Ankara is the capital of Turkey but it falls behind Istanbul in terms of population and tourist numbers. Often referred to as the city of bureaucrats and universities, this political hub sees expatriates predominantly arriving for business and educational purposes. We will outline the cost of living and the neighbourhoods expats tend to favour in this non-touristy and conservative metropolis.
Districts of Ankara
The cosmopolitan capital is the largest city in the country by area. Its lack of access to the sea keeps tourist numbers and property prices relatively low. Ankara is divided into several districts. Key attractions (the city castle, Atatürk's mausoleum, and museums), shopping centres, and restaurants are in Çankaya and Altındağ.
The most popular districts among expats are:
Many districts in Ankara are ‘closed’ for obtaining initial residence permits due to the high influx of expats in 2022. Those who intend to move to the city should consider this when choosing a location for renting or buying property. There are regular updates of the list of ‘closed’ districts, where the percentage of foreign residents exceeds 20%.
Photo: Çağlar Oskay (Unsplash)
Renting and Buying a Flat
The cost of renting a flat in Ankara depends on its location, size, number of rooms, amenities, and whether it is furnished or unfurnished. The most budget-friendly offers in suburban areas can be found for around 6700 Turkish Liras ($250) per month, while renting a one-bedroom flat in the city can cost around 10,800 Turkish Liras ($400). Renting a flat in the capital of Turkey is approximately 50% cheaper than in Istanbul.
From July 2022 to July 2023, property prices in Ankara increased by 124%. According to the Endeksa resource, which analyses the Turkish real estate market, the average price per square metre in Ankara is 16,500 Turkish Liras ($612). Prices in new developments tend to be higher, starting at around 30,000 Turkish Liras ($1,100) per square metre. When purchasing property in an ‘open’ district of Ankara for an amount exceeding $75,000, an expat may qualify for residency. Buying property worth over $400,000 grants eligibility for Turkish citizenship.
When searching for housing, it is essential to understand that flats in Turkey are generally spacious and are marked as 1+1, 2+1, 1+0, and so on. The first number indicates the number of bedrooms, while the second number signifies the number of shared spaces (such as living rooms or offices). For example, 2+1 means two bedrooms and a living room. This notation does not include the kitchen and bathrooms.
You usually pay for utilities separately, with monthly bills averaging around 200 to 300 Turkish Liras for a 70- to 80-square-metre flat.
Bus, railway, and aviation links connect Ankara to other Turkish provinces. The city has excellent transportation infrastructure, so traffic jams are relatively rare. Locals prefer to get around by buses and minivans called dolmuş, as well as by private cars. There is also a metro system in operation, consisting of five underground lines. A metro ride will cost you approximately 15 Turkish Liras ($0.56).
Throughout Ankara, you will find taxi terminals with call buttons. However, using this means of transport can be expensive, and drivers might intentionally overcharge for mileage. Expats in Turkey seldom buy cars as they must sell the vehicle within three months after the termination of their work contract. Otherwise, they will be subject to a luxury tax of 45%. Furthermore, driving your own car or a rented one requires a local or international driving licence (for those staying in the country for more than six months).
Beştepe National Mosque. Photo: inlovew photography (Unsplash)
Ankara boasts 24 universities, nearly half of them being state-owned. All these universities offer education in English. Additionally, the metropolis is home to many colleges and schools, including international ones — both private and state-run. Some of these institutions also have daycare facilities. Several schools provide both in-person and distance learning options.
The Turkish healthcare system has received high praise in recent years for its use of modern technology and equipment. Expatriates in Ankara can access services in both private and public hospitals. The city boasts a medical complex consisting of eight clinics and a large laboratory.
All individuals coming to the country must have medical insurance, as state hospitals will only provide free treatment in emergencies. The cost of seeing a doctor in a private clinic generally starts at 2,000 Turkish Liras ($74).
Prices for medications in pharmacies are affordable. Many common medications can be purchased without a prescription. It is worth noting that on weekends, pharmacies are often closed, with only the on-call ones open.
Food and Clothing Prices
Food prices are generally consistent across all regions of Turkey. The cost of fruit and vegetables varies with the seasons, while other food categories depend on pricing factors. In Ankara, you can buy groceries in supermarkets, stores, and at markets. Residents prefer markets because they offer fresh produce, and you can often negotiate discounts.
Dining out in this part of the country tends to be more affordable than in resort areas. A three-course meal for two at a restaurant will cost around 600 Turkish Liras ($22), while a combo meal at a fast-food chain will be about 130 Turkish Liras ($5).
Prices for clothing, footwear, and other popular items will depend on where you purchase them, the brand, and the quality. The cost of cotton T-shirts in shopping centres starts at 110 Turkish Liras ($4), while jeans start at 270 Turkish Liras ($10). Turkey is a great place to find textiles, fur, and leather goods at attractive prices, especially during sales.
In a Nutshell
Ankara is a modern city often chosen for relocation by IT professionals, employees of large corporations, freelancers, and participants in residency-by-investment programmes. It attracts expatriates with its well-developed infrastructure and affordable prices for housing and many goods.
Cover photo: Anıtkabir. yusuf kazancı (Pixabay)