My personal story of emigrating to Turkey for permanent living. 

If you’ve decided to move to Turkey, it is likely you have spent some holiday time here to get to know the country. But getting to know what it is like to live in Turkey is very different to the experience of going there on holiday. Instead of writing a long poem how I moved to live in Turkey, I selected your most frequently asked questions. I also added my personal phone taken photos which I took in Bursa to make the blogpost more "real" and close to the reader. 
Breakfast in Bursa, Mudanya Falez Cafe

Q1: Is moving to Turkey right for me?

If you are basing your move on “I just want to get away from it all" remember that life abroad is not all sunshine and roses. Do not romanticize in an idea that traveling and living overseas, will be both effortless and easy.

We moved to Turkey because we were looking for a place where we can have an affordable family lifestyle. Husband and I lived in Dubai for 7 years and we never felt there like home. We were looking for country to move where:

- the nature is real

- the prices of housing, schooling and food are reasonable

- we can continue our Annah Hariri business

- Islamic country to raise our children

- you can get a citizenship after 5 years of legally working here or even earlier on exclusive basis as businessman / investor. Once you are a citizen, you are treated equally and respectfully with all the benefits Turkish nationals receive. 

There were no other choice and better option than Turkey. 

Q2: When did you move to Turkey and where in Turkey you live?

We live in Bursa and have been here for a 3.5 years. It is rather a conservative city where one can still feel the spirit of Ottoman empire I would say.  

Q3: Should I learn Turkish language? 

Yes, yes and yes! Not many Turkish people speak English but you can still get around using non-verbal communication (if you need something in groceries for example). But if you are planning to find a job, the Turkish language is a must in 90% of cases. Even in international companies they would still require Turkish language alongside with the knowledge of English. For me, I studied Turkish while in Belarus during my university days as the 4th foreign language. Subhanallah, I never knew I would need it in future, it was just a free language course launched by Turkish Government to strengthen economic and cultural relation between Turkey and Belarus. So ladies - never miss a chance to study, especially if it is free. 

Q4: I am all ready to move. Where shall I start?

Get the visa, ticket and yalla! Most probably you are exempted from visa and can come to stay in Turkey for 30, 60 or 90 days. Check here
Then after arrival, you need to apply for you residence permit. It is THE MOST painful bureaucratic experience I have ever had, but there is no other way and no way to escape this procedure. 
Once you have the residence permit, you can apply for working permit if you find the job or if you are the business owner. Working permit authority is more respectful and easier to deal with. You can also apply for working permit prior to your arrival to Turkey if you are lucky to find the job in Turkey beforehand.

Q5: How do I find the job?

I would advise to get some interviews scheduled before your arrival. Job hunt is quiet a slow process here so speed it up by starting to apply for jobs while you are still in your homeland. is the best website. Also check branches of international companies in your area of experience and apply / e-mail to them direct. 

Q6: Shall I bring my belongings or buy all new in Turkey?

We brought all our furniture and electronics from Dubai and never regretted it. Here is why:
- As a foreigner, you most likely will be overcharged and sometimes a lot, unless it is IKEA store with fixed prices. 
- Foreign brands cost a fortune in Turkey due to high import taxes. We rarely had luck with Turkish made electronics brands and their durability so I am happy we brought all our electronic goods. 
- I am into minimalist lifestyle while Turkish made furniture brands are very posh and bright to me. 
- There is a favorable law of bringing your belongings to Turkey as an expat so I would also advise to bring a car if you own one. 

Q7: What is the cost of living per month?

It depends on the city, family size and life style you follow. Some monthly price ranges in Bursa are below:
- housing 1000 - 5000 TL
- groceries 1000-3000 TL for the family of 4
- day care / private KG 1000-2500 TL 
- petrol is crazy expensive 1000-2500 TL per month
- electricity 100-500 TL
- gas / heating 200-2000 TL (very expensive in winter)
- water 100-400 TL
- clothes 1000 TL (Zara and HM are cheaper here than in Dubai or UK, DE)
So in general you need ca. 5000 - 10000TL per month. 

Q8: How is healthcare in Turkey? 

I was very impressed with the hospital and treatment I was given. Usually expats go for private hospitals, where insurance costs 1000-3000TL per year. 

Q9: Do you feel safe in Turkey?

Do not watch fake news too much :-) I feel very safe and happy in Turkey. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful country with lots of different and interesting places to visit. 

Q10: I have kids. What about KG / Schooling for them?

There are daycare and schools where English is the major language but still your children must learn Turkish.  My son was born here when we moved to Turkey so we are lucky that he can learn Turkish from the crib so to say. 

Q11: Can I use my foreign driving license in Turkey?

If you are exiting Turkey each 6 month, you can use your international license. If you are permanently living in Turkey, you may need to convert your license to Turkish one. We were unlucky in converting our Dubai license to Turkish ones. Bureaucracy kills in Turkey. Instead, we decided to have a driving exam and get a Turkish license from scratch. They offer English theory books and teachers can speak English in some  driving schools.

Q12: Is it easy to legalize my university degree in Turkey?

