Cost of Living in Indonesia
The cost of living in Indonesia differs greatly between rural and urban areas, and also when comparing Jakarta and other cities. However, generally speaking, Indonesia can be considered as a country with a lower cost of living compared to Western countries.
Expats in Indonesia working for large organisations often receive international salaries and extensive compensation for their basic expenses, including housing, schooling and transportation. These expats may consider the cost of living in Jakarta to be relatively low and their lives will be much more luxurious than the lives of most locals. They can often live in spacious serviced apartments or houses in areas such as Jakarta’s suburbs of Menteng, Kemang and Pondok Indah.
For expats without an international salary, a salary of 12 to 15 million IDR a month in Jakarta and other large cities, and around 10 million a month in smaller cities and suburban areas will be enough to fulfill most basic needs. These expats will be able to rent a simple apartment in a safe neighbourhood, and depending on their lifestyle, should be able to go out for dinner or entertainment regularly. However, it should be noted that high-quality medical care and education are relatively expensive.
The minimum salary in Indonesia ranges from 800,000 IDR in suburban and rural areas to 1.3 million IDR in Jakarta. Moreover, unemployment rates in Indonesia are very high, and many locals may have a ‘non-official’ job with a salary even below the minimum wage.
As an expat, accommodation will most likely take the biggest portion of your salary. Education, medical care and utilities (electricity, gas, etc.) are also relatively expensive. Groceries in supermarkets are relatively cheap and even cheaper in small shops and at local ‘wet’ markets. Imported products are much more expensive, especially wine and liquor.
Expats, particularly those from Western countries, are often perceived to be wealthy, no matter how they dress or how ‘local’ they may act. This often results in situations where expats pay a higher price than locals at shops and restaurants that do not have fixed prices. This can be frustrating, but the advantage is that expat may find themselves sometimes not having to wait in a queue as they are thought to be a ‘preferred’ customer, due to the assumption that they will pay a higher tip.
Cost of accommodation in Indonesia
The cost of accommodation in Indonesia, and within different cities, is highly variable. In general, expats with an expat salary will be able to rent a luxurious apartment or house in the ‘best neighborhoods’ in Jakarta, while expats with a lower budget will be able to rent a simple apartment in a decent and safe neighbourhood.
A few examples of apartment rentals in Jakarta (from a basic apartment in North Jakarta to a luxurious apartment in Central Jakarta/Business District):
- Two-bedroom apartment in Kelapa Gading – 3 million IDR per month
- Two-bedroomed apartment in Kuningan – 5.5 million IDR per month
- Two-bedroomed apartment in Thamrin – 9 million IDR per month
- Two-bedroomed apartment in Kemang – 16 million IDR per month
- Two-bedroomed apartment in Setiabudi – 20 million IDR per month
- Three-bedroomed apartment in Kelapa Gading – 18.7 million IDR per month
- Three-bedroomed apartment in Casablanca – 20 million IDR per month
- Three-bedroomed apartment in Sudirman – 24.8 million IDR per month
- Three-bedroomed apartment in Senayan - 30 million IDR per month
- Three-bedroomed apartment in Pakubuwono – 40 million IDR per month
If looking for cheap or temporary accommodation, it’s possible to rent a fully furnished room with air-conditioning, cable television and Internet for 2 to 4.5 million IDR per month.
Cost of food and other essentials in Indonesia
Food and clothing will probably not monopolise a great portion of an expats salary, as long as they do not buy a lot of imported products and internationally branded clothing.
Local food, clothing and personal care products are cheap compared to their imported equivalents, so it’s often worth trying local products instead of ‘trusted’ Western products and brands.
From all the imported products, alcohol is the most expensive and hardest to find (especially outside Jakarta). Do not be surprised if the cheapest bottle of wine in the supermarket or wine shop is 400,000 IDR. This is very common and expats will probably not find a cheaper place.
Eating out in Indonesia can also be relatively inexpensive. A complete meal (rice, meat and vegetables) can set you back around 10,000 to 20,000 IDR ‘on the street’ in Jakarta and around 50,000 IDR in a regular restaurant.
Electronics are relatively cheap in small shops and outside Jakarta. In larger shops and malls, prices of electronics are comparable to prices in Western countries.
You can watch a movie in cinema for 20,000 to 50,000 IDR (weekdays are usually cheaper than weekends) and one can also buy the newest movies at small DVD shops.
Cost of transportation in Indonesia
Transportation will also not constitute a great portion of an expat's salary in Indonesia, even if you regularly take a taxi or have your own driver.
A 30-minute taxi trip will cost around 50,000 IDR and a taxi trip from the airport to Central Jakarta will cost around 120,000 to 150,000 IDR (depending on the traffic).
Car prices are comparable to prices in other countries. Japanese cars are cheaper than European cars. Fuel prices are very low compared to other countries, but rising quickly. The price for one litre of high-quality petrol costs around 10,000 IDR/litre (February 2013). Parking is cheap, usually 2,000 to 4,000 IDR per hour.
Another option is to hire a driver:
- Driver for a day (including car): 350,000 IDR
- Driver for a month (excluding car): 1 to 3 million IDR
Public transportation is much cheaper, but also much less comfortable and not very safe. A trip within Jakarta costs 2,000 to 10,000 IDR and a trip from the airport to Central Jakarta costs 30,000 – 50,000 IDR. However, buses and mini-buses can be really crowded, often do not have air-conditioning and are relatively unsafe, especially for expat women.
If looking for cheap transportation, an ‘ojek’ (motorbike driver) or a bajaj (tuk-tuk) are other options. It's best to negotiate about the price, and if you do not speak Bahasa Indonesia, you will probably pay almost as much as you would pay for a taxi, so it's useful to learn some key phrases in Bahasa Indonesia for situations like this.
Cost of schooling and education in Jakarta
International schools are relatively expensive in Indonesia, particularly in Jakarta. However, the quality of international schools is most often significantly higher than the quality of local schools.
Some examples of international school fees in Jakarta:
Sekolah Global Jaya
‘Development’ Fee: 73 million IDR for six years.
Tuition fees: from 43.4 million IDR per year for the kindergarten level to 52.8 million IDR per year for primary school.
Sinarmas World Academy
Tuition fees: 80 million IDR per year for grades 1 to 4, 82 million IDR for grades 5 to 6 and 89 million IDR for grades 7 to 10.
Sekolah Bina Nusantara (Binus) / Madania Progressive Indonesian School
Registration fee: 22 million IDR / 40 million IDR
Tuition fees: 1.5 million per month.
Binus International School Simprug
Registration Fee: 78 million IDR for grades 1 to 12.
Tuition fee: from 6 to 7 million IDR per month.
Most schools have additional charges for extracurricular activities.
Cost of healthcare in Jakarta
Healthcare services are relatively expensive in Jakarta and highly variable. It is therefore important to find a good hospital with affordable rates as soon as possible (before you really need it).
Expats should also ensure that they familiarise themselves with the medical coverage that their company will provide for medical concerns, major medical situations (like surgery or baby delivery) and medical evacuation to another country, before moving to Indonesia.