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Day-to-Day Living in Turkey

This guide was written by Francine Carrel, Assistant Editor of Guides.Global (office@guides.global).

It was written on 10 February 2017. The law and practice in Turkey change all the time. Our guides are updated as frequently as possible - typically every three years - but may be out of date.

Our guides are prepared by professionals from many countries. They are, of necessity, both brief and general and can take no account of your personal circumstances. They are intended to be a good introduction to the subject BUT ARE NO SUBSTITUTE FOR PROPER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE, which our contributors will usually be happy to provide upon request.

The advice and opinions contained in the guides are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Guides.Global.

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The scope of this guide

This guide is about some of the day-to-day things you'll need to know about Turkey.

Introduction

Turkey's day-to-day living will vary drastically depending on where you will be living or doing business. The cities are more likely to be reminiscent of the West, while the more religious rural areas could seem like a different world.

Culture in Turkey

Turks are friendly and hospitable. As a foreigner, you will have a certain leeway when it comes to etiquette in Turkey - but it's best to learn about cultural differences before you go. See our Guide to Cultural Differences in Turkey.

Religion in Turkey

Religion is a big part of life in Turkey - it's impossible to avoid, even as an atheist.

The ezan/adhan, or "call to prayer", summons Muslims to the mosques five times daily. The ezan goes:

Allahu Ekber
Eşhedû en lâ ilâhe illallah
Eşhedû enne Muhammeden resulullah
Hayya ale-salah
Hayya alel-felah
Allahu Ekber
Lâ ilahe illallah
God is Great
There is no god but God
Muhammed is the Prophet of God
Come to prayer
Come to salvation
God is Great
There is no god but God
Source: Turkey Travel Planner

Not all prayers have to take place in a mosque, but it is desirable.

If a non-Muslim is in a mosque, they should leave when the call to prayer begins.


See this website for accurate prayer times.

See our Guide to Religion in Turkey for more information.

Money in Turkey

The currency in Turkey is the Turkish lira (see our Guide to Currency in Turkey.

There are plenty of ATMs (bankamatik/cash machines) in every city. Many have several language options. The safest ATMs to use are those within banks. Banks open 09:00 to 16:00, Monday-Friday (with an hour closed for lunch, usually 12:30-13:30).

If you're going to be using your 'home' credit or debit card in Turkey, make sure you tell your bank where you're going. Otherwise there's a good chance they'll freeze your card.

Sales tax in Turkey

Goods sold in Turkey already have an 18% sales tax added to them. Additional tax won't be added at the cash register/till, as it would be in the United States.

Receipts in Turkey

Most shops will happily give you a printed receipt if you ask for one (you need a fis, pronounced "fish").

Shopping in Turkey

Turkey is a great place for shopping. It has a good mix of markets, small shops, big malls and supermarkets.

Shops in Turkey

Within cities, it is usual to find shopping areas split up into sections: one street for clothes shops, one area for lighting, one for rugs etc.

If you go into a small shop, don't expect to rush in and out! The shop owner will often want to share some conversation and even some tea with you.

You'll be able to find quite a lot of international shops, such as Zara, Toys 'r' Us and Marks & Spencer.

Shops in Turkey are open quite late - usually until 21:00-22:00.

Markets and bazaars in Turkey

As well as 'normal' shops and boutiques, Turkey has a great many markets for food and goods.

From spectacular covered bazaars (such as the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, which has 61 covered streets) to ramshackle fruit and vegetable markets, this is one of the most enjoyable ways to shop in Turkey.

You will have to learn to haggle. Pazarlik (bargaining) is a necessity in the markets of Turkey. It may seem odd and rude to a Western foreigner, but many expats eventually find it enjoyable. Turkey Travel Planner has some tips.

Markets close at sundown.

Supermarkets in Turkey

There are plenty of supermarkets in Turkey. Supermarkets generally have a good amount of choice - but the fresh produce sections may be smaller than you're used to at home. This is because most Turks buy their fresh fruit, vegetables and meat from the markets.

Clothes and shoes sizes in Turkey

Turkey uses European clothes and shoe sizes.

Clothes size conversion - Turkey

USA UK EU/Turkey
4 8 36
6 10 38
8 12 40
10 14 42
12 16 44
14 18 46
16 20 48

Shoe size conversion - Turkey

USA UK EU/Turkey
4 2 35
5 3 36
6 4 37
7 5 38
8 6 39
9 7 40
10 8 41

Bra sizes in Turkey

Again, Turkey uses European measurements. Use this handy conversion tool from 85B.

Bars and restaurants in Turkey

The nightlife in Turkey depends hugely on where you are. There is a bustling bar and club scene in Istanbul - and plenty of choice in resort towns such as Fethiye - but you may have a harder time finding watering holes in more rural, religious parts of the country.

Wherever you are, there will be good places to eat. Some of them will serve alcohol, some won't. You can telephone and find out ahead of time. The prices are generally reasonable.

Entertainment in Turkey

Cinema in Turkey

Turkish films are dramatic, tragic and well worth a watch when your Turkish language is up to scratch.

You will be able to see most Hollywood films in English, just with Turkish subtitles (apart from children's cartoons, which are dubbed).

Halfway through a film there will be a short break. This is so movie-goers can enjoy a cigarette.

Live music in Turkey

The Turks love music. There are many well-attended concerts and gigs in Turkish cities. These range from the classical to pop music with a Turkish twist. Take the time to learn about Turkish music and the locals will love you for it.

Expat-heavy cities have even more of a live music scene, with more Western music being played by foreign musicians in bars and restaurants.

Cost of living in Turkey

As always, I'll point you towards the excellent numbeo cost of living index, in which you can pick the specific city you're interested in (there's a dropdown list at the top of the page).

Utilities in Turkey

See our Guide to Utilities in Turkey and our Guide to the Internet in Turkey.

Expats' Tips

Please share your tips on day-to-day living in Turkey! Email office@guides.global

Conclusion

As with any new country, there will be a lot to get used to for a new expat in Turkey. Thankfully, there are lots of expats - and friendly locals - who will be happy to help you get started.

Other guides of interest

 Description Link 
Turkey Country Guide
Essential facts and figures about Turkey
Click to see this guide
Cultural Differences in Turkey
Learn about the differences between Turkey and your home country
Click to see this guide

You may also want to read:

 Description Link 
How to Bargain Like a Pro in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar and Elsewhere
Haggling tips and tricks
guide to bargaining in turkey

Readers' Comments

 

Further information?

I hope you have found this guide useful. If you need any further help, please contact me.

Francine Carrel

10 February 2017


 

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