The best advice for people who move to Turkey for the first time is to find a good place to live and discover the extensive facilities that can make your life easier.
There are many reasons to move to Istanbul. This historical megacity ranks first among metropolitan cities with the highest number of expats in Turkey. It is the city that never sleeps. The whole city is like a constantly operating machine and some shortcuts can make your life easier.
Did you know that you can maximize your comfort in İstanbul with a few easy tricks? If you know the right ways of running errands it is pretty easy to live as an Istanbulite.
Tips That Expats Should Know Before Moving to Istanbul
You may be wondering if it's a good idea to live in Istanbul. Yes, capturing the essence of the way of living in İstanbul is a bit difficult for first-timers. However, if you know the right places to go and things to do, living in İstanbul is not that complicated at all.
The unsaid practices can only be observed and internalized by a true Istanbulite. In this article, we will discuss small tricks to help you to live comfortably in İstanbul.
• Find the Right Place to Live
It may seem quite difficult to find a good place to live in Istanbul. It may be hard to calculate the pros and cons of moving to Istanbul on your own because every district and neighborhood of İstanbul stands out in a specific aspect. Especially if you’ve never been to Istanbul before, you may need some guidance on the subject.
Some places have great public transportation networks, and some of them are developed as business hubs of the city. You may want to determine a list of conditions to find the right place to live in İstanbul that meets your expectations and needs.
There are well-established residential areas such as Sisli, Besiktas, Beyoglu, Uskudar, and Kadikoy in İstanbul. These districts are well-known places that offer extensive daily and social amenities. You can live comfortably in these regions because it is possible to provide for your every need within a few steps.
However, the urban texture had developed in line with the increasing number of residents in İstanbul. The city expanded to the east, north, and west. New residential areas have occurred and brand new projects arose throughout these regions each passing day. If you want more of a contemporary place to live, newly established regions can be the best options.
These districts are full of new and upcoming construction projects. The contemporary-style complexes with rich on-site facilities usually consist of modernly designed properties. The properties in the new housing projects usually are equipped with innovative features such as smart home systems, sustainable materials, rich infrastructures, etc.
Places like Kucukcekmece, Beylikduzu, Arnavutkoy, and Kagithane have become the new living centers of the European Side. On the Asian side; Maltepe, Kartal, and Atasehir is now the main attraction spot for property buyers.
İstanbul is a megacity with an endless number of skeletons in the closet. If you are a first-timer, you may need some guidance while looking for the safest parts of Istanbul to live in.
If you work with a well-established real estate company, you can easily find the most convenient place to live. Your real estate agent will be familiar with the local sector and find the best places to live in İstanbul.
• Public Transportation is Faster, Cheaper, and Easier
It is a well-known fact that the dense population creates a bit of chaos in terms of traffic flow. If you are considering living in Istanbul permanently, you may want to become familiar with the transportation system.
Istanbul is home to nearly 18.7% of Turkey’s working population. Mostly the traffic flows more between the beginning and end of the working days because everyone is trying to reach their workplace or homes. The busiest hours of traffic are between 08:00 to 14:00, and 18:00 to 21:00 in the city.
According to the TUIK, nearly 5 million people have cars in İstanbul. The problem is that the city is not big enough for 5 million cars on the road at the same time. That’s why the megacity İstanbul has one of the most well-developed transportation networks in the world. Public transportation contains all kinds of vehicles from sea vessels to rail systems.
Thanks to the diverse vehicle options, you can easily reach anywhere you want in İstanbul at affordable prices. As for on-road vehicles, there are minibusses, buses, and metrobuses. A well-established railway system is also a functional option. There are 9 different subway routes and 5 tram lines in İstanbul.
The main vessel for transportation between the European and Asian sides is the ferries. It provides a fast transition between two sides without getting into chaotic traffic. Also, the calming views of the Bosphorus benefit your soul after a long hard working day.
There is also a railway system called Marmaray. Marmaray connects the European and Asian sides of the city. It is constructed under the sea to skip the busy traffic on the bridges.
Because of the problem of finding a good parking space and wasting a lot of time on the road, Istanbulites usually prefer walking to closer places when they run errands. Walking is faster, affordable, and effortless. But don’t forget to put on your most comfortable shoes because you will climb a lot of high slopes in the 7-hilled city.
