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Istanbul | © Fulvio D'Alessio / Flickr
Istanbul | © Fulvio D'Alessio / Flickr

Moving to Istanbul? Here Are Some Practical Tips You Need to Know

Picture of Feride Yalav-Heckeroth
Updated: 16 January 2018

Moving to another country is always a challenging task no matter where you decide to go. If you’ve got your eyes set on Istanbul, check out some of these practical tips about finding a place, residence and work permits, and socializing with other expats.

Residence and Working Permits

Before you decide to live in Turkey, you’ll have to apply for a work permit and work visa from your nearest embassy. You can check which documents are required from your local embassy’s page as well as any necessary fees. You will probably be granted a one-year temporary work visa, which you can renew for another three years after the initial one year. The Turkish government will also only issue a work visa to self-employed individuals after they have lived in Turkey for five years.

After you’ve arrived in Turkey, apply for the residence permit in order to receive what is called a “pink book” from the foreigner’s registry office of the local police department (called Emniyet Müdürlüğü Yabancılar Şubesi in Turkish). If your employer doesn’t take care of this, make sure to do it within 30 days of your arrival. Also, make sure to contact the local department for the necessary documents and fees.

Apartment Hunting

Finding an apartment in Istanbul is another very important step, and you can use such resources as expat groups on Facebook in order to tap into the network of other expats living in the Turkish city. Local websites such as Hürriyet Emlak and Sahibinden are the most popular places to search for apartments online.

Best Neighborhoods to Live

Istanbul has many neighborhoods that range from young and bohemian to wealthy and urban, so make sure to do your research before choosing a place to settle down. Apart from being close to your place of employment (or at least close to a source of public transportation), you can choose from young and trendy neighborhoods such as Galata and Cihangir in the city center, Şişli or Beşiktaş, and (depending on your budget) upscale neighborhoods such as Etiler and Arnavutköy. If you’re interested in the Asian side, check out available apartments in Kadıköy, especially Moda, the Asian side’s trendiest neighborhood.

Resources for Expats

Apart from the previously mentioned Facebook groups for expats in Istanbul, Internations is an excellent online expat community where you can not only find useful information and tips but also get to know other expats and attend special events. The Guide Istanbul and Time Out Istanbul (in English) magazines are two of the best resources when it comes to getting to know Istanbul and all of its best restaurants, bars, and events.