Moving to Mersin?

I get an incredible amount of emails from people thinking of moving to Mersin or Icel.  Apart from shaking my head in bewilderment at the idea (just joking.  I love it here … sometimes) living in Mersin or even living in Turkey offers you a good quality of life in a cultural hybrid of East and West.  It has its history, dramatic geography and frankly in Mersin it has pretty good weather virtually all year round.


I usually write lengthy replies about the do’s and do not’s that I have experienced firsthand living in Mersin.  I think I’ve got my reply down to a fine art, with some slight modification as the need arises.  So what are my “do’s and do nots” for moving to Mersin?

DO think about your decision.

Why are you coming to Mersin?  Is it for adventure?  Is it for love?  Is it for money?  Moving to the other side of the world or even the other side of the State is a huge decision.  So many factors.  Short term or forever?  Rent/sell your home.  Give up your lease.  Pack your whole life into boxes.  Storage or cargo?  Pets?  Bring them or adopt them out?  (I obviously brought my two fur-babies with me and frankly could not of even imagined this move without them).  Kids?  Bring them or adopt them out?  I am just joking.  Seriously I am.  Remember though there are no hurdles too high.


DO your research.

What area do you want to live?  Mezitli?  Pozcu?  Carsi?  Mersin is a large city and Icel is even larger (which includes Erdemli, Silifki, Anamur through to Tarsus).  There is a lot of choice.  Kiralama daire (renting an apartment) in the city of Mersin is quite cheap compared to many cities throughout Türkiye.  Do inspect before you sign anything as the quality may not be as high as you would be used to and check what outgoings are included.  Also remember that it is normal for you to purchase your own appliances (yes including your stove) and even light fittings.

What school okul do you want your children to go to?  There are some great özel okul (private schools) in Icel but they are hugely expensive so factor that cost in and mostly they will teach in Türk.  Originally we chose to put Daughter in a village school to give her an opportunity to learn the language by immersing herself in it.  The teachers at the village school were incredibly helpful.  I could not fault them at all and the children were incredibly generous and welcoming.  Daughter even had a nemesis which is, in her opinion, the ultimate show of acceptance.  After two years of learning Türk we moved her to an özel okul which gave us an entirely new set of challenges to overcome.

Where will you be working?  Are you allowed to work?  This is, of course, visa dependent.  Do not attempt to work without a visa.  It will bite you in the ass.  There is a desperate need for English speaking teachers in Mersin along with German and French.  English teachers seem to earn a good living so it can be quite lucrative if you have the right credentials.

DO get the right visa.

You will no doubt be scratching your head with the paperwork, fees, requirements and general stroke inducing migraines that a brought on while traversing the myriad of obtaining the correct visa.  There are different types of visas, short term (tourism), student visa and employment visa.  An employment visa will only be issued if you have a signed job contract and a work permit issued by Çalışma ve Sosyal Güvenlik Bakanlığı (Ministry of Labour and Social Security).  This application must be done in your country of residence.

You will also need a residence permit which must be applied for within 30 days of arrival.  This is issued from the Emniyet Müdürlüğü Yabancılar Şubesi Foreigner’s Division/Alien’s Branch of the Local Police Department and as I mentioned in a previous post entering this place is like entering Mordor.


There is a lot of supporting documentation required as well so be prepared.  For example – proof of your financial situation, copies of rental agreements or ownership of your own property and (in my case) proof of marriage.  Do yourselves a favour and photocopy all your documents at least 10 times, more if you can.  Also ensure that all documents are translated into Turkish.  Do not believe the person on the street (or on this blog or that blog), you need everything translated into Turkish.  Birth Certificate – translate it.  Marriage Certificate – translate it.  If your child is to go to school you need a document from the school confirming enrolment stamped by the Turkish Consulate in your home country and then translated into Turkish.  Incidentally it was cheaper for us to translate here in Mersin at a Noter rather than back in Sydney.  Finally passport photos.  You have some?  Get more!

DO make friends – with both expats and locals.

I know, I know I do not always take my own advice but I did talk to an amazing amount of people before I moved here on various expat sites.  These guys are already living in Mersin or in Turkey and they will prepare you for the bumps in the road (there will be bumps, sinkholes and even a few bottomless pits before you begin to feel at home here).  Living here is a great experience but it’s not always easy being an immigrant.

DO learn the language.

