Category Archives: House vs. apartment

Wake up, it’s night in Jakarta

Night time is basically the right time in Jakarta — because it’s cooler, quieter and less congested. You can get a lot of stuff done at night. A night watchman can help set the tone.

Yes, we have vacancy.

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Spacious sublease for expats avail. in Kuningan/Menteng (house)

Yes, we have vacancies.

Monthly lease rates range from Rp 5 – 6 million with minimum 9-12 month lease including unbeatable location near Four Seasons, wifi broadband, newspapers and coffee on breakfast table, clean laundry in your wardrobe, hot showers, good pressure, cold AC, full kitchen, CCTV and on-premises security, and a microbrewery!


Expatriate demand sends condo rentals, Sharehouse enquiries soaring

Wah, I knew this was going to happen. Kemang’s played out! It’s not worth living that far away from the office anymore — and there just aren’t that many suitable houses near the CBD. 

The Jakarta Post article in question says that all the action is in or near the CBD (that’s us, unless you’re talking SCBD) and “growing demand from expats to rent upscale apartments [is] a sign for the government to allow foreigners to own condominiums in Indonesia.”

Since that’s not going to happen anytime soon,  we’ve got a couple suggestions.  The first one is closely linked to our recently updated FAQ & Vacancies. Otherwise, if you’d like to be part of or in charge of your own Sharehouse in this part of Jakarta, we can help, pursuant to a rent outfit management (ROM) arrangment.  

Please email for more information.

Expate, outsource, automate and disappear: how to spend less and live more in Indonesia

Here’s what we’ve heard over the years about why single expats find that sharing a house near the business district with other expats makes sense in a city like Jakarta.

“I like the fact they’ve got a micro-brewery on board. It’s social, but in a focused way. The Jakarta serviced apartment thing was convenient, but ultimately alienating and boring. There’s just not that much going on in Jakarta on the 26th floor.”

— Development consultant, Madrid

“The kost thing was fun for a while. Sure you meet a lot of people, including Indonesians. It’s almost like a family experience. But then if your boyfriend comes to Indonesia or something . . . or you want to throw a Halloween  party, you may as well be in a hotel . ”

— Tech journalist, Palo Alto 


“My company offered me a big kontrakan [rental house]. But there were a lot of questions about who was going to look  after it. I’d just as soon not have a pool if I have to clean it.”

— Expatriate GM, Melbourne 

“I’m having enough trouble with my driver so I wasn’t really keen on having more people [maid] to manage.”

— Hydro engineer, Montreal

“Once I got the gym membership and located a few good swimming pools, there was really no reason to stay in the apartment.”

— Intern, Helsinki 

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Fitness First @Oakwood (S. Jakarta) Costs Rp 500,000/ month

The reason I mention it, is because I just signed up for another four months and I’m looking at the receipt. Also, fitness is serious business here in new Jak city and FF is a no-nonsense outfit. Folks are nice and they don’t fast talk you. You can let your membership expire and sign up again at the same rate and they won’t even pretend that you can’t. They accept your cash at — you know — cash value. No card games.

The views aren’t quite as good as Grand Indonesia but they’re less cluttered, too.

As for Plan B, would you rather be surfing, sailing, jogging in Jak?  A shame really that Jakarta isn’t located in British Colombia, New South Wales or California. It would be a perfect fit as people in Jakarta are relaxed and even mildly outdoorsy.

Fact is, Jabotabek (ugly name but Jakarta/Bogor/Tangerang/Bekasi’s all jammed together crazy like that) is sandwiched between a volcano and the port of Sunda Kelapa.  And as we approach 30 million souls, we’ll be catching up with Canada.

So you can say that you’re going surfing — and you might. But in Jakarta, even the likes of Timothy Ferris (4-Hour Work Week/4-Hour Body) may find his/herself logistically weak-kneed having to rely on anything that tricky as a primary source of exercise. (Mountain biking, on the other hand, is fairly practical in Jak as long as its not too hot.)

Jak just isn’t your in-and-out type of place. As such, even “going out for some fresh air” or “taking a walk” may or may not be feasible. First go downstairs and check out the weather.  (Today it was lovely. Jakarta can be a real charmer — for example , when the smog blows out to sea and you notice all the brand-new shiny buildings that have gone up since the last clear-weather day.)

