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Moving to Ankara

Known as Turkey’s political hub, Ankara is often viewed as a grey and solemn capital, but new arrivals moving to the city are often surprised by its vibrant nature and rich culture. Ankara is home to the Presidential Symphony Orchestra, the State Opera and Ballet and several national theatre companies, making it the country’s centre for performing arts.

Thanks to its diverse population, Ankara is a melting pot of cultures, and newcomers moving to the city will soon discover that this is where the ancient and contemporary harmoniously meet.

Living in Ankara

Ankara is one of the best Turkish cities for new arrivals looking for employment, due to its largely international and continuously evolving job market. Newcomers can find work in a range of industries, including operational and administrative services, education, technology and hospitality. It is imperative that prospective newcomers ensure they have all the relevant visa and work permit paperwork if they intend to stay in Turkey long-term.

Perhaps one of the biggest downsides to living in Ankara is that the city is landlocked, meaning there aren't many opportunities for seaside activities, as is the case in other Turkish cities. Still, with more than 50 museums, two lakes and a forest, there is plenty to see and do in Ankara. One thing that stands out about Turkey’s capital is the city’s modern infrastructure and organisation, which make getting around Ankara fairly easy. The city’s public transport system, which comprises bus and metro networks, is efficient and dense. Taxis and e-hailing services also abound. 

Cost of living in Ankara

The cost of living in Ankara is far more reasonable than in Istanbul. In fact, Mercer’s 2022 Cost of Living survey ranks Ankara as the least expensive city for expats to live in out of the 227 cities surveyed. Accommodation is relatively easy to find and affordable, while public transport is reliable and budget-friendly.

Newcomers who want to own a vehicle will have to account for the cost of petrol and parking, which go for a premium in most Turkish cities.

Families and children in Ankara

Family is important in Turkish society, and this makes Ankara an ideal city to raise a family in. With more than 20 universities, free public education and a fair few international schools, parents will have no trouble finding a suitable school for their children. While international schools generally offer exceptional facilities and a wider range of extracurricular activities, this comes at a high price and parents will need to consider this carefully.

Healthcare in Ankara is also accessible and far more economical than in other European cities. Newly arrived parents will have no issues keeping their little ones entertained during their leisure time thanks to the myriad green spaces, aquariums and historical sites sprinkled throughout the city.

Climate in Ankara

Ankara’s climate is categorised as temperate and semi-arid. The weather is characterised by four distinct seasons, with freezing winters and hot summers. Rainfall typically occurs during spring, and snowfall is a marked feature of the winter months.

Newcomers moving to Ankara can truly find the best of both worlds: modern luxuries and efficiencies juxtaposed by ancient Roman and Anatolian ruins, with friendly locals to boot.

Weather in Ankara

In the northwest of Turkey but still fairly central, Ankara's climate is temperate and semi-arid with four pronounced seasons. Given the capital's elevation and inland location on the eastern edge of the Anatolian Plateau, its seasons are more extreme than in the port city of Istanbul. Ankara's winters are relatively cold, going as low as 21°F (-6°C) in January with regular night frost throughout the season, and its clear, dry summers can reach 86°F (30°C) in July.

Most precipitation in Ankara comes in the form of winter snow and spring rain, the latter especially in the month of May, and the dry season is from late June to early October.


Working in Ankara

Turkey’s political capital, Ankara, is also one of the country’s key commercial centres. The city has recently become a hub for innovation and industry, making it the perfect base for new arrivals set on working in Ankara.

Job market in Ankara

As Turkey’s centre of power, Ankara is home to many government offices, embassies as well as international institutions, including the UN, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and many city residents are employed by these organisations.

Newcomers who have education and technology qualifications will have no trouble in Ankara’s job market thanks to the city’s more than 20 universities and the multitude of international schools. With approximately 5,000 companies operating in key sectors such as pharmaceuticals and defence, the OSTIM Industrial Zone in Ankara is Turkey’s largest industrial production area, and it employs approximately 50,000 workers. Other major employment sectors include hospitality, agriculture and the media and arts industries for those with excellent English-speaking abilities.

Work culture in Ankara

The work culture in Ankara is a rich tapestry of Western and Eastern influences, owing to the many multinational corporations, embassies and global institutions that call the city home. 

Hard work is highly valued in Ankara, and working long hours is common. Fortunately, the Turkish are friendly and professional, which makes for a welcoming and pleasant work environment. Those employed in international or diplomatic organisations may experience more Western workplace cultures, although building strong relationships with Turkish clients and colleagues remains an integral part of doing business in the city.

Respecting authority and hierarchy is important when working in Ankara. New arrivals who are used to egalitarian cultures may have a difficult time adjusting to the decision-making process here, which is typically top-down. Still, working in Ankara is likely to be a dynamic and culturally enriching experience.

