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Russians rush from Turkey as costs and restrictions bite

Russians Turkey Istanbul Bridge Pixabay
The Istanbul Bridge. Foreigners are leaving Turkey, with overall residency visa numbers falling from a peak of 1.4 million in 2022 to 1.1 million
  • Russians with residence permits down 37%
  • Total residency permits down 18%
  • Rising costs and restrictions blamed

Rising costs, increased difficulties in obtaining residency permits and tighter enforcement of restrictions on the number of foreign nationals who can live in popular regions are prompting an exodus of Russian citizens from Turkey. 

The number of Russian nationals holding Turkish residence permits has plunged to just over 96,000 as of May 16, down from 154,000 at the end of 2022, according to the interior ministry. 

While Russians are still second on the rankings of foreign residents in Turkey, behind nationals of Turkmenistan, the current total is almost 40 percent down on 17 months ago. 



It is not just Russian nationals, many of whom left for home after the beginning of the war in Ukraine, who are now heading to the door in Turkey.

Overall residency visa numbers fell from a peak of 1.35 million in 2022 to 1.11 million as of May 16, according to the ministry, though the fall is somewhat steeper for Russians than other countries. 

Increasingly tight requirements for residential visas have been cited as a major cause for the reverse flow of Russians and others seeking to live in Turkey, with the government having raised barriers to foreigners settling in the country.

This was in response to public opinion that saw the rising tide of overseas nationals as pushing up housing prices and feeding into inflation, running at nearly 70 percent in April. 

Though still the largest single foreign bloc of investors in the Turkish property market, Russians are no longer the dominant force they were. In April Russian nationals bought 293 houses and flats in Turkey, a far cry from the 817 in the same month last year, according to the Turkish statistical institute. 

The longer-term trend follows a similar line, with 1,650 units sold to Russian buyers in the first four months of the year, as against 4,730 over the January to April period in 2023, according to the institute.

Along with price, another factor impacting real estate sales to Russians in some popular regions is a ceiling imposed by the government on foreigners living in any district.

This has closed off some of the more desirable areas, such as those along the Mediterranean coast, according to Dr. Ahmet Büyükduman, a realtor and property analyst.

“Under Turkish state regulations, the number of foreign nationals cannot go above 25 percent of residents,” Büyükduman told AGBI. “We saw that in the popular Konyaaltı district of Antalya, with the system being closed to new foreign national residencies.”

There could be an upside for locals if the Russian retreat from Turkey continues, Büyükduman said, at least in the Mediterranean regions. 

“Russians leaving would not impact on the overall real estate sector in Turkey but will have an impact in Antalya in particular,” he said.

“Their moving to Antalya pushed up prices of real estate, both sales and rents, and now with them leaving these prices will deflate.”

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