My Cost of Living in Jakarta ~$1200/month

I feel like I have let the fans down cuz I did an awful job with this budget break down. I know how much I spent, and I know exactly what I spent on certain things but not others.

The whole 1.3 million rupiah per $100 thing really threw me off and I just got lazy to track my total expenses. Still I can give a good break down of how much things cost here, and overall I found it a very interesting city when it comes to a budget.

For instance there are more expensive meals around Jakarta then I have seen anywhere else. Not only is there a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (I don’t even know how much it costs, but I am sure it is A LOT) but other places can be quite expensive as well.

My first day here I went to some small mall, the first restaurant menu I looked at was for the ‘American Grill’ and I saw some meal prices in the 300k-450k rupiah range.

$30 for a meal? I have never seen that at any menu I have looked at in Asia. I saw some $15-$20 meals at Greenbelt in Makati and some similar in Bangkok and Pattaya, but never $30.

I am sure they exist somewhere in Manila and Bangkok but I certainly wasn’t expecting to see that at some small crappy mall. As time went on I realized this place was an outlier (and read that it wasn’t even good food on another site) but the fact that it is even around is odd.

As mentioned it is 1.3million ish rupiah per $100. The easiest way for me to break this down was to think of 100k rupiah as $8ish and 10,000 as .80 cents. Not exact but close enough.

Travel hotel sex club

Accommodation $650

This was by far the most expensive place I have rented in Asia (2nd most was $475ish) but I knew Jakarta traffic sucked so I wanted to be in a good location. I got the place off AirBnb and it was alright in some ways and not in others.

The location was fine, I was walking distance from 3 malls and under $2 away on a motorbike from the main mall Grand Indonesia. In future stays I would hope to be a little closer to Grand Indo, but I can’t complain about the location.

It came with free water and electric like all places on AirBnb do and also had its own internet. But the dude forgot to pay his internet bill and a week into my stay it was turned off for 5 days.

Jakarta mall

Considering I work online and specifically chose this place that was quite annoying, but my mobile data got me through it. The mobile data in Jakarta can get to 4g, but in my place it never got a 4g signal.

My first night here I went to bed and realized there was no blanket or sheet on the bed. I looked all around, nothing. So I slept with a towel over me and emailed the guy the next day and he picked up the comforter from the dry cleaners. Dude really wasn’t on his A game here.

Quick side note: why has every place I have stayed since I left the Philippines (3/3 sample size) had some thick ass comforter on the bed with no sheet? Thailand and Indonesia are hot climates…… I don’t need a winter blanket, give me a sheet and I am good.

Oh ya there were roaches too and there was nothing I could do about them. In the walls and I am guessing they were throughout the whole building. After being in Asia so long I am used to it and all it means really is you gotta wash your dishes before you use them.

Would prefer they weren’t there but not a huge deal. On the other hand when you pay for the most expensive place you have stayed at in years you would rather not have to deal with them.

If living here long term I would hope to knock $100 off this cost. When asking most visitors how much they thought my apartment costs a month they would usually guess around 7 million so I didn’t overpay to much when you factor in free electric and no lease.

Food $280ish

Indonesian fast food

This is where my exact numbers go away. In Thailand it was easy to remember ’90 baht’ for a meal. Remember 58,200 and 5,600 for a coke and 22,800 for groceries not near as easy. I guess I coulda rounded.

I am quite certain that I ended up paying more here on food then I have paid in other places. I have been traveling for 2 months now and have been way under budget both times do didn’t mind spending more.

I never ate the street food and don’t even know how much it costs but after seeing how they wash the dishes I didn’t want to try it. Plus I just don’t have any idea what Indonesian food is.

Even at nicer restaurants I would walk up and look at a menu and it was pretty much always in the local language. It all looked the same and sounded the same and I generally just walked away and found some western food.

It seems pretty similar to Thai food with lots of noodle dishes close to pad thai, but the ones I had were not as good. The main place I ate was ‘The Goods Cafe’ connected to the Goods Department Store at a few of the malls.

At the mall

This place had the best burger I have had in Asia bar none. It was pretty pricey at 95k rupiah (after tax, sucks they have tax here) so about $7.50. That was my daily food budget in Angeles 2 years ago.

I probably had this 8 or 9 times because it had been so long since I had such a legit burger. The spaghetti at the Goods Diner was probably my 2nd favorite meal and it was about $5.

It was a big enough portion for 2 meals when you do it for take out and buy some bread to go with it. Side note: the bread and pastries here are like the ones in the Philippines and that isn’t a good thing. Thailand is the only place in SEA that knows how to make breads apparently.

