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Avg. Monthly Costs for Moderate Expat-Lifestyle

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  • Avg. Monthly Costs for Moderate Expat-Lifestyle

    As I begin this thread, it's knowing very well that one's interpretation of a "moderate life" is quite subjective and very much a matter of personal taste, opinion, and one's financial means. With that in mind, I welcome other opinions and thoughts, but the primary hope is to get an idea of an average monthly budget of typical living expenses in Indonesia.

    With that, let me describe the kind of life I've imagined from the many visits to Indonesia over the past decade and a half, talking to expats and Indonesian friends living there, and also many bits of advice from this forum. All of the estimated prices are from Central Java around the Surakarta area, and of this writing in January, 2017. For starters, I've decided to rent versus buy a house. This is a big decision with many pros and cons, but for me I just feel more comfortable with renting a house or condo. I've found a very complete selection of nice places from about Rp40M-Rp120M per year, and the ones around Rp85M (or Rp7M/month) are about just right. This would have 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and in a nice area close to shopping malls. High speed internet is very important to me, and I'm pleasantly surprised to see 100mbs at reasonable prices now being offered around the country. I would have 2-3 rooms with an A/C unit, a fairly high wattage PC, a washer/electric dryer, and hopefully a dishwasher. I mention all that to say, I'd be in the market for a house with 4400 watt capacity, but in Solo most of the houses seem to max out with 2200 watts.

    On the topic of transportation, this is something I've wrestled with for years in my mind. To buy a car, or just use taxis and other public transportation. After considerable thought, I'm thinking to start out by not getting a car. I'll see how long I can do this, and if it's not too much hassle, I'll just keep on doing it. In Solo, the minimum taxi fare is Rp25.000 - even if you're just going a few blocks away. I also use becaks, and am not opposed to learning the bus routes. As well, there's pretty decent rail service to Yogyakarta, Semarang, Surabaya, and even Jakarta (although flying there is probably better). I figure that an average of Rp100.000 per day would be enough to cover transportation. I should mention, that I really like riding a bicycle around Solo, so that would be another option for me.

    On the topic of food, nutrition and other household items, we usually eat pretty healthy meals and take a number of vitamin supplements. That said, we also like eating out quite a bit in Solo. There's an amazing range of choices, from the street vendors to some of the fancy restaurants in the malls. Other items we would need might come from places like Hypermart, and Carrefour, - soaps, cleaners, tissues, bathroom items, etc. We also like to visit the fresh vegetable/fruit pasars, where you get some pretty good prices. Finally, we'll probably get drinking water (Aqua) delivered to the house. All told, my estimate for all of this would average about Rp300.000 per day, or about Rp9M per month.

    Yes, we have electronic gadgets that require voice and data plans. We've been using SmartFren, as that seems to work best in the Solo area (at least for us). There's several different ways to get these services, and so far we've typically spent Rp300.000/month for two people by buying pulsa when needed. Along with that, we get haircuts, manicures, an occasional foot reflexion, a few clothing items, and other things. We'll just say that's about Rp50.000 per day or about Rp1.5M/month. In this area, I might go from thinking like a western tourist and scale some of this back over time.

    One final area is the topic of a housekeeper (pembantu). As for me, I'm not really sure that I could get used to this, as I prefer to do everything myself. Most of the people we know in Indonesia have a pembantu (some with several) in their employ. It does provide a means of income for someone who may not have another opportunity. My thought is a part time situation, where someone may come over for about 30 hours per week. I'm told that this type of arrangement might cost about Rp1M per month - although it probably varies quite a bit depending on the person.

    So here is the estimated average monthly totals of this imaginary Indonesian lifestyle described above:
    Item Description Cost/Month
    Rent 3BR/2BA house 7.000.000
    Transportation Taxis and other public transportation 3.000.000
    Consumption Groceries, household, restaurants, Aqua 9.000.000
    Electricity 2200W house with 2/AC, other appliances 1.000.000
    Natural Gas For stove and hot water 200.000
    Internet/TV Package data plan with TV channels 1.500.000
    Gadgets Voice and data pulsa 300.000
    Other misc Services, haircuts, etc. 1.500.000
    Housekeeper 30 hours per week 1.000.000
    The grand total of this estimated lifestyle is: RP24.500.000 per month (We'll just round up and call it 25 million rupiah per month)

    So there it is. I'm interested to hear other prices, ideas, and opinions. BTW, I purposely did not include certain discretionary and other one time purchase items. This would include travel, annual government fees (taxes, KITAS, etc.), appliance/furniture purchases, etc. The other thing I've left out is medical and insurance costs. I really have no idea what this costs, or what to think. I believe that I'll need (and would want) to have medical insurance, but really don't know what to budget for this. More research is definitely needed on this topic...