Keep your walking shoes handy, learn the roads and study maps, traffic and weather. Then work it baby (an article by a journalist formerly in residence @Sharehouse), cuz you’re gonna get some looks.  (Honestly, there’s almost nothing I find as exhilarating as mountain biking Jak and it has something to do with the people contact.) On the other hand, you could end up like one Sharehouse woman (yep, the one who went for a swim in the big ol’ fountain at the Plaza Indonesia roundabout on her last day in town) who got a large pointy piece of metal stuck in her foot on one of her very first freestyle Jak-abouts. Extra points for bravery, ’cause she was actually jogging down the railroad tracks. But she got a terribly nasty infection, too, that had her on crutches for a week or so and in a lot of pain.

So what does that leave . . . Yoga and the gym, pretty much. Use the free gym at your apartment? Yep, that’s always convenient. Conveniently located near your frig, your couch, and your wifi. So you may as well be hunting for activity partners on the Internet.  Or, better yet, at the bar! Drinking has been the official expat sport in this city since day 1.

I mean, if you want to spend all week (except for those 4 working hours) at Red Square or BATS, I think that’s fair.  But what I don’t get (I used to) is reasoning like “I just hate gyms” and “I just can’t see paying 60 dollars a month for the gym.”  That’s nothing if it keeps you healthy.

Because the Susan Waine fitness joint at Bellagio, across the street from Oakwood, is less than Rp 100,000/month. (A bit grotty and best for the heat-resistant types as they can’t be bothered to keep the AC very cold. I was cool and the gang with it, but my wife got a bit itchy and so we worked that membership on out, and let ‘er expire natural-like, easing across the street to join the in-crowd upstairs from the ever-popular Loewy and the ever-happening Bux.)  But we’ve also done a couple of Gold’s, Elite, Fit by Beat, pretty much every gym around. At a place like FF you’ll find brand-new equipment, hyper-convenient locations, awesome views of Jakarta, a pool (the one at Grand Indo, even though it was too small and somehow more uptight last time we tried it).

The money is the least of it. You’ll have tons of it left over after you quit all your dirty Indonesian bad habits, like smoking, dodgy street food, carousing, etc.

Complaints? Sauna’s really small and the music used to be really anemic; but it’s gotten better lately.

Costs and Kosts: Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta

~~This is the second post in a series of on kosts. Kebayoran Baru: What’s in It for You? is the first~~

A post at Living in Indonesia forum a few months ago said, “Three merciless days beating the streets and nothing.”

Right, because that’s how it feels, even though you come away with a much clearer idea of what you’re looking for – and maybe it’s a house or office location, not a kost – and what’s out there.

It took S. and me a lot longer than three days. A couple weeks and, yea, some exhausting footwork. We ended up going with the very first place we saw and we found that one by asking the very first guy we saw on the street corner outside target location (where I would be every day for work).

He wasn’t wearing shoes, which suggested to me that he was pretty much localized. Three hours later I was still skipping merrily along behind him, soaked in sweat, reminding myself every five minutes that a workout is a workout and I wouldn’t have to go to gym the next day.

From Senopati to Bangka, he knows every house and what the story is. Turns out he’s supports a large family repairing shoes. Which would explain why he did his best to wear holes in mine. He was pleased when I finally gave him Rp 10,000 and collapsed into a taxi. I think I know where to find him, so holler if you must.

So yes, it helps to use an agent. Just watch your costs. On follow-up trips we chartered a BBG-model “new Bajaj” and traveled by scooter. The right Bajaj guy knows his way around, including who’s got what for rent. On another occasion a neighborhood unit chief (AKA the “Pak RT”) took us for a spin around his block. House hunting goes a lot faster that way. But eventually you have start over by hunting down a new place to hunt and new hunting partners.

So here’s what we were looking for in a Kebayoran Baru kost and here’s what we found.

Our target Kebayoran Baru kost:

• Rp 2 mil/month
• Max freedom of movement
• AC
• Suitable for working at home
• Internet or some good reason for not having it
• Can park a motorbike; don’t have to squeeze past a bunch of cars to get in

And the table below shows more or less what we’ve found, decisions made, and why.

