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Cost of Living in Istanbul

The only guide you’ll ever need to learn the cost of living in Istanbul. From essentials like food, accommodation, and transportation to extras like work permits and co-working spaces, we got you covered.

For those who’re planning a trip to Istanbul, we’ve done comprehensive research and collected all information regarding the cost of living in Istanbul. This guide is broken into sections covering every aspect you should add to your financial planning.

Entry Visas

Turkey is a pretty laid-back country for visa situations, and almost every country in the world can easily get a visa for a visit. The costs mainly depend on your nationality, as the prices are less for some.

Visa applications from The UK is $20 while the United States and Spain are $55, while Canada is $60 and Australia is $90. Many countries in the EU like Germany, Greece, Sweden, and Switzerland are exempt, while the same holds true for most of the Caribbean, as well as, Central and South America.

Countries in Africa generally have fees in the $50 — 90 range, but others like Morroco and Tunisia are exempt. Asia is similar with a range of $25— $90 while others like Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand are exempt.

Typically, eVisas are valid for 180 days with a 90-stay included. For some countries, multiple entries are included, while others only get a one-time entry. There is no real set standard anything other than how to apply, as the other rules change on a country-to-country basis with no discernable pattern.

Accommodation

In general, if you’re looking to live in Istanbul for more than a month, your best bet is to seek out a long-term rental in person upon arrival. Most rental owners who are savvy enough to understand online marketing, also tend to add a premium knowing they can extract more money from tourists.

Istanbulites also thrive on bargaining, so the opening offer is most likely not the best one on the table. Negotiation is also a part of Turkish culture and is something that’s best done in person over a cup of hot tea.

While biding your time to find the perfect place to live in Istanbul, it’s best to find somewhere budget-friendly to use as your base camp.

Budget Hotels

Generally, when booking a budget hotel, hostel, or a pension online you won’t see many discounts for extended rentals. In fact, you’d be lucky to find much of a discount for a weekly rental on anything other than Airbnb.

Firstly, find something that comfortably fits your budget and minimal accommodation style, then work your way upward as you discover cheaper, better, or more amenity-rich places in person.

If you find a place you feel comfortable staying for a longer period, then remember you can always negotiate to see if you can get a better rate.

Long Term Rentals

Seeking out a long-term rental after you arrive in Istanbul is the most prudent option, as you’ll find a much bigger selection in-person than you will online. Depending on your available budget, you might want to consider a private room or a studio apartment.

Private Rooms

A private room in a shared apartment or house is a pretty popular option, especially among students, as you can save loads of money. The spacious rooms in nice apartments start at 1,500 TRY ($210) per month. There are also some luxury rooms in hotels that start from 3,000 TRY ($420) in case you’re looking for just a room without roommates. If you’re getting a room in a shared house, keep in mind that utility costs are your responsibility, which adds up to the total price.

Student Rooms

Student room prices start from 1,200 TRY ($170 ) but can easily reach 2,500 TRY ($350) or more. It all depends on your preferences, such as how many roommates you want to have, the university’s location, etc.

Studio Apartments

A small one-bedroom studio in the city center will cost you 2,400 TRY ($335) per month. You can find friendly studios or rooms in hotels for around 3,500 TRY ($490) per month if that’s not above your budget. You can expect a fully-furnished place with a fast WiFi, kitchen, dishwasher, ergonomic table, and seat for working and similar when it comes to studio rentals.

1-Bedroom Apartments

For a cozy one-bedroom apartment that’s fully furnished and located in the city center, you can expect to pay anywhere around 2,000 — 4,000 TRY ($280 — $560) Keep in mind that you’re going to pay for utilities and an Internet connection on top.

2-Bedroom Apartments

2-bedroom apartments are a pretty popular option in Turkey, and on average, the prices start at 2,200 TRY ($305) per month. You can expect to get a fully furnished apartment with a fast internet access, kitchen, bathroom, washing machine, and dishwasher.

3-Bedroom Apartments

If you’re planning to move with a family in Istanbul and looking for a spacious 3-bedroom apartment, expect to pay at least 3,000 TRY ($410) per month.

Food

While you might have to be budget-conscious in most cities when it comes to food, you won’t always have to eat at home in Istanbul. You’ll find the street food to be quite cheap, and there are a ton of budget restaurants too.

Groceries

Generally, grocery essentials like bread, milk, eggs, rice, fruits, and vegetables are pretty cheap in Istanbul. It’s only when you get into gourmet items that have to be imported into Turkey that you have to be careful about what you buy.

  • Bread — 3 TRY ($0.50)
  • Juices — 5 TRY ($0.75)
  • Yogurt — 7 TRY ($1)
  • Dozen eggs — 7 TRY ($1)
  • Fruits like bananas, kiwi, apples, peach, oranges, strawberries up to 10 TRY per kilo ($1.50)
  • Rice — 13 TRY ($2)
  • Gouda Cheese — 75 TRY ($11.25)
  • Gourmet Salami — 100 TRY ($15)

Home-Cooked Meals

If you’re planning to stay in Istanbul for a while, definitely plan for grocery shopping and cooking at home. It will save you tons of a budget that you can use for traveling around beautiful Turkey.