    Thanks,
    -harvester

  • #2
    As a comparison from Jakarta - expect at least another 10-12 million for rent. I think the internet tv is too much (we pay too much at about 1 million). I think the housekeeper for 1 million is way too low, I would think about 2 million but you get what you pay for. Transport for us is about 1 million. Medical is expensive - maybe around 2 million a month and another 1 million for other insurance

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    • #3
      Originally posted by michjfro View Post
      As a comparison from Jakarta - expect at least another 10-12 million for rent. I think the internet tv is too much (we pay too much at about 1 million). I think the housekeeper for 1 million is way too low, I would think about 2 million but you get what you pay for. Transport for us is about 1 million. Medical is expensive - maybe around 2 million a month and another 1 million for other insurance
      Yes, I did notice that housing is more costly in Jakarta, and the same would probably go for Bali. On the internet, I really have big demands on data for remote controlling servers, PCs, and downloading big chunks of data. The data plan that looked good was 100mbs from Biznet, and is showing to be 1 million per month. They do have less expensive plans, starting all the way down to Rp240.000/month. On the housekeeper, you're probably more close to the going price, but my thought is the focus on part time. I would be good with someone coming over for half-days or evenings just to help with some of the tasks. It's also in Solo, so that may be factor as well.

      Thanks for the estimates on medical expenses. We're getting into our retirement years (i.e. 60's), so that may even push things higher for us.

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      • #4
        Avg. Monthly Costs for Moderate Indo-Lifestyle ??

        I think you made a mistake in the title . You are probably referring to Expat Lifestyle , right ?

        I live in an area of "Indonesian middle class" and their costs are a lot less than the values you mentioned . And my own costs (I am an expat) are also a lot less than yours (you are right , this subject depend on each person) .

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        • #5
          Originally posted by marcus View Post
          Avg. Monthly Costs for Moderate Indo-Lifestyle ??

          I think you made a mistake in the title . You are probably referring to Expat Lifestyle , right ?

          I live in an area of "Indonesian middle class" and their costs are a lot less than the values you mentioned . And my own costs (I am an expat) are also a lot less than yours (you are right , this subject depend on each person) .
          Yes, that's a good point - I changed the title. I originally tried to type "Indonesia Lifestyle", but not enough room.

          Having only been there as a visitor, and trying to imagine how my life would change is hard to predict. For example, right now I really like very cold A/C all the time, and that uses quite a bit of electricity. After being there for a while, I might get used to only having a fan. Same goes for food. In the beginning, I'd eat like a tourist on vacation, but over time would modify that as well. I noticed very big differences in shopping for food at places like Hypermart versus going to the open pasar for things.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by harvester View Post
            (1) ... we also like eating out quite a bit in Solo. There's an amazing range of choices, from the street vendors to some of the fancy restaurants ...

            (2) The other thing I've left out is medical and insurance costs. I really have no idea what this costs, or what to think...

            (1) I would suggest you to be careful about street vendor's food . When I buy these kind of food , I bring it home and "sterilize" it before eating . From my ex-Indonesian wife's family and from some newspaper articles , I am alarmed with the cases of sick people due to contaminated food . In restaurants avoid ice in drinks as it may be contaminated too (as you may know , tap water is not safe to drink , and how people handle ice may be also a concern) .

            (2) As I found out from your previous posts , your wife is Indonesian , so I would suggest you to register all family in the new Indonesian government health program , called BPJS (most expensive plan cost only Rp80'000 per person per month) . You will need at least a KITAS , or maybe a KITAP (in order to be listed in your wife's Family Card) . This depend on your luck with the local government officers as not all expats with KITAS/KITAP succeeded in getting registered .
            If you intend to have a life (death) insurance , I have one that is valid until I get the age of 100 (available to people up to 65 years old) . When I die , I will leave a benefit of a little more than 10 times of what I pay now (but it will be only 5 payments , once per year , and after that the insurance continue valid until I reach 100 years old) .

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            • #7
              hi marcus , can you let me know detail of your life insurance please ? sounds interesting .

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              • #8
                Originally posted by scouser59 View Post
                hi marcus , can you let me know detail of your life insurance please ? sounds interesting .
                First let me inform that I checked with almost all insurance companies/banks available in Bandung , but all except one didn't have a "pure" (without investment) life insurance product for people older than 60 years old (my case) . This is why I present here only this company , but if if you are younger (than 60 or 55) you may find similar product with other insurance companies .

                The company is Equity Life Indonesia , the name of the product is "Pro Whole Life" , and they have plans in USD and IDR , but it was more expensive in USD , so I chose the plan in Rupiah and in 5 payments , once per year (one can also choose to pay it all once with a small discount) . So , as I said above , I am paying X (premium) for a benefit of 11.28 X , total (premium) value to be paid = 5 X .
                You can choose any value for X as the relation between premium and benefit does not change .

                They also have this product for one year validity , with premium Y , benefit = 34.6 Y .

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                • #9
                  ok marcus I will check it out thanks , it seems according to the website the max age is 60 , which I have passed , no worries il stick with sun life .

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by marcus View Post

                    I live in an area of "Indonesian middle class" and their costs are a lot less than the values you mentioned . And my own costs (I am an expat) are also a lot less than yours (you are right , this subject depend on each person) .

