Living in Istanbul as a Foreigner: What Is It Like?

Living in Istanbul as a Foreigner

No matter where you decide to move for a living, shifting is a daunting task, especially when you choose a foreign country. While a lot of nations have strict immigration regulations, Turkey offers an easy and direct path to avail citizenship through real estate investments

Straddling between two continents, Istanbul is the largest and the most populous city in the country. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, the total population of the region has exploded tenfold since the 1950s. Being the administrative, financial, and industrial center of Turkey, it attracts tens of thousands of foreigners, immigrants, and global investors every year. 

About Istanbul

Istanbul is an iconic Mediterranean city that sits at the crossroads of cultures and civilizations. Originally founded in 657 BCE as Byzantium, it offers a significant blend of both progressive modernization and ancient heritage, making it a famous expat destination. The city inherits a storied history with periods of both Islamic and Christian influence and is a melting pot of religions, traditions, and ethnicities.

Since Istanbul is Turkey’s cultural capital and top tourist destination, many bi-lingual locals speak foreign languages such as English, Arabic, Russian, German, Spanish, Chinese, and French. 

If you’ve set your eyes on Istanbul already, here’s what living in the most beautiful Mediterranean city would be like.

Lifestyle in Istanbul

  • Rich historical culture

Because of its prime and strategic location along the Bosphorus canal, Istanbul has been a thriving hub of trade and industries throughout the centuries. Serving as the seat of power for the Ottoman and Eastern Roman empire, history and traditions pervade its buildings and residents. 

The intriguing Turkish architecture such as Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, and Blue Mosque catches the eyes of foreigner residents and tourists. While the Hippodrome of Constantinople harks back to the rich ancient times, the medieval stone Galata Tower dominates the skyline of Istanbul.

  • A city with recreational opportunities

Expats who aren’t particularly interested in historical monuments will definitely find plenty of other attractions that make Istanbul a special place to live. Among the most popular attractions are Bosphorus yacht expeditions and cruises that travel far up to the Black Sea. The Princes’ Islands is a quick ferry ride away and offers the perfect antidote for residents tired of the hustle and bustle of the city.

Weather in Istanbul

Istanbul has distinct seasons and weather that is suitable for residents from all parts of the world. The summers are humid, dry, warm, and clear and the winters are partly cloudy, windy, cold, and long. Over the course of the year, the average temperature typically varies from 38o F to 85o F. 

Ideal Places to live

Istanbul has 39 official districts that range from wealthy and urban to young and bohemian areas. Depending on the lifestyle requirements and budgets, foreigners can choose from an array of neighborhoods in Istanbul. 

For instance, Levent is a buzzing business and commercial district that attracts thousands of Turkish and international working professionals. Sariyer, on the other hand, is located at the northern tip of the European side and has stunning natural landscapes and coastlines. 

Generally, real estate in Istanbul near Bosphorus is on the pricier side, both in the terms of rental yields and resale.

Getting around in Istanbul

Public transport in Istanbul is affordable and efficient. An Istanbul card enables citizens to use trains, buses, and ferries and the fare payment systems are fairly easy to use. 

When it comes to air travel, Istanbul sits on a prime Turkish location. Booming with real estate developments and commercialization, the city is pretty much at the doorstep of three continents covering a vast bracket of destinations in Asia, Europe, and Africa.

Working opportunities for foreigners living in Istanbul

Surprisingly, working in Istanbul as an expat is not that grueling as compared to other countries. While the city is the center of employment and international relations in Turkey, it offers numerous work benefits to Turkish and foreign nationals. However, the only difference is that expats need to have a valid work permit from the employer. There is also a high demand for tutoring English as a foreign language and numerous scope for English speakers in the tourism sector. 

Is Istanbul safe for foreigners?

According to recent research, the crime rate, as they relate to foreigners living in Istanbul, is extremely less. 

Despite being an extremely busy and dynamic city, Istanbul is one of the unscathed places in the world to live in. The key is to not be a victim of opportunity crime and live as you would normally do in your home country. Regarding tourism, Turkish authorities carry out tremendous jobs of keeping the public secure and safe.

Cost of living in Istanbul 

Istanbul is an affordable yet advanced metropolitan city and the quality of life is not detrimental to the resident’s wallet. Cafes and restaurants in the neighborhoods are relatively low and budget-friendly. 

Household costs are pleasantly affordable in regular districts and outskirts, however, it gets expensive near the city center. The cost of living on the European side of Istanbul is also on the higher side as compared to the Asian side. Major internet and cell phone service providers offer excellent deals on local and international voice/data usage. 

Closing Remarks

Istanbul is one of the few cities in the world that bridges two major continents. It hosts millions of tourists from all over the world and the staggering architectural designs and the geographical location speaks for its charm and beauty. It’s no wonder that more and more people are chasing their dreams of having a settled life in the Turkish focal center. While there are a few crucial elements to take into consideration before making the BIG move such as availing the work VISA, residence permit, and finding the ideal property in Istanbul, it is worth the effort in the end. 

Leave a comment

Find Your Home in Turkey

Let Us Help You Now!

Last Properties