Guide to Cost of Living in Turkey - Updated August 2020
The cost of living in Turkey is an enticing lure for many people who have relocated to the country. Firstly, for foreigners, Turkey isn’t an expensive country, because they have purchasing power thanks to a lucrative exchange rate and high-interest savings accounts. Frugal money-savers, or those in the fortunate situation to afford a good standard of living, find many opportunities to suit their budget.
So, let’s discuss six factors that will affect your monthly expenditure and they are affordable destinations versus cities, cost of running and maintaining a property, monthly utility expenses, monthly shopping bills, dining out, smoking, drinking, and running a car, residency and health care costs. Before we break down prices, though, it is worth mentioning that expenses and prices differ across the country, so let’s start by looking at the most expensive and affordable places to live.
Guide to Cost of Living in Turkey
1: Affordable Places to Live
Naturally, as with other countries, expensive cities are places to avoid when on a budget, and in the case of Turkey, Istanbul ranks as the highest bracket. Other major cities include Ankara and Izmir. However, according to Numbeo, a number-crunching cost of living index collector, the city centre of Istanbul is still roughly 148% cheaper than London. A startling aspect of Istanbul life is rent. The average expenditure for rent is 2000 TL a month for a basic cheap studio apartment in a small neighbourhood on the outskirts, but this can rise to as much as 5000 TL in a central location. For example, you can find 1 bedroom apartment for sale in Istanbul less then $50,000.
Whereas on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, renting an apartment starts at roughly 900TL depending on condition, age and upkeep. For living costs and expenses, the examples used below, focus on Altinkum, which offers reasonable prices. All quotes are in Turkish lira (TL), and foreigners should convert to their currency using the exchange rate of the day.
2: Annual Housing Costs, Goods and Services
As mentioned above, rental prices in Altinkum average 900 lira for a furnished apartment. Property owners don’t pay rent but need to factor in each living cost to maintain their property, make ends meet and maintain reasonable living standards all year round. These include….
- Apartment Maintenance Fee: Using the condominium law, a manager governs any building with more than six apartments. They maintain communal facilities like lights in the hallway, lifts, swimming pools, games rooms, security, and gardens. Fees vary according to the number of apartments and the shared services, but the average monthly price is 200 TL.
- Council and Rubbish Tax: This yearly payment is calculated by the number of people on the title deeds (tapu). A two-bedroom apartment is roughly 200 TL per year.
- House Insurance: Earthquake insurance is compulsory, and is dependent on square meterage. A one-bedroom apartment costs an average of 275 TL a year. For fire, theft, and damages, factor in higher prices.
3: Household Utilities
Small market shops sell gas in bottles for roughly 120 lira, and for a single person, they can last up to a year. People also do not have to pay for a television licence. Main monthly household bills are electric, water, telephone, and internet.
- Electric: Turkey privatised its electrical distribution, and a separate company runs every region. In Altinkum, the company is Aydem who set three-time tariffs. A single person spending lots of time in the home pays roughly 250 TL a month. Air conditioning or electric bar fires increase bills drastically.
- Water: Some people use prepaid water meters while others still receive a monthly bill. Astonishingly, bills only average 200 lira a year.
- Internet and Telephone: Turk Telecom, the national provider, is popular for house internet, TV satellite and phone, because of their varied packages. Unlimited monthly internet is approximately 90 TL, while minimal use of the phone to call abroad is 50 lira. Providers often have cost-efficient campaigns that are excellent value for money.
4: Groceries, Food, Drink and Miscellaneous
The three leading supermarkets are Migros, Carrefour, and Bim, with the last holding a budget reputation for low costs. People often use weekly local farmers markets for fruit, vegetables, and cheese because of lower prices and higher quality than supermarkets. Meat lovers will be disappointed because lamb and beef are expensive food items. Lamb can be as much as 148 lira per kilogramme for the best pieces while chicken averages of 12 lira per kilo. It is easy to see why chicken is the main staple dish in many households. A bottle of pasteurised milk is roughly 4 lira and 9 lira for 15 eggs.
When dining out, expect to pay approximately 40TL lira for pasta dishes, or 70 lira for steaks. A good old-fashioned English breakfast is available for 25 lira. Eating out is more expensive in beachfront restaurants because they pay higher rents. Save money by eating in restaurants away from the beachfront. Gone are the days of cheap alcohol. Altinkum still maintains low prices compared to other places, though. The average cost for an Efes beer is 20 lira, whereas, in Istanbul or Bodrum, this can easily double. A glass of wine averages 20TL, while spirits average out at 25 TL.
5: Smoking and Driving
Two expensive living costs are driving and smoking. Even though smoking is still cheaper than the UK, prices have risen considerably over the last few years as the government still adheres strictly to its anti-smoking campaign. A pack of 20 cigarettes is roughly 15 lira. Petrol is expensive but local buses in most rural and urban areas are cheap, while in large cities, public transport like the Metro is also affordable.
6: Residency and Healthcare
Fees for residency change depending on your nationality. For most, the cost is 80 USD for a first-time applicant. You also need to pay 110TL for the documents and if your nationality doesn’t require an e-visa, an additional one-off tax of 658 TL. Permits last one year and renewals after drop in price to 60 USD. Anybody under the age of 65 also needs health insurance, and for private policies, the monthly cost varies depending on the coverage and your current medical health. Many expatriates sign up to the monthly state SGK health coverage for medical-care.
Conclusion - Basic Living Expenses for Each Month: A non-smoking, property owner in Altinkum, who does not drive and drinks occasionally, can live comfortably on 3000 Turkish lira per month. Many expats also live off their monthly interest from savings accounts, currently running at roughly 8 to 11% dependent on the bank and amount deposited, so they don’t have to touch their capital net worth.
Moving to Turkey: Relocating to another country is an exciting experience, especially when it comes to learning about food, culture, and history. We look at what to know if you want to move from your home country to Turkey. Including housing prices, basic necessities, growth rates for the economy, and tips on how to cope with the lifestyle change, it is a useful guide.
Best Places to Live: As well as considering the cost of living in Turkey, you may be looking for somewhere to set down roots or retire. In this article, we list the most popular and cheapest places to live. The diversity proves that relocation to the country is an ideal move to make.