Cost of Living in Istanbul

Istanbul has a high cost of living relative to other Turkish cities, but is fairly cheap when considered in a global context. It was ranked 163rd out of 209 cities worldwide in the 2018 Mercer Cost of Living Survey.

Inflation has been steadily rising in the last few years and the addition of an 18 percent goods tax, or KDV, to most items, has increased basic prices. New arrivals in Istanbul will find that accommodation is their biggest expense, while fresh products are affordable compared to Western Europe.

Cost of accommodation in Istanbul

Accommodation is a high 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 and 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, like 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 equally as satisfying.

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 overly costly. 

Cost of living in Istanbul 

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below is based on average Istanbul prices for June 2018.

Accommodation (per month)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

YTL 1,450

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

YTL 3,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

YTL 900

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

YTL 1,600


Dozen eggs

YTL 8.50

Milk (1 litre)

YTL 3.50

Rice (1kg) 

YTL 7.30

Loaf of white bread

YTL 2.30

Chicken breasts (1kg)

YTL 15.20

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

YTL 13

Eating out

Big Mac meal

YTL 18

Coca-Cola (330ml) 

YTL 3.50



Bottle of beer (local, 500ml)

YTL 15

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant

YTL 40


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

YTL 0.70

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

YTL 78

Utilities (average per month for a standard household)

YTL 350


Taxi rate/km

YTL 2.50

City centre public transport fare

YTL 2.60

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

YTL 5.80

Kala Our Expat Expert

I moved in from Cairo, Egypt after spending wonderful four years as an expat there. I have two sons who go to the Istanbul International Community school. I am an avid golfer and enjoy outdoors. I took Turkish lessons after coming here and can manage to speak a little.I am active in the PTA of the school and a member of the International Women of Istanbul.Having lived in Istanbul for the last three years, I am now able to share my experiences with newcomers who come here