Since we are digital nomads, Istanbul is the 3rd city where we have a lot of trouble finding a decent apartment (with Seoul and Osaka). The apartments we see on Airbnb are either too crowded, too dark, or too expensive and badly located. So we are going to write you here a small guide for digital nomads like us
Istanbul is really huge, so I’ll just introduce you to the central part, what interests you the most in Istanbul
Many tourists cross a bridge (Galata for the most part) and exclaim: I am in Asia! when it isn’t true. It isn’t because you cross a bridge that it connects the two continents. In this case, we have two European banks: the oldest, grouping together neighborhoods like Sultanahmet, Sirkeci… and a more modern bank grouping together neighborhoods like Karakoy, Galata, Tophane, Taksim, Sisli… In Asia, Üskukar, Kadidoy are located right next to the Bosphorus, which facilitates your trips to the old city (by boat or subway)
Where to find accommodation?
Hotels being very expensive and small, we preferred to opt for an airbnb
Airbnb Sponsorship : Click here to receive 25€ discount for your 1st reservation on Airbnb
We then came across some locals who offered to rent us a room in their apartment, but we prefer our independence and prefer to rent a whole apartment
For a very long term rental (1 year or more), the rates (excluding airbnb) we were given are between 400€/month to 500€/month on average, in a nice, bright and spacious area (50m²)
To know more..: Before choosing your Airbnb
- Istanbul is a city of hills. So if you are “only” 1km away from Taksim Square for example, it’s not necessarily good news. 1km, yes, but 1km with a lot of unevenness maybe.
- The traffic in Istanbul is horrible, especially on the main roads. So if you are “only” 2 steps away from a bus station, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have a pleasant trip. Prefer an accommodation close (1) to a metro line (2) or a tramway line.
- There are a lot of half basement apartments. Since the sewer system here isn’t very topical (sweet smell that comes up in the evening), and people tend to dump garbage on the sidewalk (which will then be searched by stray cats and dogs), absolutely avoid basement and first floor apartments.
What neighborhoods to avoid?
The Istanbul Blog lists in this article the uninteresting or super ugly neighborhoods to avoid absolutely, namely
- In Europe: avoid Mecidiyeköy/Sisli, Bakirköy, Yenibosna – Laleli – Aksaray, Eyüp – Bagcilar – Bahcelievler – Basaksehir – Bahcesehir – Kucukcekmece – Sariyer
- In Asia: avoid Umraniye, Beykoz, Bostanci – Atasehir – Maltepe – Kartal – Cekmekoy
And I advise you to read this article to have more information about the different districts of Istanbul, as well as the hotels to book for a first stay here
The mentioned article advises against only a part of the huge Sisli neighborhood, but frankly, I really advise against the whole Sisli neighborhood .
- This neighborhood, when you are far from a subway station, is a horror. There isn’t much to visit, nor to eat.
- When you are close to a subway station, it’s good, you have a lot of choice when it comes to good food, but every visit to the other side of Europe is an expedition, you easily lose 50 minutes in transportation. The horror!
I know that a lot of digital nomads choose Sisli because we have more choice on Airbnb and the prices are softer
But if you can, try to be closer to old Istanbul
What neighborhoods do you recommend?
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here is the map sent to us by Kevin, a Frenchman who knows the city of Istanbul by heart (thanks to him!)
- In red: to be avoided
- In yellow: limit
- In green: OK
Basically, it is limited to: part of Karakoy, Tophane, Taksim, Uskudar and other remote areas that are a little too far from the historical monuments
I know he circled Sisli in yellow, but again, if you can, either avoid this neighborhood or stay close to a subway line
What is the budget for a monthly Airbnb rental in Istanbul?
On Airbnb, for a private apartment for two, between 40m² and 50m², we paid between 25€/night (long stay) and 46€/night (short stay)
so between 750€ and 1380€/month
Note: As everywhere in the world, for any stay longer than 21 nights, you can have up to 50% discount. So think about it, especially since one month in Istanbul is really the minimum to really enjoy this very culturally and touristically rich city.
Examples of Airbnb
You can see our first Airbnb (see the video), in the Sisli district. We don’t recommend this apartment because you always have to walk super far to find a good and cheap restaurant. This is the one that costs 46€/night and we couldn’t get the rates any lower because we only stay there for 12 days
Our second Airbnb (see the video here), located between Tophane and Karakoy is really cheap and bright, for only 25€/night (stay > 30 days) or 750€/month. However, the connection speed can be improved
What about the Internet connection in all this?
We noticed that
- the further down the hill you are, the worse the connection is
- the higher up the hill you are, the better the connection is
Twice in a row, in our respective airbnb at the bottom of a hill, we have noticed quite bad flow rates
- 6mbps download
- less than 1 mbps upload
But this is still enough to make a call (surprising, isn’t it?)
Both airbnb offer us unlimited Internet connection
But I need a high-speed connection
If you ever need a much faster connection
- be aware that the many (super nice) cafes in Istanbul have super fast connections. We did some Speed Test and it goes up to 30mpbs in download and 16mbps in upload. A map with many cafes to work in is available at the bottom of the article. The disadvantage is that they tend to put music on all day long and clear the table as soon as the coffee is finished (it’s not to chase you away, Turkish customers like waiters to clear their heads in record time).
- Alternatively, you can opt for a 4G card. Take, like me, a card at TeknoSA, it’s cheaper and I get, depending on my location (at the top of a hill), great connection speeds: up to 30mpbs in download and 16mbps in upload. We told you about buying a SIM card here
What to visit in Istanbul?
We’ll do a separate article for you. Stay tuned!
What to visit in Turkey?
Where to eat in Istanbul?
This personalized map, graciously provided by Kevin, our SEO colleague and great connoisseur of Istanbul (thank you very much!), will allow you to locate the best of the best restaurants in the city. I let you check the prices on the Internet because it’s a mix of high-end restaurants as well as local bui bui. This map gives you a pretty accurate idea of the ideal location of your apartment
With the Turkish Lira having lost half of its value, we have incredible purchasing power in Istanbul. In September/October 2018, the Turkish Lira varies between 6.5 and 7 pounds for 1€
We didn’t write down our expenses very well, but basically, here are the typical expenses for a day
- 25€/day for our airbnb for two
- not expensive : 30TL/person (4,9€)
- huge brunch that we won’t be able to finish: 49TL/person (8€)
- medium range : 60TL/person
- expensive : 100TL/person (16€)
- visit: entrance between 20 to 40TL/person
- turkish bath
- local: 40TL entrance, 30TL wash + 10TL tip
- top of the range: 40€ just for the hammam
So, it comes down to
- from 22,3€/person per day without visit, without turkish bath
- from 30€/person per day with visit and hammam
If you cook, it will cost even less, but why cook when restaurants are so cheap and so good?
Last but not least, I invite you to discover all our travel diaries in Istanbul to discover the city and the different districts we visited