Turkey is an upper-middle economy country that’s located partly in Europe and partly in Asia. Unemployment stands at a rate of 14%, which is relatively high compared to other nearby countries. Turkey is one of the few countries in the world that’s self-sufficient agriculturally and doesn’t rely on other countries for food. Its population is generally young, therefore well-educated and tech-savvy. I have compiled all the necessary information about living and working in this country to help you analyse it in case you plan on moving here. All monetary figures are in dollars. However, the currency used in Turkey is the Turkish Lira (TRY), which equals 0.17 US Dollars ($) as of December 12, 2019.
What is the average Salary in Turkey? Seeing as this will depend on several factors, Turkish workers earn an average of $1,574 per month, which translates to $18,890 a year. These figures are gross and are inclusive of benefits such as housing and transport. This brings the net pay after tax and other compulsory deductions to an average of $458/month. For hourly jobs, the average pay is $9.01 an hour.
Turkey is gradually recovering from the great recession, which caused it to experience great inflation as a result of the country’s high rate of credit borrowing and a decrease in the value of its currency. Currently, the main sources of income are textiles, food produce, boron, copper, electronics, steel, petroleum, lumber, paper, and construction. Export products include apparel, textile, food, metal manufacturers, and transport equipment. The economy grew drastically in 2019 during its third quarter due to the growth experienced in agriculture by 3.8%, industry by 1.6%, and services by 0.6%. The Turkish Lira also increased in value against the US dollar.
Average Salary in Turkey
Salaries in Turkey are determined by location, academic qualifications, skills of the employee, the type of job, and the employer. Below are some of the average monthly salaries in Turkey based on the type of job:
- Chief Executive Officer: $3,729
- Accountant: $1,085
- Attorney: $2,346
- Administrative Assistant: $857
- Chef: $1,350
- Internal Auditor: $1,612
- Secretary: $840
- Waitress: $964
- Cashier: $962.47
- Civil Engineer: $1,473
- Dentist: $3,615
- Nurse: $1,275
- Teacher: $1,256
- Teller: $1,072
- General Manager: $2,766
- Graphic Designer: $1,079
- Pharmacist: $1,800
- Travel Agent: $1,278
- Pilot: $1,951
- Police Officer: $1,300
Working in Turkey as a foreigner
Job opportunities for expats living in Turkey are concentrated in tourism and English teaching. Others are posted in Turkish branches of foreign embassies, non-governmental organisations, and foreign companies. Foreigners are forbidden to take jobs in the medical and legal sectors. For those looking to start a business, keep in mind that the government regulates the types of products that foreigners sell because some products are Turkish government monopolies.
The average weekly working hours for an employee in Turkey should not exceed 45 hours. Overtime is allowed, but each extra hour attracts a 25% increase of the normal hourly rate. Employees are entitled to at least 14 days of paid annual leave after one year of service with a particular employer. There’s also 6 weeks of paid maternity leave and 5 days of paid paternity leave. Foreigners should, however, not expect employers to uphold certain standard western holidays such as Easter and Christmas since over 96% of the Turkish population is Islamic. Only some international and multinational companies recognise them.
Income taxes in Turkey are categorised into two; personal income tax and corporate tax. Personal tax is deducted from an individual’s income and the rate varies from 15% to 35%, depending on one’s income. Corporate tax for companies is charged on their business profits at a rate of 20%.
Another type of taxation, which is levied on expenditure, is the Value Added Tax (VAT). The standard rate is 18%, but there’s also a reduced rate of 8% and 1% applied to specific products. Insurance and banking transaction tax is at a rate of 5%. Property tax rates on apartments, buildings, and land range between 0.1% and 0.6%. Motor vehicle taxes vary with the depreciation rate of the vehicles. Last, but not least, gift and inheritance taxes are deducted at a rate of 1% to 30%.
Although salaries are a bit high, tax rates are just as high, resulting in a very little amount of take-home salary. Companies experience a high cost of labour and still pay high corporate tax rates.
Turkey Average Household Income
Turkey recorded an annual household income per Capita of $3,060.86 in December 2018. This was the all-time lowest figure. The household income dropped considerably due to a decline in the construction sector and the currency crisis the country faced in August 2018. Many people had unpaid credit funds, lost jobs, and experienced a surge in prices. This led to an increase in poverty levels, which reduced the purchasing power of the residents. Rates of investment also reduced due to the rise in foreign currency exchange rates and interest rates. Among its cities, Istanbul had the highest household income per Capita at $6,100 per annum.
