Finding an apartment in Indonesia is a common concern for first time English language teachers in Indonesia. But don't worry! It is much easier than you may think, and apartments are both comfortable and affordable. Before you learn more about the cost, you need to learn more about the "kost".
Simply put, a kost is Indonesia's version of an affordable apartment. Depending on your budget, you can often find a kost with a range of included features or services such as a TV connected to the local network, free electricity, daily/weekly laundry service, room cleaning and breakfast. One of my colleagues likes to compare the kost to a simple college dorm as you can have anywhere between 15-50 other people living in the same building as you.
A kost in Jakarta typically ranges from IDR1.5 million to IDR4.5 million per month with price varying primarily with distance to the city center and the quality of the kost. To give you an example my kost is costing me about IDR3 million a month including electricity, daily laundry service, free water, TV and wifi. When I went looking for a kost I managed to find some at IDR1.4-1.6 million per month which were very basic and did not include laundry service and wifi. However, if you are good at managing your money and have good habits at home, you will work out that it will be cheaper to set up your own wifi and take out your own laundry.
Those who want to get to know the locals better as well as improve their Indonesian should consider renting a kost on the cheaper side – it's something that I'm considering doing in the future. If you are looking for something more upscale with more features and services, you would have to pay upwards of IDR3.5 million per month. The one thing that I really appreciated here was that unlike in some other parts of the world, kost owners didn't seem to fudge prices just because I'm a foreigner.
Firstly, it would be best to seek advice from your colleagues as they have gone through the kost hunting process. Your colleagues should be your first resource for information regarding price ranges, locations convenient from work as well as connections to agents/kost owners.
I personally found the following websites to be very useful when I went kost hunting. It also helped me gauge where groups of kosts were located. Even though you might not be able to change the website language to English, they're simple enough that even someone with little to no exposure to Indonesian would understand how to get around:
If you have elementary level proficiency in Bahasa Indonesia then you can go exploring by foot. Groups of kosts are often clumped together. Therefore, your should be able to have a look at multiple kosts in a short span of time. I organised my kost hunting on my day off. At breakfast, I would check out 4-5 kosts. At lunch, I would check out 4-5 kosts more, and so on and so forth. Yes, it was really tiring but I made the most of the little time I had to find myself a kost.
Can I get a good nights rest?
Indonesia is well known for its overzealous use of sound amplification by its many mosques. If you are a light sleeper, I would highly recommend you ask if there is a Masjid nearby. If there is a Masjid within 50m, you can expect a morning alarm in the form of a call to prayer via loudspeaker. While staying at my first kost in Jakarta, I was woken up on Friday morning at about 4 am. This particular call to prayer seemed extra long and extra loud. Fortunately, I'm one of those people who can get by with a few hours sleep. If you're not like me, then this is something to consider before paying your deposit.
Can I live with my girlfriend/boyfriend?
Bringing your girlfriend or boyfriend over is sometimes not allowed. Many kosts have people guarding the building entrance primarily for security, but the guard would easily recognise a new face if you plan to sneak someone in. Therefore, if you plan on living with your partner in Indonesia, it would best to check if it's allowed, otherwise you'll be better off looking elsewhere or renting an apartment.
Can I bargain with the kost owner?
I guess there's nothing wrong with trying. I'm a relatively good bargainer, but I never managed to get a cheaper price than what they originally offered me.
apartment kost hunting!