We have been living here for 1 year now and the cost of living in Istanbul in 2020 has remained mostly the same. The USD/TL exchange rate, however, has been constantly changing. Istanbul is a huge city with so much variety but we think that it is currently a cheap and safe place to live comfortably.
In This Post
Cost of Public Transportation
Public transportation is efficient and affordable in Istanbul. People that use public transportation every day spend around 10-20 TL ($1,3-$2,60) per day depending on how many buses and trains they use. A monthly transport card will cost you $36. This will give you 200 swipes monthly on any bus, train, tram or ferry line. This is really affordable and works out to 10 TL $1,3 per day.
Students, the elderly and people that belong to certain professions (like teachers, healthcare workers and military personnel) get discounted cards. Check the Istanbulkart website to see if you qualify for any additional discounts. For more details about transportation lines see our public transport guide.
What about Taxis ?
All taxis are metered, or should be. The meter starts at 5 TL which is around 70 cents with a minimum charge of 13 TL ($1,68). Taxis are a convenient and reasonable option for short trips. However, longer trips can be costly. For example, a trip from the new airport to anywhere, say Taksim, will cost you over 150 TL ($20). We recommend using an app like Bitaksi, which gives you an estimation of your trip charge, to avoid being over-charged.
On the whole, we recommend exploring the public transport routes before considering taking a taxi because they are often quicker and easier, due to Istanbul traffic.
Cost of Food and groceries
Despite everything, the price of essential foods has remained affordable.
Turkish bread: 1,50 TL ($0,2)
Loaf of bread (800g): 4,50 TL ($0,6)
Milk (1L): 6 TL ($0,8)
Tomatos (1kg): 4 TL ($0,6)
Onions (1kg): 3 TL ($0,4)
Potatoes (1kg): 2,50 TL ($0,4)
Apples (1kg): 7 TL ($0,9)
Turkish Rice (1kg): 10 TL ($1,3)
Bananas (1kg): 14 TL ($1,8)
Cheese (100g): 10-20 TL ($1,3-$2,6)
Lipton tea (25 bags): 10 TL ($1,3)
Sugar (1 kg): 5 TL ($0,7)
Sunflower Oil (1L): 13 TL ($1,7)
Boneless chicken (1kg): 20 TL ($2,6)
Ground Beef (1kg): 60 TL ($7,8)
At the Café
You can get enjoy your favourite hot beverage at a local café for as little as 2 TL for a cup of Turkish tea while international Franchises like Starbucks naturally cost more. You can get a decent cup of filter coffee from MacDonalds for 2 TL. For more info about Turkish Coffee and where to buy it see our post about Tukish Coffee.
Turkish tea: 2-4 TL
Turkish Coffee: 6-8 TL (about $1)
Filter coffee: 6-10 TL (about $1,5)
The cost of eating out ranges from cheap to expensive, depending on where you go. For example, there are several local fast food sandwiches that can be enjoyed for under 10 TL ($1,3). A McDonalds burger meal will cost around 20 TL ($2,6) and a steak meal at a moderately priced restaurant can cost around 60 TL ($8). There are several reasonably good Turkish meal options that can be found for between 20-40 TL ($2,6-$5)per person.
Cost of Accommodation
The nightly rate at a cheap hotel or Airbnb is around 100 TL ($13). An international hotel can cost about 500 TL ($65) and upwards, the sky is the limit.
Apartment rentals vary due to the huge geographical area of Istanbul, which occupies parts of the European and Asian sides. In suburbs that are farther away from the city centre and historical areas the apartment buildings tend to be newer and more affordable. Some of the most densely populated areas are located West of the historical district, Fatih. Therefore, you may be able to get an affordable new apartment on the outskirts.
Basic 2 bedroom apartment: 1000-1700 which is between $130 and $220
Electricity: The monthly cost of electricity for a small family is from 60- 150 TL ($8-$20). Water is a little cheaper at around 40-100 TL ($5- $13) per month. Heating charges vary depending on the system in your apartment. You can expect to pay around 150 TL a month in the Summer and up to 500 TL a month in the Winter for a card charging based system like ours.
Mobile and home internet in Istanbul
Mobile internet is not expensive in Turkey. You can pay around 10 TL per Gigabyte. There are also good monthly deals that include free talking minutes. I usually get a monthly package for 50 TL that includes 12 GB and 500 talking minutes.
Home internet costs between 70 and 100 TL a month for an unlimited internet package at a good speed.
Cost of Local and Imported Items in Turkey
There are currently high taxes levied on all goods that are imported. Therefore, imported items are much more expensive than locally produced products. For things like clothes and food, it is sufficient to purchase local items because they are available at good prices. On the other hand, electronics like mobile phones and computers are very expensive because they are imported. In addition, cars are very expensive in Turkey.
If you are considering moving to Turkey, I suggest purchasing your small electronics and smart devices before coming here. Unfortunately, bringing a car to Turkey is a little more difficult, perhaps we need to devote a separate article to this topic.
My information about the cost of living in Istanbul is based on personal experiences and daily life in istanbul. I think that Istanbul has something for everyone. Whether you are on a tight budget or seeking a life of luxury, Istanbul can be the right place for you. Let me know about your opinions and experiences in Istanbul. Is the cost of living in Istanbul lower or higher than your city?