Accommodation in Ankara

New arrivals moving to Ankara will have their pick when it comes to accommodation. Despite being Turkey’s capital and the country’s second-largest city, Ankara's property market is surprisingly easy to navigate. There are 25 districts in the city and each one boasts unique charm and character, so new arrivals are likely to find something to suit their budget and lifestyle. 

Types of accommodation in Ankara

As a university city, Ankara offers a host of both furnished and unfurnished accommodation options, with the former being the most expensive.

The most common type of accommodation in Ankara’s city centre is apartments and condominiums, while the outlying suburbs offer luxury villas and houses that cater to the city’s diplomat population and families. Flatshares are also quite popular with students and newly arrived young professionals, as they provide affordable temporary housing and are a fantastic way to meet new people. Foreigners can also buy property in Turkey.

Property and rental prices will largely depend on the district, the age of the home and its proximity to the city centre as well as parking facilities.

Areas and suburbs in Ankara

Newcomers to Ankara will most likely want to live close to their places of work and their children’s schools, but new arrivals needn’t worry as Ankara is served by comprehensive and largely efficient public transport networks.

Çankaya District

Known as the heart of Ankara, Çankaya is the most popular district in the city and is home to 124 neighbourhoods. New arrivals from all walks prefer this district for its easy access to business centres, embassies, ministries and a range of leisure amenities. The Kızılay and Bahçelievler areas are well-loved by young professionals for their plethora of quaint cafés, shopping centres and dazzling restaurants. Those who can afford to splurge should look no further than Ankara’s premium and picturesque residential areas, Ayrancı and Oran. Newcomers can expect to find modern luxury apartments with breathtaking city views and green spaces in these neighbourhoods.

Keçiören District

Thanks to its budget-friendly housing, Keçiören is home to many students and small families who are looking to get more bang for their buck. Neighbourhoods such as Gümüşdere, Esertepe, Ayvalı and Sancaktepe are perfectly located close to Çankaya and have excellent transport links, which make for easy commutes into the centre. Owing to its growing popularity, Keçiören is constantly developing, and new arrivals are likely to find newly built apartments at an affordable price.

Gölbaşı District

Nature-loving newcomers will feel right at home in the tranquil Gölbaşı District. The Mogan and Eymir lakes as well as the Beynam Atatürk Forest surround Gölbaşı and create a beautiful place that offers apartments and standalone homes with striking lake and forest views. With outdoor leisure activities, spacious homes and proximity to Çankaya, the Eymir, Bahçelievler, and Örencik neighbourhoods are perfect for families or those looking for calm in the city.

Finding accommodation in Ankara

New arrivals looking for accommodation in Ankara can make use on property rental websites, such as and, as well as Facebook groups and local real-estate agents (emlak). Word of mouth is another often underestimated but effective tool that house hunters can use. Landlords in Ankara prefer advertising their rentals quietly and liaising with local real-estate agents, so they frequently have knowledge of the best rentals on the market. As Ankara is a multicultural city, new arrivals are likely to find an English-speaking emlak, which will mitigate any language barriers during the rental process.

Renting accommodation in Ankara

Making an application

Renting accommodation in Ankara is a fairly painless process. House hunters will typically research a few properties online or through an emlak and then make appointments to view the rentals. Once they find a suitable home, new arrivals who have the knack for it can negotiate the rental and deposit price with their landlord until they reach a mutually beneficial agreement.


Tenants will need approximately three months’ worth of rent to secure a lease in Ankara. Deposits are typically one month's rent, and they will also have to pay the first month’s rent on top of this, as well as the emlak’s fee, which is generally 10 percent of the annual rental fee. The deposit is fully refundable at the end of the lease if the property is not damaged beyond normal wear and tear.


The standard lease agreement in Ankara is 12 months, although this is negotiable and depends on the landlord. New arrivals are advised to conduct a comprehensive inventory of the property before signing the lease. They should also ensure that utilities such as internet and cellular reception are connected, as it could take some time to get these hooked up. Prospective tenants should also find out if the landlord or the building managers provide water tanks and generators during mainline cuts.


Tenants in Ankara can usually negotiate who will bear the cost of utilities with their landlord, though utilities are typically paid by the lessee. Some villas and apartment complexes also charge separate maintenance fees, so newcomers should be aware of this and include this cost in their monthly budget.

Education and schools in Ankara

Expat children can attend Turkish public schools free of charge, but the standard of education varies and the language of instruction is in Turkish. This leads many expat parents to enrol their children in private or international schools instead.

Public schools in Ankara

Primary and secondary school is free and compulsory for all children in Turkey. Though the language of instruction is Turkish, all children are required to learn a foreign language – typically English, French, Spanish or German.

The school week in Turkey runs from Monday to Friday, and the school year is from mid-September to early June. In larger cities like Ankara, public schools often have to deal with overcrowding, with school days split into morning and afternoon sessions and classes of up to 60 learners.

