Turkish cities: an overview
There are a number of cities that expats choose to move to in Turkey. Big cities are better for doing business and enjoying an active lifestyle, while smaller ones are ideal for leading a relaxed and comfortable life on the sea shore.
Big cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir are well developed. Living there can be more expensive, but the quality of life is similar to that of the big European cities.
Smaller towns, like Bodrum, Fethiye, or Gaziantep, are cheaper, but have less developed infrastructure and service industry
However, all of these places have their admirers among expats and Turkish citizens.
The capital of Turkey is Ankara, situated in the centre of the country, with a population of 5.7 million. However, the largest and most popular city is Istanbul, where 15.5 million people live. Istanbul is known as a city located in both Europe and Asia: three bridges and an underwater tunnel cross the Bosphorus, connecting the European and Anatolian parts of the city.
Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey, its population is 4.4 million people. The city is located in the west of Turkey, on the shore of the Aegean Sea. Bursa is a big city situated near Izmir.
The southern coast is a home for small towns such as Bodrum and Fethiye. The biggest city there is Antalya, a famous tourist destination. The climate in these cities is the warmest and driest. They are washed by the Mediterranean Sea, where the water’s temperature is above 20°C for 7 months in a year.
Cost of living in Istanbul
Istanbul, being the most popular and well-developed city, is naturally also the most expensive one.
Housing. Price on renting accommodation in Istanbul, Turkey, depends on the location. In the city centre the cost for a 3 bedroom apartment is around $1,300, while in the non-central districts it is around $800.
Utility bills. On average, a family of 4 pays $70 a month for electricity, water, cooling, and taking out garbage. Internet connection for a month costs around $8.
Food. Turkish people usually buy groceries in supermarkets. There are also open bazaars with fresh fruit and vegetables. The average prices on fruit like apples, bananas, or oranges are $1—1.5 per kilogram. Vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, or onions cost $1 for a kilogram.
The average food basket that includes milk, eggs, bread, cheese, and meat costs around $25—30.
Eating out is also not expensive. For a dinner for two in an average restaurant you would need to pay around $27. A fast-food meal in a place like McDonalds will cost you around $5.5.
Transportation. Turkish citizens and residents have special monthly passes that allow them to save money on regular trips. The monthly pass costs $40. The taxi has different tariffs: on the basic tariff, for example, the average cost for a kilometre is $0.5.
Litre of gasoline costs around $1—$1.5.
Healthcare. To visit a private doctor in Istanbul, you need to spend $35—$40. The cost for a box of antibiotics is around $2, for a cold-treatment medicine — $1.8.
Salary. Average net salary in Istanbul, Turkey is $600.
Cost of living in Ankara
Living in Ankara is less costly than in Istanbul. The main difference is housing: in terms of rent cost, Istanbul is 2 times more expensive than Ankara.
Rent. For renting an apartment for a family of 4 in the city centre, you would need $500—$600. If you consider renting a similar apartment outside the city centre, you would need to pay around $400.
Utility bills. On average, a family of 4 pays $65 a month for electricity, water, cooling, and taking out garbage. The Internet for a month costs $9.5.
Food. The average food basket in Ankara includes milk, water, bread, 12 eggs, cheese, and meat, as well as fruit and vegetables.
To buy chicken and steak, you would need to pay $15—20. A set of ordinary fruit and vegetables like apples, oranges, potatoes, and tomatoes costs $6—10. Milk you can buy for $1, a loaf of bread — for $0.5, 12 eggs — for $2. Cheese is rather expensive and costs around $8—10 for one kilogram.
If you would like to have dinner in a restaurant, you would need to pay approximately $20 for two people. The average price for a fast-food meal is $4.7.
Transportation. Turkish citizens have special monthly passes that cost less than one-way tickets for a month accumulated. The price of a monthly pass is around $15—20. The taxi has different tariffs: on the basic tariff, the average cost for a 1 km trip will cost $0.4.
Litre of gasoline costs around $1.
Healthcare. Healthcare in Ankara is a bit more pricey than in Istanbul. One visit to a private doctor in Ankara costs around $46. The cost of a box of antibiotics is around $3.5, of a cold-treatment medicine — $1.3.
Salary. On average, people working in Ankara earn $500 per month after tax reduction.
Сost of living in Izmir
Prices in Izmir and Ankara are quite similar. On average, it is less expensive to rent housing in Ankara than in Izmir, but groceries are pricier in Ankara.
Rent. The cost for renting an apartment for a family of 4 in the expensive district is around $600, in the moderate one — around $400.
Utility bills. Average monthly bill that includes electricity, water, cooling, and taking out trash is $80. Monthly cost of the Internet is $8.
Food. To buy the most basic groceries in Izmir’s supermarket, you would need to spend $45—50. Non-exotic fruit and vegetables cost around $1 for a kilogram. Meat, depending on a type — $5—15. 12 eggs can be bought for $2, and a litre of milk — for $1.
Prices for eating out in Izmir and Ankara are pretty much the same. Dinner for 2 in a mid-range restaurant will cost around $20. Cost of a meal in a fast-food restaurant is around $4.5.
Transportation. A monthly pass that is more profitable for people living in Izmir permanently costs around $20. The price of a basic taxi tariff is around $0.7 for a 1 km ride. Litre of gasoline costs around $1.
Healthcare. For a visit to a private doctor in Izmir, you would need to pay $30. The cost of a box of antibiotics is around $3.4, of a cold-treatment medicine — $3.
Salary. Average net monthly salary in Izmir is $400.
Cost of living in other Turkish cities
Other popular cities among expats are Alanya, Bodrum, Bursa, Fethiye, and Gaziantep.
