Istanbul has a high cost of living relative to other Turkish cities, but it's fairly cheap when considered in a global context. It was ranked 173rd out of 206 cities worldwide in the 2021 Mercer Cost of Living Survey. This is thanks to the country's recent struggle with inflation, which has depreciated the lira considerably.

New arrivals in Istanbul will find that accommodation is their biggest expense, while fresh produce is affordable compared to Western Europe. That said, an expat's choice of lifestyle will have the biggest influence on their monthly expenses.


Cost of accommodation in Istanbul

Accommodation will be a large expense in Istanbul – though costs can range tremendously depending on location and accommodation type. 

Houses and apartments with a view of the Bosphorus are available on both the Asian and European sides of Istanbul, but housing is generally more expensive on the European side. 

When securing a lease, one to two months' rent is typically expected to serve as a deposit. Tenants might also have to pay the first month's rent in advance. Most quoted rental prices also don't include monthly maintenance and utility costs, so expats should expect some additional expenses.


Cost of goods in Istanbul

Petrol in Turkey is particularly expensive when compared to Europe and the US, as is imported alcohol and other imported goods. This includes electronic items, such as cameras and computers, as well as typically Western foods like maple syrup.

Istanbul is generally cheaper than most Western countries for daily groceries, medical care and domestic help. Fresh vegetables and fruit can be bought at bazaars (weekly markets) for low prices, and the local equivalent of many Western brands will be considerably cheaper and often equally satisfying.


Cost of entertainment and eating out in Istanbul

The cost of entertainment in Istanbul can be difficult to predict, as it varies greatly depending on the type of activity and location. Expats in Istanbul can expect prices to be largely lower, some of which may be more cost-effective compared to similar experiences in their home countries, while others may come with a heftier price tag.

The city offers expats a chance to delve into its rich heritage by visiting historical landmarks or soaking up the energy of the bustling bazaars. For a more unique experience, expats can catch a traditional Turkish performance like belly dancing. Meanwhile, the city's lively nightlife scene offers a range of options, from intimate bars to high-energy nightclubs. For those seeking a touch of home, Western-style entertainment can also be found in Istanbul, particularly in tourist areas and international venues.

The cost of eating out in Istanbul as an expat can vary greatly, with a range of options available that cater to different budgets and tastes. When it comes to dining, expats can expect a mixture of local and international cuisine, with prices that can vary from budget-friendly to more premium.

The quality of dining experiences in Istanbul can also vary, but the city is known for its rich culinary heritage, offering a range of delicious and authentic dishes. From street food vendors to fine dining establishments, expats can discover a wealth of dining options in the city.


Cost of transport in Istanbul

Public transport in Istanbul is highly efficient, extensive and affordable. Most expats find that they don't need a car, especially as reserved parking spaces are expensive. Despite this, the cost of buying a car is not especially pricey in Istanbul.


Cost of education in Istanbul

The cost of education in Istanbul varies depending on the type of education that parents opt for. Public education may be less expensive compared to private or international schools, but the quality of education and resources may differ. Private schools in Istanbul can provide a higher quality of education and resources, but they may come with a higher price tag. On the other hand, international schools in Istanbul offer a globally recognized curriculum, but they can be even more expensive than private schools.

Expats often consider the type of education they want for their children, taking into account factors such as language, curriculum, quality of resources, and location. Some expats may choose to enrol their children in public or private schools if they want to immerse their children in the local culture and language, while others may opt for international schools if they want to provide a more internationally recognised education.


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 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

YTL 22,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

YTL 12,900

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

YTL 13,500

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

YTL 7,600

Shopping

Dozen eggs

YTL 44

Milk (1 litre)

YTL 23

Rice (1kg) 

YTL 37

Loaf of white bread

YTL 11.45

Chicken breasts (1kg)

YTL 92

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

YTL 34

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

YTL 99

Coca-Cola (330ml) 

YTL 20.84

Cappuccino

YTL 44

Local beer (500ml)

YTL 60

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

YTL 600

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

YTL 1.43

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

YTL 203

Utilities (average per month for a standard household)

YTL 1,440

Transportation

Taxi rate/km

YTL 8.50

City centre public transport fare

YTL 10

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

YTL 21.84