                    As I found out from your previous posts , your wife is Indonesian , so I would suggest you to register all family in the new Indonesian government health program , called BPJS (most expensive plan cost only Rp80'000 per person per month) . You will need at least a KITAS , or maybe a KITAP (in order to be listed in your wife's Family Card) . This depend on your luck with the local government officers as not all expats with KITAS/KITAP succeeded in getting registered .
                    If you intend to have a life (death) insurance , I have one that is valid until I get the age of 100 (available to people up to 65 years old) . When I die , I will leave a benefit of a little more than 10 times of what I pay now (but it will be only 5 payments , once per year , and after that the insurance continue valid until I reach 100 years old) .
                    Hi Marcus,

                    I meant to ask before in my previous response what items you think I'll probably end up spending less than what was estimated. The two things I'm pretty sure about, are the rental cost of a house 7M/month, and the super internet package 1M/month. On the other hand, it may be good for me to overestimate, and come in under once I got there. For me this is a planning exercise, where I'm calculating everything. What to do about my situation in the US, how to move - and what are the costs, and very importantly - estimating my monthly operating costs. From this, I'll be able to determine kind of life it'll be for the long term.

                    With regards to the KITAS/KITAP, I'm thinking to just get the spouse (wife) sponsored KITAS. From what I understand from a US citizen (acquaintance) living in Solo, this type of KITAS has to be renewed every year, and is Rp2M each time. The spouse sponsored KITAP has a one time fee of Rp10M (or so I was told), and provides a KITAS for five years, which then becomes a KITAP once the five years residency has transpired. I had also heard about BPJS, but didn't know for sure if I would be entitled to this. Although according to what you're mentioning, it may not be a given. Thanks for letting me know the price, however. Someone else (an Indonesian friend), mentioned that with BPJS there are companies that can supplement the coverage with extra features, but it does cost more than the standard amount. To your knowledge, is this something that exists? If I can't get it, I may be looking at what michjfro mentioned above - 2M-3M per month.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by scouser59 View Post
                      ok marcus I will check it out thanks , it seems according to the website the max age is 60 , which I have passed , no worries il stick with sun life .

                      I got my insurance with them only 5 months ago and I was older than 60 at that time too . But it is possible that they changed the limit , considering how young Indonesians die and also the limits other insurance companies use (usually 60 or even 55) .

                      If you cannot deal with them , I had 2 other quotes that may interest you (both applicable to people older than 60 and also insured up to the age of 100) :

                      - BNI BLife Maksima Pro : you pay X once for a benefit of 1.5 X . It is an insurance + investment , I didn't understand it very well , but I am afraid that it is like any investment (only) , except that it already specify the beneficiary , so when the person dies , the beneficiary gets the money (which I suppose , may be even less than the money invested) .

                      - PaninDai-ichiLife's Panin Premier Multilinked : you pay also X for a benefit of 1.5 X , but you pay X in 10 times , 0.1 X per year .
                      I suppose the same from BNI applies here too , although the explanations were different .

                      Note : Sorry that I cannot give you a better description of the products . I got all explanations in Indonesian language and besides I am not very good with the language , it seems the insurers make things confusing/unclear , showing only very optimistic investment examples , but hiding what can happen if the investments turn bad .

                      After checking insurance during weeks , I had a very bad idea of insurers in general . I just got one (with a very low value) because I had to , due to the Retirement KITAS requirement .

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by harvester View Post
                        (I) I meant to ask before in my previous response what items you think I'll probably end up spending less than what was estimated.

                        (II) ... The spouse sponsored KITAP has a one time fee of Rp10M (or so I was told), and provides a KITAS for five years, which then becomes a KITAP once the five years residency has transpired.

                        (III) ...mentioned that with BPJS there are companies that can supplement the coverage with extra features, but it does cost more than the standard amount. To your knowledge, is this something that exists? ...

                        (I) I don't know because my lifestyle is too different .

                        (II) Not exactly . The first KITAP is valid for 5 years and cost officially Rp 3,555,000 (paper)/Rp 3,755,000 (plastic) , but you will get also a 2 years Re-entry Permit for Rp1,750,000 . Before the KITAP expires you can extend it for an undefined time for Rp 10,055,000 (paper)/Rp 10,255,000 (plastic) , again you will get a 2 years Re-entry Permit for Rp1,750,000 . Extending the Re-entry Permit is not mandatory but you will need one if you want to travel abroad .

                        (III) I saw this advertised but did not check . I never had (and don't intend to have) private health insurance because in my country I can have free government medical treatment . I take good care of my health so I suppose that an emergency medical situation is improbable , but if it happens I prefer to pay myself , not getting a private insurance that is absurdly expensive due to my old age .

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                        • #13
                          thanks marcus for the detail , I will have a look at the companies suggested , I was a bit concerned about the reliability of indo companies forecasts and reliability,ya its rather difficult as we age to find cost effective cover for life and health.I have access to bpjs with a small allianz policy to give a little flexibility.

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