Istanbul ranks as Turkey's most sought-after city among foreign property buyers, who are drawn to this vibrant destination for work, business, and even retirement. Istanbul is a bustling and dynamic metropolis, yet it boasts numerous tranquil and cosy neighbourhoods that are ideal for a peaceful and unhurried lifestyle. The finest of these areas offer green spaces, excellent transportation options, and well-developed infrastructure, making them the preferred choice for expats.
The Best Neighbourhoods to Live in Istanbul
Istanbul has emerged as the epicentre of business, economics, finance, education, and tourism in Turkey today. Over recent decades, the city has experienced substantial growth, giving rise to new neighbourhoods featuring modern residential complexes with captivating architecture and advanced infrastructure. These complexes offer residents landscaped parks, walking paths, children's playgrounds, swimming pools, and fitness facilities, all of which contribute to Istanbul's appeal as a place to call home. The city's primary advantages, from the perspective of foreign homebuyers, include a high standard of living, well-developed social infrastructure, and favourable conditions for business endeavours. Additionally, Istanbul's remarkable architecture, unique positioning across two continents, and its multicultural ambiance further enhance its allure.
Experts advise potential property buyers to first decide which part of the city they wish to reside in: the European or the Asian side. Opting for the European side is ideal for those looking to immerse themselves in the city's business hub. Neighbourhoods like Beşiktaş, Şişli, Beyoğlu, Fatih, and Bakırköy are known for their advanced development, featuring numerous business and shopping centres, bank offices, embassies, and educational institutions. In general, the European part is more bustling, as it attracts many tourists who come to explore its historical sites. Additionally, the European side serves as the epicentre of Istanbul's nightlife.
New buildings in Turkey
The Asian side, encompassing neighbourhoods like Üsküdar, Ataşehir, Kadıköy, and others, is better suited for a tranquil and unhurried lifestyle, with its abundance of green spaces and parks. Unlike the European part, the Asian side of Istanbul is less crowded with tourists and boasts fewer iconic landmarks.
Ferries, tunnels, and bridges establish vital connections between the European and Asian sectors of the city. On the whole, Istanbul boasts a well-developed transportation infrastructure, encompassing both underground and surface public transport networks. Nevertheless, the city grapples with a significant issue: traffic congestion. Consequently, many expatriates opt to reside near their workplaces or select neighbourhoods that allow them to reach their offices without getting caught in traffic, even if it means using the subway or taking a city bus.
The best neighbourhoods in Istanbul feature childcare centres, schools, and clinics. Additionally, you can find shops, hair salons, cafes, restaurants, and dry cleaners in all residential areas throughout the city. However, the residential real estate landscape is highly diverse. In certain areas, development has matured, and there are minimal new complexes under construction. In these locations, the housing market predominantly offers options in the secondary housing sector, resulting in a relatively narrow price range for apartments. Conversely, in other areas, development is in full swing, catering to a wide spectrum of residents. These areas accommodate budget-friendly apartments for students as well as ultra-luxurious properties for affluent families, leading to significant price disparities.
Families with children typically favour two-bedroom flats, ranging in size from 70 to 130 square metres. Such housing options are readily available in many of the city's neighbourhoods, especially those known for their comfortable living conditions. Nevertheless, due to the high demand for this type of housing, the supply can be limited in certain areas.
Beyoğlu, situated in the European part of Istanbul, holds a prominent place as one of the city's oldest districts. In the Middle Ages, it served as a suburban area of Constantinople. Today, modern Istanbul recognizes Beyoğlu as a central area renowned for the must-visit Galata Tower. Visitors can also enjoy a nostalgic tram ride to Taksim Square. The district boasts a blend of architectural styles, featuring historic houses from the late 19th and early 20th centuries alongside contemporary buildings.
Source: Google Maps
Beyoğlu is a favourite among both tourists and locals, known for its vibrant atmosphere. The area is particularly popular among Turkish youth and single expatriates. It offers a lively scene with numerous cinemas, concert venues, museums, shops, and a majority of cafes, restaurants, and bars that remain open 24/7. Beyoğlu enjoys excellent transportation links, making it easy to access other parts of the city via various modes of transport.
Some of the most sought-after neighbourhoods within Beyoğlu include Taksim, Cihangir, Gümüşsuyu, Galatasaray, Firüzağa, Çukurcuma, Galata, Fındıklı, and Kabataş. While Beyoğlu may not be the ideal choice for families with small children, it holds strong appeal for those with teenagers. Average prices for two-bedroom flats typically start at $300,000.
