Readers' Submissions

Cost Of Living In Indonesia



I saw several submissions about the cost of living in Thailand, so as an American living in Indonesia for the past several months I will give your readers a breakdown of the cost of living here. I'm in my early 30s and am married to an Indonesian girl of the same age, so the price for a single guy would be less than this. For the record, I am living in Yogyakarta which is a decent size city. These costs would be much higher in any respectable part of Jakarta and much less in any of the smaller villages on Java island, so I'm in kind of a middle of the road type place, price wise. Most people are probably unfamiliar with the exchange rates for rupiah, so I will give all prices in US dollars.

I haven't visited Thailand or the Philippines or Vietnam so I cant compare on first hand knowledge, but from the posts I see here I think I made a great choice with Indonesia. My wife's family is not rich by any means. They own their own houses and land but really they just tend their land and grow sugar cane. Her parents make about $2,000 per year so basically they just have enough to pay for their needs. Never have they asked me for money and they have no expectations of me supporting them. Honestly, I think that would be the last thing they want. Her family are all very hard workers. If anything, they won't let me pay for anything, and when we visit they always make a feast and we have a great time together. I feel really lucky after reading what amounts to horror stories on this site regarding mixed marriages.

Housing

Being not completely sure if I want to make the permanent move to Indonesia yet, we chose to rent an apartment instead of jumping right in and buying land and building a house.

To give an idea, residential land in my area of Jogjakarta costs approximately $30,000 for a 3,000 square meter plot. Pretty expensive, but it's a prime area.

The same size land in my wife's village, which is about an hour and a half drive away, is $4,000. Big difference. But that village is a rural area and it's more than 10 km just to find a grocery market or any kind of store that's not just a tiny storefront attached to the front of someone's house.

Building a house varies depending on how nice you want it. A typical modern masonry house with normal conveniences, say 150 square meters will cost about $20,000 to build.

In the meantime we rent a furnished studio apartment with 1 bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom. Included in the rent is the electric, gas, water, cable TV, air conditioning, laundry, clean bed sheets and blanket ever week. So basically everything. The price is $150 per month.

Food and Water – Basically no water in Indonesia is safe for drinking except if you boil it first. Even locals in remote areas boil all water. So we have to buy AQUA bottled water every week. We have a Carrefour supermarket nearby so we do all our shopping there. We buy anything we want to eat with no regard to price. This is a European supermarket, French I believe. Most American, Australian and European products are available. Not everything is available, but enough that you can eat most anything you did back home.
Price : $250 per month

Visa extensions – I need to have a visa extension every month still. In another month I can get a permanent residency so this expense will be over. Yeah, I know the price is high but there is some other circumstances, usually this is 70 per month.
Price $120 per month

Extras – We usually go to the villages to hang out with my wife's family 2 times per month, ride motorcycles, enjoy the slow life and fresh air that remote villages offer. It's like a time machine in so many ways. A taxi ride is $20 each way. Internet is $50 per month, cell phone is $50 per month. Restaurants and 7 Eleven snacks usually like 100 per month. If we want to go by public bus, and we have a few times, it's only $3 round trip per person. The busses are usually not bad if you take the right one. One bus line has brand new, clean, air-conditioned busses. The other ones look like the busses in India they show on TV – old, grey, dirty, drab with passengers packed in like sardines.

Total : $800 per month. Bottom line, I have been here almost 6 months now and still haven't burned through $5,000 yet and I'm paying for 2 people.

Now to the part every Stickman reader concerns himself with : Asian Street Meat, and I don't mean satay! I'm married to a beautiful wife, and I have never tried a prostitute in my life so this is just anecdotal evidence. When I stayed a week in Jakarta sorting out paperwork with the embassy, I went alone. I was approached a few times by girls on the street. One girl, an Indonesian Chinese offered me sex for $30. She was like 25 years old and decent looking but nothing special. Another time a Javanese girl, much better looking than the Chinese Indo, offered me a full body massage and to stay the night with me for $36. I don't know how it compares to Thailand but those are the prices. Neither of the girls was hard looking or used up looking like whores in the States but neither was a beauty either. As far as regular girls, Indonesian girls outside of the capital have such natural beauty and usually don't wear any makeup, but to me they have the prettiest looks in the world, from their perfect thick hair to their pretty toes. They are open to dating foreigners and most are what you would consider good girls, virgins even.




Stickman's thoughts:

I've always said Indonesia is a real option for those who are true fans of South-East Asia and your submission would seem to reinforce this, but most guys I talk to about it seem put off by the place.