• Interact with Technology for Transportation and Goods
Technology is everywhere and makes everything easier.
There are many services that you can obtain through technology in Istanbul. First of all, some apps allow you to follow public vehicles closely and they are used quite frequently by the residents of Istanbul.
You can view the bus stops that are closer to you, track the location of the buses approaching the stop, and examine the upcoming trips. In addition, you can check the balance of your bus card, and also you can charge your card balance online.
Taxi culture in Istanbul has changed a lot in recent years. Taxi buttons were previously located on electricity poles or bus stops. Now the buttons have been replaced by mobile apps.
Mobile apps for taxis allow you to mark your destination, see the location of the nearest taxi and call a taxi. These applications come in handy if you don’t carry cash because they also allow you to pay online or by credit card.
In addition, the number of online markets has increased in Istanbul and they offer fast delivery to your door. The markets always expand their service area and subjects day by day.
Thanks to these applications, many things you need from food to electronics are just a few clicks away. These markets bring your needs to your door but also offer advantageous campaigns on certain dates and products from time to time. Moreover, you can also order directly from the small businesses near you registered to these apps.
• Carefully Calculate the Time
If you are going out for a job or purpose in Istanbul, you may want to calculate the time correctly. Everything takes time in Istanbul. It will take a significant time to get from one place to another because this is a big city that is home to 39 districts and 963 neighborhoods.
And if you're traveling during business hours, you'll need to consider the traffic factor in addition to the distance. Traveling between districts usually takes around half an hour.
You should bear in mind that you may have trips that can take between 1 and 2 hours. Time management is pretty important especially if you are working or studying in Istanbul.
• Buy a Museum Card to Visit Historical Places
Istanbul is an authentic city that has hosted the greatest civilizations in history. It is possible to come across historical monuments all over the city, even at the corner of a bench where you catch your breath.
A Museum card is all you need to explore these lovely significant places and discover the historical beauties of Istanbul. The museum card is a system created by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for history, art, and culture enthusiasts.
The system allows visiting museums and ruins free of charge for 1 year. Except for private museums, you can visit all government-mandated museums and ruins all over Turkey.
You will pay a one-time fee for the museum card which is valid for 1 year. You must renew your card after 1 year.
It is possible to visit dozens of museums such as Topkapı Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace, Yildiz Palace, and Istanbul Archeology Museum, which are among the carefully preserved historical heritages of Istanbul.
• There are Certain Business Hubs to Provide Your Necessities
All districts of Istanbul have developed as central regions filled with extensive amenities where you can provide all of your daily needs. It is possible to easily reach all your needs in big bazaars, shopping centers, and small businesses in district centers. But for more varieties and affordable options, it is useful to know the prominent shopping areas of Istanbul.
These districts are clustered in certain regions. People often choose these shopping areas for affordable purchases to lower the cost of living in Istanbul.
Since the 19th and 20th centuries, inns and passages are among the main shopping places in the city. It would not be wrong to say that these shopping centers are often concentrated around Beyoglu, Galata, and Eminonu.
For affordable clothing and souvenir shopping, you can visit Atlas Pasajı, Halep Pasajı, and Terkos Pasajı in Beyoğlu on the European side.
Cilek Street and Bahariye Street in Kadikoy are the main attraction spots in this case on the Asian side. There are dozens of small businesses offering hundreds of product options.
If you are fond of luxury in shopping and prefer to shop from designer brands, your first stop should be Bagdat Caddesi. The avenue attracts foreigners each year as a center of luxury with a great number of international brands.
We recommend you to visit Cukurcuma and Balat to discover antique products. There is a wide range of antique shops in these regions. Moreover, you can take a short historical journey among the stalls where hundreds of antique products are exhibited at the Bomonti Flea Market.
When it comes to electronic materials, Sirkeci comes to mind first. Sirkeci hosts a lot of small businesses where you can provide all electronic products from cameras to mobile devices. You can also bring your product there for a repairment or maintenance.
Voyvoda Caddesi is the main center for electrical materials. You can easily supply electricity consumption materials from the shops located at this point where Karaköy and Galata meet.
