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Relocation FAQs

What is Istanbul like? How does it compare to other world cities?

What is Istanbul like? How does it compare to other world cities?
Istanbul, once touted as the "envy of kings", offers a lively multicultural atmosphere. Ranked #3 in Conde Nast's 2011 Readers' Travel Awards, Istanbul has also been named by Travel & Leisure as the #2 European destination and #3 top city in the world.
According to Wikipedia, Istanbul is the world's second most populated city proper after Shanghai (based on urban locality without its suburbs) with an estimated population of at least 13 million people. The population density is over 7,166 people per square kilometer (1,700 per square km).

What is Istanbul’s climate like?

What is Istanbul’s climate like?
The city has a Mediterranean climate with hot and humid summers and cold, rainy --and often snowy-- winters. The weather in Istanbul right now is: 
 
 

What is Istanbul like for a family with children? Is it dangerous?

What is Istanbul like for a family with children? Is it dangerous?
For a megacity of Istanbul’s size, it is relatively safe. Residential areas where expats choose to live are particularly comfortable. Pickpocketing does happen, particularly in the historic district where there are many tourists. Istanbul is a large and crowded city, and though it is fairly safe, newcomers are advised to exercise the same caution they would in any large city. Burglary and purse-snatchings do happen. While it is acceptable to dress according to taste, women may find that revealing clothing will attract unwelcome attention. However, Turkey is also a child-loving country. Don’t be surprised if passersby admire your children, tweak their cheeks, or even try to give them a hug or cuddle. Turkish people can be effusive in their affection for children.

Are there security issues to consider?

Are there security issues to consider?
The crime rate in Istanbul is not very high considering Istanbul’s size. However, theft does sometimes happen and compounds with security are often preferred by expats.

Are there apartments available in modern compounds?

Are there apartments available in modern compounds?
Yes, there are quite a few modern apartment complexes that offer both the security and recreational facilities of a compound. Contact an area relocator for details

Are there certain Istanbul neighborhoods that expats tend to prefer?

Are there certain Istanbul neighborhoods that expats tend to prefer?
Though expats can be found throughout the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, there tend to be higher concentrations of foreign families in the following neighborhoods: Etiler, Bebek, Arnavutkoy, Kemer, Levent, Ulus, Emirgan, Istinye, Yenikoy. You can view different Istanbul neighborhoods here.

What are the rental prices in Istanbul?

What are the rental prices in Istanbul?
Istanbul is an expensive city. The rental prices in expat neighborhoods vary between 3,000 – 10,000 EUR per month. Relocation companies provide orientation tours to help the family to decide on the best location.

Is the Asian side cheaper than the European side in terms of cost of living?

Is the Asian side cheaper than the European side in terms of cost of living?
In some ways the Asian side is cheaper, but the houses in compounds are typically not cheaper than the European side. In addition, many expat wives report feeling isolated and children may have longer to commute to school. If you are planning to live on the Asian side, be sure to ask your child’s school whether there is a bus service for the Asian side.
 

What is the quality of healthcare in Istanbul?

What is the quality of healthcare in Istanbul?
The healthcare in Istanbul at private hospitals is often of a very high quality. Both on the Asian and European sides there are international hospitals. In general the doctors speak English and some assistants, too. It is easy to make an appointment via English speaking call centres used by many private hospitals. Please be aware that the level of services in public/state hospitals vary considerably from that of private hospitals and may not be of the quality standards an expatriate would expect.

Can I find an English speaking pediatrician?

Can I find an English speaking pediatrician?
In most of the international hospitals, as well as in private clinics, you should be able to find English speaking pediatricians. Many doctors in these hospitals have attended medical school or perhaps practiced abroad so they are able to understand and respect the differences in culture.

What is the traffic like in Istanbul?

What is the traffic like in Istanbul?
Istanbul, a city of over 12 million people, has a lot of traffic. As such, distance is not always the indicator of how long it will take you to get from point A to point B. It matters more which roads you need to take, the hour of the day, and whether there are any special events on that day (ie, major football matches). The bridges and main junctions are busy at rush hours, but thankfully Istanbul metropolitan municipality provides an extensive number of webcams around the city for people to be able to monitor traffic, an animated map of current traffic conditions on major highways. You can download the IBB CEP TRAFIK app to your smart phone to keep tabs on traffic conditions while en route. 

