Here, we will try to give you an idea of the cost of living in Istanbul, including “how much you should get paid to have a happy life”, “inflation and minimum wage in Turkey”, “average prices for basic services and goods”, “cost of accommodation, household bills and public transportation”, “useful tips about living in Istanbul” and more for Istanbul newcomers and expats… Prices updated for November 2019
As for the cost of living in Istanbul for expats or locals; we can say that; as of 2018, regarding all the living costs inc. flat rentals;
- If you are getting paid above 8,000 TL per month, you may happily live in Istanbul.
- If you are getting paid between 5,000-8,000 TL per month, than you may live in Istanbul not so good and not so bad.
- If you are getting paid below 5,000 TL per month, than you may live in Istanbul in unhappiness and stress.
- According to some academic and on the field researches, the minimum wage for living in Istanbul on the edge of the poverty is 2,385 TL and 3,750 TL for normal living like a human for an average family with 2 kids,
Note: Here, we wrote down the cost of living prices in Turkish Liras (TL) because there is a high volatility in between TL and foreign currencies and especially the USD/TRY index has been fluctuating wildly since the end of August 2018. 1 USD rose up to 7,23 TL in late August and as of November 2019, it is fluctuating between 5,70-5,90 TL range. It is better for you to follow the currencies’ rates.
Istanbul can be considered as a cheap city to live related with many major cities in the world and in Europe in a global context. But on the contrary, Istanbul has a high cost of living related with the other Turkish cities. Aside from being the largest and most popular city of Turkey, Istanbul is also the biggest cultural and financial center of Turkey. Istanbul is considered to be the bridge that links Asia with Europe from a cultural and geographical standpoint. Istanbul is a huge metropolitan city with about 15 million residents as of 2018 that you can usually expect it to be busy whenever travelling there. Istanbul is also one of the top 20 most visited cities in the world.
Istanbul was ranked 154th over 208 cities in the world in the June 2019 Mercer Cost of Living Survey (was 163rd over 209 cities in 2018). Cost of Living Survey is a survey that measures the costs of more than 200 items in comparison such as the costs of housing, transportation, food, clothing, house goods, entertainment and more. So it gives an idea for you to make a comparison between the other major cities in the world. Istanbul was ranked 163rd on the previous year, so it means that Istanbul is more expensive than 2018.
As there is an excellent exchange rate between the Turkish lira and the other major currencies like USD, EUR and GBP, it is very easy for many expats and Istanbul newcomers from rich countries to experience a cheap, easy and maybe luxurious lifestyle in Istanbul. Before we start looking at average costs of living in Istanbul, we should focus on some factors.
Inflation in Turkey
Inflation has become a problem since the last few years as it has been steadily rising. The Turkish consumer price inflation increased to 20.35 percent year-on-year in January 2019 from 20.30 percent in the prior month. The expected The Turkish consumer price inflation is %19 for 2019 and %11 for 2020. Food prices rose faster while housing and transportation inflation eased. Also note that banks give about %24 interest for Turkish liras.
What is The Minimum Wage in Turkey?
The minimum wage in Turkey rose to 2,020 Turkish liras per month (about $380) as of 2019 including the employers’ paying all the healthcare and retirement stamps.
If we compare Istanbul with the other Western countries, we can say that Istanbul is a cheap city for daily groceries, supermarkets, medical care, local clothing, domestic help, local food, fresh vegetables & fruits at the weekly street markets.
But on the contrary; the expenses below are ridiculously very high;
- Imported Alcohol.
- Imported goods such as electronics, mobile phones, cameras, computers…
Cost of Accommodation in Istanbul
Expats and Istanbul newcomers will see that the accommodation will be their biggest expense. The central city districts, the districts of Bosporus European and Asian coastline have the most valuable properties, luxury residences and homes. Besiktas, Bakirkoy, Kadikoy, Beykoz, Sariyer, Adalar, Uskudar, Sisli, Zeytinburnu and Beyoglu (in order) are the most expensive districts in Istanbul. The districts on the outskirts of Istanbul such as Beylikduzu, Avcilar, Sancaktepe, Silivri, Catalca, Sultangazi and Basaksehir (in order) are the cheapest ones.
- The average home rental price for whole Istanbul is about 14-15 TL per square meters, which means a 100m2 flat renting price is between 1400-1500 TL.
- The home rental prices for the cheap districts and neighborhoods are between 9-12 TL per square meters, which means a 100m2 flat renting price is between 900-1200 TL.
