Cost of living in Turkey: Your guide

Zorica Lončar

Turkey is a unique multicultural gem spreading across two continents. Besides its rich history, it’s popular for its beautiful seaside and nature.The traditional hospitality of the locals is just another bonus.

If you decide to start living there, it’s important to know what to expect in terms of the financial aspects. We’re talking comparisons of prices, average salaries, and education costs. So, the cost of living in Turkey in total. This guide should cover everything you need to know before you start your journey.

Whether you’re retiring, temporarily relocating, or moving to Turkey for good, using a service like Wise could help you reduce your overall expenses. It allows you to send, receive, and organize your money without paying large fees.

The currency in Turkey

The official currency of Turkey is the Turkish lira. It’s usually written as ₺ or TL, while the international code is TRY. To help you get an idea of the Turkish lira's worth, here’s a comparison with a couple of major currencies:

$1000 = ₺7636

£1000 = ₺9762

€1000 = ₺8961

A$1000 = ₺5498

Keep in mind that these are the approximate values at the time of writing. You can always find out the exact value by using an online currency converter. It shows the current, realmid-market exchange rate, which is the fairest one you could get. Banks and money exchange services set their own rates, and the mid-market exchange rate is their midpoint.

Our guide on money in Turkey will provide you with more in-depth details.

Get the real, mid-market rate with Wise

Banks and money exchange services often markup the exchange rate. They make money doing this and, as a result, they’re able to keep their return fees low. Wise makes it possible for you to get a fair deal on your currency by using the real, mid-market rate.

If you plan on sending money to or from Turkey, Wise assists you in saving money on fees. The Borderless multi-currency account lets you manage more than 50 different currencies at once. It’s a great choice for expats and freelancers. It allows getting paid in any currency and converting it to a local one quickly and with low fees.

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Cost of living in Turkey compared to the UK

Turkey is a much cheaper place to live than the UK. Let’s look at the numbers. According to Mercer’s annual cost of living list, London is the 19th most pricey place in the world. The cost of living in Istanbul, Turkey puts it on the 156th spot.¹

Comparing basic cost of living1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)Meal for 2 (mid-range restaurant, three courses)Transportation (monthly pass)
London, UK²₺17,155₺586₺1,464
Manchester, UK³₺7,726₺537₺683
Edinburgh, UK⁴₺7,798₺586₺547
Istanbul, Turkey⁵₺2,283₺130₺275
Ankara, Turkey⁶₺1,547₺110₺150
Izmir, Turkey⁷₺1,593₺100₺156

Major cities in Turkey

The most popular place among expats is Istanbul. Not only is it Turkey’s largest city, but it also spreads across two continents, Europe and Asia. This makes it culturally diverse and interesting to live in. It’s not the cheapest city to live in Turkey, but it’s one of the most dynamic ones.

Ankara and Izmir are also very well-liked, because of their modern, yet more relaxed vibe. Both offer the advantages of a big city, but the rent prices and living expenses are lower. They are the economic and commercial cores of Turkey.

Seaside tourist spots like Antalya and Alanya are bustling during the vacation season.

Antalya’s well connected to the rest of the country and the stunning coast makes it attractive to expats. And it’s a real shame to stay in Turkey and not experience the shore.

What are general living expenses like in Turkey?

Total living expenses in IstanbulAverage cost
1 person, per month (without rent)₺3,174⁵
4 person family, per month (without rent)₺11,118
Utilities, basic, for 85m² apartment₺510
Total living expenses in AnkaraAverage cost
1 person, per month (without rent)₺2,863⁶
4 person family, per month (without rent)₺9,903
Utilities, basic, for 85m² apartment₺492
Total living expenses in IzmirAverage cost
1 person, per month (without rent)₺2,779⁷
4 person family, per month (without rent)₺9,664
Utilities, basic, for 85m² apartment₺434

What are the average salaries in Turkey?

Salary averages for IstanbulAverage salary
Software engineer₺274,374
Cashier₺109,044
Teacher₺181,207
Physician₺313,174
Financial analyst₺328,574
Copywriter₺194,763
Waiter₺251,171
Graphic designer₺137,682
Salary averages for AnkaraAverage salary
Software engineer₺232,341
Cashier₺220,037
Teacher₺131,308
Physician₺258,528
Financial analyst₺313,091
Copywriter₺190,837
Waiter₺147,983
Graphic designer₺117,441

How expensive is housing and accommodation in Turkey?

Rental cost in IstanbulAverage monthly cost
Large apartment₺5,065¹⁰
Medium apartment₺4,158
Small apartment₺3,251
Rental cost in AnkaraAverage monthly cost
Large apartment₺2,949¹¹
Medium apartment₺2,495
Small apartment₺2,041

What about healthcare and dental costs in Turkey?

Turkey has both a state-run healthcare system and a private sector. The state-run one is not only limited to passport holders. Foreigners with a 1-year residency can pay social security contributions and get care as well.¹² At the moment, that fee is around ₺426 a month¹³, which is low compared to most European countries. Also, it’s important to know that the European Health Insurance Card is not valid in Turkey.

Cosmetic surgery and certain fertility treatments are not covered by public health insurance. Private healthcare is pricier, but it has its advantages. The waiting lists are shorter and the standards of quality are higher.

When it comes to dental work, it's usually not free of charge. But, private dentists in Turkey are famous for being very good.

How much are travel and transportation costs in Turkey?

Turkey has a bus and metro system in a couple of cities, along with some more authentic means of transport. Those are the dolmuşes or minibuses and tramvays or trams.

According to the official numbers, most people in Istanbul use the bus for their daily travel. The monthly transportation pass costs ₺275.⁵

As far as getting around the country goes, you can rely on air travel, trains, and buses. Trains are the cheapest among the three and this type of travel is becoming more popular. Driving is an option, but know that the petrol prices in Turkey are the second-highest in the world.¹⁴ That might make you reconsider.

Study costs in Turkey

Primary and secondary education is free of charge for all students in Turkey.¹⁵ Private and international schools do exist, but they are a minority. Public universities normally have low tuition fees, while the private ones can be pricey.

The tuition fees for Istanbul University¹⁵ are between ₺7000 and ₺23000, more or less. In Ankara, they’re between ₺5500 and ₺36000 a year¹⁶, depending on the field and the language in which you study.

Send money to and from Turkey with a real, mid-market exchange rate

How much you spend on a daily basis depends on your individual needs. But, in general, Turkey is cheaper than many European countries.

Still, it’s always a good idea to save up when it’s possible. If you want to transfer money back home or anywhere else while you’re in Turkey, it’s significantly cheaper with Wise. The mid-market exchange rate will let you get the most out of your money.

Start saving today with Wise

Sources:

  1. Mercer’s cost of living 2020 ranking
  2. Numbeo - Cost of living in London
  3. Numbeo - Cost of living in Manchester
  4. Numbeo - Cost of living in Edinburgh
  5. Numbeo - Cost of living in Istanbul
  6. Numbeo - Cost of living in Ankara
  7. Numbeo - Cost of living in Izmir
  8. Teleport - Average salaries in Istanbul
  9. Teleport- Average salaries in Ankara
  10. Teleport - Cost of living in Istanbul
  11. Teleport - Cost of living in Ankara
  12. Expat arrivals - healthcare in Turkey
  13. Expatra - health insurance for expats in Turkey
  14. Lonely Planet - fuel and spare parts
  15. OECD library
  16. Istanbul University tuition fees
  17. Ankara University tuition fees

All sources checked on September 25, 2020


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