The Cost of Living in Turkey

By | on 26th February 2011 | 8 Comments

I often see the question asked, I want to move to Turkey, what is the cost of living? Could I survive on £500 per month? What are the prices in Turkey and is it expensive to live in Turkey?

living in turkey costs

The cost depends on what sort of lifestyle you want to lead in Turkey. Yes you can survive on £500 a month. Is it expensive here, it depends purely on how you live. In a comparison could you live on £500 a month in the UK?

There are some things to think about.

The ever changing interest rate, the rate averaged out in 2010 to about 2.3% .

You have to consider where you plan to live, if you want to live in a holiday resort area and expat zone then the cost of buying or renting a property can vary and normally at premium prices. However if you decided to live in village or town outside these areas, property is still reasonable priced and rents can be low.

Food prices have risen in the past 2 years and the cost of red meat is high, though it has come down a little yet it still remains a luxury to most living in Turkey. If you like to indulge in a drink now and again you will find the cost of alcohol is expensive and highly taxed more so than the UK.

Do you want to run a car, the basic costs of running a car in Turkey is a lot cheaper, however the cost of fuel is around 4 Lira a litre. If you don’t’ want the cost of a car the Dolmu? is a great way to get around and they are a cheap.

The main consideration is what sort of lifestyle do you want to lead here in Turkey, do you plan to live a quiet life, or are you more a social person and would like to go often, visit the cinema, go to restaurants, visit the local bar. The lifestyle you choose will have the greatest bearing on how much you will require per month.

These are some of the main factors to think about when you ask the question, How much is the cost of living in Turkey?

What are the monthly costs?

About 3/4 years ago £500 was a good amount to plan to live on and would see you through the month comfortably. I would raise this amount by about 30% increase to give you £650 a month which is a more realistic price. £650 pm will give you around 1500 Lira a month depending on the interest rate.

What do you need to consider in your monthly costs.

  • Rent/mortgage 250 > Lira pm
  • Electricity 50-190 lira pm
  • Water 50 > Lira pm
  • Gas, bottled 50 lira, mains, 50 – 190 lira pm
  • Food minimum 360 lira pm
  • Telephone, Internet, TV 80> Lira pm


The largest expenses being your rent/mortgage and food, you will most probably average on 1000 lira on rent, food and utilities and the additional 500 lira covers car, lifestyle, clothes and unexpected expenses. You won’t live the high life but you can still enjoy life in Turkey.

This is interesting when compared to the US. The average cost of utilities in Texas, for example, is $409.78 (Source: This is perhaps so high because the national average electricity prices have increased by 33% from 2005 to 2016. Electricity bills are generally the largest utility cost that homeowners face each month, which explain why so many Texans compare Houston electricity rates. The 1,500 lira I accounted for above is equivalent to just $201.73. That shows just how much the cost of living differs.

Some additional cost throughout the year:

Flights, if you plan to make regular trips home you will need to consider cost of flights and availability from your area.

Health Care, health care is not free here and so you will need to consider paying for health insurance or take the risk of having to pay off a hospital bill at some point.

Maintenance Fee, depending on where your house or apartment is you will most likely have to pay maintenance fee for the community areas and this varies in cost.

Residency Fee, if you are living full time in Turkey you will require a residency visa in 2010 the cost for this was £370 and then a further 180 lira for one year, you can pay for more years if you wish. After 5 years you can apply for citizenship. Of course you can always renew your visitor’s visa every 90 days, but if you add the cost and time of leaving the country each time, the residency fee gives you peace of mind and saves you having additional costs of doing a border run and is the legal way of living in Turkey.

Drinking Water, the tap water in Turkey has improved dramatically and you can drink the tap water in many areas now. It’s really a matter of choice. We prefer to drink bottled water and a 19 litre drum of water lasts us 1 week and we pay around 3.50 lira each time. Some villages and towns have water fountains where you can fill up your own water bottles for free.

Property Warning, if you are planning to purchase property here do your research first, find a good solicitor and check out the estate agent or builder before handing over any cash and if possible try to use a recommended company. Many people have ended up having their dreams ruined by cowboy builders and estate agents don’t fall into the same trap.

I hope this article will give you some information if you are thinking about moving here to Turkey. Turkey is a wonderful country especially if you venture out with the expat communities and really experience Turkey.

