Living in Istanbul

kiz kulesiAre 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 living in Istanbul helps you prepare, with advice on international schools, health care, housing, and much more.

While living in Istanbul, you will find that freedom of religion and a liberal attitude are common aspects of life in Istanbul. Although the majority of the population is Muslim (though not necessarily practicing), the patriarchate of Constantinople plays an important role for Eastern Orthodox Christians living in Istanbul, indeed all over the world. The city offers many places of worship for other Christian denominations or people of Jewish faith who are currently living in Istanbul.

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 Istanbul. In 2010, the city had over 12 million inhabitants: 17.8% of the Turkish population are now living in Istanbul.

Living in Istanbul: International Schools

There are different international schools for expat children living 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 visit the Forum of our local InterNations Community for foreigners living in Istanbul and find out which schools other expats suggest. We have chosen three local international schools as an example.

Life in Istanbul: Istanbul International School

This school offers primary and secondary schooling to expat children living in Istanbul. 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, Maths, 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 two campuses, one in Camlica and one in Atasehir. In 2010/11, fees for expats living in Istanbul ranged from 12,000YTL to 19,800YTL, including tuition, tax and lunch.

Living in Istanbul: IICS

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 living in Istanbul. The original location of the school is where the smaller Hisar campus can be found, catering for 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 day-care for international students living in Istanbul. 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)

Annual tuition fees range between 8,650$ and 19,450$.

Life in Istanbul: 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.

At this school, children of all ages enjoy an extensive IB education. There is an early childhood centre as well as a primary and secondary program for middle school and high school students respectively. The fees are between 9,720$ and 23,220$.

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