Ok… so what’s the score now with Istanbul real estate?

Lately, I have been receiving many requests for information on the political and economic situation in Turkey, and perhaps more specifically how that is affecting the Istanbul real estate market. As there is seasonal slowness regarding Istanbul property in the winter, this becomes a little more challenging to answer at this point.
However, a few educated guesses can be made based on observation, as well as plenty of anecdotal tales from other realtors and key real estate players.

As protests grip many parts of the world, Turkey has not been immune. The rather intense protests that occurred over the summer have mostly cooled off, with periodic eruptions of smaller events surfacing from time to time. Turkey seems to be experiencing economic convulsions similar to those being experienced in most emerging market economies. The one strong point to date has been tourism. Apart from a slowdown in the early summer months of last year, growth in the sector has continued to be robust and there have not been any signs of this slowing down. Hotels are doing brisk business and there does not seem to be any sign of panic in this sector. It seems that this year will see an increase in tourist numbers, which is a trend that has been going on for a solid ten years. As there is little doubt a correlation between tourism numbers and the number of foreigners who purchase property, overall we could anticipate a continued rise in the Turkish property market by foreigners, particularly given the positive currency factor for foreigners, which I have mentioned in prior blogs.

Of course, the local property market is huge in comparison to the foreign driven market, so it would be wise to include that in the analysis. In mid-December, political and economic upheaval became the order of the day and Turkey raised interest rates in dramatic fashion shortly after. This somewhat stabilized the situation, as the markets were clearly looking for such a decisive step. According to several of the larger developers, the prospect of future higher mortgage rates unleashed a flurry of buying by locals who probably felt the need to purchase before rates became punitive. In essence, these would have been buyers who were buying property to live in and not primarily for investment. This trend can be expected to continue for a while. Eventually, if mortgage rates rise too much, this would lead to decreased demand, though it hasn’t yet shown up in the statistics. It must be remembered that Turks often squirrel away a fair bit of cash before purchasing a property, often using mortgages to supplement their buying power, and not as the majority source as in a large proportion of Western countries. Turks buying a property often will put down 50% in cash, their resistance against foreclosure is therefore relatively strong and consequently if interest rates spiral we don’t usually see the property price crash regularly seen in the Western world. So, as you can see, the property market is a complicated place and it is hard to make sweeping generalizations, as there are some quite country-specific factors that come into play. Add to this that real estate in Turkey has also been a safe haven favorite and why we predict further price rises, may not come as so much of a shock.

The long term prognosis is good, Turkey in general has fundamental reasons backing it’s ability to grow compared with Western economies and the infrastructure has and is being installed to facilitate that, Turkey should well continue to dominate the politics and economics of the region and so long as Turkey finds internal political stability it will have a reserved place at the top table with the big boys.
The short term problem that Turkey faces now is a wave of elections; municipal, presidential and general. All over the next year or so. This is unfortunate. It also happens that many other EM countries are in this election cycle and it is making the crystal ball holders a little less confident than they otherwise might be. The consensus on the street is that the AK party will prevail, though perhaps not without some loss of support. As I was discussing recently with a friend, Turkey is famed in international circles for its brinkmanship. It seems that flare for the dramatic continues to be a trait that dominates.
Oh, and then there is the whole EU-Turkey relationship. But lets save that for another day.

Booming Bomonti

A long-forgotten corner of Istanbul real estate seems to be getting its day in the sun, finally. Bomonti is a central neighborhood of Sisli, just a 10 minute walk from the Osmanbey Metro Station and about 20 minutes on foot to the illustrious Nisantasi, is showing signs of an obvious turnaround.

Location Location

Location Location

Yet, the property prices remain about half of what they are in these adjacent areas, making it an ideal selection for an Istanbul investment property. As many of the trendy and trend setting people who would normally favour Nisantasi get priced out of that area, an obvious real estate go-to zone is the corner of Sisli that is home to neighborhoods such as Bomonti and Ferikoy. Pending where you live it is between 1.5km to 2 km to Taksim, so an easy commute on the Metro or extended walk for those working there or wishing to go there on a regular basis.

