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Expat Women Living in Turkey

If you are (or plan to be) an expat living in Turkey, please find below a list of expat clubs, schools, general links for women living in Turkey, country information and more...
Expat Clubs... General Links...
International Schools... Citizens...
Local News in English... Useful Articles...
Country Information... Top 5 Tips...
Settling In Tips...  
International Professional Women of Istanbul Network (IPWIN)
Launched in October 2008, IPWIN is a place where professional women in Istanbul can come and share stories and experiences, tips and information. We would like to see it as both a professional and social network.
International Women's Association of Izmir (IWAI)
Non-profit women's association in Izmir
International Women of Istanbul
We all know how hard it is to move to a different country. Even though some companies help us with the general problems like finding a nice house, settling the kids in an appropriate school, getting a car (and a driver) to go around, the success of an expat adaptation depends on our own personal effort as well. Sooner or later it comes to the point where getting used to the new city or feeling misplaced is completely up to us. To help in overcoming the "cultural clash" or the feeling of "missing old friends", there is nothing better than getting engaged in something.
Newcomers Club
Professional American Women of Istanbul, PAWI
PAWI is a network of American and Canadian women living in Istanbul. We strive to empower and support our members by promoting professional and personal growth. We inspire each other to achieve and share success. PAWI meetings are held the second Saturday of each month, perfect for women with job obligations. Each meeting features a guest speaker, and locations alternate between the European and Asian sides. We look forward to welcoming you!
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An Excellent Resource to Reserve Turkey's Top Restaurants
Rezztoran.com is the only online restaurant reservations network in Turkey, and it is also available in English. It is an excellent resource to review close to 100 of Turkey's most popular restaurants, make your reservation online, invite your friends and print a map all at one place.
Expat Arrivals
ExpatArrivals offers expert info for global expats in over 70 destinations. We partner with expat experts resident in each country to provide relevant, useful local intelligence.
Expats in Turkey
General Information about expat life in Turkey.
Fethiye Times
Community News and Information Centre for SW Turkey.
My Destination is a global travel resource powered by a diverse community of local experts on the ground, providing unrivalled local knowledge and unique local deals.
A rich source for quick and accurate information and a communication gateway for the expat community in Turkey. Includes updated events calendar and yellow pages for Istanbul and Ankara. Services in English, French and German.
Turkey Central
http://www.turkeycentral.com/ (Forums)
Turkey's English-Friendly Internet Directory.
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Bilkent Schools

Bosphorus International Schools Istanbul

British Embassy Study Group Ankara

British International School Istanbul

George Marshall School (US military)

Istanbul International Community School

Nature Languages
Offers Turkish Courses for foreign individuals and groups at all levels throughout the year. Located in Istanbul.

Oasis International School Ankara
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Turkish Daily News (TDN)
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Cost of Living in Istanbul
Istanbul is no doubt an expensive expat destination. This is the opinion of Expat Arrivals expat contributor for Istanbul, Kala Shekhar.
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Turkey Map
Central Intelligence Agency, 2005
Location: Europe/Asia
Capital City: Ankara
Other Important Cities: Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya
Currency: Turkish lira (TRY)
Language: Turkish
Calling Code: 90
Internet TLD: .tr
Electricity: 220V 50Hz
Emergency Numbers: Electricity 186
Emergency 112
Fire Department 110
International Operator 115
IGDAŞ Gas Leak 187
Police 155
Traffic Police 154
Telephone Inquiries 118
Telephone 121
Country Information