I would love to hear from those who are planning to move to Turkey and those that live here to find out if you think Turkey is cheap or expensive place to live and what you live on per month.

Please note all costs are from my personal experience and research, prices will vary across the country.

cost of living in Turkey 2014
cost of living in Turkey 2012/2013

© 2011 – 2015, Kerry Arslan. All rights reserved.

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8 Responses to “The Cost of Living in Turkey”

  1. 27th February 2011

    Natalie - Turkish Travel Reply

    I live in Altinkum and while I would agree with your overall budget, my personal spending for the individual amounts posted differs massively. Nine years ago I could literally throw money around in Turkey but the last two years has seen me having to make a massive change to my personal spending. Like you say red meat and alcohol. We ended up selling our car because of the price of petrol but the costs of running it were increasing dramatically.

    I don’t have to worry about residency permits as I have a kimlik however I am a heavy smoker so that adds another 9tl a day. I think 1500tl is a good amount and if you budget carefully, then you can definitely have money left at the end of the day. My husband can make 5tl last him a week!!

  2. 8th November 2011

    Wayne Reply


    Just reading bits of your blog, people should read & digest what you say because I think you are realistic. I noted somewhere that you thought of giving up on it, I hope that thought has now past.


    • 9th November 2011

      Kerry Arslan Reply

      Thank you very much for the positive comments Wayne, I will continue to write for the blog.

  3. 22nd June 2012

    Talag Reply

    Thank you Kerry for the useful information.
    I am planning on moving to live in Turkey (Istanbul)for two year to finish my school. I would like to ask you how much in $ it would cost me to live there each year? (with out counting the school fees and books…ect). Also, cheap places for rent houses/apartments? Is it worth it to have a car there?
    I am single male, I like to explore places and enjoy life. I think I would try to save as much money as I could till I finish my school and get a job.

    • 23rd June 2012

      Kerry Arslan Reply

      Hi Talag

      Thanks for your questions. Firstly you won’t need a car in Istanbul the transport system is very good and the cost of buying a car and fuel out weigh any benefits. If you want to travel around the country there is an excellent bus system across the country.

      Istanbul is a huge city and if you are careful you could probably live on very little, it all depends on the life style you want to lead while you are there. We live outside of Istanbul and can survive on about £1500 that includes everything food, bills rent, that is for two adults and a baby.

      If you are careful about rent you can probably get somewhere around 350 to 450 or if you can find somewhere to share with other students you could lower that cost. Food is expensive, meat especially though you can eat in the little lokantas for very cheap and get a good meal if your not a big into cooking.

      I think as single male if your careful with your spending you could live on $500 about 1000 lira a month and I would budget an extra couple hundred $ a month for any extra costs that may occur during the month. Remember if you are on a student visa you won’t be able to work.

      I hope that helps a little, if you check this article Expat Blog there is a link to a housing directory for Turkey which might have some good accommodation options for you and help you get an idea of rent.

      The other place to check out is Inter Nations which have a great network in Istanbul and will be great for meeting people similar to you in Istanbul.

      Good Luck and any other questions please don’t hesitate to ask.


  4. 29th August 2012

    Adam Reply

    Hi Kerry,

    I came across your blog, after thinking about somewhere to move/invest in over a year, from india to spain, i have decided to explore Turkey for a couple of reasons. Mainly due to the price of apartments in Istanbul. Then started looking at cost of living, which in food terms is very similar to UK.

    where would I go to find reputable (but not expensive) Conveyancing Solicitors? and good Job recruitment websites in Turkey?


  5. 28th August 2014

    Rita Clare Reply

    Hello, Our daughter will be studying in Istanbul for 6 months starting in 2015. Her apartment is paid, but other expenses — food, entertainment, local travel, some shopping, telephone are items she will need money. I am tossing around $700 or about 1000tl per month. Is that too much? Whatever I send her with, she will spend! I don’t want her to be broke, but I don’t want her to be extravagant.

    • 25th September 2014

      Kerry Arslan Reply

      Hi Rita sorry for the late reply. We as a family of 3 live on around 1500 + lira a month which covers all our costs, we don’t have much left over but we get by and do manage to save a little. A 1000 lira is probably a lot without having to pay for her apartment etc. Maybe 500 lira a month would be a good sum. (no doubt your daughter will hate me now!) Hope she enjoys her time studying in Istanbul.

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