Cost of Living in Istanbul

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Istanbul has a high cost of living relative to other popular expat destinations, as well as compared to the rest of Turkey. Inflation has been steadily rising in the last few years and the addition of an 18 percent tax, or KDV, to every item has increased basic prices.

Cost of expat accommodation in Istanbul

Housing will most certainly be the bulk of your burden – though costs can range tremendously depending on location, accommodation type and the extent of a view or the presence of outdoor space.

rug merchant in turkeyHouses and apartments with a view of the Bosphorus are available both on the Asian and European sides of Istanbul. Beautiful villas situated in compounds with adequate security can cost around 10,000 USD, but still vary, largely depending on the type of vista the property affords.

Kemer Country, situated in Kemerburgaz, is another upmarket area with golf course facing villas and houses.

Houses on the European side are more expensive than the Asian side.

Villas, row houses and large apartments can be found in areas like Istinye, Kemerburgaz, Etilier, Levent, Bebek, and range from 1,500 to 6,000 USD.

Apartments tend to be cheaper than villas, both furnished and unfurnished. They can range from 800 USD to 1,500 USD in areas like Cihangir and Taksim. Many single people prefer to live in areas like Taksim, a neighbourhood proximal to the city centre and close to restaurants and bars. Some apartments have a reasonably good view of the Bosphorus to boot.

Keep in mind when you select a house that the rental price quoted is not inclusive of the monthly maintenance. Be sure, to enquire what the heating, air conditioning, water and common electricity costs are before finalising the budget for your home.

Cost of goods and services in Istanbul

Petrol is particularly expensive when compared to Europe and the US, as is imported alcohol (which is available in supermarkets). In fact, most branded imported items will be costly due to high import duties. This includes electronic items, like cameras and computers, as well as typically Western foods, like maple syrup.

If trying to balance your budget, it is best to take advantage of the bargains prevalent before and during Ramadan or Christmas to find items at a more reasonable rate.

For daily groceries, medical care and domestic help you will find Istanbul is cheaper than most Western countries. Fresh vegetables and fruits can be bought at bazaars (weekly markets) for low prices, and the local equivalent of many of your Western favourites will be considerably cheaper and equally as satisfying.

That being said, the city’s upmarket restaurants and cutting-edge night clubs can wear your wallet thin.

Cost of domestic help in Istanbul

Domestic help is readily available in the city. Expats can usually choose between Turkish or housekeepers of another nationality. Typically, Turkish housekeepers are cheaper than non-Turkish; but they tend not to be able to speak English. The standard of work does not differ.
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Turkish housekeepers employed full time – five days a week - are available from around 800 to 1,500 Turkish Lira. However, many will do part-time work depending on your requirements.

Non-Turkish housekeepers charge in Dollars or Euro. They can be slightly expensive. Many of them prefer being live-in helpers; going home only on weekends. Baby sitters and nannies are also available at hourly rates.

Cost of hiring a driver in Istanbul

Although many expats prefer to drive themselves, having a driver to drive you around in the first few months can be convenient and especially handy in certain areas where parking is a problem. Drivers cost around 800 to 1,500 Turkish Lira per month. Most of them request a sigorta or health insurance which can cost you extra.

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