The Republic of Indonesia in south-east Asia, stretches between the Indian and Pacific Oceans and comprises of 17,000 islands. Indonesia is a geological wonderland, famous for its volcanoes, temples, rice terraces orang-utans and tasty food. Indonesia is a fascinating place to visit and a great place to live as it is the cheapest country in the world.
Indonesia does have a large population – 261 million people, making it the 4th most populated country in the world. It welcomes 16 million tourists each year (2018 figure) and is home to 95,000 foreigners -mainly from China, Japan and South Korea.
It is true that the popular islands of Bali and Java are relatively expensive, but even in the country’s capital, Jakarta, the cost of living is still 60% lower than London prices and 50% lower than in nearby Singapore. Away from the main cities and the tourist trail, it is possible to live comfortably in Indonesia on $350 US dollars a month- and that includes your rent!
So what is it like living in the cheapest country in the world?
Enjoy a lovely climate
Indonesia has a tropical climate which means that daily temperatures range from 22-33ºC all year round. The sea remains pleasantly warm too. There are 12 hours of daylight, usually 06.00-18.00
Boy, does it rain!
Indonesia is one of the wettest countries in the world! There are two main seasons; the wet and the dry and these vary depending on which part of Indonesia you are in. Kalimanton (Borneo) in the north-west is particularly wet and so is the western coast of Sumatra.
Accommodation is cheap
Away from the tourist hot spots, rental charges are incredibly low, but it is worth checking that amenities are western style. If you are seeking a simple one bed apartment, the annual rental will be about US$2,500 (less than $210 a month) and the average rental for a spacious two-storey house is about US $3,530. If you stay in a hotel whilst you search for the ideal rental property, rooms cost $12-14 per night. Landlords expect their tenants to look after their property well and also expect them to maintain it and that includes getting any problems with water or electricity etc. fixed.
Cable TV and unlimited internet – life’s essentials- with set you back just US$30 every month. You will also find that employing someone to help with the housework or gardening is cheap in comparison and expected of you.
Running a car is economical
The great news for motorists is that petrol costs half the average global price in Indonesia! Another huge bonus is that car repairs are cheap and incredibly quick – usually taking just hours, rather than days.
Making yourself understood
Of the 17,000 islands, only 922 are permanently inhabited and there is great diversity. Bahasa Indonesia is the most popular and official language, but English is widely spoken, except in small rural communities. There are 700 different languages and dialects – with 270 dialects in Papua alone! Interestingly, there are still some remnants of Dutch in the various dialects.
It is a good idea to learn some Indonesian and your efforts will be much appreciated. Indonesians love speaking with foreigners and are very curious about what you think of their country. They ask many questions and as they are obsessed with showering several types a day, you will often be asked if you have has a shower before evening prayers. Islam is the main religion but there are as many religions as there are languages.
Eat well for much less
Food is plentiful in Indonesia, but before you go shopping, it is worth learning some vocabulary! There is plenty of beef, duck and chicken and includes offal. The fish is good and often crisply fried so that you can eat them bones and all! The seafood is exceptional, but if you are vegetarian, you will have plenty of choice.
Much of Indonesia has fertile volcanic soil so there is an abundance of cheap fresh fruit. Bananas and mangos are available all year through, but many other fruits are seasonal. The only expensive fruit are imported ones such as raspberry and blue berry. Fruit is so plentiful that there are numerous street stalls where you can buy freshly squeezed juice.
You can pick up excellent street food for $1 including Nasi Bebek– delicious fried duck and rice. An excellent, three course meal for two in a smart restaurant costs about $20. The expensive element will be if you want to drink wine. Even a middle of the range bottle will set you back at least $25. All alcohol is relatively expensive in Indonesia.
Leisure time is great!
If you are working in Indonesia, you will be delighted to know that there are plenty of public holidays and long weekends sprinkled through the year. Everyone is friendly in Indonesia and hospitable, polite and respectable in their manner. Getting out and about to explore the islands is great fun.
Indonesia has dramatic landscapes with 127 active volcanos and it is possible to climb to the crater rim of many. There are jungle treks to enjoy and great diving on a number of the world’s best coral reefs. The wildlife in Indonesia is impressive and going on a safari is a ‘must do’ to see endangered rhinos, tigers and orangutans. Indonesia is the only place in the world where you will see a komado dragon.
If you are keen to change your pace of life and embrace a completely different culture in a beautiful country with happy, friendly people, Indonesia is well worth considering….