Cost of Living in Turkey
Istanbul, the country's largest expat hub and most costly location, was ranked by the 2012 Mercer Cost of Living Survey as the 79th most expensive expat destination out of over 200 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 rates and inflation, and will need to make sure 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 space to sparse apartments that offer only the most basic amenities.
A two-bedroom apartment in a good area with a communal pool space can be secured for an average of 1,000 YTL per month, with less expensive and more expensive options readily available.
Monthly maintenance fees are not always included in rent, so expats will need to factor in the cost of water, electricity, and gas. That said, these utilities tend be incredibly cheap, with water and gas fetching a particularly fair price; an estimated combined cost of 215 YTL per month.
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 the slightest of costs. Modern supermarkets do stock the imported goods that many expats pine 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.
Many expats are surprised to find that red meat in Turkey is extremely costly. While this may seem strange in the country that made doner kebab world-famous, it follows that when the demand is high and the supply is low a shortage and high fees are never far away.
Expats in Turkey may also find an unexpected food cost is bottled water. Many areas have made tap water safe to drink now, but foreigners still may prefer to be safe rather than sorry. The good news is that a 19-litre jug of water can cost as little as 4 YTL.
Cost of transport in Turkey
Turkey's system of public transport 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 a fare of 1.30 YTL for a single journey. Dolmus, or informal shared taxis that connect commuters going short distances, are also incredibly reasonable; 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 chart (prices based on Istanbul, 2013)
One-bedroom apartment in city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment inside city centre||1,775 YTL|
|Milk (1 litre)||1.75 YTL|
|Rice (1kg)||4 YTL|
|Loaf of white bread||1 YTL|
|Chicken breasts (skinless, 1kg)||10 YTL|
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)||8 YTL|
Big Mac meal
|Coca Cola (330ml)||2 YTL|
|Bottle of beer (local, 500ml)||6 YTL|
|Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant||30 YTL|
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)
|Internet (Uncapped ADSL or Cable – average per month)||50 YTL|
|Utilities (water, elec, gas - average per month for standard household)||215 YTL|
|Taxi rate/km||1.6 YTL|
|City centre public transport fare||2 YTL|
|Petrol/Gasoline (per litre)||4.60 YTL|