In addition to the fluorishing of small, local developers seizing the opportunity to upgrade the existing housing stock, the big players have moved in and developed the Hilton Hotel, Rixos, Anthill Towers, amongst several others. While these towers reach some pretty high prices, in excess of 8000 TL per square meter and more if there is a view, some of the mid-sized projects that offer all the amenities represent good value, at around 5000 TL per square meter. International property buyers, particularly these days who are looking for a smart piece of Istanbul real estate, are starting to feel that there is real value in these prices, especially if they are coming in with hard currency. If a buyer is content to live in an older, but not historical building, and is willing to go for a renovation project, the property prices go down substantially from there, to around 2500-3500 TL.

It is not only the proximity to other colorful neighborhoods that makes this area in Sisli enticing, but also the fact that there is a very well-defined neighborhood feel in the area itself, with an abundance of cheap eateries, bakeries, baklava shops, and much more.bomonti_bit_pazari_flohmarkt002_gk_x_mob

there are not many international-type chain restaurants and bars around, but for many, that is part of the appeal. It retains some of the old Istanbul feel, with enough historical buildings to provide the ambience and character. Apart from the high rise corridor, the rest of the neighborhood is composed of humble 4-5 storey blocks, that when renewed, give the area of chic feel. The pace of renewal seems to also be gathering steam, as you notice while walking the area on foot. There is plenty of construction going on. 5044353053_c7874c5da1The affordability seems to be giving new vibrancy to an area that up until the past few years was a sleepy and forgotten place. Now it is still a nice, quiet contrast to the Taksim and Nisantasi neighborhoods, while maintaining central position.

There is also quite a bit of green space (that hopefully will not get built over!) and that is due to the presence of some attractive graveyards that are filled with pine trees and would make for very nice summer strolls, or a jog for those so inclined. There is also an historical brewery that is unique in this area and was once an Armenian enclave.

By gone brewing

By-gone brewing

Due to its local charm, one wonders that it will only be a matter of time before local artists, internet startups and the like discover the appeal of the area. No doubt, foreign investors, who are often seeking value real estate purchases at cheaper prices than could be found in there home cities,

Old breweries 21st Century style

Old breweries 21st Century style

will see the logic of an option that gives them the feeling of being in the middle of this mammoth city, while at the same time getting some necessary separation from it in terms of reduced noise pollution, human and car traffic.

As an example of the type of boutique compound that is well-priced and offers a high quality finish, check out the Terrace project that offers gym, sauna, indoor swimming pool and a lovely courtyard. Prices for 2 bedroom apartments start from 560,000 TL and there are several alternatives of duplex style apartments, either with an ample balcony or a small garden area. Contact immediately, as there are only a few remaining. The Terrace

The Terrace

The Terrace

Swimming at the Terrace

Swimming at the Terrace

So, with the New Year, there has been a lot of political turmoil in Turkey. However, as an uptick in sales suggest, many who have their eyes on Istanbul real estate see this as a unique buying moment. As the currency has plummeted, many developers are keen to sign on deals, largely cautious about what might be a difficult year ahead. Naturally, this makes it a buyer’s market. One must also keep in mind, that Turkey has seen volatile and drama-filled political periods in the past, yet has mainly been able to overcome them in the end, through some form of dialogue or compromise, though not necessarily prior to some daring acts of brinkmanship of the players involved. Let us hope that history repeats itself and that Turkey maintains the balance and stability that has been the engine of great growth.

2013 Recap and a look ahead to 2014: Real Estate in Istanbul

Surely the big story in terms of foreign interest in property in Istanbul was the increased presence of Arab buyers from the GCC, as well as the other, less wealthy Arab states. Large Turkish property developers have even opened up sales offices in places such as Dubai and Qatar, to handle this demand.

The European buyers, in sharp contrast, were largely absent, due no doubt to economic instability at home and perhaps a lack of insight into what drives the real estate market here.

The Turkish government seems to be welcoming this inflow of capital. The locations are also spreading out, with many buyers seeking locales close to Istanbul, but offering more serenity for summer homes on Sapanca Lake, the Princess Islands and Bursa.
2014 should offer many bargains for foreign buyers, as the battered Turkish lira has seen sharp drops against all major currencies, as have many other EM currencies. Though many might argue that this shows underlying risk, or at least some uncertainty, I feel opportunistic buying and being greedy when others are fearful (according to W. Buffet) is the correct play. There are a handful of very good opportunities in the compounds not far from the city center and some of the central property has seen a rise in affordability due to currency change. The rental yield remains steady at 5-7 %, with high end properties coming in a touch lower than this. This allows the investor a cushion to hold onto a property and wait for a more favorable time to sell and repatriate funds (if so desired).

