- Download our Moving to Turkey Guide (PDF)
Expats will find the cost of living in Turkey to be far more reasonable than in neighbouring European destinations. As the Turkish lira is not a strong currency, those earning in a foreign currency can make their money last longer and reach further, even if choosing to live in the popular expat areas or the coastal resort towns.
Istanbul, the country's largest expat hub and most costly location, was ranked the 185th most expensive expat destination by the 2023 Mercer Cost of Living Survey out of the 227 cities evaluated. Like most places, the cost of living in Turkey is directly affected by location and lifestyle. Rural villages are cheaper than urban centres.
Cost of accommodation in Turkey
The property market in Turkey for both buying and renting generally offers good value for money when compared with the likes of the UK or the US. A wide variety of accommodation is available to suit all tastes and budgets, ranging from pricey villas with sweeping vistas and vast outdoor spaces to sparse apartments that offer only the most basic amenities.
Monthly utilities aren't always included in rent, so expats will need to factor in the cost of water, electricity and gas. Although these bills tend to be relatively inexpensive, the cost of heating during winter dramatically increases utility expenses.
Cost of groceries in Turkey
In Turkey, food shopping can still be done at weekly neighbourhood markets, where locally sourced seasonal fruits and vegetables are on sale at low prices. Modern supermarkets do stock the imported goods that many expats yearn for, but these foreign food items can come at a hefty price.
A food cost that may be unexpected for many expats will be bottled water. It's safe to drink tap water in many areas, but many foreigners still prefer to drink bottled water. The good news is that a 19-litre jug of water is relatively cheap. Expats should buy in bulk when they can.
Cost of entertainment and eating out in Turkey
Eating out in Turkey can offer expats a diverse range of dining options with varying costs, but generally less costly compared to dining out in many Western countries. This is particularly true for traditional Turkish cuisine and street food, which are often inexpensive. Many restaurants in tourist areas may offer both traditional Turkish dishes and more familiar international cuisine.
The cost of entertainment in Turkey for expats can vary widely depending on the type of activity and location. Though they largely tend to be economical, some forms of entertainment may be affordable compared to similar activities in Western countries, while others may be costlier.
Expats can expect to find a diverse range of entertainment options in Turkey, including cultural and historical attractions, outdoor activities and nightlife. Some popular forms of entertainment include visiting historical sites, exploring the bustling markets and bazaars, and experiencing traditional Turkish performances such as belly dancing. Additionally, Turkey's large cities offer a variety of bars, nightclubs, and live music venues for those looking for nightlife.
Cost of transport in Turkey
Turkey's public transport system is constantly improving and evolving, yet it remains extremely cheap. Buses are the main mode of transit and are generally efficient and economical. Both state-sponsored entities and private buses charge flat and cheap fares for a single journey. Dolmuş, informal, shared taxis that connect commuters going short distances, are also incredibly reasonable. Fares vary according to the length of the journey.
For those expats who would prefer to get around by car in Turkey, the basic cost of buying and maintaining a vehicle may be slightly cheaper than in the UK or the US, but the cost of petrol is steep.
Cost of education in Turkey
The cost of education in Turkey can vary widely depending on the type of school and location. Education in Turkey is typically less expensive compared to education in many Western countries, though expats are less likely to enrol their children in public or even private schools, both of which teach in Turkish.
There are international schools in Istanbul and Ankara. These may be pricier compared to public or private Turkish schools, but they offer the benefit of a familiar education system and language of instruction.
Cost of healthcare in Turkey
Healthcare in Turkey is affordable and generally of excellent quality, with the country becoming a recognised medical tourism destination. Expats have access to the public system, but may prefer private healthcare. The private system is well priced, particularly when compared to other European countries, but health insurance is recommended for expats going this route as costs can add up over time.
Cost of living in Istanbul chart
Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below is based on average prices for Istanbul in February 2024.
|Accommodation (monthly rent)
|Three-bedroom apartment in city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre
|Milk (1 litre)
|Loaf of white bread
|Chicken breasts (1kg)
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)
|Big Mac Meal
|Local beer (500ml)
|Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two
|Mobile phone plan with calls and data
|Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)
|Utilities (average per month for a standard household)
|City-centre public transport fare
|Petrol/gasoline (per litre)
What do expats think of the cost of living in Turkey?
"Costs in general are going up, but items in Turkey tend to be less expensive than in America. We are always so thankful for the price of fresh fruits and vegetables here compared to the States. The local bazaars might be one of our favorite places to spend a morning, just admiring the mounds of colourful produce! More expensive items to find here would be electronics and English-language books." Learn more about Emily and Jesse and their life in Turkey in their interview.
"For an American, the cost of living in Adana is quite affordable. Depending on the US city, a typical year’s rent here could amount to the cost of a couple of months’ rent in a comparable house back in the States. Groceries are cheap. Entertainment is cheap. Unfortunately, what is affordable for us as expats isn’t necessarily so for locals. Due to the depreciation of the Turkish lira in recent years, even those who earn standard wages can struggle to make ends meet." Read what Ginny Lou, an American expat, has to say about life in Adana in her interview.
►For more on managing your finances in Turkey, see Banking, Money and Taxes in Turkey
►Read Expat Experiences in Turkey for impressions and advice from expats living in the country
Are you an expat living in Turkey?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Turkey. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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