International schools in Ankara

Most international schools in Turkey can be found in Istanbul and Ankara, catering for various foreign nationalities. Many of these schools organise outings and cultural activities and offer their learners a chance to learn Turkish, making it easier for the children to assimilate into Turkish culture. Ankara has a large diplomatic community, and international school spaces are quite limited. Expat parents should plan well ahead to make sure their children have a spot when the school term starts.

International school tuition is expensive, and the additional costs of uniforms, textbooks, transport and extra-curriculars can build up. Expat parents should budget carefully and, if moving as part of a corporate relocation, try to negotiate an education allowance as part of their relocation package.

Special-needs education in Ankara

The Turkish government aims to keep children with special educational needs in mainstream classes as much as possible, supporting their continued integration in society. Many international schools in Ankara offer special-needs education, but the type and scope of support varies between schools.

If more support is required than can be offered in a mainstream class, parents can apply to their local Guidance Study Centre (Rehberlik ve Araştırma Merkezi) with a disability health report. Once the child has been tested, the Ministry of Education will fund a portion of expenses incurred for special education.

Tutors in Ankara

Tutoring in Ankara is common, especially exam preparation during the run-up to a major national examination. Many school boards organise tutoring and extra classes on-premises outside of the school day, often offered by volunteer or trainee teachers. Private tutoring centres called dershane offer supplementary classes by professional teachers and are considered by many Turkish parents to be a popular and budget-friendly alternative to full private schools. Finally, one-to-one tutoring is available for a higher price.

Expat parents may consider hiring a Turkish-language tutor for their children or for the whole family to facilitate their integration into Turkish culture.

International Schools in Ankara

Thanks to the presence of foreign embassies, multinational corporations and government offices, Ankara boasts the biggest concentration of international schools in Turkey. There are also several curricula on offer, so expat parents are likely to find a school perfectly suited to their children's needs. As Turkey's political capital, Ankara has a large diplomatic community, which makes competition for placements quite fierce. Parents moving to Ankara should ensure they apply well in advance and prepare for the often comprehensive admission processes. 

Below is a list of the most prominent international schools in the city.

International schools in Ankara

Oasis International School of Ankara

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
Ages: 4 to 18

British Embassy School Ankara

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum
Ages: 3 to 14

Hamidiye International Schools

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE and A-Levels 
Ages: 5 to 18

Bilkent Laboratory and International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Turkish, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge IGCSE 
Ages: 2 to 18

International Gokkusagi Schools

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate and Cambridge IGCSE
Ages: 3 to 18

Kazanim Cankaya International School Ankara

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Arabic and American 
Ages: 4 to 18

Lifestyle in Ankara

Eating out and entertainment in Ankara

Turkish food is renowned for its variety of flavours and colours, exhibiting influences from Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Central Asian, Western and Balkan cultures. Ankara, as an agricultural hub, has access to some of the country's finest ingredients, and the region is known for its fruits, wines and breads. Delicious local food can be found in Ankara's many fine restaurants and street stalls.

Ankara's nightlife is concentrated mostly in and around Kızılay, where the most of the city's bars and clubs are located. Alternatively, many pubs and bars are located on Tunali Hilmi Street. On hot summer evenings, Ankarans will catch the breeze and hang out in courtyards, gardens or parks.

Shopping in Ankara

Ankara is bristling with choices for shoppers, from street stalls and bazaars to boutique shops and shopping malls. Kızılay, the heart of the city, is home to a good mix of malls, boutiques and cafés, with some of Ankara's best-known shopping streets, including Atatürk Boulevard, Tunali Street and Kavaklıdere.

Some of the best malls in Ankara include the massive ANKAmall, the second-largest mall in Turkey after Cevahir in Istanbul and the six-floor Karum Mall, known for its upscale designer boutiques.

Bazaar shopping is an unmissable Turkish experience, and Ankara's historic Ulus district is home to some of the country's most authentic and flavourful markets, with authentic and handcrafted Turkish goods, including handwoven textiles, carpets and traditional fabrics, handmade leather and copper goods, jewellery, spices, embroidery and ceramics. The district also hosts Ankara's oldest food market, and many of the area's old Ottoman houses have been converted into restaurants.

Sports and fitness in Ankara

Ankara offers many sporting and leisure activities, with gyms and sports clubs throughout the city. There are also several golf clubs and country clubs for expats to join. There are parks throughout Ankara, with many of its best hiking and running trails on the southeast outskirts of the city.

See and do in Ankara


Located in Ankara's administrative centre, Atakule (Turkish for 'Ancestor Tower') is a 410-foot (125m) communication and observation tower that provides a view of the whole city. Visitors can dine at the tower's rotating Sevilla Restaurant as they plan their next move.

