Discovering Istanbul: Beyond the Tourist Hotspots

Discovering Istanbul: Beyond the Tourist Hotspots

Discovering Istanbul: Beyond the Tourist Hotspots

Istanbul, a city with a rich history that stretches back to the days of the Greeks, has captured the attention of people from all over the world. It has been a guardian of Christianity's most precious relics during the dark ages and transformed the Ottomans into a mighty Empire. Living in Istanbul is a different experience from vacationing there. While tourists get to enjoy the rosy dream meticulously designed to give them the best possible experience, residents face the harsh realities of daily life. The city is beautiful, rich, and a melting pot of cultures and history, where East and West mix into an awe-inspiring portrait of shared history. However, once you decide to make Istanbul your home, the rules of the game change.


Istanbul is the biggest city in Europe, with a population larger than London, Paris, and Rome combined. While tourists often visit the popular hotspots and cultural attractions, the rest of Istanbul offers a different experience. Areas like Taksim, İstiklal, Mecidiyeköy, Beşiktaş, and Kadıköy might be top destinations, but they may not be the best choices for living in Istanbul, especially for those with a limited income.

One of the challenges of living in Istanbul is the daily commute. The city has a vast public transportation system, including the Metrobüs, trams, ferries, and dolmuş. While commuting may be a novelty for tourists, residents spend a significant amount of time traveling to and from work. Relocating within the city to reduce commuting time becomes necessary, but it can be a logistical challenge, especially for those with families.

Another barrier for those thinking of moving to Istanbul is the language. Turkish is a unique language with roots in Arabic, Persian, and Turkic linguistics. Learning Turkish as a grown-up can be challenging, but it is essential for an optimal prolonged stay. However, with the influx of Arabic-speaking communities, Arabic and English have become more integrated into government offices and businesses.


Choosing where to live in Istanbul is another challenge. The city is divided into several municipalities, each with its own political party and cultural feel. Areas like Beşiktaş are known for their liberal vibe, while Eyüp is more conservative. Economic output and connectivity to the public transportation system also play a role in determining the best area to live based on job, income, and lifestyle.

Despite the challenges, Istanbul remains a city of eternal beauty and resilience. It has weathered political and security unrest, economic fluctuations, and waves of terrorist attacks. The Turkish people, with their amazing food, hospitality, and nationalistic pride, continue to make Istanbul a unique and vibrant city.


Living abroad and away from one's comfort zone can be challenging, but it is in those moments of hardship and struggle that we are transformed into better versions of ourselves. Istanbul, with its cosmopolitan nature and endless opportunities, offers a chance for personal growth and exploration. So, have faith, try something new, and embrace the gift of life in this remarkable city.

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