Actually it seems that it is easier to build a rocket than to have your degree verified in Turkey. Your country must have an agreement with Turkey with list of accredited universities. Sadly, Belarus has no such agreement and I also failed to verify my Bachelor's degree. 


Points to Remember: 

Do not solely listen to other people’s experiences. Yes, it may be useful to get advice and know about others first hand experiences of living in Turkey but don’t assume everything will be great or terrible on others say-so.

Turkey is NOT in the EU. Rules and procedures are very different in Turkey.

Taking that leap and moving abroad is a big decision, of course if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Maybe it is best to regret moving abroad than to regret staying behind.

Comment below if you have more questions and I will reply. 


Aasiya said:

I’m an Indian Muslim u r my inspiration I also want to work with u is there any opportunity it will be very helpful …

Ashia said:

Dear Annah.
I really loved your article.
I have also lived a very very long time in Dubai.
I am also looking for job and place to move to Turkey.
I would be glad to join your team …if you have openings.
Please advise.

Waheeda said:

Hi there, we are planning on moving to turkey in 2020 and I have 2 young daughters, what are your experiences regarding schooling? I’m quite worried that my kids will have a hard time picking up the language and might fall behind. Also, what are your opinions on the safety of living in turkey?

Leyla said:

Salam annah I am moving to Turkey next year with my husband I’m thinking to move 2 bursa I have only just found you but I would love 2 work with you it would be amazing aswell I’m looking into all options tbh

Marga van Rooyen said:

I am a healthy 69 year woman who is planning to rent an apartment (studio) from Dec 2020 to March 2021 during their winter to escape the humidity summer where I live. Which area in Istanbul will one find the most English speaking expats? Thank you.

Tee said:

Please, please tell me what is the name of this dress you’re wearing?! It’s so beautiful!! The white, mustard, red and blue one…

Haniffa Bte Ithnin said:

My family is very serious about setting up a life in Bursa and I’ve read your article on it. Currently we are doing a lot of research and giving ourselves 2 years to prepare before moving. I would just want to know if it is easy to join Islamic religious lessons there in English. I’ve tried looking for information like that but couldn’t find any. Can you help direct me to something? I’d really appreciate your help. JazakAllah khair.

Aliu Hafeez said:

Can I get agricultural job easily in Turkey

Umar Adamu said:

I’m interested in staying Turkey,

Musa Mustapha Adam said:

Assalamualaikum, what’s the equivalent of the degree in Turkey to the in here Nigeria?

Musa Mustapha Adam said:

Assalamualaikum, I was really amazed the way Turkey operate, But how can someone with very low income make it up to though am about to have my Bachelor Degree in Geology?

Zikrullah said:

Salami alaikun I really appreciate hint about turkey my question is is it possible to apply for school in turkey and at the same tym working as well

Umm jannah said:

Do you have any advice for buying a holiday house or apartment there? Where would be a good area

Zinab sebaey said:

Can I work with you Anna, I have got a PHD degree in clothes and fashion, and l really admire your business

Jenan alkeswani said:

asalamu alaykum,
My husband and I may be moving to turkey in the next couple of months as he wants to study.
I would have graduated as a registered dental hygienist from NYC college of technology. I’m afraid I won’t be able to work in Turkey with my degree? How can I find ou? Thank you:

Sa said:

Wish you all the best,
Thank you fornevery word you wrote.

Jada said:

Could you share a little bit more information about English teaching schools. It is very difficult with the language barrier to get carricular information on the internet. I’m assuming these schools are private schools. Do you know the names of well performing schools and roughly what the tuition fees are?

Guzel said:

Прошу прощения за вопрос, но кто ваш муж по национальности? Дело в том, что я сама из России, татарка, владею турецким языком и очень люблю Турцию. Муж- ливанец. На мои попытки разговора о переезде в Турцию он всегда отвечает, что там так же, как и в Ливане, с чем я абсолютно не согласна. Мы сейчас живем в Катаре, и тут тоже, как и в Эмиратах, все очень дорого и все временно. Вот мне и интересно, если ваш муж тоже араб, как вы его уговорили или как вы оба пришли к такому решению. Заранее спасибо за ответ.

Sameah said:

Salamalykom, I loved how you have put everything in such a simple way.
I wanted ask whats the difference in pricin from istanbul to bursa ( if you have had any experience)
And for degree varification, is the agreement for sure? And how should i check for the lis of countries thats has the agreement? I study here in the UAE :) . But want to move to turkey. I already have the nationality, but only concern is work. Jazak Allah khair.

Nur said:

Jzk sis for a very interesting blog post and covering multiple aspects of moving to Turkey! I do have a question; since both you and spouse are non Turkish citizens and ur child is born there, does it automatically make him a Turkish citizen?

Azeezah said:

As salaam alykum warahmahtullah wabarakatu dear Ammah. Jazakillah khayr for this write up. This last line got me “Maybe it is best to regret moving abroad than to regret staying behind.” It got me reflecting over something that i have been worried about. Nothing is easy, and every experience comes with its own struggles. May Allah ease our affairs. Thank you 💚

Лариса Дулат said:

“Actually it seems that it is easier to build a rocket than to have your degree verified in Turkey. ” я рассмеялась – ты такая смешная

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