Istanbul, with its more than 15 million inhabitants, is the largest city in Turkey and the historical, cultural and economic center of the country. It lies between Europe and Asia and is considered the bridge that connects the West and the East through the spectacular Bosphorus Strait, which links the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. It was the capital of the Ottoman Empire and is therefore full of palaces, museums, churches, markets, mosques and many other sights that make it one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But I warn you, living and working in Istanbul is not easy. Istanbul is one of the busiest metropolises in the world. Its population is estimated at more than 16 million people. The first thing you will notice is the overcrowding of the city.
People in Istanbul are usually very friendly to foreigners and will invite you to dinner or out after just a short conversation. Of course, there is some language barrier, but many people in Istanbul understand English. Of course, if you decide to stay longer, it would be advisable to learn a little Turkish. In general, Turks are helpful, sincere and friendly; if you have any problems, you are sure to find someone to help you.
Istanbul is one of the most culturally rich cities in the world. There are endless museums and other sights to visit. The city is full of activities and events 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Life does not end at 7 pm as in many northern European cities. You are spoiled for choice when it comes to nightlife.
Living in Istanbul is not expensive. The cost of living is cheaper compared to European capitals in Northern Europe, but it depends a lot on where you live and your standard of living. If you earn a salary like in Germany, Istanbul is very affordable, but if you earn a local salary, you will have a hard time surviving. Remember, Turkey literally has the most expensive gasoline in the world. One thing that is cheaper for sure is cigarettes.
Traffic in Istanbul is horrendous, which is why most residents prefer to travel by motorcycle or on foot rather than deal with the heavy traffic in the capital. It’s normal to get stuck on the city’s main roads for hours, making getting to work problematic. Many also use public transportation, which leads to its constant overcrowding. Bike lanes are rare, biking in the city is extremely dangerous due to heavy traffic, even on main roads. Drivers tend to treat cyclists like pedestrians, that is, not to consider them. Congested traffic is also responsible for high levels of air pollution.
Pedestrians in Istanbul have no rights. Crosswalks mean nothing because cars never give way to pedestrians. Traffic rules are useless. Parking restrictions and speed limits exist only on paper. The traffic regulations in Turkey can and should be broken.
Another extremely disturbing aspect is the corruption found at all levels of society. Here, it is the norm to pay, both to get an important job and to obtain impunity for a crime committed. On the other hand, as far as security is concerned, Istanbul is one of the safest metropolises in the world according to statistics. There are a few pickpockets in busy places and little else.
As far as labour is concerned, Turkey is one of the countries with the highest unemployment rate in Europe, and Istanbul is no exception, with 10% unemployed. Add to that the fact that Turks are poorly paid on average and working conditions are generally not good.
Also, in order to work in Turkey, one needs a work visa. A person cannot apply for a work permit independently. The application must be made by a local company. Only Turkish companies that have a certain turnover can hire foreign employees, and there can be one foreign employee for every five Turkish employees. If you want to know the administrative procedure, do not hesitate to consult the government website
It is not possible to travel to Turkey as a tourist and find a job. You must first receive a job offer from a company in Turkey, then you must contact the Turkish embassy (or consulate) in your country and apply for a work visa. Only after you receive a visa can you enter and work in Turkey. In any case, you will never be able to do any work that an unemployed Turk could do. When the Ministry of Labor receives your application for a work permit, they will check the unemployment lists to see if there is no Turkish citizen who can fill the job.
So, to gain access to the Turkish labor market, you must have qualifications that are difficult to find locally, such as: native speaker teacher, European cuisine cook, etc.
These are the most important websites for job search:
- Vacanciesinturkey (in English)
- Yenibiris (in Turkish)
- Kariyer (in Turkish)
If, on the contrary, we talk about investment opportunities, Istanbul presents an ideal scenario, since it is a city with many markets to exploit. In addition, the constant investment of foreign companies generates multiple opportunities to create small and medium-sized companies.
Living in Istanbul is like living in a Western city and in Middle Eastern city at the same time, with the best and the worst of Western and Middle Eastern culture. There are bars and nightclubs but at the same time there are mosques, invitations to pray five times a day. So the city is western enough to make foreigners feel at home, but eastern enough to be interesting and a little exotic.
If you want to know more about Turkey, read the article: Living and working in Turkey