Living in Istanbul?

Connect with fellow expats in Istanbul
Join exciting events and groups
Get information in our Istanbul guides
Exchange tips about expat life in Istanbul

Living in Istanbul

Are you about to start expat life in Istanbul? You should definitely plan ahead: Istanbul’s hustle and bustle and maze-like structure can massively overwhelm newcomers. Our guide to Istanbul helps you prepare, with advice on international schools, healthcare, housing, and much more.

Freedom of religion and a liberal attitude are common aspects of life in Turkey’s largest city. Although the majority of the population is Muslim (though not necessarily practicing), the patriarchate of Constantinople plays an important role for Eastern Orthodox Christians all over the world. The city offers many places of worship for other Christian denominations or people of Jewish faith.

This freedom is partly due to Istanbul’s cosmopolitan and metropolitan character. It has always been a big city, experiencing a steady population growth since the 1940s. This demographic trend is partly due to many people from rural areas hoping to find a better life in the metropolis. This is why in 2014 the city had more than 14 million inhabitants.

Going to an International School

There are different international schools for expat children in Istanbul. Most of them offer an IB or country-specific curriculum. Although the language of instruction is usually English, these schools are prepared to welcome children from different countries. They offer courses to help students improve their English, if necessary. There are also some schools for specific nationalities living in Istanbul, such as the German school or the French lycée.

Contact the supervisors at your school of choice and schedule a visit. You can also get in touch with other expats of our local InterNations Community and find out which schools they suggest. We have chosen three local international schools as an example.

Istanbul International School

Istanbul International School offers primary and secondary schooling to expat children. The curriculum is set by the National Board of Education in England and focuses on three main areas of study:

  • Environmental Studies (Science, History, Geography, Cultural Studies)
  • Life Skills (English, Modern Foreign Languages, Math, Personal Social Health Education, Information and Communication Technology)
  • Expressive Arts (Visual Arts, Music & Movement, Physical Education)

Younger children living in Istanbul can receive their pre-school education here. The school has three campuses, all three are located in Üsküdar.


The Istanbul International Community School was founded in 1911, aimed at foreigners living in Istanbul. It is one of the oldest international schools in the world and provides an IB education for children of all age groups. The original location of the school is where the smaller Hisar campus can be found, catering to kids from pre-school level to grade 3. However, most of the school’s activities have been moved to the Marmara campus (PK-12), which is a 25-mile drive away for expats living in Istanbul’s central areas.

Istanbul International Community School offers independent and co-educational daycare. Here, children enjoy a full IB education in three different programs:

  • IB Primary Years (PK-6)
  • IB Middle Years (7-10)
  • IB Diploma P (11-12)

MEF International School Istanbul

MEF International School has campuses in Istanbul and Izmir. The Istanbul campus is located near Ulus Park, in Ortaköy. The language of instruction is English. However, other languages, including Turkish, are part of the curriculum, providing expat children with a truly international experience.

Children of all ages enjoy an extensive IB education at the school’s early childhood center as well as with its primary and secondary program for middle school and high school students.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Sven Baudach

"My business partners, also mainly expats, and me, we always use the wonderful InterNations Events as an informal get-togethers."

Maggy Roswick

"With all the great information and contacts provided by InterNations, it was no big deal to get settled in Istanbul."

Global Expat Guide

Top Articles Expat Guide