- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Turkey Guide (PDF)
Most who move to Turkey do so for sunny skies and its ideal retirement options. There are also thousands of expats working in Turkey, and many more trying to relocate to take advantage of professional opportunities.
A limiting factor for foreign nationals has always been Turkey's conservative approach to issuing work permits. Despite improvements in bureaucracy, the government is still hesitant to grant too many of these prized pieces of paperwork as a result of the country's high unemployment rate.
In fact, recent legislation aimed at reducing the number of expats living and working in Turkey illegally has made it impossible for foreign nationals to make the beloved border runs of old – many who have been residents for years have had to return to their home countries.
Job market in Turkey
Those who have been lucky enough to be brought abroad by an employer willing to sponsor their job contract will find the Turkish labour force generally hard-working and dedicated, with few qualms about working after hours if necessary.
The Turkish economy is growing consistently. It has been lauded for its complex mix of modern industry and commerce, along with a traditional agricultural sector.
It is still possible for expats with an adequate skill set and a bit of determination to find jobs in Turkey. Most often, foreigners obtain employment working in the tourism, teaching, real estate and finance fields in the more expat-friendly city of Istanbul. This major metropolis also presents opportunities in the engineering, information technology, human resources, design, business, marketing and sales departments; though positions in these fields are more of a rarity.
As in the past, there is plenty of opportunity for expats to teach English in Turkey. Many institutions merely require a college degree with no formal teaching training necessary. Adequate salaries accompany these positions. However, expats looking to support a family will need a larger income.
Nevertheless, the Turkish job market is restricted to foreigners, and expats are not permitted to work in specific fields. For example, foreigners are not allowed to be employed in the mining industry, as executive directors of travel agencies and in some professional occupations, such as pharmacists, nurses and dentists.
Finding a job in Turkey
As employers have to apply for work permits for Turkey on behalf of foreign workers, expats should find employment before they arrive.
Key means of securing a job are to browse online job portals and to contact recruitment agencies. Many multinational corporations are operating in Turkey and might list prospects on their websites.
Work culture in Turkey
Generally, Turks are very hospitable towards foreign workers. This is ideal for expats as business can be very personal in Turkey. Turks like to take time to form relationships and prefer doing business with those they trust. Turkish business culture is also very hard working. New arrivals should expect to work longer hours than they may be used to.
Business is hierarchical in Turkey. Those in senior positions are given great respect and their decisions are generally not questioned in public.
►Read Doing Business in Turkey for what to expect from the Turkish working world
►For more on adjusting to life in Turkey, see Culture Shock in Turkey
"It’s not a good idea to come over expecting to find a job immediately so unless you have a solid job offer, make sure you have enough money to support yourself for a few months." Read more about Lisa's expat experiences in Turkey.
Are you an expat living in Turkey?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Turkey. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.