That was a good way to get some cheap meals, $3.25ish per meal and as mentioned my 2nd favorite food I found. There was also a pretty good General Tsao’s chicken at the Goods for a little under $5.

Another common meal I had was pizza at Popolamama and this very well may have been the best pizza I had in Asia as well. It was roughly $6.50 for a 6 slicer that was good for 1 meal.

What I noticed about Jakarta food was that there wasn’t all that much western food around, but the Western food I did try was generally quite good.

I had some of the local noodle dishes a few times and they were a step down from Thai food and I was generally paying more for them ($4ish) then a better Thai dish costs in BKK or Pattaya.

Long term I would probably find some ways to knock $20ish off the food costs here, but the prices for the western food would make it hard. At least the food was worth it.

Transportation $80ish

Jakarta traffic

This is probably my least favorite parts about Jakarta and it has nothing to do with the $80. Actually I would have spent more on transport but I got lazy the last week or so and just walked to the nearby mall everyday.

The traffic here is sooooo bad and the only way to get around it is to take the motorbikes (called ojek) to get anywhere. Not because they are cheaper then a taxi, but because they don’t get stuck in traffic.

This is how roads work in Jakarta. Cars park in the middle and right lane and slowly creep forward for hours. Then on the left lane, shoulder, and sidewalk motorbikes just keep going and going.

When you are getting a ride from an ojek and there is traffic its not that bad. You are moving slow and not really risking your life. But when he decides to hop on the hiway…….

I had one super crazy driver on the highway and a few other times I wasn’t really comfortable even though the guy wasn’t really doing anything bad. I really wouldn’t want to have to ride these day after day, at some point something bad may happen.

But are you really going to sit in a taxi for 5 times as long? Or not go anywhere. Again this is the worst part about Jakarta.

Ordering a Gojek

They are very cheap though and can be even cheaper if you sign up for the ‘Gojek’ or ‘Grab’ apps. I didn’t get the apps because I felt it was worth an extra 40ish cents to not have to answer a phone call from a ojek driver that didn’t speak English.

If you just walk up to a driver in a ‘Gojek’ or ‘Grab’ green jacket (why are they both the same color?) they will charge you a bit more but its not that big of a deal. If I lived there long term I would probably get the app.

Anyways 20k-30k should take you to most nearby places. For instance a taxi to Grand Indonesia was about 25k and ojeks were 20k-25k. One time in the rain I had to overpay 50k because I didn’t want to go find another and none were around.

All in all though the taxis and ojeks are probably even cheaper here then anywhere else I have been. The fare starts at fifty cents instead of a dollar and I had one fare that cost under a dollar.

If I lived here I would hope to spend under the amount I spent not because I wanted to save money but because I wanted to risk death less often.

Entertainment $140

Spa hot tubs in Malio sex club

I only went to the sex clubs once on my first trip to Jakarta so that has these costs down. If I lived here longer I expect I would be there more often. They were a lot of fun and I will be back on return trips for sure.

Each time you go you have to expect to spend a minimum of $40 so that would increase this initial budget. However since it is easy to find casual hook ups off Indonesia Cupid I wouldn’t be there all to much.

Each casual hook up was pretty cheap. The only girl I met who was costly lived quite far away and I paid her taxi both ways. She never asked me to and even tried to refuse the money but she was my favorite girl I met there…… the ex virgin hehe……. and I wanted return visits.

I gave her 200k rupiah each time she came and usually bought her a meal. Quick side note that probably should have gone on the food part but one time she ordered a drink that cost as much as her meal.

Definitely try to have the dates at your place or avoid eating at restaurants on them because drink prices were awful at Jakarta restos. Many don’t even have Coke just tea or expensive fancy drinks.

Most of the time girls came over their taxi fare was cheap and a few refused taxi money. Entertainment could be done very cheap here, or it could get very expensive quickly if you frequent the sex clubs or go on a lot of nice dates.

Total Cost of Living In Jakarta – $1200

This is the most I have spent in a month in a long time and far more then I spend in Cebu, Angeles, or even Bangkok.

I might be able to shave $50 or $100 off it but $1200 seems about right. The other cost I didn’t mention that would factor in long term is the visa.

I’ve written other post about the visa but at a minimum it will add a little money, and at a maximum it will add a big chunk. It requires you to go to immigration three days each month or pay the immigration charge plus the $75ish (haven’t done much research on this but one guy told me about 1 million rupiah) fee to have someone take care of it for you.