As Istanbul grows ever more international, it is starting to compete in terms of high-end pricing with heavyweights such as Moscow, Rome, and Barcelona, taking a back seat to only the giants, Hong Kong, London, New York and Paris.

The Armani Macka project

The Armani Macka project

The highest prices, as always, remain Bosphorous view properties or ones in ultra-luxurious high rises such as Sapphire, Zorlu Center and the Armani project, with one penthouse reportedly selling at 20,000 USD/ square meter.

An expensive Bosphorous view

An expensive Bosphorous view

The market is also quite varied, also offering some pretty cheap stuff in areas where mostly local developers are capitalizing on in response to large nearby infrastructural developments (Marmaray Tunnel, Third Bosphorous Bridge and the expansion of the metro system out to Sabiha Gokcen, the second airport). An increasing trend in the urban regeneration has been the deal making between developers and owners, with developers putting up the cash and the know-how to re- construct properties and getting apartments in the new construction in return. Until now, this has been almost exclusively a local effort, as foreigners are unlikely to be able to negotiate these deals and they are not large enough for property funds.

So, while it has been a see-saw year for real estate in Istanbul, 2014 is likely to see more of the upwards and onwards, though tempered,  type of momentum. There may be  certain property types exhibiting bubble-type characteristics, but it would seem imprudent to bet short wholesale against the entire market.
On a final note, it seems every year that I have lived in Istanbul, there has been a noticeable uptick in a certain nationality (often for very different reasons) being added into the mix of purchasers in Istanbul. I remember one year being suddenly inundated with Iranian clients. Then there was the Irish (alas, there was a quick end to that one with the implosion of matters at home). Then the Azerbaijanis, Kazhaks, and other Turkic countries. Last year, as I noted above, Arabs from various countries.
As the weather worsens and client flow is coming to a temporary halt, I sit and wonder what the surprise for next year will be. Chinese? Indians? Nothing would surprise me, as Istanbul is like the ink blot test in that people usually end up finding something they can identify with here, be it in their minds or real. And that should keep Istanbul on the list of places to invest in 2014.

Take a look at our properties that are personally handpicked and vetted by us. We deal in both quality complexes and properties in central Istanbul. www.lillimont-istanbul-realestate.com

10 things that keep me coming back for more: 10 years in Istanbul, a short retrospective.

I guess it is natural that after 10 years I have been giving some thought to what keeps me in Turkiye ( I really prefer the native name, obviously ), and Istanbul in particular apart from the property business. My views have certainly changed, yet some things that appealed to me from day one have remained. Amidst the cacophony of the real estate construction and the back to school traffic madness, I thought I would do well to remind myself of some of the things that provide consistent enjoyment. As it is a top ten Letterman list, there doesn’t seem to be much need for more pre-amble.

Girls Istanbul

so very chic

1-Well, yes, the PEOPLE. They certainly share the hot and cold aspects associated with the Mediterranean personality. I suppose, I have come to look on the Istanbulite the way you might a family member; there is plenty of haggling, negotiating, hugging, etc., at the end of which you develop a modus vivendi, yet certainly not in any way resembling the Swiss model. I suppose that is fine. It is quite ironic that Family Law is based on the Swiss Code. Food for thought, that one. Fine to have a legal code adapted from foreign lands…but implementation?

Also, as more and more foreigners arrive in the city daily, the Turks’ attitudes have also changed, and part of that is positive. I seemed to get asked less for impromptu tutorials in English, which suits me fine.

Istanbul food

all great fresh stuff at a good price

2- The food. This was almost an easier choice than number one. Come on, I eat out every single day and for 5-7 USD I can get great, nutritious (for the most part) meals. I am a diehard fan of the Ayran drink, love my baclava, olives, and am well-known for putting away large portions of icli kofte (decidedly, stubbornly non- nutritious).

