Expats will find the cost of living in Turkey to be far more reasonable than in neighbouring European destinations. The country has yet to be admitted into the EU, and those with foreign purchasing power can make their money last longer and reach further, even if choosing to live in the popular expat areas or the coastal resort towns. In 2023, the inflation rate was more than 40 percent, meaning that prices have rapidly outstripped the country's economic growth. This is, however, beneficial to those who have foreign purchasing power.

Istanbul, the country's largest expat hub and most costly location, was ranked the 222nd most expensive expat destination by the 2022 Mercer Cost of Living Survey out of the 227 cities evaluated. Like most places, the cost of living in Turkey is directly affected by location and lifestyle. Rural villages are cheaper than urban centres.

Price-conscious pensioners and seasonal sun worshippers have long taken advantage of the lower costs, and even those expats who are part of the Turkish workforce and take home the Turkish Lira can live a comfortable lifestyle and even afford the odd luxury. That said, expats employed by a Turkish company and paid in the local currency will need to be mindful of the ever-increasing interest and inflation rates and will need to make sure that their salary rises accordingly.

Cost of accommodation in Turkey

The property market in Turkey for both buying and renting generally offers good value for money when compared with the likes of the UK or the US. A wide variety of accommodation is available to suit all tastes and budgets, ranging from eye-wateringly expensive villas with sweeping vistas and vast outdoor spaces to sparse apartments that offer only the most basic amenities.

Monthly utilities aren't always included in rent, so expats will need to factor in the cost of water, electricity and gas. Although these bills tend to be relatively inexpensive, the cost of heating during winter dramatically increases utility expenses.

Cost of groceries and eating out in Turkey

In Turkey, food shopping can still be done at weekly neighbourhood markets, where locally sourced seasonal fruits and vegetables are on sale at low prices. Modern supermarkets do stock the imported goods that many expats yearn for, but these foreign food items can come at a hefty cost. A single jar of peanut butter can be as expensive as the ingredients that a local would use to make an entire meal.

A food cost that may be unexpected for many expats will be bottled water. It's safe to drink tap water in many areas, but many foreigners still prefer to drink bottled water. The good news is that a 19-litre jug of water is relatively cheap. Expats should buy in bulk when they can.

While this may seem strange in the country that made the doner kebab world famous, many expats will discover that red meat in Turkey is quite costly.

Cost of entertainment in Turkey

Eating out in Turkey can offer expats a diverse range of dining options with varying costs, but generally less costly compared to dining out in many Western countries. This is particularly true for traditional Turkish cuisine and street food, which are often very affordable. Many restaurants in tourist areas may offer both traditional Turkish dishes and more familiar international cuisine.

The cost of entertainment in Turkey for expats can vary widely depending on the type of activity and location. Though they largely tend to be more affordable, some forms of entertainment may be less expensive compared to similar activities in Western countries, while others may be much more expensive.

Expats can expect to find a diverse range of entertainment options in Turkey, including cultural and historical attractions, outdoor activities and nightlife. Some popular forms of entertainment include visiting historical sites, exploring the bustling markets and bazaars, and experiencing traditional Turkish performances such as belly dancing. Additionally, Turkey's large cities offer a variety of bars, nightclubs, and live music venues for those looking for nightlife.

Expats can also find Western entertainment in Turkey, particularly in larger cities such as Istanbul. Many hotels and international restaurants offer familiar options, and some areas may have shopping centres, cinemas showing Western movies, and other forms of entertainment that are familiar to expats from Western countries.

Cost of transport in Turkey

Turkey's public transport system is constantly improving and evolving, yet it remains extremely cheap. Buses are the main mode of transit and are generally efficient and economical. Both state-sponsored entities and private buses charge flat and cheap fares for a single journey. Dolmuş, informal, shared taxis that connect commuters going short distances, are also incredibly reasonable. Fares vary according to the length of the journey.

For those expats who would prefer to get around by car in Turkey, the basic cost of buying and maintaining a vehicle may be slightly cheaper than in the UK or the US, but the cost of petrol is steep.

Cost of education in Turkey

The cost of education in Turkey can vary widely depending on the type of education and location. Education in Turkey is generally less expensive compared to education in many Western countries, though expats are less likely to enrol their children in public or even private schools.

There are international schools in Istanbul and Ankara. These may be more expensive compared to public or private Turkish schools, but they offer the benefit of a familiar education system and language of instruction.

Private schools in Turkey may also offer quality education and may have a more flexible curriculum, but may not follow a Western-style curriculum or language of instruction. Public schools in Turkey offer a more affordable education, but the quality and availability of education in these schools can vary greatly depending on the location. Additionally, the language of instruction in public schools is Turkish, which may not be suitable for all expat families.

Cost of living in Istanbul chart

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below is based on average prices for Istanbul in February 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

YTL 22,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

YTL 12,900

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

YTL 13,500

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

YTL 7,600


Dozen eggs

YTL 44

Milk (1 litre)

YTL 23

Rice (1kg) 

YTL 37

Loaf of white bread

YTL 11.45

Chicken breasts (1kg)

YTL 92

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

YTL 34

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

YTL 99

Coca-Cola (330ml) 

YTL 20.84


YTL 44

Local beer (500ml)

YTL 60

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two

YTL 600


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

YTL 1.43

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

YTL 203

Utilities (average per month for a standard household)

YTL 1,440


Taxi rate/km

YTL 8.50

City centre public transport fare

YTL 10

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

YTL 21.84