Like most major cities divided by water which side to live on is a dilemma if you’ve just arrived and have no idea which to choose or what each side has to offer. There are few things more personal than where you choose to live so I apologise in advance if this is a somewhat biased view.
Aside from location you need to consider what made you leave home and why you chose Istanbul. I left London because I had had enough of the stress, tension and anxiety that seemed to sit on the air I breathed. I could virtually see it coming at me like fog when I walked down the street.
The European side feels too much like London for me to want to be there. That said, it is where most of the schools and language centres seem to be based. All the major tourist attractions are there. If you thrive on the hustle and bustle. If you want five star restaurants. Night clubs and shopping centres the size of small villages then the European side is for you.
Places like Ortakoy and Bebek along the Bosphorus are pricey but breathtaking. Even if your budget doesn’t stretch to living there I’d encourage you to visit. You can find that urban inner city vibe further from the Bosphorus or slightly more relaxed around Besiktas with it’s winding streets lined with endless cafés, bars and markets.
From Besiktas you can easily get anywhere using the ferry system, tram, buses or endless dolmus services.
If you want something more authentically Turkish yet relaxed, less conservative and bohemian the Asian side is where it’s at for you. I warned you I may be biased but Kadikoy gets my vote. Sitting on the Marmara Sea it’s stunningly beautiful. You can spend hours wondering it’s cobbled streets peeking into boutiques and quirky shops. I’m quite sure there are more coffee shops in Kadikoy than the whole of London.
There’s a coffee shop for everyone. From the Starbucks in the centre with it’s roof terrace ;perfect for watching the sunset to the numerous artisan shops where you are always welcome to linger.
Kadikoy is home to art shops, music shops, and even an Opera House and has amazing transport links to the rest of the city. Away from the seafront you can find almost anything you could ever want on Bagdat Caddesi; Istanbul’s answer to Oxford Street or Fifth Avenue.
Further along you reach Uskudar where you can settle yourself on the Sahil and watch the sunset over the famous Maiden’s Tower restaurant.
Like most areas, you need to shop around and see what you get for your money should you choose to live on either side but there are always places to suit every budget.
The choice is yours. Europe or Asia? Where else can you access both in one city?