Whilst some global cities are unavoidably expensive (think London, Singapore, Tokyo etc), Jakarta is not one of them. Sure it can be very expensive to live in “the Big Durian” but it can also be pretty cheap as well. The range for the cost of living in Jakarta is vast.
What ultimately determines your overall cost of living is your lifestyle (do you eat street food or in plush shopping malls?) and what are the things you consider as luxuries (can you live without air-con, for example, and make do with a fan instead?).
To estimate your cost of living in Jakarta, there are several things to consider:
1) the red tape – i.e. the cost you will incur for having the “privilege” of being able to live in one of the world’s most crazy cities. If you are employed this cost will be covered by your employer, but otherwise you will have to shoulder this cost yourself - which could vary from anywhere between around Rp10million (US$ ) to Rp30 million per year depending on your type of visa (social, business, employed, retirement etc).
2) Housing costs. Housing costs vary hugely in Jakarta depending upon: 1) where you live, 2) your choice of housing and, just as importantly, 3) your bargaining skills. Generally speaking, websites exaggerate housing costs for expats or foreigners. This is because (as a foreigner) many landlords will want to charge you a higher “foreigner” price. In the past, a lack of transparency on prices made it difficult for foreigners to gauge rental costs. Now though, and thanks to the internet, things are much easier. Rentals for both apartments and houses are quoted by landlords on websites like the excellent Tokobagus. Do the research and you can get a much better picture of what housing costs should be in Jakarta.
3) Day to day living. In Jakarta you can get lunch for as little as Rp12,000 or easily pay more than Rp200,000. The choice is yours. To get an idea of how much you will pay for your daily needs each month, I’ve prepared a table of a basket of goods that are typically consumed by foreigners. Over time, prices change of course. Food costs generally rise steadily over time but also spike at certain times of the year due to seasonal factors such as the fasting month and the harvesting season (fruit prices can be particularly volatile). Prices of administered goods – fuel, electricity – are also prone to sudden sharp increases. Another factor affecting prices is the level of the rupiah. Indonesia’s currency has a shaky history and has been subject to sharp declines at times of economic/political distress.
|Fried rice from a street hawker||12,000||1.06|
|Dinner for two in mid range restaurant||400,000||35.22|
|Bottle of beer (large) in an average restaurant||50,000||4.40|
|Coffee in a mid-range café||20,000||1.76|
|1 liter of milk||15,000||1.32|
|1 loaf of wholemeal bread||50,000||4.40|
|1 packet of Marlboro||15,000||1.32|
|1 liter of mineral water||4,000||0.35|
|5 gallon tank of mineral water||12,000||1.06|
|1 can of coke||7,000||0.62|
|5 kg sack of rice||100,000||8.81|
|1 kg beef (domestic)||90,000||7.93|
|1 bottle of beer (large)||25,000||2.20|
|Metro Mini bus fare (*)||3,000||0.26|
|Jakarta “busway” (**)||4,500||0.40|
|Taxi (airport to center)||130,000||11.45|
|1 liter subsidized premium fuel||6,500||0.57|
|1 liter non subsidized premium fuel||9,500||0.84|
|1 month room in boarding house w/fan||1,000,000||88.06|
|1 month room in boarding house w/aircon||2,000,000||176.12|
|Studio apartment (center)||4,000,000||352.24|
|Studio apartment (outside center)||3,000,000||264.18|
|Decent 3 bed house (suburbs)||8,000,000||704.47|
|3-4 star hotel (1 night)||700,000||61.64|
|Electricity (house, 2 air-con nights only)||800,000||70.45|
|Internet (cable unlimited)||300,000||26.42|
|Internet (dongle modem)||100,000||8.81|
(*) and (**) Public transportation (bus) fares are incredibly good value in Jakarta. In theory, you can travel great distances for mere peanuts. In reality, though the buses are overcrowded and unbearably uncomfortable. Far better to get your own motorcycle if you are on a budget.
Exchange rate: 1 USD = Rp11,356
(As of November 6, 2013)
NOTES: This is only a rough guide to prices and prices can vary widely depending upon a number of factors. Also be aware that the local convenience store will be a lot more expensive than one of the large hypermarkets operating in Jakarta such as Carrefour.