Beşiktaş, situated in the European part of Istanbul, stands as one of the city's central districts. Its most prominent local attraction is the Dolmabahçe Palace. However, Beşiktaş is primarily recognized as the city's business hub. Often referred to as the financial centre of Turkey, this district houses the headquarters of numerous Turkish and international companies, along with several foreign embassies. You'll also find an abundance of business centres, shopping malls, and five-star hotels in this area.
Source: Google Maps
Some of the most sought-after neighbourhoods in Beşiktaş include Sinanpaşa, Yıldız, Gayrettepe, Nisbetiye, Levent, Etiler, Ortaköy, Arnavutköy, and Bebek. Among these, the Bebek quarter, nestled along the shores of the Bosphorus, stands out as the most prestigious. It's a favoured choice among the Turkish elite and celebrities, offering luxurious waterfront mansions and upscale dining establishments. The area boasts a university, a prestigious international school, and a research institute. However, it's important to note that public transportation options are limited, and residents often rely on their own vehicles. Another elite neighbourhood within Beşiktaş is Etiler, known for its nightlife, shopping centres, upscale private residences, luxury apartments, and the presence of both Japanese and British schools. One of its significant advantages is its access to an underground station.
Beşiktaş, as a whole, offers an excellent living experience suitable for both individual foreigners and families with children. It has consistently maintained a leading position among Istanbul districts in terms of safety and comfort for many years. However, it's worth noting that real estate in Beşiktaş tends to be pricier compared to neighbouring districts like Beyoğlu, and there are relatively fewer available properties. On average, two-bedroom flats here command a price of around $560,000.
Şişli, situated in the European part of Istanbul, stands as another central district with a unique history. Two centuries ago, it was a rural area that has since undergone significant transformation. By the end of the 19th century, Şişli had evolved into a thriving district characterised by French-style houses. Today, it boasts wide avenues lined with offices, banks, shops, and shopping centres. The district is home to a sizable city hospital, two French schools, and numerous educational institutions. Şişli is renowned for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, making it one of the most culturally diverse areas in the city.
Source: Google Maps
Teşvikiye and Nişantaşı stand out as esteemed neighbourhoods favoured by affluent individuals and celebrities. Esentepe enjoys popularity among business professionals and employees of major companies, while a significant portion of Mecidiyeköy residents consists of students. As a result, property prices in Şişli exhibit a wide range. Two-bedroom flats typically command prices ranging from $740,000 to $2,556,000 on average. In elite neighbourhoods, flat prices can reach as high as $5,000,000.
Bakırköy, situated in the European part of Istanbul, is known for its multicultural character, with a long-standing presence of Greek and Armenian communities. Unlike the bustling city centre, Bakırköy offers a less crowded and more tranquil atmosphere while still providing all the amenities necessary for a comfortable life, including shopping centres, stores, cafes, and restaurants.
Source: Google Maps
Some of the prime neighbourhoods for real estate investment in Bakırköy include Florya, Yeşilköy, and Ataköy. Florya and Yeşilköy have a historical background as out-of-town summer resorts where Turkish citizens spent quality time with their families. This vacation charm still lingers, with small cafes and restaurants lining the beach and promenade. The coastal areas boast ample green spaces, sports facilities, and health complexes. On the other hand, Ataköy was originally designed as a satellite city and was in active development during its early years. Today, the neighbourhood features numerous modern residential complexes with well-developed infrastructure, alongside shopping centres.
From Bakırköy, you have convenient access to other parts of the city via ferry or public buses. The real estate supply in the area is relatively limited, and there is a noticeable price range. Prices for two-bedroom flats can range from $300,000 to $1,300,000.
Located in the European part of Istanbul, the Fatih area is often referred to as the heart of old Istanbul. It boasts some of the most iconic landmarks, including the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace, Süleymaniye Mosque, Grand Bazaar, and Egyptian Bazaar. This is the very part of the city that was historically known as Constantinople. Each year, millions of tourists from around the world visit this marvellous area, where historic wooden houses line narrow streets. You can also enjoy one of the most stunning views of the Golden Horn Bay from here.
Source: Google Maps
Some of the most popular, albeit crowded, neighbourhoods to reside within the Fatih district include Sultan Ahmet, Topkapı, Fener, and Balat. Historically, Fener was predominantly inhabited by Orthodox Greeks, while Balat is renowned as a traditional Jewish quarter.
Prices for two-bedroom flats in the Fatih area start from $900,000, but such offers are rare. Average prices are around $2,500,000 and above.