I wish I had.  I blame The Turk.  Of course now I find myself without the benefit of language.  Paying a bill.  Difficult!  Shopping?  Difficult!  Doctor?  Dentist?  Government office?  Difficult!  Difficult! Difficult!!!  Do a course.  Try Babbel.  Do something so you are not drowning in the deep end.  Mersin is not particularly expat friendly so any attempt to speak the native language will put you in good stead with your landlord or employer or even that bored Government employee.

DO it.  Just do it!

As for the Do not’s I only have one –

DO NOT live with regret.

Oh wait one other piece of advice that will change your life – bring mosquito repellent!  It does not matter how much you have or what brand you have, bring more!  The mosquito’s here are the most desperate bloody suckers you will ever come across.  They may not sparkle in sunlight but they are lethal from dusk to dawn!


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23 thoughts on “Moving to Mersin?

  1. Desperate mosquitoes. Can we say, “Ow?” I’m told the mosquitoes in Alaska are huge, but I don’t want to go to Alaska because it’s too cold. Turkey? That might be a possibility if I become rich which is about as likely as a summer in Florida without Mosquitoes. 🙂

    Are you making any headway learning the language?


      • I never could watch soap operas. My father used to watch them and so did my 2nd husband. It was so funny–my mom and I would laugh about it mostly because the ones they watched were on different channels and there was only 1 TV when we visited.


      • I didn’t either back in Sydney but there is such a glut of them here – it doesn’t matter what channel you turn on there’s someone crying or someone in gaol blah blah blah. It’s either that or political commentary – yikes!


      • I would imagine a choice between any political commentary and soap operas isn’t much of a choice. Both are overly dramatic and not particularly based in reality. 🙂


  2. This list is perfect. I can’t praise Turkish city planning very often, but Mersin was designed very well. It’s located so perfectly between the mountains and the sea, the bus system kinda makes sense, and I’ve heard it’s actually the cheapest city in all of Turkey. Also, regarding TV as a language tool, I watch Survivor. I never watched it in the States, but here they put subtitles on the screen and it’s a great way to learn verbs because there’s always so much action. 🙂


  3. Hey,

    I live in Scotland but I was born in Mersin,
    Coming back to see my family in July – I’ve not been in 5 years so I guess a lot of things have changed!

    Hope to keep in touch, love your blog.
    This is extremely useful for those who are thinking about moving to Mersin – or even Turkey for that matter.

    Lots of love,


  4. Hi!
    Stumbled upon your blog looking into things about moving to Mersin. Im possibly moving there so my fiance can be near his family. But I’m like you.. my turkish stinks and I’m worried I won’t be able to find a job..

    Alot of worries and concerns and just need some more brutal truths I guess..


    • Hi Meredith, depending on your work jobs are plentiful. True not many speak English but you can muddle through. There is an expats group on FB join it and ask away. Great bunch of peeps.


  5. Hi Jane,

    Bless you for your blogs. I am currently in Mersin partly because of your writings. I hope to begin a new life here.

    Hope to personally meet you if you are still around.



    • Dear Janey. I’m moving to Mersin this month and still do not know what school to choose for my kids. They speak a little Turkish, but have never studied in Turkish. If choosing among Ted, Doga or Tarsus colleges which one would be a better choice.


      • Hi Mariana, All schools teach in Turkish, there are no international options. I think Tarsus is outrageously expensive. TED is a good choice (but quite a distance from the centre of town, Doga is also a little out of the way but close to the stadium. Inbox me or find me on FB and send me a note there and we can chat. Happy to give you some insight. There is also an expats group with lots of teachers that could possible help with your choice “expats in Mersin”.


  6. Thanks for the tips, came across your blog after searching for expats living in Mersin or Tarsus. I’ll be moving to Tarsus from the Caribbean for work. I just signed up to Babbel thanks for the recommendation, and overall tips-especially the mosquito tid bit.


  7. Hi Jane. Thanks to invest your time to create this blog.

    I am wondering about social life there. I have a choice to move there for job but actually I am not sure about it, because i am afraid about how is the people, is they are close mind or aggresive with the foreigners, or things like that.

    I live in an small village in izmir, so I thik I can get use to it, ( I imagine there are not much foreigners) maybe I am wrong. The thing is, i would like to have more info.

    Can you help me?


    • I like to think that Mersin is the best of both worlds. They are open to foreigners and I’ve never felt unsafe or unwanted here but they are still very much set in their Turkish ways. Us yabancilar stick together (there’s a group of mostly women) and we get together weekly (well maybe not right now thanks to covid) and we usually have each other’s backs. Look me up on FB and inbox me if you want more info.


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