Do I need to change my driving license?

Do I need to change my driving license?
No. A person with a work permit can use their current, valid non-Turkish driving license but they must carry the notarized translation of their driving license with them.

I’m a non-working spouse. Can I get by without a car in Istanbul?

I’m a non-working spouse. Can I get by without a car in Istanbul?
Istanbul does have an extensive bus system, and the metro/rail is growing, but the operators rarely speak English, so you may have difficulty communicating at first. Due to Istanbul’s size and traffic, it is not always convenient to rely on taxis and public transport for your transportation needs. You may find it more practical for you to have the freedom of your own transport.

What is the public transportation like in Istanbul?

What is the public transportation like in Istanbul?
Istanbul has an extensive bus system, light rail through some of the most trafficked areas, a growing underground (the metro), minibuses, and public ferries.

How can I work in Turkey?

How can I work in Turkey?
To work in Turkey a work permit has to be obtained from the Ministry of Labor and a residence permit must be obtained from the Department of security. More information can be obtained here. 
 

What documentation do I need fort the residence permits of my family members?

What documentation do I need fort the residence permits of my family members?
In addition to the application form, petition letter, photo, and the passports, you must also provide notarized translations of your marriage certificate and the birth certificates of your children.
 

What is Foreign Identity Number and how can I find out mine?

What is Foreign Identity Number and how can I find out mine?
It is a number assigned to each foreigner with a residence permit. The number can be found here.

How do I obtain a tax number?

How do I obtain a tax number?
You have to go to the nearest tax office with your passport. Addresses for Istanbul can be found here.

How do I open a bank account?

How do I open a bank account?
A tax number has to be obtained from a tax office. Then with the residence permit a bank account can be opened.

Are there expat social networks in Istanbul?

Are there expat social networks in Istanbul?
We encourage IICS families to take part in the Parent Teacher Association and get to know the other parents at school, either independently or through IICS’ many social events. There are also a number of foreigners’ social groups, based on either nationality, common language, or common interest. Some of these groups are listed on our resource page, while some groups prefer to keep a non-public profile. If you would like to find a nationality or social group not listed, please contact the school

How is the expatriate community organized?

How is the expatriate community organized?
In Istanbul there many networks to join as a foreigner, from country networks to the well organized IWI (the International Women of Istanbul) network. Kids can join international oriented sports clubs (football, tennis, swimming, golf, etc). There are also English speaking boy and girl scout associations. From our own experience we know that the expatriate community in Istanbul is in general very warm and welcoming to newcomers.

What about playgrounds for the kids?

What about playgrounds for the kids?
Throughout the city there are many nice and well maintained playgrounds.

Are there activities outside of school available for expat children?

Are there activities outside of school available for expat children (equestrian sports, music, dance, etc)?
IICS has a varied co-curricular program that students are encouraged to participate in, for which the school provides transportation. There are also a number of activities available outside of school. Please contact the school with your specific inquiry

Where can we go for a walk or jogging?

Where can we go for a walk or jogging?
A wonderful and very popular place for a walk or jogging is along the Bosphorus. While walking, you can enjoy  beautiful views of the waterway. In general from Kurucesme to Istinye the sidewalk along the shore is wide enough so you can walk without disturbing the many fishermen. This is also a very convenient place to walk with a stroller, in contrast to the rest of Istanbul where you will have more difficulties with the stroller since proper sidewalks are not common.  Another popular place to go is the Belgrade forest, Emirgan Korusu (preserve), or one of the many parks. People in Istanbul really enjoy these green areas and on the weekend you will see many Turkish families having a picnic even in wintertime!

How can I find a cleaning lady?

How can I find a cleaning lady?
Although there are companies who provide such services, the most efficient way is to ask friends and neighbors for referrals.

Where to do the daily shopping in Istanbul?

Where to do the daily shopping in Istanbul?
Everywhere you will find small shops for your daily groceries. Most of them are open until 20:00, and some open until 22:00. The big supermarkets like Carrefour, Migros, Tansas and Macrocenter are, in general, open every day from 9:00 until at least 20:00.  Migros and Carrefour even have online services for internet ordering for home delivery. Check the IICS Newcomer’s guide for additional details.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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