The Mediterranean Turkish province of Antalya, a tourism hub, also hosts a considerable number of expatriates who have chosen it as their new home. The number of foreigners settled in the province rose to 136,946 last year, up from 94,294 in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic is believed to have attracted more to the province known for its beautiful beaches and warm weather. Antalya is already drawing more people, like other vacation hubs in the Mediterranean, during the pandemic that drove people to places far from bustling city life.
The province is home to foreigners from more than 90 countries. Some arrive for a brief holiday before deciding to move there permanently, while others are in the province for business and education. The population, which reached to more than 2.6 million last year, further swelled with expats, especially Russians. Russian nationals make up the majority of expats, just like they make up majority of tourists visiting the province. Antalya hosts nearly 30,000 Russian nationals, ahead of 18,214 Kazakh nationals. Iranians, German and Kyrgyz nationals are the next largest groups.
The majority of expats reside in Alanya where they make up about 10% of the population. Alanya is a popular destination thanks to its pristine beaches. Antalya also follows Istanbul in terms of real estate sales to foreigners.
Irina Balcı, who chairs the Russian Arts and Culture Association in the province, is among the expats who have settled in Antalya. Balcı moved to Antalya 16 years ago with her husband and says she loved the place due to its “climate, sea and nature.”
“Antalya became more attractive for Russians during the pandemic. The weather and sea is always warm and you can go out anytime. You also have access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” she told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Sunday. Along with tourism, Antalya is also a fruit and vegetable hub of Turkey, leading in exports.
Balcı says they don’t feel like “foreigners” in Antalya where they had good ties with their Turkish neighbors. “Besides, we have many Ukrainians and Kazakh citizens. It is like the former Soviet Union. We have many Russian-speaking people here. There might be tensions among those people elsewhere but here, Russians, Ukranians and Kazakhs have good relations,” she says.