Cost of Living in Turkey

Expats will find the cost of living in Turkey more reasonable than in neighbouring European destinations. The country has yet to be admitted into the EU and it follows that those with foreign purchasing power can make their money last longer and reach further, even if choosing to live in the largely popular expat areas or in the coastal resort towns.

Istanbul, the country's largest expat hub and most costly location, was ranked by the 2018 Mercer Cost of Living Survey as the 163rd most expensive expat destination out of over 209 cities evaluated.

Price-conscious pensioners and seasonal sun-worshippers have long taken advantage of the lower costs, and even those expats who toil in the Turkish workforce and take home the Turkish Lira can live a comfortable lifestyle enriched with the odd luxury.

Like most destinations, the cost of living in Turkey is directly affected by location and life choices. Rural villages are cheaper than urban centres, but it's just as plausible to live lavishly as it is to pinch pennies in any big city or small town.

Expats employed by a Turkish company and paid in the local currency will need to be mindful of the ever-increasing interest and inflation rates and will need to make sure that their salary rises accordingly.


Cost of accommodation in Turkey

Expats will find the property market in Turkey for both buying and renting generally offers good value for money when compared with the likes of the UK or the US. A wide variety of accommodation is available to suit all tastes and budgets, ranging from very expensive villas with sweeping vistas and extensive outdoor spaces to sparse apartments that offer only the most basic amenities.

Monthly maintenance fees are not always included in rent, so expats will need to factor in the cost of water, electricity and gas. Although these utilities tend to be relatively inexpensive, the cost of heating during winter dramatically increases the cost of utilities. 


Cost of food in Turkey

In Turkey, food shopping can still be done at weekly neighbourhood markets where locally sourced seasonal fruits and vegetables are on sale for low costs. Modern supermarkets do stock the imported goods that many expats yearn for, but these foreign food items can summon a hefty price tag. A single jar of peanut butter can be as expensive as all the ingredients that a local would use to make an entire meal.

While this may seem strange in the country that made doner kebab world-famous, many expats are surprised to find that red meat in Turkey is extremely costly.

Expats in Turkey may also find an unexpected food cost is bottled water. It's safe to drink tap water in many areas, but many foreigners still prefer to drink bottled water. The good news is that a 19-litre jug of water is relatively cheap.


Cost of transport in Turkey

Turkey's public transport system is constantly improving and evolving, yet it remains extremely cheap. Buses are the main mode of transit and are generally efficient and economical. Both state-sponsored entities and private buses charge flat and cheap fares for a single journey. Dolmuş, informal shared taxis that connect commuters going short distances, are also incredibly reasonable and the fare varies according to the length of the journey.

For those expats who would prefer to get around by car in Turkey, the basic cost of buying and maintaining a vehicle may be slightly cheaper than in the UK or the US, but the cost of petrol is high.


Cost of living in Turkey

Note that prices may vary depending on product and service provider and the list below shows average prices in Istanbul in June 2018

Accommodation (per month)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

YTL 1,450

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

YTL 3,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

YTL 900

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

YTL 1,600

Shopping

Milk (1 litre)

YTL 3.50

Dozen eggs

YTL 8.50

Loaf of white bread

YTL 2.30

Chicken breasts (skinless, 1kg)

YTL 15.20

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

YTL 13

Eating out

Big Mac meal

YTL 18

Coca Cola (330ml) 

YTL 3.50

Cappuccino

YTL 9

Bottle of beer (local, 500ml)

YTL 15

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant

YTL 40

Utilities/Household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

YTL 0.70

Internet (average per month)

YTL 78

Utilities (water, elec, gas - average per month for standard household)

YTL 350

Hourly rate for domestic cleaner

YTL 17

Transportation

Taxi rate/km

YTL 2.50

City centre public transport fare

YTL 2.60

Petrol/Gasoline (per litre)

YTL 5.80