The cost of living in Indonesia is generally affordable – it has a lower cost of living than many Western countries. In Mercer’s 2023 Cost of Living Survey, Jakarta was ranked as the 151st most expensive city out of 227 cities surveyed.
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 relatively low, and their lives will be far more luxurious than those of most locals.
As an expat, accommodation will most likely take the biggest portion of one’s salary. Education, medical care and utilities are also somewhat on the pricey side. Groceries in supermarkets are fairly cheap and even cheaper in small shops and at local ‘wet’ markets. Imported products are typically much more costly, especially wine and liquor.
Cost of accommodation in Indonesia
The cost of accommodation in Indonesia’s different cities is highly variable. In general, foreigners with an expat salary will be able to rent a luxurious apartment or house in the best neighbourhoods in Jakarta. Expats with a lower budget should still be able to rent a simple apartment in a decent and safe neighbourhood.
Outside of Jakarta, the cost of accommodation decreases significantly. Cities like Surabaya and Bandung offer more affordable options, and in smaller towns or villages, one can find even cheaper alternatives. However, the standards of accommodation might not be as high as in metropolitan areas, but for those valuing a quieter environment, these places might offer the perfect balance between cost and comfort.
Cost of transport in Indonesia
Transport won’t constitute a great portion of an expat’s salary in Indonesia, even if they regularly take a taxi or have their own driver. Car prices are comparable to those in other countries. Fuel prices are very low compared to other countries, but are on the rise.
Public transport is much cheaper, but also far less comfortable and not very safe. Buses and minibuses can be packed, and no air-conditioning makes riding in the hotter months exhausting.
If looking for cheap transport, an ojek (motorbike taxi) or a bajaj (tuk-tuk) are other options. It is best to negotiate the price, and if unable to speak Bahasa Indonesia, expats will probably pay almost as much as they would pay for a taxi. It’s useful to learn some key phrases in Bahasa Indonesia for situations like these.
Cost of groceries and clothing in Indonesia
Food and clothing will probably not take up a great portion of an expat’s salary, provided expats 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 familiar Western brands.
It’s also worth noting that local street markets are a gold mine for fresh fruits, vegetables and traditional clothing. The experience of shopping at these places is not only economical but also provides cultural immersion, offering a taste of everyday Indonesian life.
Cost of entertainment and eating out in Indonesia
Entertainment options are abundant in Indonesia, catering to a wide range of preferences. Cinemas, theatre shows and local music events are usually affordable. When it comes to dining, street food stalls offer delicious local delicacies at a fraction of the price of Western restaurants. For those missing home, international restaurants are also available, although at a higher cost.
For those who enjoy nightlife, there’s a vibrant scene in major cities, especially Jakarta and Bali. Prices for drinks and entry fees can be similar to those in Western countries, but it’s possible to find local spots which are less costly.
Cost of education in Indonesia
International schools are expensive in Indonesia, particularly in Jakarta. Though pricey, the quality of international schools is most often significantly higher than the quality of local public schools. Most schools also have additional charges for extracurricular activities.
For those not keen on international schools, there are also private local schools, which can be a middle ground in terms of costs. They generally offer a higher standard of education compared to public schools, but it’s essential to research and visit several before making a choice.
Cost of healthcare in Indonesia
Healthcare services are relatively expensive in Jakarta and vary significantly in quality. It's therefore important for expats to find a good local hospital with affordable rates as soon as possible.
Expats should also familiarise themselves with the medical coverage provided by their company and ensure that it will provide for medical concerns, major emergencies and medical evacuation to another country.
It might also be worthwhile for expats to consider purchasing supplementary health insurance to cover potential gaps, especially if they are planning to travel extensively within Indonesia or the surrounding region.
Cost of living in Indonesia chart
Prices vary across Indonesia – these are the average costs for Jakarta in October 2023. Prices may vary depending on product and service provider.
|Accommodation (monthly rent)
|Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|Food and drink
|Milk (1 litre)
|Loaf of white bread
|Chicken breasts (1kg)
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant
|Big Mac Meal
|Bottle of beer (local)
|Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)
|Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)
|Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)
|City-centre public transport fare
|Gasoline (per litre)
►Learn more about Indonesia's healthcare system in Healthcare in Indonesia
What do expats say about the cost of living in Indonesia?
"The labour is a lot cheaper in Indonesia, so you can pamper yourself by having a maid and driver. In terms of food and accommodation, I would say Jakarta is little bit cheaper than Canada. You can buy food in a nice café for the price of a food court in Canada."
Learn more about the expat experience in Indonesia in our interview with Meilisa.
Are you an expat living in Indonesia?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Indonesia. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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