Living in Istanbul

Living in Istanbul

Living in Istanbul

Suppose you are considering living in Istanbul as a foreigner, whether as a traveller or an expatriate, it is a fantastic lifestyle choice. Being Turkey’s biggest city, Istanbul has a lot to offer, including a cheap cost of living, a distinct culture, some of the greatest nightlife, entertainment and commerce in the nation, and a plethora of tourist and historical sites. To relocate here is to embrace a different way of life to that of the Western world while being on the cutting edge of fashion.

Many working expatriates select the city to further their careers. At the same time, other retirees pick it as a temporary home base to visit a city that has impacted global events throughout history. While some individuals suggest simply packing your luggage and arriving, we always recommend that even well-travelled ex-pats prepare beforehand. So, in this post, we’ll go over the essentials of moving from your native nation to Istanbul. Also, we’ll go over things such as residence permits, health insurance, and the finest areas to live, among other things.

Related Article: Living in Turkey: Pros and Cons.

Living in Istanbul as a Foreigner

Istanbul, being Turkey’s biggest city, has a lot to offer, along with a cheaper cost of living than many other European cities, a unique mix of cultures, limitless touristic and historical sites, the greatest nightlife and retail scenes in the nation, and a unique blend of civilizations. Not to mention the wonderful cuisine!

For ex-pats trying to further their careers or retirees seeking a temporary base overseas, moving to Istanbul is an excellent choice. Istanbul, a city with a 2.600-year history, has always been and continues to be one of the greatest locations to live in the world. Given the large expanse of the city, we felt it would be useful to compile a list of essential information for foreigners interested in relocating to Istanbul.

Related Article: Relocating to Turkey: Things You Need to Know.

Neighbourhoods in Istanbul: Where to Live

The most important decision to make is to reside on the European or Asian (Anatolian) side of the continent. While most of Istanbul’s trade, banking, and commercial side is centred on the European side, the Anatolian side has a more casual air because of its historic neighbourhoods, fewer tourist destinations, and fewer resorts.

The higher up the Bosphorus towards the Black Sea, the quieter and more exclusive Istanbul neighbourhoods get. Expatriates in Istanbul often visit the European side of the Bosphorus neighbourhoods of Bebek, Emirgan, Arnavutkoy, Tarabya, and Istinye.

However, the popular locations are Karakoy, Cihangir, and Beyoglu, which are accompanied by art galleries, antique stores, roasting coffee shops, and cool clubs. Foreign families choose uptown neighbourhoods like Gokturk and Beykoz because they are safer, quieter, and have superior schools for their children. Let’s have a look at some of the neighbourhoods that have been chosen for you.

Beyoglu, Istanbul

On the European side of Istanbul, Beyoglu is one of the most important districts, separated from the ancient city (Fatih district) by the Golden Horn sea. Because the true ancient city is Fatih district (historical peninsula), and Beyoglu lies on the other side of the Golden Horn. The neighbourhood was once known as Pera, which means “other portion” in Greek.

Galata, Karakoy, Tophane, Cihangir, Sishane, Tepebasi, Tarlabasi, Kasimpasa, and Dolapdere are among the neighbourhoods of Beyoglu, which is linked to the ancient peninsula across the Golden Horn sea by the Galata Bridge, Golden Horn Metro Bridge, and Ataturk Bridge.

Beyoglu is recognized as the cultural capital of Istanbul since it is home to the majority of art galleries, live theatres, century-old cinemas, and entertainment/nightclubs.

Kadikoy, Istanbul

When you think about Istanbul from an Asian perspective, the first neighbourhood that comes to mind is Kadikoy.

Kadikoy was known as the Land of the Blind during Ottoman times because its citizens could not glimpse the beauty of Istanbul’s European side. Kadikoy is a major, cosmopolitan neighbourhood of Istanbul, situated on the northern bank of the Sea of Marmara, facing the ancient city, and just a short boat trip from anywhere in Istanbul. Murals, a fish market, restaurants, and Turkish spas are all popular attractions.

Acibadem, Bostanci, Fenerbahce, Goztepe, Kosuyolu, Kozyatagi, Suadiye, Erenkoy, and Moda are just a few of the neighborhoods that make up Kadikoy.

Related Article: The Main Living Centers of Istanbul: Kadikoy.

Besiktas, Istanbul

While being most known for its football team, Besiktas is one of Istanbul’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, having a huge student population due to its several colleges.

Levent, Arnavutkoy, Bebek, Etiler, Ortakoy, Ulus, Yildiz, Balmumcu, Asiyan, and Kurucesme are just a few of the neighborhoods that make up Besiktas. Each of them caters to various tastes.

The business districts of Levent and Bebek, for example, are regarded to be commercial districts, but Bebek is a historic Bosphorus neighbourhood. Its picturesque streets, cafés, and restaurants have become one of Istanbul’s most popular neighbourhoods. Bebek’s position means it has spared the city’s crush, which can be found in many other city sections.

Cost of Living

The excellent thing is, with the present high currency rate, ex-pats earning in another currency are quids in. Thus Istanbul may be as inexpensive or as costly as you desire. Rents in Taksim and other central districts are high, but you may cut your costs in half by moving to neighbouring areas. Foreign property owners who live alone and don’t have a mortgage or rent to pay should set aside around 5,000 lira per month, but considerably more if they drink or smoke.

