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 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 the coastal resort towns.

Istanbul, the country's largest expat hub and most costly location, was ranked by the 2020 Mercer Cost of Living Survey as the 156th most expensive expat destination out of over 209 cities evaluated. Like most places, the cost of living in Turkey is directly affected by location and lifestyle. Rural villages are cheaper than urban centres.

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. That said, 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 utilities aren't always included in rent, so expats will need to factor in the cost of water, electricity and gas. Although these bills tend to be relatively inexpensive, the cost of heating during winter dramatically increases the cost of utilities. 


Cost of groceries 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. Fares vary 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 Istanbul

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below is based on average prices for Istanbul in February 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

YTL 4,300

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

YTL 2,500

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

YTL 2,400

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

YTL 1,400

Shopping

Dozen eggs

YTL 12.80

Milk (1 litre)

YTL 5.80

Rice (1kg) 

YTL 12.50

Loaf of white bread

YTL 3

Chicken breasts (1kg)

YTL 24

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

YTL 18

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

YTL 29

Coca-Cola (330ml) 

YTL 5.15

Cappuccino

YTL 14.40

Bottle of local beer (500ml)

YTL 18

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two

YTL 150

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

YTL 0.76

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

YTL 110

Utilities (average per month for a standard household)

YTL 490

Transportation

Taxi rate/km

YTL 3.50

City centre public transport fare

YTL 3.50

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

YTL 7

Expat Health Insurance

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