The New Retirement Heaven on the Med


Recently released figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal that an unprecedented number of Britons are leaving the UK to start a new life abroad. Economic uncertainly, the rising cost of living and the fear of crime are common factors encouraging what has been dubbed the largest mass exodus in the last 50 years, with up to 4,000 people emigrating each month.
“A large proportion of those departing have recently retired, joining the 1.3 million British retirees already living abroad,” explains Sarah Woods, editor of the Retirement Property guide. “The traditional European retirement favourite, Spain, is less popular due to its collapsing property market and concerns about over-development and the land-grab. The strength of the euro has also dulled enthusiasm in France, Portugal and Cyprus; while Mediterranean country’s outside the Euro-zone, such as Turkey, are more popular.”
According to Dominic Whiting, editor of Buying in Turkey,, Turkey is seeing a major increase in the number of British retirees setting up home largely because of the country’s excellent value property.
“Of the 23,000 British property owners at least a third are retired and living permanently or for most of the year in the country,” says Dominic Whiting. “They are attracted by the country’s fantastic scenery, warm Mediterranean climate and friendly culture; but also the reasonable property prices and low cost of living, which is about half that in the UK.”
A British pension can easily support a very good standard of living in Turkey. Groceries and locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables are a fraction of the cost with an average weekly shopping bill for a couple of around £70. You can dine out in a restaurant from just £10 a head. Utility bills are significantly lower and there is no need for heating for 8–10 months of the year, although running an air-conditioner in summer can be expensive.
Private healthcare is excellent in Turkey with many “medical tourists” flying to the country from Western Europe for treatment. Medical care in medical centres and hospital is provided by board-certified doctors, many of who have trained in top U.S. or European medical programs.
“The quality of care is equal, and in many cases far superior, to that available in the UK. Most doctors speak English fluently and private hospitals in the coastal areas have many English speaking staff,” says Dominic Whiting.
Due to the lower cost of living, lower staff and doctor’s fees and cheaper medication, the cost of medical care, including dentistry, is typically about half the price of the UK. However, despite the lower costs, it is still advisable to take out medical insurance, which can be arranged through an international insurer or broker specialising in expatriate policies, or through a Turkish insurance company.
International policies typically offer 3 levels of cover, which will include in-patient/day care and emergency repatriation to the UK, along with out-patient care, specialist treatment, dentistry and maternity care, depending on the level of cover.
Medical cover through a Turkish insurance company is cheaper and will typically cover all hospital treatment and a limited number of doctor’s consultations each year. Out patient care and medication can also be included for a higher premium. Emergency repatriation to the UK will be extra. As a rough guide, annual premiums for a 50 year-old and a 60 year-old couple start from £850 and £1,000 respectively. Premiums can generally be paid in 5 or 6 monthly instalments.
The warm, sunny climate, fresh food and low cost of living in Turkey add up to a quality of life that is far superior to that in the UK. Improving air access from the UK – easyJet is just one of several low-cost airlines to start services – make it easy for friends and family to visit regularly, or for frequent trips back to the UK, which is only a three and a half hour flight away.
“The lifestyle is so much more relaxed. We looked in Spain but the property was over our budget. We visited Turkey and fell in love with the unspoilt countryside and the friendliness of the people,” explains retired teacher Elizabeth Ladd, who lives for most of the year with her husband Vivien in a four bedroom villa with pool near Dalaman, “We keep a static caravan in Hampshire near our daughters and grandchildren and we spend the hottest summer months there. The rest of the time we are in Turkey.”
The Ladds have an active social life in Dalaman and have many English and Turkish friends. They also love travelling and shopping in the local markets: “There are four markets on different days in the area, and they are lovely to visit even if you don’t want to buy anything. I often take a camera with me,” says Elizabeth.
Turkish Retirement Hot Spots
Ozdere is a charming seaside town that is popular with Turkish retirees. Located just 30 minutes from Izmir airport, which has year-round flights from the UK, the friendly town has a good selection of shops and services. Property prices are some of the lowest on the coast with two-bedroom apartments in the Gokdare community costing from £36,500.
Dalaman is another popular area for retirees looking for a picturesque area which is authentically Turkish and unchanged by mass tourism.
“Despite its international airport, which gives easy access to the UK and which is served by easyJet flights from Gatwick, the town is a normal Turkish market town. Property in the area is excellent value with prices significantly lower than neighbouring resorts,” explains Dominic Whiting, editor of Buying in Turkey.
The stunningly beautiful area of Akkaya, which is 15 minutes from Dalaman town centre and airport, and which overlooks a lake and mountains, has a choice of villas or apartments which are ideal for retirees. Two bedroom apartments on the award-winning Akkaya Gardens development start from £46,200, or there are four bedroom villas with swimming pools from £149,000 at the Hills – winner of the ‘Best Retirement Development Turkey’ category of the 2008 CNBC European Property Awards.
The holiday resort of Altinkum has an excellent choice of property at reasonable prices and a large British expat community, many of whom are retirees. In the town centre, minutes walk from the main beach and shops, two and three bedroom duplex apartments with roof terrace and built-in barbeque are available for £45,000 and £60,000; or if you prefer something quieter the Green Hills Villa is a 5 bedroom villa with garden and pool in the quiet village of Yesiltepe, 10 minutes from Altinkum, which costs £120,000.
The village of Uzumlu, set in pine-forested mountains near Fethiye, is ideal for retirees and there is a good selection of houses with views over the surrounding farmland and mountains. The winters are mild and sunny; and the beaches and town are only 10 minutes drive away. Villas with large gardens and swimming pools typically start from £140,000.
For retirees with larger budgets, the resorts of Kalkan and Kas have some stunning villas with swimming pools and sea views. Prices for this kind of property typically start from around £200,000.
For details about Turkish property or for advice on buying in Turkey contact the Buying in Turkey Collection on 0845 351 3551 or visit
A free copy of the best-selling Buying in Turkey guide, first published in 2005, can be downloaded at
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Useful Contacts
Medibroker, Tel: 0191 297 2411,
BUPA International, Tel: 01273 208181,