Turkey is a popular destination as a second home for foreigners from all over the world. While young professionals tend to fall in love with the thriving city of Istanbul, the retired set, from Europe especially, seeks out the sea and sun and tends to settle for the southwestern coast. Regardless of what sort of lifestyle you seek in Turkey, I can guarantee that as a foreigner living in far-off lands, there may be hurdles and times you need specific help from fellow expats.
Luckily, there are a vast number of resources in place for foreigners seeking answers or connections in Turkey.
First and foremost, the Turkish government has set up two different telephone helplines for foreigners who have questions they need answering in their native language or in English. The Department of Immigration (Göç Idaresi) operates a helpline accessible by dialing 157 from Turkey and by calling +90 312 157 11 22 from abroad. This line offers 24-hour assistance in Turkish, English, Arabic, Russian, Persian and German and is the go-to number for anyone seeking official answers to questions regarding entering, staying or exiting Turkey and how to go about obtaining a residence permit. Should you need information on social security and how to work in Turkey, the Family, Labor and Social Security Communication Center (Aile, Çalışma ve Sosyal Hizmetler) helpline, reached by dialing 170, has operators that speak English. For any concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic or any other emergency, dial the 112 Emergency Call Helpline, which encompasses a number of emergency services and will connect you to assistance based on your region.
Expats helping expats
Luckily for us in Turkey, we have the “Doc Martin's Surgery for Expats in Turkey” blog and Facebook group, which is operated by a team led by British expat Martin Redman and has tens of thousands of expat members. What started in 2014 as a means to answer any questions expats may have has since grown into a portal of information, categorized into topic files and accessible on his blog. There are 25 different subjects covered on the website, including how to obtain visas and residence permits, how to buy a house or car and how to open a bank account, to name just a few, making it an indispensable resource for expats with legal concerns.
Based in Kuşadası in western Aydın province, the Foreign Citizens Advice Centre is also on hand to answer any questions foreigners may have, free of charge. They have an office in Kuşadası but you can easily ask online at adviceturkey.org or dial their helpline and emergency number. Also based in Kuşadası, the Ege Eye is a news website centering on the Turkish coast since 2005, which regularly publishes news in English regarding a range of topics as well as happenings and developments in Turkey.
Fethiye Times has been a wonderful website and news source on anything concerning expats and Fethiye. Started by British expat Lyn Ward in 2005, Fethiye Times posts daily on topics ranging from travel, accommodation and food reviews as well as provides updates on pressing topics such as legalities surrounding foreigners and the situation in Turkey during the COVID-19 era.
The Bodrum Echo newsletter and the Bodrum Echo Community Facebook group have served to enrich the lives of expats in the region for a good decade now. Events of interest for expats, classified ads and developments concerning Bodrum are all topics covered by the Bodrum Echo newsletter, which is compiled by Australian expat Chris Drum Berkaya.
In Istanbul, Yabangee is both a website and community of expats that organize events and post reviews, while Inter Nations, which has branches in Ankara, Izmir, Antalya and Bodrum as well as, of course, an active community in Istanbul, hosts monthly get-togethers and has a variety of special-interest groups for members. For foreign women, the International Women of Istanbul (IWI) is a wonderful community to connect with as it not only hosts a variety of special activity groups, such as for mothers and professionals but also hosts two charity events: a holiday market and a gala, which have served as great ways for expats to connect.
There is a vast variety of Facebook groups geared toward expats in Turkey, some general and some location-specific, including “Foreigners in Turkey,” “Foreigners in Istanbul," "Istanbul Expat Community,” “Expats in Istanbul” and “Expats in Turkey-Let’s help each other out.” Centering on the southern coast are “Expats in Bodrum,” “Expats of Bodrum,” “Foreigners in Bodrum,” “Yalıkavak Info,” “Turgutreis Fans,” “Simply Bitez,” “Foreigners Living in Izmir,” “Hisarönü Everything you need to know,” “Anything you need to know in Hisarönü, Ölüdeniz, Ovacık and Fethiye,” “Marmaris Içmeler Lifestyle,” “Alanya Expats Social Group” and “Turunç Notice Board,” to name just a few.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Facebook group “Coronavirus Turkey- UK Information” has served as an excellent resource for daily updates on case numbers and all current developments surrounding the pandemic in Turkey. In Fethiye, foreigners have banded together to assist those affected by the pandemic and related lockdowns, by creating the community “Corona Caring Community” and “Fethiye Cares,” the latter directly intended to offer short-term assistance to expats suffering from illness or having any sort of special needs. Meanwhile, Fethiye’s expats already had “Hope,” an organization created to support cancer patients and their family members.
For travel throughout Turkey, the Facebook page “Turkey Travel Tips & Information,” which is run by the expats behind the thorough and stunning blog “Slow Travel Guide” has a wealth of information and members willing to assist in offering recommendations.
There are also a wide range of Facebook groups devoted to assisting the local street animals in certain areas. Many an expat has made it their mission to volunteer time to assist the animals on the streets by feeding them, providing medical care and sometimes even ensuring their adoption abroad, and they organize fundraisers that are announced on their respective Facebook pages. In Istanbul, there is “Cihangir... Cool for Cats,” in Bodrum there are the “Yalıkavak Street Animals,” “Turgutreis Animal Shelter Supporters” and “Gümbet Street Animals” groups and in Fethiye, the “Animal Friends of Fethiye,” to name just a few.
Of honorable mention is "Tidy Turkey," a Facebook group and website started by Australian expat Lucy Tooze that gets together for regular “Clean up Events” in which participants walk and pick up trash together and then hold social gatherings. Afterward, they share photos and reviews of the event online.
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