You can expect to spend no more than 10 TRY ($1.50) for an excellent breakfast, 15 TRY ($2.25) for lunch, and the same for snacks. If you’re cooking your meals at home, you can live on a tight budget and spend around 30 TRY per day ($4.50). Keep in mind these costs are for a single person, so budget accordingly.

If you’d like to pay a bit more, but get the highest quality, then head to traditional markets. Bargain a bit, and you’ll get the best ingredients for a slightly higher price than in grocery stores.

Street Food

Turkey is known for delicious, hearty, and diverse street food. It’s hard that you’ll ever get bored of eating and exploring new Turkish street food. On top of having a hundred choices, the prices won’t break your wallet. The more local you go, the cheaper and more delicious things become.

You can expect to pay up to 50 TRY ($7.50) for a hearty meal with side dishes, desserts, and a drink. Depending on your appetite, you can go through a day with 75 — 100 TRY ($11.25 — $15) for food.

  • Borek with meat or cheese — 5 TRY ($0.75)
  • Kebabs10 — 20 TRY ($1.50 — $3)
  • Kokorec15 TRY ($2)
  • Meat bread — 15 TRY ($2)
  • Grilled fish with a side — 25 TRY ($3.50)

Western Fast-food

Some people can’t wait to chew a tasty cheeseburger from McDonald’s or some KFC chicken after a while. Sometimes, you just get bored trying out new food and want to go with something tried and true. This type of fast food in Istanbul is much more expensive than street food.

You can expect to pay 20 TRY ($3) for a single Big Mac sandwich without any add-ons. Then there’s 10 TRY ($1.50) extra for French fries and 10 TRY ($1.50) more for a drink, and you’re already at 40 — 50 TRY ($5.50 — $7). If you’re keen on combos, you can get a little discount and eat for around 35 TRY per meal ($5).

  • Burger King menu — 20 TRY ($3)
  • BBQ meat — 30 TRY — ($4.50)
  • Pommes — 10 TRY — ($1.50)
  • Fried eggs — 8 TRY ($1.25), and for an extra 5 TRY ($0.75) you’ll get more eggs and cheese

Budget Restaurants

If you’re on a tight budget, Istanbul will still treat you well. Tiny local restaurants serving traditional food are everywhere, and you can expect to pay around 25 — 35 TRY ($3.75 — $5.25) for a full meal, including a small portion of soup, a main dish, and a drink. It’s nothing fancy but will keep you energized for adventure.

Further, meat dishes such as kebabs usually cost anywhere from 10 — 25 TRY ($1.50 — $3.75), depending on the meat type and portion. There is a diverse selection of salads and soups where you can get a nice amount for about 5 TRY ($0.75).

Normal Restaurants

If you’d like to experience a pleasant dining experience, or maybe bring your family on a hearty dinner, Istanbul has lots to offer. Local grilled specialties, meat or fish with a side dish, will cost you around 50 TRY ($7.50).

If you are a fish lover, don’t forget to try a Turkish signature dish, a Bakalar in herb sauces. Expect to pay around 100 TRY ($15) for such a meal.

On average, you can expect to spend around 100 TRY ($15) for a single-person meal in a medium-priced restaurant. Keep in mind that all prices listed above didn’t include drinks that quickly add up costs.

Fine Dining Restaurants

A fine dining experience will cost you money, but you’ll get an incredible experience with the finest ingredients and breathtaking views and ambiance. The prices start at 200 TRY ($30) for the main dish, but you can quickly go over 350 TRY ($52.50) for a three-course meal with a drink of selection.

Ulus 29

if you’d like to try some iconic dishes such as dry-aged meat, then this is the place. The restaurant offers traditional Turkish cuisine dishes, a great selection of wine, lovely views, and a pleasant ambiance. The prices start at 300 TRY ($45) for a three-course meal for two people.

Nar Lokanta

This restaurant offers a fantastic selection of traditional food based on meat, mainly lamb dishes. Every ingredient is seasonal, so you will only taste the best of the food. A three-course meal with a bottle of wine costs from 400 TRY ($60) for a single person.

Drinks

Turkish people are gourmets by nature, and they know how to combine their delicious food with drinks. Here are the most famous drinks you’ll stumble upon in Istanbul:

Turkish Coffee

There is no way you’re going to miss a delightful and renowned Turkish coffee. From small street cafes to upscale restaurants, everyone serves it. If you drink a regular black coffee, you can expect to pay around 10 TRY ($1.50) in local shops. In case you like your coffee fancy, then expect that the price will be somewhere from 20 — 30 TRY ($3.00 — $4.50) depending on the place. A cup of cappuccino costs around 15 TRY ($2.25).

Tea

Turkish people are very keen on tea, so they enjoy their tea during the whole day, especially after meals. Tea is pretty cheap in Turkey, and you can get a cup of tea for 4 TRY ($0.60) in street-side cafes and restaurants.

