlorinated, most people tend to drink bottled water.
Apartment blocks generally have communal heating systems, with each unit contributing towards the fuel costs, as well as the upkeep of the building and gardens. These charges are agreed annually and are normally paid on a monthly basis.Turkey has a modern telephone network with digital exchanges in most areas. Requests for new lines are normally processed quickly. The country also has a well-developed mobile telephone network with several rival operators. The largest and most reliable is Turkcell — although coverage may still be patchy in some rural areas. Cable television is readily available in most areas from the Telephone Department district office, and the English-language channels include BBC World, Prime, MSNBC, CNN and Eurosport.