Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Living and Working in Bursa

I’m often asked what it’s like living and working in Turkey, particularly what it’s like living in Bursa. Many people want to know about the cost of living in Bursa, how difficult is finding a job and what the quality of life is like in Bursa. I’ll try to cover as much as possible without boring you too much. After all, there are many blogs out there with many different views about living and working in Turkey, the following is my opinion.

First and foremost, I live in Turkey to be with my wife, Duygu. We came here to be near her family and friends and to travel. Working comes second. Since I am a foreigner and my Turkish skills are mediocre at best, I am limited with what I can do to earn money. Naturally, since English is my native language, I chose to teach. There may be some international companies out there that would hire me as is, but it’s all about who you know here and I don’t know many people—yet. I could work in the tourism sector but I am just getting to know the country. It really all boils down to the fact that I am not fluent in Turkish. Once my Turkish improves, I do believe that doors will open.

When it comes to teaching English, there are many private K-12 schools, as well as private language schools. Not all schools are created equally. Some offer housing, some do not. Some will employ you under the table (illegally), others will work with you to secure a legal residency and work permit while in Turkey. My advice to you is that you: stay far away from schools that are not willing to employ you legally. You do not want to face the consequences from the Turkish government if you get caught working illegally.

If you end up working for a private K-12 school, you will typically work a 9-5 schedule with occasional Saturdays—the number of Saturdays depends on your school. If you work for a language school, be prepared to work evenings and weekends, when most people are out of school or not working. The pay is similar between the two for starting teachers with more reputable private K-12 schools typically paying a bit more.  

Bursa is a nice city and is located 2 hours away from Istanbul by ferry. It claims to be the 4th largest city in Turkey after Izmir. The air is fresh, we are near the sea in Mudanya and Mt. Uludag is about 45 minutes from the city center for skiing and other outdoor activities. On the other hand, Bursa is a conservative city. When compared to Istanbul the nightlife here is pretty much non-existent. There are some bars and cafes that you can visit to have a drink and relax, but in the winter, be prepared to make a reservation to go to a Red Robin/Applebee’s style restaurant to eat and drink on Friday and Saturday nights.

Rent in Bursa can be as low as 450 lira per month in the older city center, all the way up to 1200 lira or more for newer places located in trendy new neighborhoods. On Average, expect to rent a 2 bedroom, decent and clean place for around 800 lira.

Like the rest of Turkey, Bursa is relatively inexpensive compared to the US and most of Europe. Meats, electronics, cars and gas tend to be more expensive as these items are considered luxury items by the Turkish Government and are usually taxed accordingly.

If you’re on the fence about coming to Bursa, I would say go for it! It truly is a lovely place to live and work.


  1. Hey There Matt,

    Can you recommend any recruiters or websites to look for employment as an ESL teacher in a reputable school in Turkey? Thanks in advance for your help.



    1. Hi Nia,

      When searching for new teaching jobs, there are a few sites I check out. A few of the sites are in Turkish but aren't too difficult to navigate.


      Good luck in your search!

  2. Hi,

    Here's a question for you - my head is completely blown with all this information about residence permit and I am hopelessly confused now. Some say I must go to Istanbul for it, some say I can do it in Bursa, some say I need to pay just booklet price+per month staying, some add up another 300+ lira for it. Could you help me out here?

    Thanks in advance,


  3. Hi Grete,

    If you are living/or working in Bursa, you can do everything here. You do not need to go to Istanbul. There is a possibility that different circumstances require different steps, but for most of us it's pretty straight forward.

    If a Turkish person can go with you to the Foreigner Police Station (Yabanci Subesi), your life will be much easier. I have never heard of a month to month residency permit, but I have seen permits as short as 6 months.

    When I got my residency permit, the booklet cost 149.00 TL and then 128.00 TL for the first year. I am sure the price has since increased.

    My advice to you: go to the Yabanci Subesi in Bursa and ask them exactly what you need to do. I believe the closest metro stop is the Davutdede stop. If you don't have a Turkish friend with you, hopefully you can find someone that speaks English.

    Good luck!

    1. Hey!

      Thanks for such a swift reply.
      Thing is, we went there some time ago and person we spoke to nearly with foam by his mouth was telling us, that I have to, I quote "go back to home and take visa from there", even after we explained that I want to take residence permit for touristic purposes.
      After he said he can't help us and didn't seem like wishing to continue the dialogue, I made the appointment at Istanbul, which is next week.
      I don't mind taking the trip, but my main concern is that they might send me back and say go to Bursa.

  4. Hi, can you make a post about the living experience in Bursa, in itself? I mean, how you get around, what is normal, how to blend in and such things useful for people going to Bursa wanting to fit in. Thanks

  5. Hi Matt,

    There`s question: Do you know address of Yabanci Subesi in Bursa? How I can get a residence permit? and how much it costs?