Soft Drinks

A small bottle of a regular soft drink such as Coke costs 5 TRY ($0.75) in local shops. In fast-food restaurants, you’re going to pay 8 TRY ($1.25) for a Coke, while you can expect to pay even 20 TRY ($3) for the same quantity in luxury restaurants.

Beer

It seems that beer prices are inflated, as the pint of domestic beer costs around 15 TRY ($2.25). If you opt for an imported one, expect to pay 20 TRY ($3) on average.

Aryan

A mixture of water and yogurt is another traditional Turkish drink called Ayran. Lime and a bit of sugar are usually added to make a rhapsody of flavors, and it will refresh you on even the hottest days. You can expect to pay around 5 TRY ($0.75) for a cup of this refreshment.

Basic Needs

If you decide to stay for a long term in Istanbul, you’ll need to factor in your basic necessities too.

Utilities

No one likes paying for utilities, but it’s the regular part of our life. Here you can find the average costs of essential utilities in Istanbul. Basic utilities for a 2-bedroom apartment start from 500 TRY ($75) per month.

  • 8 Mbps Internet — 80 TRY ($12) per month
  • 60 Mbps Internet — 130 TRY ($20) per month

Clothing

Whether shopping in Istanbul either in big malls or on famous shopping streets be sure to download the European size charts, as Turkey uses EU sizes for all types of clothing, including jeans, shirts, dresses, and shoes.

  • Regular T-shirt — 70 TRY ($10)
  • Branded jeans such as Mustang or Levis — 250 TRY ($37)
  • Formal women’s dress — 250 TRY ($37)
  • Pair of running shoes (Adidas or Nike) — 500 TRY ($75)

Essentials

  • Face lotion — 80 TRY ($12)
  • Twin mattress — 800 TRY ($120)

Entertainment

  • Cinema (one seat for a single movie) — 30 TRY ($4.50)
  • Monthly gym membership — 200 TRY ($30)
  • Istanbul tourist pass (unlimited internet for three days) — 250 TRY ($37)

Transportation

The cheapest way to get around the city is via the metro and tram system which are quite efficient. You’ll need an Istanbul Kart, a transportation card, as well which will give you trip discounts and easy-pay access.

Public

Istanbul offers diverse public transportation options. It’s probably the best and cheapest way to explore the city. You can choose between boats, subways, trams, buses, and even funiculars. The best way to use the public transportation infrastructure is to get Istanbul Kart that you can top up. The card costs 7 TRY ($1), and a one-way trip is 3,5 TRY ($0.50). In case you don’t have the card, the price doubles, so for a one-way trip, you’re going to pay 7 TRY ($1).

Taxis

Taxi can be pretty expensive in Istanbul, depending on the type of car and the final location. For instance, just a taxi-meter activation costs 5,55 TRY ($0.85) in most taxi companies. If you’d like to have a taxi ride in a higher class car, expect to pay more to start the ride. Every kilometer is charged additionally and on average costs from 3,5 — 5,5 TRY ($0.50 — $0.85).

If you’re thinking of getting a taxi from the new airport (IST) to Taksim, expect to pay a minimum rate of 165 — 200 TRY ($25 — $30) for a ride that is around 36-40 km long (Eminonu or City Center). Also, try to avoid heavy traffic hours from 07:30 — 09:00 and 17:00 — 19:30, as this will cost you extra in wait time.

Do note that there are few taxi scams in Istanbul, just like is most travel destinations across the works.

Car Rentals

Renting a car may be the best option, especially if you’re visiting for a short time. Economy cars start at 120 TRY per day ($18), while compact and luxury cars can cost 150 TRY ($22.50) and above per day.

Always be sure to check the company’s reputation before renting the car, and read user reviews. It is probably the safest but most expensive way to rent a car in Istanbul by doing it at the airport. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, then head over to Kayak, Skyscanner, Expedia, or type platforms and do your search.

Used Cars

Buying a used car in Istanbul isn’t different from buying it anywhere else. The prices highly depend on the production year, brand and condition.

For instance, a 2018 Hyundai Elantra start around 90,000 TRY ($13,500) while a 2011 BMW 316i runs around 150,000 TRY ($22,500) and a new 2020 Nissan Micra will cost around 200,000 TRY ($30,000).

Work Permits

If you’re planning to stay for longer and work in Turkey, there are work permit options valid for one, two, and three years. One year’s work permit costs 1,000 TRY ($150) and adds a few hundred for processing fees. For people who own companies outside Turkey but would love to obtain a work permit, the price skyrockets at around 10,000 TRY ($1500).

Co-Working Spaces

In case you’re working remotely, and you’re looking for an ergonomic and quiet place with super-fast internet, then Istanbul offers a variety of co-working spaces. For instance, Regus offers a dedicated office space starting at 540 TRY ($80) per month. There is an excellent selection of co-working spaces, and the average price starts at 50 TRY per day ($7.50).

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