Country Study

Embassy Information
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These tips were kindly provided by volunteer Expat Women Mentors in 2007. ExpatWomen.com shares these tips in an effort to help but takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information.
Provided by Maggie S, British Turkish, in Izmir, Turkey
Whatever is going on wherever you are in the world, do something for YOURSELF every day, even if it is only a ten minute sit down with a cup of coffee and your favorite magazine.
Try and learn at least some of the local language, in Izmir of course it is Turkish. If you can go to a course, than you'll meet other newcomers too. Your new neighbors will appreciate it if you can at least say "Good morning" to them!
Find the nearest supermarket and try as soon as possible to start getting into the way of shopping and preparing food for you and your family.
Ask people, check out the net, or buy a guide book and spend a couple of Sundays a month discovering local beauty spots or places of interest. Spend an hour in a local coffee shop on the sea front just watching the world go by.
5. Try and keep an open mind, smile and say "Thank you" in your language, this will smooth any situation.
6. I am cheating here, but I can't resist this one! My motto is – Kill them with kindness! Nice words or smiles or homemade jam or cakes or a photocopied word game or small toy for a tot or a rose bud from your garden etc.
Provided by Tara A, American, in Istanbul, Turkey
1. Find a support network right away.
2. Use public transportation.
3. Get a buddy, preferably a native to show you the ropes.
4. Learn the language! Language exchanges are a good way to learn a language and make a new friend.
5. BRING TAMPONS! They are hard to find!
Provided by Yasemin K, Turkish, in Istanbul, Turkey
Be flexible.
Be open-minded.
Speak a few words of Turkish.
Be respectful of other cultures.
5. Always have a smile on your face.
Provided by Tracey R, Australian, in Bandirma, Turkey
1. Find a good expat site for Istanbul, as you will probably need help to find other expats in Istanbul.
2. Take taxis from major hotels where possible, as taxis off the street can have drivers who are cunning and hard to handle (especially as a woman).
3. Seek out your Embassy, as this will be the largest area to find speakers of your language and they can usually help you find some contacts.
4. People are friendly, so get out and walk around your area and get to know your surroundings.
5. If you are attached to a good company, they will help you hugely in settling in and getting to know the best places to go for help. If not, you have to work a little harder, but hang in there.
Provided by Cilek U, Turkish, Ankara, Turkey
1. Rent a home in a comfortable area (flat in a nice neighbourhood close to the city or a home with garden if possible).
2. Join a sports club.
3. Travel a lot (to Istanbul).
4. Learn Turkish to give yourself freedom.
5. Drive no matter what the traffic is like (again: it will guarantee you freedom).
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ExpatWomen thanks Expats Turkey for supplying the following Settling In Tips for Turkey. This is only a small summary to help you get acquainted with your new country. You can find much more detailed information, including local websites (that we have not included here) at their website http://www.expatsturkey.com/.
Expand/ContractImmigration/Visas and Permits

A visa is required for all U.S. citizens entering Turkey. U.S. citizens may obtain their visas upon entry point in Turkey or in advance from one of the Turkish Consulates around the U.S. Application for a business visa must be done ahead of time, before entering Turkey.

The tourist visa is valid for a year starting from the issue date. There are two different visa types. With a single entry visa, you can enter Turkey only once and stay up to three months. Multiple entry visa, on the other hand allows you to enter and exit the country more than once within one year period specified on your passport and you can stay in Turkey for three months each time.

Visas given at entry points are valid only for three months. Therefore, visas must be obtained in advance for visits lasting longer and for study, research or employment purposes.


Non-U.S. Citizens must apply for their tourist or business visas before going to Turkey. Applicants should directly contact a Turkish Consulate in person, by mail or by a courier service. Please see the Jurisdiction list of the Turkish Consulates for your state.

Ref: http://www.tourismturkey.org

Please contact the Turkish Embassy in your country to ensure you have the correct paperwork needed for traveling.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Expand/ContractCost of Living and Utilities
Living costs on average is cheaper than in Europe though the rents are considerably higher, especially if you are looking for European standards. Food and vegetables are very fresh and cheaper and you can eat well for every budget.
Expand/ContractTelephone Service
All residential phones are connected to the Türk Telekom system which charge by the minute for all local and regional calls, though they have special tariffs for different cases. There are not many alternatives to subscribe to a specialized long distance service as of yet but this market is new and being developed. The GSM market in Turkey is very competitive with three major suppliers competing for the market, major one being Turkcell as well as now Vodafone (Telsim) and Avea.
Expand/ContractTV and Radio
There is a national cable television system and private satellite services such as Digiturk and D-Smart which you have to apply for.
Expand/ContractInternet Access
There are many packages available from dial up services to high speed DSL. The two alternatives are Turk Telekom (ADSL) or Cable TV system for internet.
Expand/ContractPostal Service
The Turkish postal service (Postane) is reliable and it will take 2-3 days to deliver a letter to Europe. For important documents it is best to use the 'registered mail' (iadeli taahütlü) system.

You apply for the local electricity, water and gas companies for these services some of which have now been privatized depending on the area you live. The names to look for is TEDAS (for electricity) and IGDAS (for gas).

Houses and apartments are available for rent and for purchase.

The best neighborhoods in Istanbul are generally on the Bosphorus – both European and Asian sides. The most popular areas for expatriates are in the Etiler, Ulus areas, along the Bosphorus, Kemer Golf & Country Club in Kemerburgaz, Zekeriyaköy area and Alkent 2000 in Büyükçekmece areas. There are also many alternatives for expatriates in the trendy Nişantaşı area as well as Cihangir and Taksim.

Most expatriates choose to rent rather than purchase their home or apartment. Monthly rent can run from €1.000 for a basic studio apartment to €4.000- €5.000 for a modern apartment of 3-4 bedrooms as well as €7.000- €10.000 for a 4-5 bedroom villa.

There are some temporary accommodation facilities for families in the central part of the city like Taksim and Nişantaşı areas.
One official Language: Turkish though English, German and French is spoken in the business world.

