[Editor’s note: This letter was written by Viktorija, our Sovereign Woman]
If Simon were writing this letter, I have no doubt he would start off telling you a wonderful tale dating back thousands of years to Turkey’s ancient history… probably something about the Trojan War.
I’ve always been a fan of Simon’s historical stories. But I don’t have his command of the humanities.
So I’ll start off today’s letter telling you about traffic… something I’m sure we can all appreciate.
Istanbul has plenty of it. In fact, Istanbul consistently ranks among the most heavily congested cities in the world according to TomTom’s annual Traffic Index.
And having visited nearly 100 countries in the world, I’d have to agree: traffic in Istanbul is chaotic. It’s also kind of a joke here that, if you take one wrong turn, you end up in Asia.
That’s exactly what happened to me a few days ago when I was heading to a meeting with a real estate developer.
My driver took a wrong turn. And next thing we knew, we were crossing a bridge and I saw a sign that said, “Welcome to Asia”.
I still appreciated the tour; this city has grown on me with each visit.
(I connect through Istanbul frequently because the country’s flagship airline, Turkish Air, flies just about everywhere you can imagine.)
Istanbul is a massive, transcontinental megacity. It’s home to more than 20 million people, split between two continents, and two worlds.
And that’s really the metaphor for this place: between two worlds.
Turkey is simultaneously traditional and modern. Organized yet chaotic. And fraught with both risk and opportunity.
The political situation is an abomination, and the currency has been in free fall. But it’s actually one of the region’s fastest growing economies and has been successful in attracting foreign investors.
Turkey realized that there are tremendous economic benefits in rolling out the red carpet for prosperous foreigners, and one of their initiatives here is the Turkish Citizenship By Investment Program.
I’ve been checking out the program since I arrived, and it’s actually pretty interesting.
A lot of places that offer these second passport investment programs (like in the Caribbean) are realistically ‘Citizenship By Donation’ programs. You write a check to the government and they give you a passport.
But Turkey is looking for real investments.
One qualifying project I saw was a real estate development located at a major historical site, very close to the sea.
The views are incredible; it would be like having the Roman Coliseum in your backyard, and a view to the sea in your front yard. Pretty unique.
But what’s really interesting is the rental yields for the development are quite strong. So it can actually offer a solid return on investment while simultaneously providing an additional passport.
There are plenty of other projects– manufacturing businesses, technology companies, and tons of real estate developments, including in oceanfront resort citiess like Bodrum.
(And many developers offer VR tours so you can check it out without leaving your home.)
Plus, anyone who decides that Turkey may be the right place to invest (and receive citizenship) can do the paperwork at their nearest Turkish consulate, and receive a passport within six months.
Now, a lot of people might decide that Turkey is not for them. And that’s fair.
For people in North America, for example, Turkey is a bit far and a Turkish passport doesn’t provide all that much visa-free travel.
But for other people, it really ticks all the boxes.
Just the other day I had tea with a successful businessman from Pakistan; he recently applied for Turkey’s Citizenship-by-Investment, and he could not be more excited about moving to Istanbul with his family.
He shared with me that, while his businesses are doing well in Pakistan, there are many limitations there which prevent further growth.
To him, Turkey represents a fantastic market to expand his businesses and prosperity.
But he is even more excited about bringing his daughters to Turkey.
Moving from Pakistan, Turkey is a major step up for them in terms of the cultural freedoms that they’ll experience.
Living in Istanbul, his daughters will be able to work, study, travel, and make choices for themselves that would not have been available to them in Pakistan.
He told me that they had considered a number of different countries to relocate and settle, including the United Kingdom and Spain.
But the family decided that Turkey fits their needs the best.
Turkey has a gorgeous coastline and great weather. Its culture is extremely unique and you can live a very high quality of life.
Agriculture is a major industry in Turkey, so most of the country’s food is sourced locally, and there are a lot of organic options.
Health care has been improving substantially, and Turkey has been successfully marketing itself as a medical tourism destination with focus on plastic surgery and dentistry.
Interestingly, Istanbul has also become THE place for hair transplant surgery. At my hotel it seems that every foreign guy here is in town to fix their receding hairlines.
(Just last night I met a French guy who flew in from Paris for his hair transplant surgery… because he’d rather have it done here than under the famous French healthcare system.)
And Turkey is dirt cheap for most foreigners. The Turkish lira has been losing value month over month. So if your income is in US dollars, euros, etc., you will be able to enjoy a lot of value for your money.
Again, for many people, Turkey may not be your cup of tea. And for others (like the gentleman I met), it ticks every important box they have.
And that’s the beauty of this game: you can play by your own rules. There’s literally a world of possibilities. Every country has something unique to offer with its own advantages and disadvantages.
You can decide from a vast universe of options based on what’s most important for you and your family.
It might not be Istanbul. But most likely there’s are several places out there that are just right for you, whether it’s to move permanently, or just keep in your back pocket as a Plan B.