The higher cost of living in Jakarta won’t keep me away. The shitty visa might.

18 Responses

  1. thibault says:

    and tve caption? you think they ll write themselves, out of thin air? do i have to remibd you each time? do i really need to use this passive agressive or whatever tone it is i use? am i an asshole? why even bother, write those captions, period.

  2. southernallstars says:

    The food really isn’t cheap, I often eat at the foodcourt in Grand Indonesia or fx mall, but hardly ever pay less than 50000 IDR, which is a little below 4 USD. Doesn’t compare to the 1-2 USD meals in Thailand or VN! In Manila or Angeles I would pay about 3 USD in most cases.

    For transportation I usually take the Transjakarta bus, which is about 3500 IDR = 25 cents, but sometimes it gets cramped and Indos have poor body hygiene so no fun ride there!
    You’re right about the visa situation, having to fly out every other month is quite a pain!

    I stayed in a Fave Hotel for 26 USD, that’s with a good breakfast buffett, so accomodation was cheaper than Manila for me!

    I kind of like the fact that Indo ( outside Bali) seems to be far more untouched by foreigners than PI, let alone Thailand.

  3. RumandCokeMan says:

    Did you check out any local Jakarta grocery stores? Do they good cuts of quality meat and poultry you can cook at home or are they too nasty?

    Is there ever a time of day when traffic dies down considerably? I mean you would think at 11pm-5am the highways/freeways and main roads downtown would be less packed or is this not the case?

    How did you make the best out the Jakarta traffic?
    What area of the city would you stay in yo be close to all the fun and have better odds against the traffic?

    • jspill says:

      I stayed in the North at Ibis Harmoni hotel it’s walking distance to the 3 sex clubs classic/travel/malio so traffic wasnt an issue. And yeah 11pm – 5am roads were empty so it was a quiet walk, stopping to eat on the way.

    • southernallstars says:

      they have Carrefour here, which is a French supermarket, I only bought veggies there but I guess meat would be ok as well.
      I stayed in Harmoni as well and had no problems travelling to the center while avoiding the rush hours, but a few years ago I stayed in Blok M and there traffic was always quite bad!

    • kick2dante says:

      only grocery stores i went to were at the basements of the malls, they had plenty of clean meat, the chicken was reasonably priced i dont know about the beef

      surely there are cheaper local markets around somewhere but i dont like buying meat that has sat out all day and has flies landing on it

  4. harley says:

    I lived almost 2 years in Jakarta… in the beginning I was spending about 1000$ per month + 500$ per month for a 2 bedroom apartment… so thats 1500$ per month… then after a while I was just too bored and started spending close to 2000$ per month. Now i’m in Bali and I spend only about 1200$ here for a much better lifestyle. And 20$ for a meal like for example a beefsteak or something is not uncommon in Bangkok or Manila. I’ve spent that on several occasions for just a single dish in all cities i’ve been to in Asia especially if it’s a beefsteak or BBQ ribs or something.

  5. harley says:

    but yeah I agree the cost of food in Jakarta is higher than in Thailand or Vietnam… but I found Manila to be in about the same price range but you actually get Western food there for the same price what you’d get local food for in Jakarta. Unless you want to eat the street food in Jakarta, which is about 1$ per meal, which doesn’t look as clean and fun to eat as it is in Thailand or Vietnam… Never tried the street food there in my 2 years of being there.

  6. harley says:

    Jakarta also has the most expensive nightlife in south east Asia… cocktails are like 12$ easy and a bottle in a club will cost 200$… that’s double the prices as Bangkok or Manila… that’s what really fucked up my monthly spendings

  7. -Cam says:

    Fuck me I don’t know if I can handle roaches. Are those common in PI and TH too?

    • jspill says:

      Yeah but they’re small slow roaches, not full sized cockroaches. Easy to kill and if you use Baigon bug spray and keep your room clean you rarely see them

      • kick2dante says:

        this was the only place ive stayed where they were a problem, he had a ‘exterminator’ come out to try and get rid of them but by the way he was trying i could tell it was never going to work…. the building was infested so nothing could be done

      • harley says:

        I had never seen a cockroach in my life before moving to Asia…

  8. guy says:

    what a cheap bastard

  9. john says:

    You should post the full photo of the Gogek girl using the phone again, she’s cute.

    • jspill says:

      Yeah she was cute, my fave in Indonesia. People keep telling girls they’re on this blog so I posted the full body pic for a week or so for regular readers to see, then cropped it out later 🙂 Regular commenters can PM me if they wanna see it again. Maybe I’ll put it on IG.

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