International School Community Blog

Money Diary: How Much Do You Spend in a Week Living in Turkey?

Occupation: International Teacher
Industry: International Education
Age: 33
Location: Mersin, Turkey
Salary: $36,000 USD
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $3,022

Day 1: Saturday

In the morning, I book a Turkish Hammam for $18, including tip. I messaged for an appointment and was on the table in less than an hour.  I enjoyed a 1.5-hour massage, tea before and a coffee afterward. The hammam is within walking distance to my apartment.

For brunch, I make a Turkish breakfast dish at home.  The Turkish economy is in a recession, so locals report a significant increase in the price of produce. However, I can purchase a loaf of fresh bread from the bakery for $1, tomatoes, peppers, onions, oranges, lemons and herbs for less than $10 that will last me for the week.  

After working at home, I earned a night out so for $2 round I can take a trip train into the next city, the price is reduced when I remember to show my government issued a teacher ID card.  The train station is a 10-15 minute walk from my apartment.

$25 dinner out with friends including appetizer, main dish, dessert, and drinks.  The restaurant is a 10-minute walk from the train station in the next city so I avoid paying extra cab fare.

Day 2: Sunday

In the morning, I do some professional development and take the Google Educator Recertification Exam for $10.  Three years ago I made my first exam and decided to take the exam to keep myself current. Living in a smaller town means there aren’t too many things to do so I find I am reading more, catching up on TV series and films, and taking online courses while working on my future application materials.

In the afternoon I go out for a walk to do my weekly snack run. I visit a local candy and nut store.  These shops sell a variety of nuts, dates, corn nuts, and coffee which I take to work and munch on in the evenings and weekends.

I have a busy week that includes late nights this week, so I prepare a vegetable curry that I plan to eat each night after coming home. I use the vegetables I purchased on Saturday, along with some lentils and coconut milk I find in the cupboard.  

Day 3: Monday

After work, I visit the gym.  For dinner, I check out a new dessert place that recently opened in town.  Lokmaci is a sweet fried dough akin to a doughnut hole with toppings, cost $2. For dinner, I eat leftovers from Sunday.

Day 4: Tuesday

For $17, I purchase a belated birthday gift for my mother on Amazon.  I was delighted to find I had Amazon card, perhaps from selling some textbooks over the summer.  A benefit from living abroad is I don’t shop online often. There are local sites in Turkey where I can buy online, but I’ve chosen not to register because I can find everything I need locally. Again, I eat leftovers for dinner after visiting the gym.

Day 5: Wednesday

After work, I visited a burger joint with a colleague and spent $5.50. We go back and forth paying week to week.  This week, but next week it will be on him.

$12 On the way home we stop by a grocery store.  My school provides daily lunch, so I benefit from eating healthy salads and fruit.  A more significant benefit is that I don’t have to pack and prepare a lunch bag or leak-proof containers. When I visit the grocery store, I stock up on oatmeal, yogurt, and snacks.  I buy fresh fruit and vegetables at my neighborhood market on the weekends.

Day 6: Thursday

Nearing the end of the week, and perhaps feeling a bit tired of leftovers for dinner.  I spent $3 for flavored coffee and simit toast, basically a Turkish bagel with cheese at the school canteen. Each morning I prepare my coffee or tea, throughout the day I visit the school’s instant coffee and tea area, but every so often I enjoy a coffee with a colleague.

For $2 on the way home I grabbed an ice cream bar with my neighbor and then prepared to visit the gym with a buddy.  For dinner, I finished leftovers from Sunday.

Day 7: Friday

After visiting the gym, a friend and I decide to spend Friday night at the local mall.

For $5, I eat American inspired fast food in the food court. After eating I notice a shoe store I like to check out, and the Mango store is gone, possible signs of the recession in Turkey.

The oddest purchase I make this week is a $2 pair of stockings I see near the cash register as I wait for my friend to check out. I can feel warmer humid weather is coming, but some mornings are still a bit chilly.  I justify that one more pair of stockings may be necessary.

Before leaving the mall, we hit up a beauty store where I spent $6 for cotton buds, a lip mask, and some face cream.  I give the cashier my phone number each time which may result in some discounts, but I don’t speak enough of the language to understand the benefits programs at the various stores.  One change in Turkey is a new plastic bag fee to encourage a reduction in plastic consumption. I generally bring my reusable bags with me to the store and if I forget I buy a new one or don’t shop that day.

Monthly Expenses
$400/month international travel during holidays
$150/month groceries
$100/month clothing
$90/month virtual counseling
$80/month restaurants and meals out
$50/month apartment cleaning
$33/month retirement fund
$16/month gym membership
$12/month Audible subscription
$12/month beauty supplies
$3/month Netflix

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