Kadıköy, situated in the Asian part of Istanbul, extends along the coastline, offering a vibrant and trendy atmosphere. The area is known for its abundance of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Additionally, it boasts a railway station, a bustling fish market, a stadium, and Moda Park, complete with jogging tracks, exercise equipment, and a scenic waterfront promenade. Kadıköy provides excellent connectivity to other parts of the city via underground, buses, and ferries.
Source: Google Maps
In Kadıköy, some of the most popular neighbourhoods among expats include Acıbadem, Caddebostan, Bostancı, Erenköy, Fenerbahçe, Göztepe, Koşuyolu, Suadiye, Osmaniye (especially Bahariye Street), and Caferağa (the Moda quarter). Bahariye Street is a bustling hub with numerous cafes, restaurants, shops, theatres, and cinemas. It's a lively area where single expats and students may feel more at home than families with children. If you're seeking a quieter neighbourhood, you might explore the waterfront area near Moda Park, although the property selection there is somewhat limited. On average, a two-bedroom flat in this area ranges from $320,000 to $450,000.
Üsküdar, situated on the Asian side of Istanbul, serves as a vital coastal transport hub. Numerous residents in this district commute to work on the European side of the city, yet choose to reside here, taking advantage of the ferry service to avoid traffic congestion and relish the breathtaking views during their journey. Üsküdar can be quite bustling and crowded during the day, thanks to the numerous shops, cafes, and restaurants. However, as evening descends, the pace mellows, transforming into a tranquil residential area.
Source: Google Maps
The prime neighbourhoods for real estate investment include Altunizade, Çengelköy, Kuzguncuk, Salacak, and Selimiye. Kuzguncuk, in particular, offers an idyllic, unhurried lifestyle. This neighbourhood treats its residents to picturesque Bosporus views, complemented by charming waterfront cafes and bakeries. Moreover, Kuzguncuk boasts an authentic architectural charm, with many well-preserved old Turkish wooden houses.
Overall, Üsküdar is an excellent choice for families with children, with an average price of $765,000 for two-bedroom flats.
Ataşehir, located on the Asian side of Istanbul, is another business-oriented district, akin to Beşiktaş on the European side. It houses numerous business centres, serving as the headquarters for major Turkish companies. Furthermore, the area boasts shopping complexes complete with cinemas, tennis courts, and fitness centres. Ataşehir is characterised by its high-rise buildings and skyscrapers, as townhouses and mansions were not originally part of the urban planning. This trend continues with upcoming city development projects as well. Being a relatively modern area, city planners have incorporated various amenities often missing in other neighbourhoods, such as ample parking spaces. However, public transportation options remain somewhat limited, leading residents to rely heavily on private cars. The most comfortable neighbourhoods within Ataşehir include Barbaros, Atatürk, and İçerenköy, with the average price for a two-bedroom flat standing at $470,000.
Source: Google Maps
It's evident that Istanbul's prime neighbourhoods command higher real estate prices. They earn this distinction due to their safety, well-developed infrastructure, and strategic positioning at the heart of the city's business and cultural hub. Nevertheless, this doesn't imply that individuals with limited budgets from abroad are precluded from investing in Istanbul's property market.
For instance, consider the rapidly developing Bahçelievler district on the European side of the city. It's a preferred choice for families on a tight budget. The district features an artificial lake as its centrepiece, with designated areas for relaxation, strolling, shopping centres, and dining establishments in close proximity. The well-rounded infrastructure ensures that residents have convenient access to shopping and entertainment options right within their neighbourhood. In Bahçelievler, you can find flats ranging from $130,000 to $160,000.
Another option for budget-friendly real estate is in the Esenyurt area on the Asian side, which boasts four parks. The presence of a university makes it a vibrant neighbourhood with a youthful atmosphere. In Esenyurt, you can find flats priced between $160,000 and $260,000.
Both areas also offer even more affordable options, with some properties priced as low as $70,000. These are typically small one-bedroom flats suitable for single expats or students.
In a Nutshell
The best areas to live in Istanbul for families with children include Beyoğlu, Beşiktaş, Şişli, Bakırköy, Fatih, Kadıköy, Üsküdar, and Ataşehir. These neighbourhoods are situated on either the European or Asian side of the city. It's essential to consider this factor when selecting your real estate. The European part is consistently bustling, with neighbourhoods teeming with business and cultural activities. In contrast, the Asian side offers a more serene and relaxed pace of life. Additionally, it's worth noting that locals predominantly reside on the Asian side, while expats from around the world tend to prefer the European side. Another factor to consider is that modern residential complexes are rarely found in the historic areas of the city, as they are typically not built in such locations.
Cover photo: pxhere