Additionally, there are always methods to save money. Avoid tourist establishments and eat where the locals do instead. Also, find out when the local weekly market is held in whatever neighbourhood you relocate to. For close to nothing, you may stock up on fruits, veggies, and dairy goods. Leading internet and mobile phone companies promise exceptional value for money on their services if you intend to stay a long period.

Many retired expatriates sell their homes in their native countries and invest the proceeds in Turkey’s high-interest savings accounts. They extract the interest every month after paying taxes and live off it to supplement their pensions. Look around for excellent rates at different banks since they now give 5 to 8% depending on how much you invest.

Inflation has been growing in recent years, and the Turkish currency has depreciated dramatically. Even though this may seem to be beneficial to expatriates who are paid in major currencies, it does raise the cost of living in Turkey for locals.

Water, electricity, and municipal taxes total around 1.000 US dollars per year. Water is billed in two ways: monthly or with the option of having a meter installed on the counter, requiring residents to top up their cards for future consumption.

Electricity is only invoiced once a month and might cost up to 200 Turkish liras per month, depending on use. The municipal council decides on the local tax. Please remember that if you intend to sell your home, you must first pay off any outstanding council debts.

Internet: A month’s subscription to the internet costs roughly $15. TTNET, Kablonet, Turnet, Turkcell, and Vodafone are the primary service providers.

Residents who live in community sites and occasionally even apartment complexes are obligated to pay mutual expenses like security, electricity for hallway lighting, and cleaning of common spaces in the building, among other things. This sum might range from $50 to $100 every year.

Food & Grocery Shopping: Expatriates may save money by purchasing fruit, vegetables, cheese, eggs, olives, and other weekly neighbourhood markets (Pazar in Turkish). A budget of roughly $20 is more than plenty for two persons. On the other hand, red meat is thought to be pricey, costing between $10 and $15 per kilo.

Eating and Drinking Out: A pack of smokes costs roughly 2 US dollars on average, as does a half-litre bottle of Efes beer. It is unquestionably cheaper to eat and drink at home than it is to do so elsewhere. You can anticipate spending at least $20 per individual in a popular restaurant.

Related Article: What is the Easiest Way to Move to Turkey?

Ex-pat Communities and Social Circles

Obviously, in addition to integrating themselves into the local culture, some immigrants like keeping in contact with others in similar situations. Foreigners who have lived in Istanbul for a long time can provide important knowledge and are familiar with the system.

Expatriates that are gregarious will have no trouble fitting in and making new acquaintances. Look for groups on Facebook or other social media platforms that discuss meets and get-togethers. Expatriate groups are well-known in some areas, making them perfect locations to move and make friends from all over the globe. Cihangir, Cukurcuma, Galata, Tophane, Besiktas, Maslak, Sisli, and Bebek are among the ex-pat districts.

Using Public Transport

Since the roadways get packed, you’ll need all of your skills at this point. Minimize travelling during peak hours if at all feasible. Locals utilize minibuses to go around small neighbourhoods. They are inexpensive, but they are packed. There are 400 public transportation lines, yellow taxis, and multiple trams that cover the major areas on the European side to get around the city.

The Metro, which has witnessed enormous growth in the previous ten years, is used by many inhabitants. On the other hand, ferries visiting minor towns and villages on the Bosphorus’s coastlines are a local custom.

On the Anatolian side, Uskudar and Kadikoy and Eminonu on the European side are important ferry terminals. We propose purchasing an Istanbul Card and filling it with credit to save money on public transportation.

Weather and Climate of Istanbul

According to the CSA classification, Turkey has numerous climatic zones due to its size, with Istanbul bordering on the Mediterranean. July and August are the warmest months, with temperatures reaching 35 degrees.

December through February are the rainiest months, and snowfall is prevalent during this time. Many residents use air conditioning equipment to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Radiators are also seen in certain new construction homes.

Language Barrier and Speaking Turkish

We know expatriates who have lived in Turkey for a long time yet do not speak the language. Because Istanbul is Turkey’s most popular tourist attraction, many bi-lingual residents are fluent in English, French German, Russian, and Chinese. You’ll hear common phrases like Hos Geldin, which means welcome, daily. To make the procedure simpler, engage an interpreter for formal duties.

Immigrants must also engage an interpreter when purchasing property, as the law requires by notaries and title deed offices. Aside from that, if you wander into the more traditional neighbourhoods, you may have some difficulties, so download translation software on your phone. We suggest devoting a few hours every week to learning new terms and grammar.

Is Istanbul a Safe City to Live in?

Undoubtedly, crime occurs in any significant metropolis across the globe. “Even though Istanbul is Turkey’s biggest metropolitan city, Istanbul’s crime rates, as they pertain to foreigners, are relatively low,” according to a recent study created with the US consulate general in Istanbul.

The local council also stated that crime rates have decreased across the board at the start of 2020. The goal is to avoid being a victim of an opportunistic crime by acting as you would in your own country, such as; taking only licensed taxis, refusing to accept beverages from strangers, and wearing your bags over your shoulder. Authorities do an excellent job of keeping the people safe and secure when it comes to terrorism.

Related Article: The Steps You Should Follow When Relocating To Turkey.

Remember to seek assistance from a competent legal firm in Turkey to handle your legal affairs.


  1. <>. (2020, October 9). Living in Istanbul as a Foreigner. Retrieved November 30, 2021, from: <>.
  2. Deggin, C. (2020, September 8). Living in Istanbul as a Foreigner: 9 Useful Things to Know. Property Turkey. Retrieved November 30, 2021, from: <>.

This article was published on 30.11.2021 and last edited on 30.11.2021.

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