Before traveling to Turkey, other than planning out a list of places to go and Turkish food to try, considering your travel budget is equally important, especially that Istanbul is a big city that will bring you many new experiences.
This page will give you a general idea of how much living in Turkey would cost on a monthly basis. Nevertheless, it could be vary based on your preferred lifestyle. I will divide the price of spending into five categories: accommodation, transportation, food, entertainment, and miscellaneous.
Note that the conversion rate below is calculated as 1 EUR to 10 TL.
Accommodation € 259 / ₺ 2,590
Coming to Turkey for the first time, renting a place could be challenging without knowing the language and legal rights as a tenant. If you want to avoid being in a chaotic situation, we are here to help to find your new home! In a flat of three bedrooms one bathroom, you will be sharing a home with two interns in a central location. Above all, it is a great opportunity to meet other international interns who share similar interests and experiences!
Right now, we have the safes houses located in Kadikoy. It is popular for its social life with the variety of cafes and nightlife. It is also a great central location for public transit that includes the ferry. This makes it very convenient to travel between Asia and the European side. In the future, we are planning to expand the safe houses to the European side. With utility fees included, it will be easier for you to plan the total cost of living when calling Istanbul as your new home.
Transportation € 25 / ₺ 250
Public transportation is essential to calculate the cost of living in Turkey. There are a variety of methods of transportation in Istanbul. This includes bus, minibus (dolmus), Metrobus, metro, ferry, tram, and taxi (taksi). To make it easier for your visit, getting an IstanbulKart is highly recommended. IstanbulKart is a smart magnetic card that is used for fare payment among public transportation in Istanbul. You can get it in the yellow fare machines at major bus stops, metro, tram stations, or ferry docks. Each Istanbulkart costs 10 TL — 6 TL for the card and 4 TL for the top-up. For a single trip, you can expect to pay somewhere between 3 to 8 TL for an adult.
Some public transits take IstanbulKart as the only fare payment, including bus, Metrobus, Metro, and ferry. Metro has a flat fare of 3.5 TL. For Marmaray, the fare is 7.75 TL with a refund, depending on the number of stops. Once you get off from Marmaray, you can see many people stopping by a machine to get a refund. Don’t forget to do that! It may save you a few lira from your budget for not taking Marmaray from beginning to end.
To take a minibus, you have to pay with cash and pass the fare to the person in front of you to reach the driver. With its reputation of being fast and rushy, even some locals try to avoid minibusses at all costs. However, minibusses are very convenient to get to places with no Metro so it is worth a try. Click here for some tips for taking a minibus in Turkey. You might also want to learn a few Turkish phrases in order to communicate with the driver or the locals.
For tourists, many may end up taking a taxi to go from one place to another. Some of you might have some questions in mind: is there any Uber in Istanbul? How much does a taxi cost? After all, taking a taxi or Uber can be very helpful in an unfamiliar city. In Turkey, instead of using Uber, people use an app called BiTaksi. The price of taking a taxi is 3 TL per kilometer, on top of the basic fee of 5 TL. Knowing this, now you can finally plan out your budget for public transportation!
Food € 125 / ₺ 1,250
Without being careful enough to calculate your budget for food, you may end up paying way more than you expected because Turkey is known for its traditional Ottoman cuisine with a mix of the European and Asia variety. You can read more about Turkish cuisine here.
One of the best ways to learn about Turkish cuisine is through street food or local bazaars. There are always a variety of choices such as simit, gözleme, balık ekmek, lahmacun, pide, and kokorec. The cost could be from 1.25 TL for a piece of simit to 15 TL for a serving of kokorec.
If you are looking to go to a diner or a restaurant, you can expect the price to be somewhere between 15 to 35 TL for a meal. It is also a custom to leave the restaurant some tips when you get your bills, which should be around 5 to 10% of the total price.
For fine dining or high-end restaurants, you will need to have a higher budget to pay more for the food and service. One of the more well-known fine dining restaurants is Nusr-Et Steakhouse, in which the owner is known as the Turkish butcher “Salt Bae”. There was a meme of him sprinkling salt on a piece of steak that went viral in all corners of the world. With his reputation and popularity, similar to other fine dining restaurants, you can expect it to be no less than 80 TL per person and could be up to 120 TL or even more depends on what you are getting.
Entertainment € 80 / ₺ 800
When visiting Istanbul, one of the most important parts is sightseeing, especially for visiting historical places and museums and mosques. If you plan on visiting multiple museums and sites, consider getting a museum pass to save up how much you are spending in total! They are sold to both visitors and residents so you can pick whatever suits you best based on your schedule and budget. There are different types of passes that you can choose from, including Museum Pass Istanbul. It costs 360 TL and is valid for five days, but the downside is you can only use it to visit each place once. Though it could be a great deal if you plan on visiting multiple museums and sites.
Other than museums and sites, there are so many other things you can do as entertainment. The price could vary from 20 TL on bowling to 70 TL on climbing and zip lining at Xtrem Aventures Istanbul. You can plan your adventures according to the activities that interest you. Plan your living cost for entertainment accordingly and you will have a great start!
Miscellaneous € 15 / ₺ 150
It includes various expenses such as phone plans, clothing, and personal care. One of the larger miscellaneous expenses could be a phone plan. Depending on the company and phone plan you are getting, it can cost between 60 to 150 TL on your budget.
Note that SIM cards on foreign phones will stop working after 120 days in the same year you started using it, yet it gets renewed in the next year for another 120 days. This could lead to some extra miscellaneous expenses as it contributes to your total cost of living in Turkey.