English Turkish
Turkish Türkçe
Yes Evet
No Hayır
Hello Merhaba
Good bye Güle güle
Good morning Günaydın
Good night İyi Geceler
Thank you Mersi
Please Lütfen
You're Welcome Birşey değil
My name is... İsmim...
I am... Ben...
How much? Fiyatı ne kadar?
Do you speak English? İngilizce biliyormusunuz?
I do not know Bilmiyorum
How do I get to.....? .... a nasıl giderim?
Expand/ContractMoney and Banks
The currency used in Turkey is TL (Turkish Lira) with exchange rate of 1 USD= 1.5TL approximately and € 1= 2.2 TL

Notes (Turkish Lira): 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200

Coins (Kuruş): 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 1 TL in coin

In order to open a bank account with the local banks you will need your passport. You do not need a permanent address to open a bank account.





Expand/ContractPayment of bills
Pre-authorized debit is an efficient way of paying gas, water, electricity and phone bills. By this method, your bills are automatically deducted from your bank account. To apply you for automatic payment you need to provide a bill of some sort in your name. The arrangements are usually made through your local bank.

All of the major banks have an Internet banking facility and some now have it also in English.
Expand/ContractHealth care
No vaccinations are required to enter the country though it is advisable to have your Hepatitis shots, Hep. A and Hep. B as it is not safe to drink the water. It is advisable to drink the bottled waters which can be bought everywhere and exercise normal caution with food in open areas.

An expat /family working for a company is best covered by their private or company health insurance. The private hospitals are very good and the health care at private hospitals is recommended. There are many doctors who speak English, German and French and it is best to find them through local contacts.

There are many Pharmacies (Eczane) and you can find all sorts of medicines as well as products. You do not need a prescription for most of the medicines.
There are 3 main international schools where English is the main language for learning (ages 3-18). There are also several very good English-medium preschools available for parents with younger children. For parents coming in and seeking French or German speaking schools there are also a few alternatives.

A list of schools is available on the http://www.expatsturkey.com site.
Expand/ContractCars and Drivers Licenses
People drive on the right hand side. The legal driving age is 18. If you have an native driver's license, it is best to apply for an international in Turkey with this.

Istanbul has a good motorway system though not all areas have motorway access. There are toll roads on the motorways though the traffic, especially during rush hour, can be difficult.

It is quite easy for an expat to get automobile insurance in Turkey. If you have a good driving record in your most recent country of residence, you should request a copy of your record from your insurance company so that you can get a reduced rate in Turkey.
Expand/ContractDriver's Licence
Most of the public transportation is by buses, boat or minibuses as well as a 'dolmus' which is a taxi where the fare is shared by all the persons. If you will be using the public system it is advisable to purchase an 'akbil' a card that can be loaded with credit for fares. The metro is new and perfect if you would like to avoid some of the traffic downtown in the Taksim area.

Most of the intercity travel can be done by use of buses and trains as well as airlines.
Grocery stores: Carrefour, Makro Supermarket, Migros, DIA, Tansas, REAL

Household stores: IKEA, Bauhaus, Praktiker, Koctas are local brands that are recommended. For furnitures try Kelebek Mobilya, Tepe Mobilya, Yataş, Istikbal.

Electronics and appliances: TeknoSA, Media Markt, Vatan Bilgisayar, Darty, Saturn.
Expand/ContractDress Code
There is no specific dress code for men, women or children in Turkey though it is advisable to be respectful, i.e. covering your head and removing your shoes, when visiting religious buildings like 'mosques'. Most offices would have a smart dress policy.
Expand/ContractHousehold Help
Household help is readily available in Turkey mainly in the form of foreign nannies or housekeepers. The foreign nannies charge more than the local personnel as they speak English and this is what most expatriates would prefer. Gardening services are also available.
There are many multinational corporations with offices in Turkey and Istanbul is the hub of these corporations.

A spouse is permitted to work if he or she has a work permit, the application for this permit has to be done by the employer of the person.

Obtaining a work permit is not very easy. Spouses are most likely to find work with the help of an employment agency or through personal contacts.
There are many organizations for expats in Turkey. Refer to http://www.expatsTurkeycom for a list of organizations. The largest is the International Women of Istanbul, http://www.iwi-tr.org

Istanbul is lively with many music and art festivals throughout the year. The dining is superb and you can find a restaurant for every taste. The Turkish cuisine is very well known and you can sample dishes at local restaurants for every budget.

The most popular sports are soccer and basketball. The Turks are soccer fanatics and enjoy going to football matches. Golf is becoming popular and there are excellent golf clubs in Istanbul and in the Belek, Antalya regions.

You can practice almost every sport as well as find quality sports centers in the large cities.
Istanbul has four seasons, the winters are not too severe though there will be a few snowy days. The spring and fall are mild and very pleasant with lots of sunshine. In the summer especially the southern resorts can be very hot during the month of August.
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Expat Women: Confessions – 50 Answers to Your Real-Life Questions about Living Abroad