Minimum Wage in Turkey
Turkey has a government-mandated minimum wage, which is set by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. Every employer is required by law to abide by the NMW. For 2019, the gross minimum wage was set at 2,558.4/month TRY (440.83) from 2,029.5 TRY (349.66) in 2018; while the net minimum wage rose from 1,603.12/month TRY ($276.20) in 2018 to 2,020.90/month TRY ($348.16) in 2019. The above minimum wage applies to employees who work six days a week and 45 hours a week.
The good news is over a third of the Turkish labour force is paid above the minimum wage. Expatriates living in Turkey are paid based on their duties.
For starters, the basic minimum wage for housekeeping, tourism animator, and massage jobs is 2,558.40 TRY ($440.71)/month.
Foreign workers working as salesmen, export agents, or marketers should receive at least 1.5 times the minimum wage, which comes to about 3,837.60 TRY ($661.03)/month.
Professions that require expertise such as medicine and teaching are paid 7,675.20 TRY ($1,322.08)/month.
Basic managers, architects, and administrative engineers receive a minimum salary of 10,233.60 TRY ($1,762.88)/month.
Lastly, foreign employees at the highest end of the labour force are paid 6.5 times the basic salary, which amounts to 16,629.60 TRY ($2,864.54)/month. Such professions include architects who have applied for initial permits, pilots, senior executives, and civil engineers.
Average Salary in Ankara
Ankara is the capital city of Turkey, but the second-largest city in the country after Istanbul. It replaced the former as the capital city in 1923 after the fall of the Ottomans Empire. It has a population of 5.445 million, which is a third of Istanbul’s.
Salaries in this city range from a minimum of $231/month to a maximum of $7,556/month. The average gross salary is currently at $1,707 per month, which is equivalent to $20,474 a year, while the average salary per hour is $9.86 for hourly jobs. According to recent reports, the average salary has increased by 3% since 2018. Generally, salaries in this city are 9% more than the average salary of Turkey as a whole.
Ankara is important because governmental operations in Turkey are based here. Economic-wise, it’s the second-most-important industrial city after Istanbul. It has factories that produce sugar, macaroni products, wine, beer, milk, cement, biscuits, tractors, flour, construction materials, and mosaic paving. The most developing industries are in the tourism and service sectors.
Most professionals target Ankara because it offers high salaries, a wide variety of job opportunities, good quality facilities, high-quality healthcare services, and the fact that it houses most of the largest corporations in Turkey. It’s also home to many international firms and embassies.
Ankara is a growing hub of innovation and technology. The population consists mainly of young people, therefore social media expats are in high demand by companies that require networking. Engineering is also in high demand with the most popular occupations being computer engineers, software engineers, software developers, and mechanical engineers.
That being said, the Turkish government is the main employer and investor in Ankara. As a result, there is a lot of political influence in the labour market. If you are an investor, Ankara is the perfect choice due to its proximity to Turkey’s important decision-makers.
Cost of Living in Turkey
The cost of living depends on the living standards you choose. If you choose to live like a middle-class Turkish family then $1,000 per month is enough. With about $3,000 per month, you can afford to provide moderate education to your kids, have a Volkswagen-range of car, and a cheap flat. However, you need over $5,000 per month to lead an American standard life. The cost of living also depends on whether you are paying a mortgage, the cost of your rent, and your location.
About 36.7% of one household’s monthly income is spent on grocery shopping. Another 18.8% is spent on transport, 15.2% on monthly rent, 12.1% on eating out, 6.9% on utilities, 6.8% on leisure, and the rest on shoes and clothing. I have discussed the expenses below to give you a clear overview of the cost of living in Turkey:
Market purchases form the largest fraction of one’s expenses. Starting with the most used and popular products:
- A litre of milk – $0.72
- I kg of rice – $1.47
- A loaf of bread (500g) – $0.41
- 12 regular eggs – $1.54
- 1kg of chicken breasts – $3.72
- 1kg of beef – $10.64
- 5-litre bottle of water – $0.33
- 1kg of bananas – $2.01
- 1kg of apples – $0.88
- 1kg of tomatoes – $0.84
- 1kg of onions – $0.64
- 1kg of potatoes – $0.63
The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $232 in the city centres and $148 outside the city, while a three-bedroom apartment in the same areas averages at $400 and $250 per month. Buying is also an option but if you decide to do so on credit, ensure you shop around for a mortgage to get the best deal possible.
Cost of transport
If you’re looking to buy a car, a Toyota Corolla or an equivalent brand new car costs about $22,800, a litre of gasoline costs $1.18, and you’ll also need to budget for insurance. Public transport is, however, the most efficient and fast means of moving around. You can purchase a one-way ticket for $0.52 or a monthly pass at $31.16.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.