(Sorry, we entirely failed to keep track of addresses. Just kind of going on feel. Post a comment to request add’l info. I’ll do my best.)

Kost type

Look & feel 





The General

A high-ranking dude ends up with more land than money and turns a good 25% of a massive house into very solid little rental units

Despite being a kost, still looks like one of those chunky, wrap-around-the-block Kebayoran Baru houses. Totally swish neighborhood. Suitable for Silver Bird pick up/drop off.  

Fast broad-band/wifi; really crappy bed;great closets/ shelves; un-hot hot water; laundry done by the front gate security (sucked bad)


Rp 4 mil

(but they have rooms that are (much) smaller for Rp 3 mil).

Yes. This turned out to be one big-ass studio with fast wifi across the street from work. So we doubled our budget and moved in (after two weeks of trying to find something better). And after one month we moved out. Why? Well, it turns out kost culture matters a tiny bit.  Cops were nice, but not fitting in – even for those few minutes when you’re coming and going — is a drag. But I can recommend this place for short term kost near Blok M.

The Auntie

A friendly, quirky  Indonesian woman spends most of the time in Holland. Her old-school, one-storey house has two or three bath/rooms rented out. No communal area. Retail focus: No matter how long you plan to stay, they always do things the same.

Fortunately, there are two larger units with private entrance (i.e, pavilion/paviliun  mother-in-law, etc). This is minutes from SCBD and stays full. Best part is the attractive semi-antique wooden furniture carefully assembled over the years.  Bars on the windows but light coming in. Nice

You get a key. Aunty scoffed at the idea of installing Internet.  “Kitchen” an unfunny joke. House dingy except for rental units.  

Rp 2 mil

No. It fell through. Management is as funky as the furniture. We tried. Deal breaker: You have to pay a surcharge for running the AC during the day. Which smacks of unwritten rules and hassles. Auntie spends most of the time in Amsterdam; too bad Holland isn’t further from Jakarta.

Road house

A commercial commuter kost located precisely at one of Jakarta’s worst traffic bottlenecks. In a way strategic: bad traffic, but at least you’re “home”

Minimalist,  urban, thing ( raw, corrugated cement with a splash of red paint). Pretty much what most commercial, commuter kosts look like. Private entrance.

Things are bound to work, including laundry and wifi.  They have to at commercial kosts like this. Otherwise, the  itinerant office folk take their rupiah next door.

Rp 2 mil (see if you can get Rp 1.8)

No. It was full. Plus, didn’t like the front yard carpark look, an uncomfortable echo of the choice to live all stacked up in cement boxes.

The Mates

A normal one-storey house has been aptly remodeled as a kost (by someone who’s lived in one). Located on a narrower lane in an otherwise “good” area and looks like a house on the outside. Friendly, young live-in owner/manager. Brochure available.  

 The gang was chilling at the kitchen table when we walked in. A bunch of (Indonesian) guys/girls who probably share a lot in common in terms of career, interests etc. It all made sense.  No private entrance.

Hot water. Large bed and bath in each room – like a hotel. Broadband, wifi, kitchen, and TV area very much in evidence.  Obviously they want the place to work. Likely it does.

Rp 3.5 mil

No. Didn’t fit in. Culture was friendly but a bit overwhelming (like the cigarette smoke). This gang would be happy to have you move in. And you’d probably find commonalities. But you’d have to pay your social dues, learn how to hang with the gang, maybe learn to smoke. A good way to learn Indonesian. Proves that you can’t judge a kost from the outside.  

Most Kost

Built to share, the husband/wife owner/managers know kosts. A relatively small structure but with a comfortable apartment feel, in the sense that everything has been thought out.

An unexciting but solid-looking building on a narrower but typically lovely, green Kebayoran Baru street with great gardens and a mix of older and remodeled. houses. Quite  a few kosts, too. 

