Where: The White House Apartment building, Beyoglu – Istanbul, Turkey
When: December 2012 – January 2013
Why: When our tourists visas for the European Union (actually, the Schengen zone) expired, we weren’t ready to go to Africa yet because the holidays were making housing difficult. Flights were very inexpensive to Istanbul, and KC has always wanted to visit Turkey, so why not?
Where within Istanbul: we selected an apartment in Beyoglu, an area on a hill overlooking the Bosphorus Straits well-known for its shopping and trendy neighborhoods, and home to Galat Tower, Istiklal Street (a 1.5 mile long pedestrian street with shops, restaurants and nightclubs), and Taksim Square, the heart of Istanbul (public transport routes start/end, demonstrations break out, and public ceremonies are held here).
Street address: Emin Cami Sk No:41, Beyoğlu, Istanbul Turkey
How we found it: This apartment took some work. Furnished 1-bedroom short-term rentals in Istanbul were plentiful in the $1,300 range but we need to stay below $1,000 and were beginning to despair that maybe Istanbul would be too expensive. I kept varying my Google searches and clicking further and further down the result list. Eventually I had success with a “student housing” search when I found http://www.homepoint.com.tr. Nevim and Julia, an architect and interior designer, have a business which includes several properties in Beyoglu which they have renovated (check their Facebook page for some astounding photos of the projects they have undertaken). Julia lived in Germany so through her contacts they rent primarily to study-abroad students from Germany
How much: 850 Euros/month with 100 euro security deposit. Utilities are separate and we will pay them on our final day since we’re only staying for 6 weeks. The price includes weekly cleaning and fresh bedding.
- Quiet, transitional neighborhood (our building is the nicest on the block) with neighbors going about their daily business and 2 churches across the street for even quieter neighbors.
- Easy access to small local markets and one bigger “Dia” grocery store. 15-minute walk to metro. Plenty of non-tourist cafes in the neighborhood but if you want to hear your options in English it’s only a short walk to Istiklal.
- The apartment has decent wifi (4Mbps, and their other buildings have up to 12) which has been 100% reliable, if a little slow in the evenings when everyone is online. Most of the time we can Skype if we choose weekday evenings and experiment with the best location in the apartment.
- The apartment has 4 heaters so we can stay as warm as we like. The water pressure in the shower is very strong. The kitchen is fairly well-equipped (a bread knife and a grater would be nice).
- The renovation was top-notch. Although we can hear the upstairs neighbors when they throw dinner parties, if we go to bed and close the (solid wood) door we no longer hear a thing. Drawers are self-closing, a nice touch. Nothing sparks when we plug it in like in our Florence apartment. The furnishings (Ikea) are modern, new and attractive, even if the walls are a bit…white.
- The bed has some unfortunate springs which occasionally find a rib.
- No dining table. Even after asking about a table, none has materialized, making prepping/eating dinner on the coffee table a frustrating throwback to college days.
- Bed linens are provided only for the number of people living there; if we had guests we would need to find bedding for the pullout couch.
- We have a lot of water outages but I’m fairly certain it’s related to some serious-looking water line replacements happening nearby. They always wait until after most people would be at work and it comes back on sometime between 10 pm and 4 am. (Poor bastards out there working all night in January…) We’ve learned to keep a 2-gallon jug filled with water, but hopefully this is a temporary situation. The electricity has never flickered.