The only paradox here is that international cuisines are under-represented outside of all but the trendiest areas, not to mention pricey when you do find them. It is hard to get a curry in Istanbul, but I guess I can live with that.

istanbul metrobus

This photo needs no explanation

3-The metrobus which connects you very efficiently with areas far and beyond the airport. With its own separate lane, and hence no traffic, nobody using it can again provide traffic as the excuse for being late.




istanbul hills

up down up down

4- I have no need for a stairmaster. The hills can be punishing, steep and endless, but when you see a bloke twice your age slogging up one of them with a santa claus like sack doubling him over, it kind of keeps you in check, not to mention being a decent calorie burn. To be avoided in summer, though. Unless you are on the way home to take a cold shower.

Istanbul ist Europaeische Kulturhauptstadt 2010 ( Istanbul is European Captial of Culture in 2010 )

The local youth club!

5-Loud music at all public events. No, wait a minute, I don’t like that at all. Gotta keep up the standards. With a demographic composed mostly of 20 year olds, I guess this makes sense. I wonder if the music will be as loud in twenty years time?

6- Being at the so-called “crossroads” of continents, the world, etc. When I haul up my googlemaps, I feel pretty connected. Nowhere seems out of reach…well, except maybe Canada. And naturally, Hawaii. But I could almost throw my jacket as far as such strange places as Tblisi, Yerevan, and Tabriz, home to famous Persian rugs.

istanbul snow

postcard anyone?

7-The first snowfall of the season in Istanbul. Silence, after all. Even the most broken-faced and jaded istanbulites’ jaws drop, as they gaze naively into the night sky. Cars return to their natural state as enemies of the seven hills topography of the ancient city, and the sweet hot sahlep drink returns to the streets.

8- Cihangir Cami/ the Bosphorous. This mosque might have the world’s best view. It is an ideal place to recharge on a late Fall day.


The boring image. But what a tunnel

9- The new Marmaray project that connects two continents underwater. Very high cool quotient for that. Also, pretty convenient and time saving.

10- The rush from the subway doors to the escalator at Taksim metro stop. Though not a Dakar motoring marathon, this requires dexterity, sometimes brute force, and wit, of course. A favorite anecdote, this is almost a rite of passage for any newcomer. As the subway door opens, see if you can be the first to get to the escalator. Just a hint, you had better be running and watch out for the covered 60 year old ladies. They are good with the elbows and abound with that free-for-all spirit that pretty much sums it all up; these faces in the crowd, sprinters on a fast, slick track.

If you fancy a little bit of all of the above, take a look at our collection of properties – click here


The Neighbourhood Watch – Tarlabasi update briefing Oct 2013

As people who have been following the Istanbul property scene are probably already aware, the once run-down Tarlabasi neighborhood is undergoing a profound and relatively rapid real-estate transformation, in large part due to hundreds of millions in investment in the Tarlabasi Project by Gap Construction.

very slick and cosmopolitan - could be London, NY, Paris, Sydney or anywhere

very slick and cosmopolitan – could be London, NY, Paris, Sydney or anywhere

Many buildings have been knocked down already and the project seems to be picking up speed. There is a slick sales office on the boulevard marketing the 360 office block, where prices are said to be in the 5000-6000 USD per square meter range

Shops,shops, hotels and apartments - Tarlabasi 360

Shops,shops, hotels and apartments – Tarlabasi 360

. It is not known if the sales have been brisk or not. In any event, just the presence of this large scale

construction has proven to be a catalyst for development in surrounding areas. The project is slated for completion within two years.




Proliferation of Apart Hotels 

In Istanbul, and especially Beyoglu, over the past few years there has been a property explosion in the opening of small boutiques offering self-serviced apartments, known as Apart Hotels in Istanbul.

Looking good apart Hotel

Looking good apart Hotel

Nowhere has this been more apparent than in the part of Tarlabasi that is nearest to Taksim Square. I hazard to guess that upwards of 50 of these have opened in the past few years, completely altering the character of the neighborhoods. Some of them are very chic. My  friend recently stayed in one and I was very impressed by the size of the rooms and the quality of the finish.  Equally appealing were the generous spaces afforded for the dining area, bar, even a fitness area and a hamam.

great views

great views

This would have been completely unthinkable just a few short years ago. Now tourists from the Middle East, Europe and beyond can be seen sipping their coffees in what were a short time ago just empty shells of buildings. They also seemed to be getting pretty decent bookings based on my conversation with the chatty and multi-lingual  manager.

