It’s been almost 3 months that I live in Turkey. There’s a ton of stuff I learned during working remotely here. So let me do a recap.
Big cities (Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir) have an okay connection (not good and definitely not great) with an average of 15-18mbps download and 5mbps upload. Not entirely sure but the upload speed is horrible everywhere, that’s why you may find it difficult to speak on a video call. Be aware of that. The rule of thumb is the closer you move to the south, the worse is the internet, especially if you’re surrounded by mountains.
Also, never stay in a hotel in tourist spots (Antalya, Fethiye, Marmaris) if you work remotely in Turkey unless it’s a 5-star hotel. The internet there is either super bad (2mbps) because of a lot of people or isn’t included at all (quite common).
A much better option for your sanity is an apartment, villa, Airbnb, etc. But make sure to ask the internet speed in advance, even point them to speedtest (I’m that annoying).
Sometimes I don’t choose a nice apartment because of the internet because a lot of cafes don’t have it or it doesn’t work even if it’s available. Some cafes have open WiFi which is not secure, the other cut you off unexpectedly, or even worse you connect to the network but you can’t do a thing. 😂 In general, there are a lot of fabulous cafes in Istanbul and bigger cities. It feels inspiring working there.
Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of co-working spaces so I can’t tell the internet situation there but there are a plenty of options in big cities, just do a quick search.
Lastly, mobile internet is a bit expensive. I used my travel sim but prepare to pay up to $30/month if you do a lot of video stuff via your phone.
I recommend renting via Facebook groups if you stay for at least a month, Airbnb if you stay between 2-3 weeks, and a hotel for a couple of days. The reason why Facebook works better is because they have quite a lot of options and it’s 2-3 times cheaper than Airbnb. Just search for “__ rent, expats living in __, __ apartments”, join all of those groups, write a post with a decent description, and wait for tons of DMs.
Don’t forget to check a spam folder in message requests too. I missed great deals because I didn’t know Facebook has such a terrible UX team. P.S. This works only on the web version.
By the way, I think apartments are better because you can cook, wash clothing, and live a normal life without feeling like a tourist, which it’s important (trust me).
A quick hack that can save you money on Airbnb is to message a host first and ask to pay with cash. You can save up to $100 each month because you don’t have to pay for a service and cleaning fee. They never clean on Airbnb in any case. You’re welcome.
It is also quite popular to rent rooms in Turkey, this you may end up living with a bunch of interesting or weird people. If you choose this option, please don’t use Airbnb if possible. My friend was banned from Airbnb because some random person didn’t like something in her behavior and just complained about her to Airbnb. Crazy story tbh, so keep in mind if you like staying in the company of strangers.
Weird, expensive, and time-consuming. That’s all that I’m going to say. Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir are quite big, thus there’s always a chance that you will be lost or get stuck in the traffic at some point, even during the night.
The best way to move between areas is a ferry. I did that all the time in Istanbul. It’s fast enough, super chill, and memorable.
I also like Marty, an e-scooter that is extremely convenient and fairly cheap. You can find those on any street and they can easily replace taxis, buses, etc. in the future. There are very convenient roads on the seaside for both e-scooters and bicycles, thus it’s only a pleasure to drive those. Marty saved my ass multiple times when I was late so don’t skip it.
If you drive a motorbike/scooter, you’re in the right country. The roads are great, and the drivers are not too crazy. However, you’ll need to have a corresponding driving license for that. ASEAN license worked for me but for some countries, you’ll need something more solid if your country doesn’t issue licenses for motorbikes.
The gas is very expensive in Turkey. Once we rented a car in Oludeniz and filled a full tank for $40. 😱
Public transport is not intuitive at all and there are no metro and local mini-busses on Google maps. That’s why you may end up spending too much time on the road. There’s some map that is dedicated to Turkish cities but I was too lazy to install it.
Taxi is not expensive and you can catch it on any corner. There’s also a cool app called BiTaksi, it is even cheaper. In some cities (e.g. Dalaman) taxi meter is either broken or has its own rules. I paid almost $15 for a 5-min ride. 😂 Istanbul doesn’t have this problem thankfully.
Hitchhiking works, at least in Dalaman and Oludeniz. I was pleasantly surprised. 😆
Turkish people eat a lot of cheese, lamb, fish, sweets, fruits, fast food, yogurt. They also drink Turkish tea (basically a regular black tea) obsessively. They love it so much, they will bring it to you for free after every meal or if you sit for a while in the same place. I guess that’s a part of their culture, just as being generous and helpful to others.
Most of the food is literally lamb or chicken. I don’t like lamb but for whatever reason, they kept bringing me it almost every time, even if the dish shouldn’t have it. 😂
Also, fruits. They are delicious and cheap. My favorite one is fig. I was eating a kilo or so every day when I was living in Izmir, it is that good. You can easily find pomegranate juice and fruit on any street too. It is extremely popular here.
Fruit wines, kebabs, rice puddings, weird tomato and lentil soups, menemen, boreks, and so many baked things in the oven. Oh my, Turkish food is awesome.
On top of all that, you can apply for a Turkish residency online. You’ve heard it right, online. This may take some time to do but I know a few people who have it, so feel free to reach out if you’re interested.
To sum up, Turkey is a great place to work remotely if you consider the items I mentioned above. The people are super nice and will always help you out. And yeah, Istanbul is my fav spot so far.