I bought this apartment last year in Istanbul and made a video back then on the numbers. I then spent most of the year in Latin America and had my interior designer Angelina run with the project back in Turkey. In this article and video we will have a look at my apartment renovation in Istanbul and all associated costs in detail.

In this video I show the result, and share all of the numbers in detail such as renovation costs, rental yields, unrealized capital gains, etc.

I do a lot of remote renovations. Generally speaking, as long as you have a good team things go well.

I’m very happy with this project, it went well, though a bit above budget, and we explain why.

The Turkish Citizenship by Investment program is still one of the best deals out there

If Erdogan had lost the election, the program would have been canned as the opposition was against it. For now it is still on-going but nobody knows for how long still. If you are interested, you should act soon.

All you need to do is to invest in $400,000 worth of Turkish real estate on the open market, and 6-7 months later you receive citizenship for yourself, your spouse, and your underage children. It can be done entirely remotely.

It’s an amazing deal. Granted, the Turkish passport does not give you visa-free access to the West, but it is an interesting geopolitical hedge that gives great access to Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Balkans, and Latin America.

Angelina, who did my renovation, can help you with this: angelina@thewanderinginvestor.com

As well as Keith from Canada who lives in Istanbul and helps investors enter the Istanbul and Izmir real estate markets.

To a World of Opportunities,

The Wandering Investor.

Other articles on Turkey:

Available services in Turkey:

My Real Estate Buyer’s Agent and Renovation Team in Istanbul

If you want to read more such articles on other real estate markets in the world, go to the bottom of my International Real Estate Services page.

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My favourite brokerage to invest in international stocks is IB. To find out more about this low-fee option with access to plenty of markets, click here.

If you want to discuss your internationalization and diversification plans, book a consulting session or send me an email.

Transcript of “My Apartment Renovation in Istanbul – Case Study with numbers”

LADISLAS MAURICE: So let’s sit down and do the numbers. So I paid $89,000 for this property, including all the agency fees, all the taxes, etc., for 68 square meters, so a bit over $1,300 a square meter. But as you can see, from the B-roll, it was a complete gut job. And back then, Angelina, when we did the previous video, you had said that the renovation would cost approximately $400 a square meter.


LADISLAS MAURICE: But we went a bit over budget, essentially. So how much did the renovation cost? How much did we end up at on a per square meter basis? And why did we go over budget?

ANGELINA: So the renovation cost a bit more than we were expected. Because we used high materials like aluminum, high quality radiators, and handmade tiles. We add built-in wardrobe. We didn’t plan that. While we start remodeling apartment we add some more walls. So all that work cost more money, and we end up with the budget a little bit more than 500 USD per square meters. And total renovation cost is now around 35,000 USD.

LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah. So a bit over $500 a square meter. And I think there’s also inflation, because we’re seeing it everywhere.

ANGELINA: Yeah, there are inflation, big inflation. There is inflation right now in Turkey. All the goods, materials, all price were raised in USD.

LADISLAS MAURICE: So even though the Turkish Lira keeps going down, in terms of construction, etc., prices have been going up in USD terms. So if I were to make this same renovation now, one year later, how much would the budget be approximately in light of all of this inflation?

ANGELINA: I think right now we’re going to renovate the same square meters apartment in this area, the budget will be a bit over 600 USD per square meter.

LADISLAS MAURICE: Yes. So about 20% inflation in dollar terms. It sounds brutal, but I’m seeing this in different markets. In Montenegro, for example, from one year to the other, I saw quotes going up 50% just due to inflation and cost of materials, minimum wage increases, etc., etc. So it’s not just a Turkey phenomenon, you see it across a few different markets.

ANGELINA: Yes, it’s all over the world, because we have clients that have property in other countries, like in Mexico, in Panama, even there, the renovation cost and goods and materials, price increased in USD terms.

LADISLAS MAURICE: So once we add, because we had to add as well furniture, air con, appliances, how much extra was that?

ANGELINA: It’s about 7,000 USD. But right now, I think it also will be more than 7,000 USD, especially everything what is built or made from the metal, the price went up, like windows, radiators, air conditioners.

LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah, I see the couch that you saw on the video, I was looking at the same couch for another apartment I have here. Back in September, I paid about $700 for it, and now the same couch, same company, about $900. So yeah, unfortunately–

ANGELINA: It’s like 20% increased.

LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. No, big increases. So all in, this apartment, fully furnished, cost me $131,000. So, Angelina, because you also do sales, if I were to, let’s say, hand this apartment over to you and say you’re going to be in charge of selling it, what do you think the market price is approximately for this apartment now?

