Utilities in Istanbul

Expats renting in Istanbul will find that the utilities for most accommodation will be pre-registered in the name of the landlord and that it is the responsibility of the tenant to settle the bill monthly.

Setting up a landline telephone is an easy process, as is buying mobile pre-paid SIM cards. However, only Turkish residents can get mobile phone contracts, unless they are provided by their company. 

Most companies will help expats arrange telephone connections, which is useful as telephone company agents might not speak English.  When dialling within Istanbul, bear in mind that the prefix for the European side is 0212 and for the Asian side is 0216. This must be dialled before the number each time when calling from one side to the other.

Most housing estates and apartment blocks will have a kapıcı, meaning doorman. In most cases, the kapıcı acts as the handyman and will collect garbage and take care of minor repairs. The drawback to this is that expats will be hard pressed to find a kapıcı who speaks English. Most expats will need to rely on secretaries or other office staff to translate for them in their initial days in Istanbul.

Household services are widely available in Istanbul, and at a generally cheaper cost than in the West. Both Turkish and Filipino domestic cleaners are commonly available. Although Filipino domestic cleaners are more expensive, they are more likely to speak English.

Shireen Our Expat Expert

Shireen Mistry has recently returned to Bombay after living in Istanbul for 5 years. Her time in Istanbul (2003-2008) was spent exploring and getting to know the city intimately. She has also travelled around Turkey and finds the country a beautiful and fascinating place, and the people gentle and friendly. She particularly enjoyed discovering boutique hotels in various regions of Turkey, as she believes that a charming hotel set in beautiful surroundings enhances the whole travel experience of discovering a new place. Shireen made it a point to learn the Turkish language, so as to fully be able to immerse herself in the country. From 2006-2008, Shireen was Co-Chairwoman of the International Women of Istanbul, a highly regarded and well established voluntary organisation that served as a social group for foreign women in Istanbul, as well as a volunteer group for several local women's and children's charities. Amongst some of the activities of the IWI, were the organisation of several orientation tours around various parts of Istanbul for newcomers and also several cultural and cooking programmes. Being a part of this organisation has enabled Shireen to gain a deeper insight into Istanbul, and Turkish life in general, so much so that she now considers Turkey her second home.