Comparison of prices in Turkish cities for one person
|Monthly transport pass||$30||$12||$25||$8||$9|
Cost of living in Turkey compared to the UK
In general, life is cheaper in Turkey than in the UK. However, that depends on the destination. For example, Istanbul, the largest Turkish city, might be more expensive than a small village in the north of the UK. However, compared to London, it is more affordable.
Cost on renting housing in London is 3—3.5 times higher than in Istanbul. If you rent an apartment in Istanbul for $750, you could rent the look-alike place in London for $2,500. If your apartment in Istanbul costs $1,300 per month, in London the cost of it would be almost $5,000.
However, the difference in costs can be explained by the difference of salaries. On average citizens of Istanbul earn $600 per month, while Londoners earn around $4,000.
Cost of living in Turkey vs the USA
The cost of living in both countries depends on the chosen destination. The USA is considered one of the top—20 most expensive countries in the world, so a person living there needs more money than a person living in Turkey.
Let’s take New York, one of the most expensive cities in the USA. To rent a 3 bedroom apartment there, you would need $4,000—$7,000 per month. In Istanbul, the same apartments will be way cheaper — $800—1,300. One square metre in an apartment in New York costs between $10,000—$15,000, while in Istanbul — $1,500—$3,000, depending on the location.
Among the cheapest cities in the USA that have more than 50,000 inhabitants are Harlingen in Texas, Decatur in Illinois, and McAllen in Texas. Still, a median income there is around $3,750 per month. In Istanbul, the most expensive Turkish city, people earn around $600 a month on average.
In general, the cost of living in big US cities is 2—3 times higher than in Turkish ones.
Reasons to move to Turkey
Low cost of living. Turkey is one of the cheapest countries in Europe and the cheapest country in the Middle East region. A family of four would need around $1,500 without rent for a month.
Climate. The majority of the year in Turkey is warm and sunny. Winters there are usually mild, and the air temperature almost never goes below 0°C. Summers are hot and dry. Sun shines 300 days a year, it is usually raining in winter.
Due to the pleasant climate, people living in Turkey benefit from sea activities and fresh food almost all year long.
Opportunities for business. There are 18 free zones in Turkey, with various benefits for companies opening there. For example, you don’t need to pay property tax on buildings and lands located in a free zone.
High quality healthcare. Turkey is a popular place for medical tourism: prices on healthcare are rather low, yet the quality of medical services are high. Turkish clinics meet international standards, and 34 of them have an accreditation of the Joint Commission International.
Education for children. There are international schools and kindergartens for foreign children. Most of them are located in Istanbul and offer studies in English and Turkish. The average price is $10,000 per year.
There are over 200 universities in Turkey. The best ones are located in Ankara or Istanbul: Cankaya University, Middle East Technical University, Bogazici University, and Istanbul Bilgi University. Costs for studying in universities are relatively low, starting at $250. Turkish citizens can also apply for scholarships that reduce expenses on education.
As Turkey is a part of the Bologna system, the country’s diplomas are recognized in EU countries.
Friendly people. Turkish people are in general nice and welcoming. Big cities are full of expats that come to the country from all over the world.
How to obtain Turkish citizenship
Turkish citizenship can be obtained by:
- descent — it can be claimed by someone who have close Turkish relatives;
- marriage — if you are married to a Turkish citizen and your marriage last for at least 3 years;
- naturalisation — you would need to live in Turkey officially for at least 5 years.
However, the easiest way to become a citizen of Turkey is to invest in the country’s economy. The investment option options are the following:
- purchase of real estate — $400,000+;
- business investment — $500,000+;
- bank deposit — $500,000+;
- purchase of government bonds — $500,000+;
- purchase of units in an investment fund — $550,000+.
To be eligible to apply for citizenship, the investor must be over 18, have no criminal record or prosecutions, have no serious illnesses, and be capable of confirming the legality of the income.
The investor can also add their close family members, a spouse and children under 18, to the application.
In brief: what's the cost of living in Turkey
The most popular and therefore the most expensive city in Turkey is Istanbul. Ankara and Izmir are the second and the third biggest cities in the country. The cost of living there is almost similar to one another.
Other popular cities among expats are Antalya, Bodrum, Bursa, Fethiye, and Gaziantep.
Living in Turkey is 2—3 times less expensive than in the UK or the USA.
Foreigners choose Turkey as the place of their permanent residence because of the pleasant climate, low cost of living, opportunities for business, high quality healthcare, affordable education, and friendly people.
People who decide to move to Turkey often consider getting the country’s passport. It can be obtained by investment.
Frequently Asked Questions
That depends on a place you’re moving to. In Istanbul it is better to have at least $2,000 per month to live comfortably, as it is the most expensive city in Turkey. In Ankara or Izmir, $1,500—$2,000 will be enough.
If you move on your own, $1,500 for living in any Turkish city will be enough. However, for a family of 4, you would need at least $2,000.
The average housing cost in Istanbul varies from $800 to $1300. Ankara and Izmir are cheaper: there, you can rent an apartment for $500—700.
Yes, in general, Turkish people are very friendly and welcoming. There is also a huge community of expats, so newcomers never stay alone among locals.
Istanbul is the most popular city among expats from all over the world. They appreciate the city for its high quality of life, developed infrastructure, and a mixture of European and Asian traits.
In general, it is cheaper to live in Turkey than in the UK. For example, renting an apartment in London is 3—3.5 times more expensive than in Istanbul.
Yes, Turkey is cheaper for living than the US. On average, the US is 2—3 times more expensive than Turkey.