House-hunting as a newly-arrived expat in Indonesia

House-hunting as a newly-arrived expat in Indonesia

House-hunting as a newly-arrived expat in Indonesia

Perhaps one of the trickiest tasks for newly-arrived expats anywhere in the world is finding a suitable property to either rent or buy.

Indonesia is now a popular destination for adventurous expats looking for tropical weather as well as Western-style amenities including housing. For new arrivals eager to get settled and get on with their chosen lifestyles, finding a suitable property is much like playing the lottery and expecting to win! To put it mildly, Indonesia’s real estate market bears absolutely no resemblance to its equivalents in the vast majority of other world countries.

Firstly, the housing market in Indonesia is so slow it seems static, and there’s no such thing as a ‘real’ real estate agency. New arrivals will realise this once they see the tattered, faded notices on gateposts announcing the property is for sale or rent – and has been so for the past few years! Attempting to call the phone number on the notice one you’ve deciphered it won’t get you any further in your search for the perfect home from home, as the line will have been discontinued for a good while. The few working agencies aren’t much better, leaving the do-it-yourself option as the only way to get a roof over your head.

Some householders put notices on their properties stating they don’t use agents and implying they don’t want you to do so either. The message is simple – run away fast. The fact is that, in most Indonesian cities, the only way to find a property is via word of mouth within the local expat community or via adverts in the English language media. Of course. there’s a snag to this as well, as local landlords are convinced all expats are wealthy and adjust their rents accordingly. To get around being overcharged, it’s necessary to have an Indonesian friend check out your chosen property and establish the rent before you put in an appearance.

Locals selling their homes tend towards pricing them at double the figure they first thought of. For rentals, local landlords want two or three-year contracts and require the entire amount upfront. Changing your mind could well result in losing your savings, as there’s no such thing as a consumer protection this country. In the end, you’ll get lucky and find a suitable property, whether you’re renting or buying, with the entire process an introduction to your new location, its culture and its peoples. Decent landlords do exist, it just takes a year or so to find one but, once you’re settled in, you’ll always remember your house-hunting experience as an introduction to an amazingly unique corner of the planet.

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