Ankara Castle

Located in the historical district of Ulus is Ankara Castle, overlooking the area's wooden Ottoman houses. The castle dates back to the 7th century but incorporates architecture reflecting the city's history with the Seljuk, Roman and Byzantine empires. The neighbouring streets are packed with traditional workshops, antique shops, cafés and restaurants.

Museum of Anatolian Civilizations & Ermitan Archaeology and Art Museum

This museum has collections encompassing Anatolia's deep history, with artefacts from the Classical era to Iron Age empires like the Phrygians and Urartians, the Bronze Age Hittites and the Neolithic proto-city of Çatalhöyük, one of the oldest settlements in the world.

The Ermitan Archaeology and Art Museum nearby focuses solely on the Classical era, with contemporary instalments aimed at bringing to life the Greek and Roman periods.

Expats bitten by the history bug can plan a day trip to the Hittite sites of Hattuşa, Yazilikaya and Alacahöyük or the Phrygian city of Gordion at Yassıhüyük.


Anitkabir is the hilltop site of the mausoleum of Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, and is an important pilgrimage site for Turks to pay respects to their first president. Besides the mausoleum, there is a large museum complex commemorating Atatürk's life and the war for independence.

Ankara State Opera House

This theatre shows regular performances for the Turkish State's Opera, Ballet and Theatre companies, as well as from international classical music companies.

Roman Ruins

Near Ankara Castle in the Ulus district are preserved ruins from the Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus Caesar. These ruins include the remnants of the Temple of Augustus and Rome, as well as the ruins of the Roman baths. Currently under restoration, there are also ruins of a Roman theatre that once sat 3,000-plus spectators.

What's on in Ankara

International Ankara Music Festival (April)

This festival is traditionally opened and closed by a symphonic orchestra, but it hosts all styles of music performance from both Turkish and international artists.

Ankara Film Festival (April–May)

Since 1988, the Ankara Film Festival has welcomed independent and mainstream filmmakers and cinephiles from around the world.

International Ankara Theatre Festival (October)

Organised by the Turkish Foundation for Social Research, Culture and Art (TAKSAV), the International Ankara Theatre Festival is held every year and presents professional and amateur plays by Turkish and international theatre groups.

Republic Day (October)

Ankara, as the country's capital and the final resting place of the country's founder, is visited by more than 100,000 people every year and is the focus of the nation's celebration of independence. Expats should be sure to catch the parades, concernts and fireworks displays during this 35-hour celebration.

Getting around in Ankara

Once expats have gotten used to the capital's public transport system, getting around in Ankara is relatively easy. The city is quite accessible by public transport, especially in the city centre, though expats in the suburbs may want a car for a more convenient commute.

Public transport in Ankara

Ankara's EGO General Directorate provides the city's energy and gas as well as its bus and metro services, and there are also commuter rail lines. For metro, rail and bus services, expats can use a prepaid AnkaraKart transport card, also known as an EGO card. There are single- and multi-use cards, and school and university students and teachers are eligible for discounts.


Recently, private public buses (known as OHO) have begun accepting EGO cards, allowing the two providers to fully integrate. Ankara's bus network is dense and well serviced.

EGO buses are run by the municipal and are recognized by their blue-and-white paint jobs. The OHO buses, operated by a private corporation, are blue.

The EGO CEP'TE app helps commuters to keep track of bus times, stops and routes.


Ankara's metro system is composed of four main two-line routes, with a fifth metro in the works. The existing metros can be classified into the east-west Ankara light rail and the north-south Ankara Metro heavy rail. Though sometimes crowded during rush hour, the metro is the easiest and quickest way to get around longer distances in Ankara.

The Baskentray (also known as CapitalRail) is a commuter railway that runs along the city's east-west axis and provides access to the suburbs. It is well integrated into the metro system.

The Yenimahalle–Sentepe line is a 2-mile (3.25km) cable car line with four stops and provides access to the steep Sentepe district.

Taxis in Ankara

Dolmuşes (Turkish for 'overloaded') are shared minibus taxis with set routes indicated by signs on the front. These share taxis are an inexpensive and flexible alternative to buses, but can be crowded and chaotic. In Ankara, dolmuş fares are fixed by the city municipality.

More familiar yellow taxis are also available in Ankara, though these are one of the more expensive modes of transport in the city. Tariffs and per-kilometre fares are set by the municipality, and expats who phone to request a taxi should be aware that the taxi might charge the distance travelled to pick them up.

Ridesharing services like the international Uber and the local BiTaksi are great for calling a driver – expats should be prepared for dolmuş and taxi drivers who might not be able to communicate in English.

Driving in Ankara

In Turkey, traffic drives on the right side of the road, and the roads are well surfaced and have clear signage, but driving around Ankara can be challenging, and many prefer to use public transport. Expats who decide to drive will have to contend with narrow and one-way backstreets and fast drivers.