Areas and suburbs in Istanbul

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There are a number of suitable areas and suburbs in Istanbul that have appealing accommodation options for expats. Factors to consider when selecting an area are proximity to working environment, proximity to international schools if with children, commute distance and access to basic amenities.

In Town


Etiler, Ulus, Levent, Ortakoy

turkish houses on the quayThese neighbourhoods are on the European side of Istanbul, on the hills above the Bosphorus. Depending on which side a site/house faces, expats can find a home here with the most amazing Bosphorus views. The area is very central, and there are also lots of shopping and restaurants in the area. As of late it's become very popular with expats, and there is a wide variety of luxury housing available - both villas and apartments.

Nisantasi and Tesvikiye

This fashionable shopping district of Istanbul contains several older apartment blocks, most without Bosphorus views. It is also very central, but apartments are smaller with no gardens or pools, and sometimes no elevator. This is typical city living in Istanbul.

The European side Bosphorus villages


Bebek, Kurucesme, Arnavutkoy, Rumeli Hisar

These are the more central Bosphorus neighbourhoods. If expats want to be down on the waterfront, they will need to live in stand-alone housing – mainly apartments (no sites). These generally tend to be more expensive, especially since they are in prime areas along the Bosphorus and one pays a premium for the location.

Emirgan, Yenikoy, Tarabya 

These neighbourhoods are further north along the Bosphorus shore, but no less exclusive. There are large waterfront villas, pretty tree-lined streets, cafés and beautiful views. Most waterfront housing is not available for rent and, if it is, it will to be very expensive – beyond the average expat budget. However, there are several sites in the hills above the coastal road with panoramic views of the Bosphorus. Most expats who choose these suburbs will live in these areas.

The European suburbs



Kemerburgaz is about a 20- to 30-minute drive northwest of central Istanbul. The area is quiet and lush with leafy green foliage, but has recently been undergoing a lot of development and building activity. Decent hospitals, supermarkets and shops for daily needs are in the area.  

There are several sites here, the most exclusive being Kemer Country, which is built around a golf course and a forest. There is also a country club on the property. Kemerburgaz sites have villas as well as apartment options. This is a great location for those who want to be out of the city but not too far away.

Alkent 2000

Alkent 2000 is another well-developed, large housing estate located about an hour’s drive west of central Istanbul. The site contains its own sporting facilities, supermarket options and malls nearby. Though it is quite a commute from central Istanbul, it is 10 minutes away from the main international school in Istanbul. Generally speaking, it is a popular choice for expats with school-going children, but otherwise it can leave expats feeling fairly isolated.


Zekeriyakoy is further north at the edge of the Belgrade Forest, near the shores of the Black Sea. There are large villas with gardens and pools available here. The British International School is in Zekeriyakoy, so this is a good area for those expats who wish to educate their children in the British system. Its drawback is that it is quite far out of town – and while there are basic amenities available in Zekeriyakoy, one has to travel a fair distance for most other things, including petrol.

Asian side

Most expats tend to live on the European side, but there is also a thriving expat community on the Asian side. The Asian side of Istanbul has many site options and many are set among stunning greenery overlooking the Bosphorus.

Travel from Europe to Asia is easy enough – the two options at the moment are either by ferry, or via the two bridges.

Traffic on the bridges can sometimes be backed up, especially during rush hour.

A toll has to be paid for using the bridges and cash is not accepted at the toll booths. If crossing the bridge regularly, it is worth investing in an automatic toll pass which can be recharged. This ensures that commuters simply drive through the toll gate (called OGS in Turkish) and the machine, which is attached to the windscreen, is scanned. There is a deposit to be paid for the use of this machine. The other option is to have a rechargeable card which can be swiped each time one passes through the card toll gate (KGS in Turkish).