The lower part of Tarlabasi

This area, which borders with the Dolapdere neighborhood, is in a sense the last frontier in Tarlabasi. It is the area which has resisted change the longest, probably due to the fact that it is down the hill and a bit of a trot up to Taksim and the metro stations. However, even here you can certainly see change occurring, with a sprinkling of building boasting shiny new facades. The rents here tend to be lower and its proximity to Bilgi University are making it increasingly attractive for the student market.

Take a look at our offerings in Tarlabasi - Lilimont Tarlabasi

Cihangir with a sea view and more…

In this week”s blog, I would like to turn my attention to a property in central Istanbul that has caught my eye recently. It is always nice to discover a new bit quality of real estate for sale and especially one located on one of Cihangir’s quietest streets, and with a view to match.

Quite neighbourhood

Quite neighbourhood

The property is on Batarya Street, which is very close to the famous Firuzaga Tea Garden and and the Firuzaga Mosque. In addition, there are dozens of cafes, boutiques and restaurants within less than 200 meters. For those of you who like a morning stroll, you can catch a wonderful sunrise at the park just down the hill fifty meters. So, obviously the location in the midst of Cihangir, yet in a serene side street with little traffic is much to be desired.



Sea view properties are always at a different level than their peers, often commanding easily 50% more than comparable properties without the view. Although the view on the Batarya property is not panormaic, it is certainly quite wide, and from the living room and the extensive 12 meter balcony, it offers a very beautiful shot of the Bosphorous and the historical peninsula, and even Galata Tower to the east.

What a view

A view to die for…happily!


The building itself is about 40 years old and is in quite decent shape, with the property being an easy one flight walk up. There is also an elevator in the building.
The expansive 55 sqm living room could be enhanced by opening up the kitchen which is currently being separated by a non-structural wall. This would allow for an open kitchen plan where you could take in the view while preparing the evenings repast.

In my experience, this is the ideal property for refurbishment, as the work involved is mostly cosmetic and does not involve heavy construction and could be completed in two months or less. As the apartment has not undergone an extensive refurbishment in the past 20 years, it is probably due for this treatment. Of course, many buyers enjoy this process because it gives them the opportunity to select the materials and the finish according to their tastes.

The property asking price is 1.4 million TL or approximately 700,000 USD. Given that it is 150 sqm (3 bedrooms), this puts the price per square meter at under 5000 USD, which is very much in line with properties with this view and location. The owners are keen to sell so will entertain sensible offers.

Put a designal stamp on this and you’ll have one of the best places in Istanbul

The typical buyer of this kind of property would be a young Turkish couple or a foreigner, with some people looking to make it a home and others looking to achieve a decent rental income over the long term (in this case, with a tasteful redecorating, 5-6% is quite realistic).



If you’re interested follow this link for details -Lilimont Cihangir Topkapi View 


Dog Day Afternoons

İt is a sizzling 35 degrees in the big city today, time to put all thoughts of Istanbul real estate out of my head.

If you can't resist a dip in the Bosphorous then maybe time to get out of the city

If you can’t resist a dip in the Bosphorous then maybe time to get out of the city

İt is so hot that İ get out my guide book and refresh myself on the getaway spots that are within an hour or so from the city.

One of my favorites is undoubtedly a day trip to The Princess İslands, a group of four islands in the Marmara Sea. The ferry trip takes about an hour and you can get on at Kabatas for a very low price. The boat trip itself is one of the highlights of the day, as passengers perform all kinds of stunts feeding the flocking sea gulls. Everybody always seems to be in a good mood and İ am almost guaranteed to get in a good chat with one of the Mehmets.

Location, location

Location, location

As for the İslands themselves, there are a number of activities to fill out a day. Taking a short horse and carriage ride seems to be the most common. you can also rent a bicyle and have a leisurely peel. A nice long walk, followed up by a short swim makes for a lovely afternoon. İ say a short swim, as İ feel a little dubious about the water quality due to the fact that the beaches are quite regularly closed and the water can also be quite rough at times. There are plenty of options for dining, with the fish restaurants obviously dominating. İf you want to stay overnight, you had better plan ahead. last time İ almost got stuck on the İsland of Heybeliada without a place to stay.



There are not so many options, but Buyukada has a few medium sized hotels. İf it is a large resort hotel you are looking for, probably best to go elsewhere. Last time İ checked there seemed to be a growing number of apartment rentals geared for short terms stays. İ also came across an amazing restored, wooden villa with terrific views.

