2.2 million people migrate from Istanbul in last five years amid cost of living crisis

Official data reveals that approximately 2.2 million people migrated from Istanbul in the five-year period between 2018 and 2022. The increasing cost of living pushed many to return to their hometowns, while the city center primarily became a residence for wealthy foreigners.

Duvar English

According to the government-run Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), 2.18 million people migrated from Istanbul in the last five years covering the 2018-2022 period.

In 2018, this figure stood at 596,000 individuals, then decreased to 378,000 in 2019. However, it gradually climbed in the ensuing years, surpassing 418,000 in 2022. 

The predominant motivation behind people departing Istanbul was the desire for "improved housing and living conditions," constituting 22.1 percent of the reasons.

During the same timeframe, roughly 1.99 million migrated to Istanbul. The mega city’s population was nearly 16.5 million including Syrian refugees which constituted a noticeable group in Turkey’s population.

The city saw 199,000 more people departing the city than those arriving.

As of the beginning of October, there were 576,000 foreigners residing in Istanbul with a residence permit. Nonetheless, not all the foreign residents were refugees who came to the mega city to seek better opportunities. 

Whereas locals left the city due to the raging depreciation of the Turkish lira and inflation, hence the cost of living crisis, many wealthy foreigners began to live in the central districts to “enjoy” the cheap opportunities.

Therefore, many from Egypt, Ukraine, Iran, and Gulf countries have started to live in the city center while locals could not afford the dramatically increased rent prices. 

Istanbul, capital Ankara, and Aegean İzmir province ranked among the top three provinces with the highest rent hikes on the Global Housing Price Index of international real estate consultancy firm Knight Frank, with percentage increases of 135.3%, 133%, and 127.3%, respectively.

Also, The average cost of living for a family of four in Istanbul reached above 44,561 liras ($1,588) in September, the Istanbul Municipality Planning Agency (İPA) said. Turkey’s minimum wage is 11,402 liras ($406).