In addition, the farmers’ market on Thursdays in Karakoy (Karakoy Persembe Pazari) is an ideal shopping place for various industrial equipment and manufacturing products.
If you participate in nature activities, love camping, and are closely interested in outdoor activities, you can find outdoor products in Karakoy. You can buy various materials at affordable prices in the outdoor stores of Karakoy.
Are you planning an event for an upcoming important day and need decorative materials? Tie your shoes and set off for Eminonu and Tahtakale. You can easily provide all the necessary products required for all your events such as engagements, weddings, or parties, especially on Hasırcılar Caddesi.
While you're on Hasırcılar Caddesi, don't forget to buy freshly ground Turkish Coffee from the store of Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi.
Tahtakale is also a district where you can prefer to buy fabric products, hairdressing materials, cosmetics, and glassware. It is home to hundreds of businesses that offer a wide range of products.
While you're in Eminönü, don't forget to procure your spice needs from the Misir Carsisi (Spice Bazaar) or Hasırcılar Sokak.
You can buy all copper products from Bakırcılar Bazaar, and all baby and child materials from the Havuzlu Han.
And most importantly, choose to visit the Grand Bazaar (Kapalicarsi) to buy gold. The Grand Bazaar is the heart of the gold market but it is generally known for its products like spices, authentic souvenirs, and antiques. It is the number one shopping center you can choose for carpets, fabrics, and jewelry.
• Discover the Shopping Attitude: Flea Markets and Farmers’ Markets
Street markets and flea markets are other common shopping places in Turkey. Farmers’ markets are points where you can shop for food at much more affordable prices. The main reason for the lower prices is that you can provide directly from the producer compared to grocery or grocery stores.
In addition to food products, it is possible to buy export surplus clothing, jewelry, and accessories at very affordable prices in these street markets. Especially in Istanbul a few of them are quite popular among locals and have started to attract great attention from tourists in recent years.
After your international relocation to Istanbul, it would be beneficial to become familiar with the culture of farmers’ and flea markets. It would not be wrong to say that there is a small nuance difference in terms of theme within the market system in Turkey. Farmers' markets in Turkey contain all your daily nutrients. There are mainly seasonal fruits and vegetables in these markets.
In the markets known as “Sosyete Pazarı” among locals, the main products that are offered are the exported surplus brand clothing, and accessory products. Kadıköy Tuesday Market, Beşiktaş Saturday Market, Ortaköy Thursday Market, and Yeşilköy Wednesday Market are just a few of them.
Flea markets, on the other hand, are markets where you can find second-hand books, periodicals, decorative objects, antiques, and ephemera products. Among the flea markets, the ones with the highest reputation are Bomonti Flea Market, Feriköy Antique Market, Kadıköy Flea Market, and Horhor Flea Market.
• The City Never Sleeps
The day never ends in Istanbul. Istanbul is a beehive that works and operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Moreover, the city takes on a different spirit during the day and a much different atmosphere at night.
It is possible to find a restaurant, market, bar, or entertainment venue that is open any time of the day in Istanbul. Life goes on 24/7 in Istanbul like any other metropolitan city in the world such as Tokyo, Seoul, and New York.
It is not possible to feel lonely in Istanbul even at night. The number of people you will encounter in the district centers and important streets at night is equal to any other city center during the day.
Since 2019, night subway service has been provided in Istanbul on weekends. 6 different metro lines start at 06:00 on Friday mornings and continue until midnight on Sunday.
Bonus: There is an Unspoken Public Order on Using Escalators
There is an unwritten rule that everyone living in Istanbul knows and applies: Stand on the right of the escalators. There is a continuous flow on the left. While you are standing on the right, you do not prevent people who are in a hurry and rushing to get their things done.
Of course, it will take time to get familiar with the unwritten rules of public life in Istanbul. Many things are waiting to be discovered through personal experiences. If you are thinking of moving to Istanbul, you are likely to encounter surprises that you may not be prepared for. But isn't it the magical side of discovering the megacity Istanbul?
We are a real estate company that offers hundreds of real estate options all over Istanbul. Our team is ready to guide you to find the house of your dreams. We are excited to be a part of this fascinating journey with our professional real estate consultants. Check out our listing pages and contact us to find your new home in the best districts of Istanbul.