Housing Options in Turkey

Where you live is one of the largest factors when it comes to how happy you are going to be in Turkey.

There are four main options when it comes to choosing a place to live:

Hotels in Turkey

Many people who come to Turkey on what they think is going to be a long-term basis will start their time here by living in a hotel. This gives them the opportunity to look around the area – a place they may well never have been to before – and to decide exactly where they want to live and in what type of property.

Living in a hotel may look like an expensive option, but many hotels will offer very attractive rates to somebody who’s going to be staying in the hotel for a month or more, particularly if it’s off-season. In any case, whatever the cost of the hotel, it will be a great deal cheaper than leaping into a decision to live in the wrong property in the wrong place.

In the last few years, an alternative to the hotel has emerged in the marketplace. This is the short-term apartment rented on pretty much the same basis as a hotel – in other words, rented by the night or by the week. Companies such as Airbnb and HomeAway offer a mass of such accommodation in Turkey.

Short-term rentals in Turkey

There is no special law for short-term rentals. For both residential and commercial rentals, you can sign a contract up to ten years – and, even if you (as a tenant) sign an annual agreement, the law gives you an automatic renewal right up to ten years (subject to the fulfilment of contract terms such as paying the rent on time).

On Turkey’s coast, very short-term (daily and weekly) rentals are now becoming very common. We call them seasonal rentals. However, we do not yet have legislation to specifically deal with this matter: hence they could be considered a trading activity by the tax office. This is of more concern to the property owner than the person renting.

House-sitting in Turkey

An interesting alternative to a short-term rental is to become a house-sitter (temporary caretaker). A number of (usually expat) families like someone to live in their property when they themselves are not there. This is often motivated by the fact they have a pet which they leave behind or by a fear of burglary.

These opportunities may be advertised in local newspapers or on www.mindmyhouse.com – where you can also register yourself as a person looking for a house-sitting opportunity. There are, typically, only small numbers of these opportunities but they’re worth exploring.

Don’t expect to get paid for this work, unless you take over gardener’s work or pool maintenance. You will sometimes also be expected to contribute towards utility bills for the time you’re in residence.

Home exchange in Turkey

Another interesting, but rare, alternative to renting is home exchange. This is an arrangement where you allow somebody to use your home and they allow you to use theirs. If you have retained a property ‘back home’, this may be a better way of using it than renting it out – at least, for the period until you find a permanent place to live in Turkey.

Several websites, such as Home Exchange, list exchange opportunities. There are, typically, only about ten in Turkey at any given time.

Long-term rentals in Turkey

There is a plentiful supply of rental property in Turkey and rents are, generally, low for a property of the quality that you will be occupying.

Long-term rentals are usually for one year or two years but automatically extended at the end of the term.

Many people, particularly those who are working in Turkey or setting up businesses in Turkey, will decide that rental property will best suit their long-term needs and, after a period renting short-term, may look for a long-term rental.

There is usually a signed rental agreement. The tenancy can only be ended:

  1. By the tenant giving the landlord written notice. The period of notice can be stated in the contract; if it is not, one month would be considered legitimate.
  2. By the landlord asking the tenant to leave and him agreeing to do so. In the absence of good cause – damage to the building, not paying the rent, illegal use of the premises etc. – contracts extend automatically for up to ten years.
  3. By a court order – based on non-payment of rent, damage caused to the property or improper use of the property. This can take up to two years if the case is challenged, plus several months more for an appeal.

If you are likely to be staying in Turkey for only a few years, tenancies – long-term or short-term – are probably your best solution as the cost of buying and selling a home can be substantial and that, of course, is lost money.

See our Guide to Renting a Property in Turkey for more details about these contracts.

Starting off in rental property can also make a lot of sense for somebody who wants to start a business in Turkey. Finding the necessary capital to start a new business can be difficult for a newcomer and you may decide that you’re far better putting your available money into your business rather than into the home in which you’ll be living. Once the business has become successful you can buy a mansion! See our Guide to Starting a Business in Turkey.

Buying a Turkish property

The attractions of owning a home in Turkey are obvious. You can buy exactly what you want, where you want it. You can modify and decorate the house to your requirements. You may find that it gains substantially in value. If mortgage finance is available to you, the cost of your mortgage repayments could well be similar to, or even cheaper than, what you would otherwise have to pay out in rent.

Yet, of course, there are downsides:

  • The most important is that the price of property can go down as well as up – and, indeed, did so in the late 2000s.
  • The cost of buying a property(mainly in terms of fees and taxes) is substantial: typically, between 8% and 10% of the price of the property.
  • The cost of later selling a propertycan also be significant.
  • The Turkish lira is presently (June 2017) suffering due to unrest in the region.

You, therefore, don’t want to incur these expenses if you’re only likely to be in the house for a short period and you definitely don’t want to buy an inappropriate property and then find that you have to move again after a couple of years.

There is a plentiful supply of property of all types in Turkey. See our Guide to Buying a Property in Turkey.

Understanding Turkish property advertisements

With so many people from so many different nationalities buying, selling, or renting property in Turkey, it’s not surprising that some confusion can arise.

The most important things to know are:

  1. In Turkey, we use the UK/European way of describing floor levels: the part of the building at ground level is known as the ground floor, the floor above it as the first floor and so on.
  2. Properties are usually described as having a certain number of rooms. A “one plus one” property has a single bedroom and a living room. A “three plus one” would have three bedrooms and one living room.

It will also (you hope!) have a kitchen and a bathroom but they do not count when calculating the number of rooms. If the property has more than one bathroom, the advert will say so.

  1. Generally, anything not mentioned in the advert won’t be there. So, look out for phrases such as, “Central heating (kalorifer/merkezi ısıtma)”, “Air Conditioning (klima)”, “Lift/elevator (asansör)” and, “Parking (park alanı)” or “Garage (garaj)”.

Rent-to-buy in Turkey

Since the financial crisis of the mid-2000s, when bank finance was almost unavailable for those wanting to buy a property, ‘rent-to-buy’ has become quite frequent in some countries. Owners keen to sell their property, and conscious of the pitiful interest rates available if they invest the money they receive from selling it, are often prepared to take a part of the price – normally at least 50% – at the time of sale and the rest by monthly payments protected by a mortgage over the property.

This is not usually done in Turkey.

Getting furniture in Turkey

People moving to Turkey are split almost 50/50 between those who bring no furniture with them and those who bring at least some items.

See our Guide to Bringing Your Possessions to Turkey for more about this.

Those who have brought nothing, or who need to buy some furniture in Turkey, will find that there is a remarkably large number of furniture shops. Turks tend to spend quite a lot of money on furniture and replace it frequently.

Most furniture available in Turkey is new and, increasingly, the trend is to own furniture of a streamlined and modern design; rather than the heavy, carved pieces that were so popular a few decades ago.

There are a few shops selling antique furniture, often at very competitive prices, and there is also a small number of shops selling second-hand (but not antique) furniture. These are well worth a look and can allow you to provide most of the furniture for a small apartment for a couple of hundred euros.

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