İf it is a day at the beach you are after, the logical choice is Kilyos in Sariyer, north of the Bosphorous on the Black Sea. There are a few beach clubs here, where you can buy day passes.

All within a few miles of the big metropolis

All within a few miles of the big metropolis

There are also several private clubs, with my choice being the one run by the Bogazici grads. Again, the Black Sea can be a bit tricky and temperamental, so swimming is not for novices.
And if it is a party scene you are after, Kilyos regularly host what seem like weekend long parties. İt is fairly young and sharp crowd though, so İ usually head home when the sun sets.  They also seem to take their beach wear pretty seriously, so İ leave my tatty shorts at home and try to wear something surfer-like, so as not to stand out as some kind of Canadian hillbilly.

Polonezky - on Istanbul's doorstep

Polonezky – on Istanbul’s doorstep

Polenezkoy, an old Polish settlement also attracts the day traveller looking for a short respite. İt is a lovely, green area, with lots of shining examples of smartened up Ottoman era houses. Hiking or picknicking seem to be the main activities. İt is a serene area and one of the few outdoor places that is in İstanbul where you actually can feel good reading a book.

A bit of Switzerland

A bit of Switzerland

You can also find some Polish food. How cool is that? the only drwaback is that it takes about two hours to get there with public transport (İt is on the Asian Side, so obviously less time is required if you are embarking from there).

And hey, if you have any chill spots near İstanbul that make for a great day trip, why not write and share them with us!!! the summer thumps well on into October here, so there can never be too many options.



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 - www.lilimont-istanbul-realestate.com/rentals


The Aftermath

It is hard to write about events, particularly when they are still fresh and the outcomes remain unclear, as is certainly the case with the spasms that ripped through Turkey and specifically central Istanbul as a result of the Gezi Park protests.

I have seen a number of protests in my life, many here in Istanbul and a few others elsewhere, including one in Halifax, Nova Scotia after the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series sometime back in the nineties. That was the first riot I witnessed, involving not more than a few hundred people and lasting perhaps an hour. The intent of the rioters was completely unclear…jubilation, revulsion, inebriation all seeming likely causes.

Riots and protests seem to have become much more a part of the landscape than they were back in those days. We have had protests and riots as part of anti-capitalist movements, anti-war protests, as well as all of the events of the Arab Spring.

So, as unexpected and wide reaching as the Gezi Park event was, taken in a larger global context, it should not be such a shocking event. Brazil is currently undergoing an almost parallel version, though it is playing out differently due to the views and actions of the authorities.

The scale of Gezi was certainly massive and this was perhaps what is most worthy of commenting on. It involved millions of people.

But make no mistake about it, Turkey is a functioning democracy, and though this was a regrettable episode in this long path, one cannot count out or disregard Turkey just on the events and responses to this particular mini-crisis. Many mistakes were made and various people have stepped forward to attempt to soften the at times harsh rhetoric.

The stock markets went predictably manic, the currency plunged and it felt like something really horrible was happening. However, as the dust over the battle field clears, the picture also gets sharper. There was an ideological clash that occurred, but as many will agree, this was something that was already in the air. Now, it is a little more out in the open. This could be a positive if it is used to bridge the ideological divide. Is this likely to occur? I believe, in many ways, that it will and my reasons for believing so are as follows;

- Turkey has managed for centuries with the same or at least similar divides.

-Turkey has a lot of support from surrounding countries, which surely would also like to see a stable and strong Turkey.

-Turkey itself has gone through a period of unprecedented growth and it would seem unlikely that it will merely implode as a result of what were mostly peaceful protests.

-elections are not that far off and I think everybody will see that protests are fine, but if you want to influence events in a democracy, the best way to do it is still at the voting booth.

-the mayor of Istanbul has taken on a conciliatory tone and let’s face it, what goes for Istanbul, mostly goes for the rest of Turkey.

Chill out he's just trying to do the right thing

Chill out, he’s not a bad guy

To some extent Istanbul has been having periodic spasms for the past decades due to the rapid change and re orientation of this city. With leadership and dialogue, there is little doubt that Istanbul can continue on an impressive arc, though the expectations are dimmed in this Spike Lee beginning to a hot summer. I hope the Radio Raheem’s are safe and we can enjoy gentle evening breezes on the shores of the Bosphorous for the rest of the summer of 2013.