    Thanks in advance
    Best regards,

  6. Hi Shahnoza,

    The address for the Bursa Yabancilar Subesi is: Anadolu Mah. Ankara Cad. No: 45/A Yildirim/Bursa. 0 224 360 91 10. If my memory is correct, it is within walking distance to the Davutdede metro station.

    With regards to the process and fees of a residency permit, the rules and costs vary depending on the country to are from. For example, the last time I renewed my permit, it cost 370 TL for three years. Also, I am married to a Turk, so my situation could be different than others.

    To apply, you must go to the location above and fill out a form. I recommend bringing a Turkish friend with you, if possible.

    Good luck!

  7. So , nice story .. İm coming too to bursa next month :) .. Btw can i ask u q plz ))

    Did u become muslim. ? So that u can be married to muslim girl ? Cuz its forbidden in islam for girl to marry non musli üm guy ))

    Good luck man

    1. I can’t tell if you are genuinely concerned about me going to hell or if you’re joking. Either way, neither of us care. I guess that makes both of us infidels in the eyes of all religions so we’re both going to H-E-double-hockeysticks. :D

  8. Hi Matt,
    First of all, thank you for all the useful information you have provided here. I have an job offer with a salary around 3000 TL/month and would like to have more information before I make a decision. Considering the things you have pointed out, do you think I can have a good life while I'm living there. My wife and my son will be with me as well. We have lived in an English language country for around 5 years. My son is 14 and speaks English completely fluent and so he would like to go to an English language high school. Can you give me please information about tuition fees in both public high school and private high school. Is there any problem with my family particularly with my son as we consider as foreigners. I appreciate your helps in advance.

    1. Hello Behrouz,

      Thanks for checking out my blog. I hope to answer some of your questions below.

      Congratulations on your job offer. A 3000 TL salary in Bursa isn't bad on the surface, but considering you have a wife and son to look after, 3000 isn't a whole lot. Some of the higher cost things to consider are rent, tuition for private schools (more below), heating you house in the winter, owning a car (gas + Insurance = $$$) and everyday bills (cell phones, internet, electric, etc). You should also consider the costs of entertainment. If you plan on traveling outside of Turkey while earning TL, consider todays exchange rate. The Lira has plummeted these past few weeks. If there's a possibility of your wife working--even offering lessons in your native language--that would certainly be beneficial.

      That's great your son is fluent in English. If he has no experience with Turkish, I think he will have a tough time here. While there are some English speaking middle/high school kids in Bursa, they seem to be few and far between. This could be an excellent opportunity for him to improve his Turkish, quickly. It's been my experience that Turkish kids generally take on well to foreigners. I am sure he would make friends easily.

      Unfortunately there are no true English speaking high schools in Bursa. There are some private schools that offer decent (not excellent) English language programs where they teach around 10 hours of English a week, but tuition for those schools can range from 10k-23k per year.

      If your son is motivated, consider enrolling him in a public school. It's free and I am sure he'd pick up Turkish very quickly. When my wife and I decide to have kids, we've already decided that we would send our child to a public school rather than a private school.

      I am not sure if there are any "true" international schools in Turkey. If you find one, I'm sure the tuition would be extremely high.

      In general, Turks like foreigners and love to share their culture with us. I've been here nearly 3 years and never once have I experienced hostility from a Turkish person.

      Anyway, I hope this helps. Good luck with your decision and move. If you have any other questions, please let me know. :D

  9. Thanks Matt for your great advice. Now, I can make a better decision.

    Be Safe

  10. Hi
    Im zehra i read so many problems people are facing here and you have answerd so nicely and sincerely .now i also have one question to ask my husband is from pakistan and he wants to do some business like rice ,football,leather jackets , marbles ect .he dont know the language and he dont know the buyers so please help me out in this .
    Thankng u alot

  11. Hi Zakia,

    Thanks for your kind comments.

    Unfortunately, it's going to be very tough for your husband to work for himself (or for any company really) if he doesn't speak Turkish. If he spoke English, his chances may be a bit better--but it's still very tough.

    Maybe when you get here you guys can enrol in an intensive Turkish program like one offered through Tomer.

    Whatever you decide to do, good luck!

  12. Hello Matt,
    I read the comments above, and they are really beneficial. I was looking lately how is to live in Bursa. I'm Lebanese & my fiance is turkish living in Bursa. I'm concerned if i move there, how i can find a job especially in my domain which is Laboratory & Biotechnology. The related companies are found in Istanbul & Ankara. Actually I'm learning turkish here in lebanon ( its quite not easy language), and i speak fluently french, english & arabic, and now very little turkish. Can this help me in finding a work easily out there, even if in any other domain like tourism for example?
    thanks for your comment


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  14. Hi Mat,

    I have a job offer to teach at wall street english in Bursa. I am not sure if l want to take the offer because i'm pretty worried about the fact that Bursa is a very conservative city. Do they have a high crime rate there? Also i was offere 2200 tyl a month will i be able to live off comfortably with that? Please help!