ANGELINA: I think this apartment would cost around 175,000, 180,000 USD, maybe more. Because also, the prices on the property market were increased a lot. It’s like 10%, at least, were increased since last autumn. But before last autumn, were another increased around 10%, 15%. So some properties increase 30%, even. So you just try to market it.

LADISLAS MAURICE: Cool. So this 35% price increase, so you say 10% is due to the market, and 25%?

ANGELINA: Due to the renovation cost.


ANGELINA: Due to renovation quality, not cost. Due to the quality of our renovations.

LADISLAS MAURICE: Because I think what’s important to understand is it’s not just renovating an apartment, it’s turning a commercial unit into a residential unit, and then also adding a balcony in an area where there are very few balconies. So this balcony is quite a unique feature.

So in terms of rent, so I have friends staying here, but the market rent for this place right now is $950. In my previous video, I think I had put $750, if I remember correctly, as an estimate. But I was trying to be conservative when I go into investments. So two things happen. One, the renovation came out essentially better than I expected, in the sense that this product is quite unique, so I can really command a premium. And again, when I’m saying $950 for this apartment, I’m being conservative, because there are other apartments going for more, but I prefer to be conservative in my mind.

So if I were to take this on a yearly basis, $950 times 12, based on my investment of 131K, this gets me a yield of about 8.6%. If we’re going to take this number based on the sales price of, let’s say, $177,000, that would get us a gross yield of 6.4%. So decent yield for a city of 20 million people to be in the core center for an affordable unit like this. It’s also very liquid, I could sell it relatively quickly. So it’s hard to find such deals on the long-term market in such international cities.

And my costs are very low here. So my tenants essentially pay for everything, for all the utilities, the internet, all of that. The HOA, so the common charges of the building are less than $10 a month. And there’s a guy who is essentially working here downstairs from 6:00 to 6:00 every day on weekdays. And my property tax is only $120 a year. Yeah, you heard this correctly, $120 a year. So essentially, all I have to pay for is management, which is roughly 10%. And even finding tenants in this market, it would be the tenants that would pay you.

ANGELINA: Tenant pay.

LADISLAS MAURICE: So if Angelina were to find tenants for me, the tenants pay Angelina, it’s not for the landlord to pay. So essentially, I just need to pay Angelina 10% for management, because even finding tenants, if Angelina finds tenants for me, in Turkey, it’s the tenants that pay the agent the fee, not the landlord. So I end up with a net yield that is really high, especially as its core center of a city of 20 million people. So what does this mean? It means that the vacancy rate is essentially close to zero if my pricing is correct.

Now, one of the issues is, theoretically or legally, all contracts have to be in liras, but in reality, a lot of people have contracts in dollars. So people who invest here need to be able to manage the ambiguity.


LADISLAS MAURICE: This place would also do quite well on Airbnb because of how central it is, how close it is to the metro station, literally a two-minute walk away from here.

ANGELINA: Yes, it’s a great apartment, downtown Central.


ANGELINA: And these kinds of apartment are very popular on Airbnb. This area is a prime area for short-term rental.

LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. So my yield would probably even be higher on Airbnb. So Angelina is managing another one of my renovation projects here in the same neighborhood, actually. So this one is a much bigger project, much more complex. So we’ve been at it for a few months already. But yeah, it’s going to be an exciting one, so I’m very happy about that.

ANGELINA: [laughs] Yeah, it will be loft project. It will be loft apartment.

LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah. It’s a nice one. Very bright, it’s great. So how many renovation projects have you managed here in Istanbul?

ANGELINA: It’s approximately 30 up to date for all these years.

LADISLAS MAURICE: Cool. And you deal with a lot of remote renovations?

ANGELINA: Yes, we have clients that just remotely working with us. And they never have seen their properties. Even before we start renovating, they didn’t come and didn’t check their property.

LADISLAS MAURICE: So you help them find the property?


LADISLAS MAURICE: Renovate it and then find tenants?

ANGELINA: And then we manage. Yeah, and then managing the property, we do property management.

LADISLAS MAURICE: And then, a year later, they just kind of come?



ANGELINA: Yeah, they just come and see the full properties, and surprise.


ANGELINA: It’s nice, downtown, good area.

LADISLAS MAURICE: Cool. Good. So it was the case for me as well. I was not here at all for the renovation process. I had my friends move in. And then I came and then just saw the result, essentially. So it was done entirely remotely, as I was spending nine months traveling all over Latin America. Great. So Angelina, thank you.

ANGELINA: Welcome.

LADISLAS MAURICE: So if you are interested in getting in touch with Angelina for your renovation needs, etc., here in Istanbul, there is her email right below. Great. Angelina, thank you.

ANGELINA: Welcome.