Published June 2, 2020
Like most of Southeast Asia, Indonesia has a lower cost of living than many western countries. In fact, an average quarterly salary in New York would suffice for a year in Indonesia.
If you’re used to western prices, you’d probably be shocked at how cheap things are in here. Expats in the country also generally earn more than the locals. This makes the country an attractive destination for foreigners looking to experience a new culture.
According to a survey, the cost of living in Indonesia for a single person averages at Rp 13,415,843 (about $900) a month. While a family of four may need up to Rp 29,846,962 (about $2,000) to live comfortably.
These amounts, however, tend to vary all throughout the country. Big cities like Jakarta, Bali, and Surabaya have a higher cost of living than other areas. If you want to save up and experience authentic Indonesian culture, go to less developed cities.
To give you an idea of how much you’ll spend while living in Indonesia, we’ve broken down the cost of living factors you need to consider:
Single-bed apartments within the city center in big cities like Jakarta may cost up to $250. While a three-bedroom apartment costs $700 on average though it can be as much as $2,000. Of course, just like anywhere else, it depends on the facilities and the neighborhood.
Outside the big cities, you can get a one-bedroom apartment for as low as $150 a month. One downside to renting outside the big cities is the lack of western comforts. Yes, some apartments are built in the western style but they’re generally on the upper side of the price spectrum. If you don’t care much about comfort and want to explore the countryside, small towns would be perfect.
Though high-end restaurant chains exist in big cities, it’s still cheap by western standards. If you really want to save up on money, you can eat in streetside food stalls called “warteg”. They serve the usual Asian fare of rice with a side dish and a helping of vegetables for a little over a dollar.
Streetfoods in Indonesia are also cheap and can fill you up quite nicely. The country has a wide variety of street foods that cater to a wide range of palates, from the super spicy mie goreng to the sweet klepon.
Fastfood chains like McDonald’s also have branches all over the country. So you need not worry about craving western foods. A combo meal at these food chains usually costs between $2.5 to $4.
Getting around Indonesia is quite easy and relatively cheap. Aside from the usual taxis and buses, they also have ojek (motorcycle taxis), becak (cycle rickshaws), and dokar (horse-drawn cart). We don’t recommend dokar though as there had been reports that the horses were often abused.
As for ojek and becak, you’ll usually have to haggle for the prices. Beware that these drivers usually drive hard bargains. But you won’t pay more than a dollar for every kilometer.
The country also has four unconnected railway systems. If you’re traveling from island to island, you can catch a ship at any of the country’s 300 ports. The fares are really cheap. For example, a train ride from Jakarta to Surabaya (781 km) costs between $18 to $85 depending on the seat class.
As of September 2019, the price of electricity in Indonesia is at $0.099/kwh for households. This means that if you have a two-bedroom apartment with heating/cooling and basic appliances, expect to pay an average of $40 to $70 a month. Add in water and garbage collection and you’ll pay a total of $70 to $100 per month.
Did you find this post useful? Then you should check out our list of things you need to do before moving to another country.