- And it rises up to 2500-3000 TL on the Istanbul city center districts and on the districts that are home to universities.
- Furnished flat prices are like %25-30 more expensive. Also note that the average home rental prices rise about %30 percent each year in Istanbul.
- Besiktas and Sariyer districts are the most expensive ones by means of home rentals with an average home rental price 3,500 TL. And than comes Bakirkoy with an average home rental price 3,000 TL, and about 2,650 TL for Kadikoy and Beykoz.
Average Household Bills in Istanbul
If we compare Istanbul with the other Western countries, we can say that household bills in Istanbul is exceptionally cheap. Below you may see the average household prices per month in Istanbul.
- Electric: 100-150 TL per month.
- Water and Sewerage: 40-50 TL per month
- Natural Gas for locally heating up your flat: 400-500 TL per month (in winter months).
- Telephone, Internet, Digital TV and GSM: As there is a competition between the major telecommunications and entertainment companies in Turkey, you may buy all in one”Telephone + Internet + Digital TV” packages for about 100-150 TL per month and GSM for 40-50 TL per month.
- Communal Maintenance: 50-500 TL per month depending the services like communal heating, doorkeeper, security, facilities…
Cost of Food & Drink
You can have a good Turkish breakfast for one person from €3 to €5 in between a sandwich/tea and full brunch in a fancy place. But we assume that you will have free breakfast on your hostel or hotel and you should take it.
The average price for a three-course meal for one person in a mid-range restaurant at for lunch & dinner would be around €7. You can pass the lunch and grab a famous Turkish simit (a sesame crusted bread, similar to bagels) with tea or buy a pre-maid sandwich for markets for short breaks and you can spend less than €1.
You can enjoy your beer in a terrace for €3 or have a cocktail on a rooftop bar for €7.
As a summary we can say that you will spend about €20 per day for one person on food and drinks on average. But we recommend to plan extra money to treat yourself for some inspiring local tastes or street food.
Some up to date prices on food and drink in Istanbul:
- Meal in a cheap Restaurant : from 20 TL to 35 TL
- Three-course Meal for 2 People in a mid-range Restaurant : from 75 TL to 150 TL
- Fast Food Chains : from 18 TL to 25 TL
- Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) : from 10.5 TL to 20 TL
- Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) : from 14 TL to 25 TL
- Cappuccino (regular) : from 8 TL to 15 TL
- Coke (0.33 liter bottle) : from 2.50 TL to 7 TL
- Water (0.33 liter bottle) : from 1.00 TL to 1.50 TL
- Water (1.5 liter bottle) : from 1.50 TL to 3 TL
- Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) : from 30 TL to 60 TL
- Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro) 13 TL to 15 TL
- Milk (1 liter) : from 3.25 TL to 5.75 TL
- White Bread (200 g) : from 1.50 TL to 3.50 TL
- Rice (1 kg) : from 5.00 TL to 12 TL
- Eggs (12 pieces) : from 6.80 TL to 15 TL
- Cheese (1 kg) : from 20 TL to 40 TL
- Chicken (1 kg) : from 15 TL to 30 TL
- Meat (1 kg) : from 50 TL to 80 TL
- Apples (1 kg) : from 4 TL to 8 TL
- Banana (1 kg) : from 7 TL to 15 TL
- Oranges (1 kg) : from 3 TL to 8 TL
- Tomato (1 kg) : from 4 TL to 9 TL
- Potato (1 kg) : from 3 TL to 7 TL
- Onion (1 kg) : from 3 TL to 8 TL
Cost of Public Transportation in Istanbul
Using public transportation is the cheapest way to get around Istanbul. It is also safe and convenient. The public transportation of Istanbul includes buses, metros, metrobuses, trams, funiculars, cable car, shared taxis (dolmus), ferries and seabuses. You may get an Istanbul card for 6 TL and add TLs in it and you may use it in all public transportations. One-way pass is 2,60 TL. You may also buy Istanbul Blue Card for 10 TL and add 205 TL which is a monthly card and includes 180 passes. There are also 1 pass (5 TL), 2 passes (8 TL), 3 passes (11 TL) and 5 passes (17 TL) cards.
As there are loads of good websites about all the costs of the most common and specific services and goods, we didnt mention those prices here. We recommend you to check Numbeo and BudgetYourTrip‘s cost of living in Istanbul pages and see up to date prices.