Investing in a Compound Project

As anybody familiar with the Istanbul property scene will attest to, there are an abundance of compound-style real-estate accommodations to be found throughout Istanbul, particularly outside the city center, where land is cheaper and the full array of facilities (which are almost standard for this type of housing) can be provided in a more cost effective manner. In Turkish, these compounds are referred to as a “site” (pronounced “seetay”). They are often seen advertised on billboards throughout the city and usually show fantastic computer generated images of an almost idyllic lifestyle, with bikini-clad women frolicking around deep blue pools and children whiling away the hours on basketball courts and well-equipped parks. Of course, not all of the compounds achieve this harmony in reality. So, what makes for a good compound in Istanbul?



It's all perfect

It’s all perfect

First and foremost, in my mind, is the relative proximity to good transportation links. If it is not well-connected, you may not get many visitors, feel isolated and over reliance on the car is not great way to live in istanbul. Public transport makes coming and going much easier. Istanbul is still underdeveloped in terms of the underground, but it is getting much more advanced and looks set to continue. So, before you jump in and buy, it might be worth checking how far the compound is to a metro (underground) line. 

You may need one of these if it's out in the sticks

You may need one of these if it’s out in the sticks

In general, the closer the better, with property prices showing a strong correlation. Of course, good access to main motorways is also a must, as well as convenient bus routing. 


But perhaps one of the most significant aspects is the reputation of the developer, and this is often overlooked by budget seekers who merely look at the bottom-line prices. Developers who are popular with the local market are usually that way for a reason. They deliver what they say they will, and mostly on time. There are a few very successful examples and those developers can often sell most of the properties even prior to completion, while others may struggle. The reasons for their success are usually simple: they deliver a quality finish according to the technical specs laid out in their marketing materials and they are able to do so at a reasonable price. 

Another, less obvious, factor that İ have observed is that they are able to create that all-important atmosphere that is integral in order to prevent the compound from becoming one of those sterile environments. They provide a good range of facilities from high spec gyms with swimming pools, squash (my favorite) and tennis courts, outdoor green spaces and “relax” areas where people can just chill and get out of their apartment. The successful ones, if size permits, are also able to sustain coffee shops, restaurants, and even large grocery stores. Obviously, having access to these facilities in a 24 hour security environment has appeal to many urban dwellers. 

İn fact, it brings me back to the word “site” itself. İn Turkey, in many senses, these large compounds are designed to provide all the amenoties of city life right within the compound. 

none of this..

none of this..

There are many criticisms that have been made against the lifestyle offered in these compounds, but İ have witnessed well-functioning ones which seemed to offer a pretty varied and relaxed life.  The flip-side of course is a kind of dystopian modernity with lots of concrete, few people, and the much-maligned “soul-lessness” of compounds that fail to achieve any organic sense. But with good research and by sticking to trusted names, you can find yourself a pretty comfortable spot. Culturally, different countries have had different experience of compound life. British often associate compounds with post 2nd world war municipality attempts to relocate out of inner city slums, Americans often have a similar view and are less inclined to get excited about them. 

Post war Brit compound... you're safer outside

Post war Brit compound… you’re safer outside

However, some Northern European countries have a much more positive view whilst Middle Easterners can see them in a very rosy light pointing a very clear path forward for the future. 




And remember…if you do get restless, just jump on that (hopefully) nearby underground and head down to Taksim. Just keep in mind that if you are going to crash at my place for the night, you owe me a pool pass and a chance to smack some balls on your squash court.

I’ve assessed a good few and these are the ones I’d recommend -

The Renting Game

As the end of August approaches, a time when people typically arrive in Istanbul to take up new jobs, the time for apartment hunting begins. A lot of people in Istanbul give up their properties over the summer, so it is a period of turnover and a good time to be looking for a new place. 

On the move

On the move

Prospective tenants should be aware of some basics regarding the rental market in Istanbul. Normally, you will find your property through an real estate agent and the fees for that range from one month’s rent up to 12 percent of the yearly rent. In addition, the standard deposit is one month, but if you are renting a luxury furnished flat  the deposit can  rise to two month’s of the rental.

About one third of foreign clientelle choose to live in one of the many attractive neighborhoods in Beyoglu, such as Galata, Cihangir, and Aynali Cesme. The rest are spread out all over the city depending on work locations, with an small cluster also forming around the Levent-Maslak area close to the Istanbul business district and newer developments. 

The contracts that you will be asked to sign are fairly standard, but they are written in Turkish (you may well want this translated, but good to understand that only the Turkish is legally binding). It is important to check the apartment and the utilities to see if they are in any obvious need of repair, as it is often easier to get these sorted prior to moving in. Again, this depends on the type of landlord that you have.

You can trust him

You can trust him

As a general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to rent from a landlord that you have a good feeling about, as well as to work with an agent you feel likewise about. In the event of any problems down the road this can become very important.

There are a few peculiarities about the rental market in Istanbul that are worth mentioning. In some neighborhoods, the owners may not to want to rent to single men. It seems like a strange restriction, but dont take it to heart, it is cultural. No need to get offended as this probably would not be the suitable place for you anyway. Also, some couples that are not married, may be refused a contract. Again, no big deal, as there are many places in which this will not be an issue.

In general, families seem to prefer living in the compounds, which offer swimming pools, security and a built in community. Expect to pay a fair bit more for these, and expect the monthly management fees to be steep, anywhere from 200 -500 USD monthly on top of the rent. Always ask what the management fees are so you do not get a surprise later at contract signing time.

When you are searching for a property, the most productive time to start is at most one month prior to your intended move in date, and probably two weeks is better. The reason for this is that the landlords typically will not hold the property for you for several months, so in effect if you start too early and find something you really like, you could well just be wasting your time.

Don't search too early... save your precious time

Don’t false start… save your precious time

The most successful searches start about two weeks prior, at which time if you put in an intensive few days, you should have a good view of the market and be in the position to make an informed and good choice. 


The rents are charged in Euro, TL, and USD. You would do well to consider any currency repercussions prior to signing. It is not considered inappropriate to negotiate the price of the rental and to ask such questions as how long has it been empty and why did the last tenant leave. It is also common to negotiate the rent by offering to pay anywhere from 3 months to 6 months in cash. The wise Turkish landlord will recognize the value of a stable and reliable tenant.

Take a look at our great rental offers -