The Best Istanbul Neighbourhoods for Expats to Live in

6 mins read

Any working expat or retirees relocating to Turkey have plenty of destinations to choose from, including Istanbul neighbourhoods with large expat communities. When looking for a place to live, the city tops the list for many foreigners who want a vibrant urban landscape.

Whether renting or buying property, living abroad in Istanbul is an exciting experience. It means to indulge in a multicultural, cosmopolitan ambience. Sitting next to the Sea of Marmara, whether expats want a quiet suburb or a bustling district, they will find what they want. Many expats live here permanently, side by side with Turks and enjoy an exciting life abroad, whether working or retired.

Without a doubt, the large and bustling city of Istanbul rules the Turkish property market. The metropolis that in 2014 was the world’s sixth most visited destination demands respect and admiration as a central hub of business, economy, finance, education, and tourism. So naturally, given the hype and business importance, Istanbul’s housing market stays active at all time, constantly turning over a stream of buyers and sellers.


Over the last 15 years, Istanbul experienced a change in aesthetic looks. The city expanded outwards into surrounding districts to offer any expatriate all the benefits of city life without the hustle and bustle. Large apartment buildings called lifestyle residence or branded housing feature clean, cut modern architecture and redefined social communities through their extensive range of onsite facilities such as tea gardens, walking paths, children’s playgrounds, and swimming pools.

Naturally, one significant benefit of purchasing in neighbourhoods away from the central districts like Fatih and Taksim is more affordable prices. Given Istanbul’s high-flying status, it prompts the most expensive home prices in Turkey. Still, with 2-bedroom apartments in non-central neighbourhoods starting from £50,000, the city now attracts a broader client portfolio. Bearing all this in mind, everyone now has more neighbourhoods to choose from. Loads of choice is excellent, but which areas make good places to live in Istanbul?

Istanbul Neighbourhoods for Expats to Live in

1: Bahcesehir Neighbourhood

Sitting in European Istanbul, Bahcesehir is rapidly gaining traction as a perfect residential area. Proving especially popular with families and city workers looking to commute, the highly excellent value per square meter attracts families on a budget. Social life focuses on the artificial main lake in the centre of Bahcesehir, and shopping malls offer round entertainment and dining venues. When expats move to Bahcesehir, there is no need to go into the city centre, since everything is on your doorstep, including a well organised and convenient transport network.

where do expats live in Istanbul

2: Expats love Lively Beyoglu

Even though it means a higher cost-of-living, Beyoglu tops the list for expats moving to Istanbul, and why not. It is close to places like the Golden Horn, Taksim square and Bosphorus, and Galata Bridge, the gateway to Sultanahmet old city part, with landmarks like the Grand Bazaar, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. Small, cosmopolitan cafes line the side street while the iconic red tram slowly moves down Istiklal Avenue, the best place for nightlife and shopping and eating out. Higher rents turn some expats away, but residents in the heart of the action experience minimised culture shock because of Beyoglu’s large expat community. Some even say this is one of the best places to live in Istanbul.

where to live in Istanbul

3: Esenyurt in Istanbul

Covering 2770 hectares in European Istanbul, Esenyurt’s popularity stems from attractive house prices and because the local council built four cultural centres and four parks. Esenyurt is in a strategic location, with TEM high way to the north and E-5 highway to the south, making it super easy for commuters. Esenyurt is home to a large university and is close to others, making it a popular choice for students. Sitting just 26 kilometres away from Istanbul Ataturk airport, it is within an hour’s drive from the new third airport.


4: Upmarket Nisantasi: The Best in Life

Nisantasi is not one of the most affordable places to live because its upmarket suburbs focus on luxury. Indeed, if expats want to make a name for themselves, renting here puts them in the heart of Istanbul’s elite social circles. Its most prominent street, Abdi Ipekci, is Turkey’s most expensive shopping district, with high brand names paying thousands in rent every month. Expect to lunch out when shopping in luxury, and to see trends merging here as Nisantasi doesn’t do conservatism. Belonging to the sizeable Sisli district, if your bank account stretches that far, expats will feel right at home.

5: Kucukcekmece

Savvy investors worldwide had their eyes on the Kucukcekmece neighbourhood for years after the Turkish government announced plans to build a new canal through Istanbul. In early 2018, their intuition paid off when the government confirmed the new route would start in Kucukcekmece. Neighbourhoods on either side of the Istanbul Canal will turn into a Canary Wharf version with high end residential and commercial properties. With the TEM motorway passing through, anyone looking for an ideal long-term real estate investment with attractive returns would do well to look at Kucukcekmece.

6: Expats in Tarabya

To live here is to enjoy the ambience of the coastal Bosphorus strait. It is one of the most popular places to retire not only for foreigners but also for Turks. During summer, the area sees an increasing number of tourists flocking to enjoy its seaside restaurants and old churches, but expatriates get to enjoy this ambience all year round. Belonging to the Sariyer district, suburbs in Tarabya don’t promote that urban feel and settling in is easy because it supports local hospitality.

7: Beylikduzu in Outer Istanbul

Beylikduzu gained popularity, especially with middle and upper-class societies over the last ten years. For years during Ottoman rule and after the Turkish Republic’s formation, it was merely a weekend destination, but that all changed at the turn of the century as people flocked in to buy new, modern houses. Connection to the Metrobus system giving locals quick and easy access to Istanbul’s central areas made it popular.


A super-efficient transport network, as well as many shopping choices, means residents of Beylikduzu do have everything on their doorstep and within easy reach. Lately, increasingly more luxurious residences sell in Beylikduzu. With ten neighbourhoods for Istanbul, it is an ideal choice for those who like the more elegant side of life with a laid-back ambience.

8: Sancaktepe in Asian Istanbul

With a population of 402,000 people, Sancaktepe, covering 62 square Kilometres, is another district gaining traction. Comprised of 19 smaller neighbourhoods, it sits in Asian Istanbul, giving residents a completely different ambience and atmosphere from neighbourhoods on the European side. Sancaktepe residents adore its location on the edge of the Alemdag forest, popular with families, especially at weekends. The local council is keen to preserve other green areas, as recreational parks for the young and old alike. To go over to European Istanbul, Kadikoy and Uskudar ferry ports, sit within an hour’s drive.

Property in Istanbul: In your relocation experience, if you want to buy and invest in property, our portfolio of apartments and villas will be of use. Listing homes in metropolitan areas, each listing includes all details to know, including price, location, home features and enquiry details to find out more or arrange a viewing.

Where to Retire in Turkey: When it comes to living abroad, some expats decide Istanbul isn’t for them; so this article look at the best places to live and relocate for foreigners. We also look at expat life and why those areas attract people from all over the globe.

About Us: We are Spot Blue, an international real estate agent who helps many foreigners with their dream of living and working abroad. Moving to a new country is an exciting experience, but it needs careful navigation for it to be successful. Our blog gives plenty of tips about moving abroad and talks more about Istanbul neighbourhoods for international living.

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About Natalie

Natalie is a dedicated real estate professional currently working at Spot Blue International Property. With over a decade of experience in the industry, she has acquired a wealth of knowledge and expertise regarding global properties.