In Istanbul, Turkey’s financial hub and largest city, a wide range of job opportunities and resulting relatively good life were once what the local residents prided themselves on. However, now with prices skyrocketing in the city of about 16 million population, this is all water under the bridge.
The Istanbul Planning Agency recently revealed in its latest report that the cost of living soared by 66 percent year-on-year in February in Istanbul, ranking the city the most expensive one across Turkey.
According to the report, a household of four in Istanbul needs to earn more than 15,300 Turkish liras (1,074 U.S. dollars) on average per month to fill essential needs, including food, fuel and rent expenses.
The cost of living increased by 850 liras in just a single month, putting Istanbulites under mounting pressure to tackle such rising costs, the report said.
“It is difficult to make a living under Istanbul’s conditions, especially for those residing in a rented house with the minimum wage,” Aydin, a vendor in a neighborhood bazaar in Istanbul’s Ferikoy quarter on the European side, told Xinhua.
“We are a family of four, and the wheel is barely turning. We are also struggling to get by,” complained the Turkish man, who declined to give his surname.
The bazaar, held twice a week, “is now deserted with no tradesmen” as most vendors choose not to open their stalls because their earnings cannot cover their expenses anymore, he explained.
“Look at the state of the bazaar, it is empty. People have no purchasing power,” Cemal Guder, another vendor, said in a tone of despair.
“I was buying a kg of cucumber at 12 liras and selling at 15 liras last week. Today we could buy it at 17 liras and sell at 20 liras,” he added.
The Turkish government recently increased the monthly minimum wage by 50 percent to 4,250 liras to alleviate the financial burden of workers, while the pensions of retirees also saw a 30.5-percent hike. However, the rises fell short against the prohibitive inflation which hit 54.4 percent in February, the highest since 2002.
“My pension has long melted, gone,” Ciler Savkun, a 75-year-old Istanbul resident, told Xinhua, noting her shopping bill gets more expensive every week.
Savkun and her husband have been struggling to maintain a family of five, including their grandson, with their two pensions of nearly 9,500 liras.
“Our monthly expenditures are growing. I no longer go to grocery stores, where the prices are higher than anywhere, such as cheese and other variety of breakfast items. All are very expensive,” she said.
In February, Turkey announced new economic measures to ease the burden of Turkish citizens against the skyrocketing cost of living amid high inflation.