    1. Hi Joyce,

      I'm so sorry it has taken some time to reply.

      While I haven't worked at Wall Street myself, I have know many people to do so. 2200 TL isn't all that bad (as long as they are paying your rent or giving you housing). You can make quite a bit more working for a private school in Bursa--3000-4500TL range, but it is much more stressful. If you accept your position, be prepared to work weird schedules 6 days a week. You are correct in that parts of Bursa are quite conservative. If you can live in the Nilufer area I think you'd feel quite comfortable. With Fatih Sultan Mehmet boulevard and Podyum Park near by, there are lots of options for food and drinks.
      Crime in Bursa (and Turkey for that matter) is really low compared to the US and many other developed nations around the globe.
      Whatever you decide to do, good luck!

  15. warm greeting;
    Iam kamel eddine tabti from Algeria,

    I finished may studies in master level here in Algeria (master in English literature and civilisation) in 2015
    and I want to further my studies as Doctorat student at your country, and I would like to ask you about when the admission of the coming year starts?

    I took 5.5 in IELTS exam is it enough !! to get acceptance

    I want to study turkish language in minimum price!! where can i find that!!

    and how much it will cost me to study doctorate level at your universities

    waiting for your answer, kind regars

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Hi Matt

    Do yo know any turkish language course in Bursa? I'm an italian worker and I'm going to stay in Bursa for some months, and I'd like to learn some turkish, just for the basic things.

    thank you

  18. Hey Lapo,

    Welcome to Bursa. I'll post some links below of some Turkish resources in Bursa. I also recommend checking out local language schools (Wall Street, Just English, etc.) to see if they offer Turkish courses for foreigners.

    This is offered by the local city government but the site is in Turkish: http://busmek.bursa.bel.tr

    Tomer also offers Turkish courses but they are pretty intensive: http://tomer.ankara.edu.tr/bursa-subesi/

    Lastly, if you haven't done so already, you should join our Foreigner in Bursa Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ForeignersInBursa/

    Ciao for now!

    1. Tecekkurler!
      I'll check the websites!

      bay bay and thank you again

  19. Hi,
    I visited bursa in 2014 and would be visiting again next month. Currently, i am doing PhD in Communication Engineering. Do you think a person with a PhD can find a good job in bursa? If yes, can you please provide me detailed information about it.

    1. Hi Syed,

      Welcome back to Bursa. Do you speak Turkish? If so, you would have a much easier time finding work in Bursa if you speak Turkish. If you don't speak Turkish, you'll have a difficult time finding work--even with a PhD. Outside of teaching your mother language to Turks, there is little you will be able to do here to earn money. I suggest looking into online work and try to network with as many Turkish people and local companies as possible. Good luck!

    2. So, do you have any knowledge about local companies in bursa who are into the aforementioned field?

    3. I dont, sorry. You may want to start here: http://bfy.tw/8GaJ

  20. Hello Matt. I am a Georgian( the republic of Georgia) living in Bursa. Previously I got prepared in Just English and get less score that I had gotten without preparation. Could you please suggest my the best way getting prepared for TOEFL? I am also interested in GRE too

    1. Hi there. You may want to consider private (one on one) English lessons. Private lessons range from 50-150 TL per hour in Bursa but keep in mind, you get what you pay for. Good luck!

  21. Hey Matt, my wife and I just bought an apartment by Kent Maydan. We love it here and we would like to learn the language. Any suggestions regarding good schools, as we are planning to take intensive classes in the summer time?

    1. Hi Unknown, the best place to take intensive Turkish lessons is at Tomer. It's a branch of Ankara University and they have a pretty good Turkish program. Check out the info here:


      Unfortunately it's in Turkish, so you may have better luck visiting the branch in person to get the info you're looking for . Good luck and welcome to Bursa!

  22. Hey Matt,
    I am planning on moving to Mudanya - Bursa after 3 months. I've visited Bursa before and I like the fact that its cheap and just 1.5 -2 hours from istanbul. I basically work online and make around 6500 tl a month which I guess should be more than enough to support my wife and mom. This amount obviously includes everything. Further, I've saved around 70.000 tl just in case anything goes wrong or some additional expenses comes up. My question is, will it be easy to get 1 year residence permit for myself, my wife and my mom. Like I said, I've enough money to support my family for at least an year, is there any chance of rejection?

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