No windows to speak of, but excellent use of space. Tons of storage. Very well- thought out furniture, most of it purpose-built. No Internet

Rp 4 mil for singles (surcharge for couples)

No. Too expensive. And why no Internet? Doesn’t make sense. Guess I’m not the target market. Plus, here was offhand comment of a kost resident (encountered lounging curb-side during previous visit): Yes, this is a kost for Islam only.  Random comment, random dude, maybe. Not representative of our experience. What he probably meant was: No, you can’t live here with your girlfriend [sic]. Whatever, though. Just tell them you’re married.

The Out Back

No matter how  developed and overdeveloped Jak becomes, scattered throughout there’s always going to be dirt roads leading to a vacant lots with little frontier homesteads. So around the corner from the ambassador, here’s a woman with a dozen babies, running desktop publishing outfit and renting rooms.

It was relaxed. I don’t specifically remember poultry, but I don’t think they’d really mind if you came home with a couple chickens. Plenty of space back there.

You get a fan

Rp 2 mil, firm

No. We needed AC. Rp 2 mil for a fan? This must be Kabayoran Baru. She was willing to install AC, but it was going to take time and would have increased the price. The open space was nice. We would have done it.

Wanna Be Apt

Featuring all the downsides of an apartment, and none of the advantages. Works great for whoever owns it, I bet, with a truly impressive body count/m2 ratio. Nice part of Kebayoran Baru with security, parking, brochure, whole thing.

Like an apartment on the outside, wardrobe on the inside. Think Indonesian university dorms.

Convenient motorbike parking. You get to smoke all you want

Rp 3.5, if I’m not mistaken

Never. Rooms were too small. May well be locally popular. Doesn’t translate cross culturally.

 O my, Oma

Oma (Granny) is probably a widow. Her two-storey  house is potentially funky in a good way, but alas, falling apart all over. Grandma is very nice, lucid, and apparently a good cook. (Padang food). She’d probably look out for your ass all right.

The Indonesian version of one of those places you lived as an undergraduate for like two months before taking out more student loans.

The water goes down the drain (sometimes), if you take the hair out

Rp 2 mil

Not. And this place was nearly full, too. Just goes to show that it’s not that easy to find good kosts in Kebayoran Baru. (One place we saw was even more unlikely –you had to walk down a nasty dark hall to a tiny dark room at the end – also Jt 2) 

Kebayoran Baru — What’s in it for you?

So here’s a relevant post. A whole series of them actually. And the first is about finding a place to live in South Jakarta. Central South Jakarta, to be precise, near Blok M.  (Not north South Jakarta, where the Sharehouse is located. )

I did this recently. I moved to this part of Jakarta to be closer to client’s location. Of course, with Jakarta the way it is (unplanned) people do this kind of thing all the time. The key word is generally “kost,” which is a type of Indonesian boarding house. Kosts come in all shapes and sizes. On the plus side, there’s less cookie-cutter conformity, more personality than an apartment. Minus –wise . . .well, kosts are quirky. There’s a lot of due diligence involved. But month-to-month is the name of the game. So if you got a bad deal, try your hand again next month.

So why would anyone want to live near Blok M? First, because this is one of the city’s classic centers. Even though there are no new malls – apparenlty not even any room to build them — here, people still converge. For one, this is where all (many) of the busses end up. Including the TransJakarta (AKA “Busway”).  Next, there’s an endless diversity of eateries. Nowhere on earth – I bet – can you find diversity, prices and convenience like this.

And South Jak is just laid back. The trees and shadiness, the massive houses belonging to easy-come-and-go government officials,  and all the boutiques — even galleries – do help. Almost no office buildings in this part of town. (Not counting government offices, which are everywhere. But they’re also low key and you don’t get the sense that people are all stressed out inside). And the fact that South Jakarta is the opposite direction from the business district(s) and the port, and precisely the way you’d go if you were headed out to Java (as people refer to the non-city) to get away from it all – all that helps, too.

Of course, if you’re living in Kemang or Pondok Indah, then you may know Senopati, Kebayoran Baru, Wijaya, Prapanca, etc, like the back of your hand. After cumulative years of being stuck there at the ten -minute red lights. So that’s another reason. Living in Kebayoran Baru would put you just that much closer to the office. And traffic doesn’t hurt as bad if it’s “your” traffic.

Kebayoran Baru was laid out in the 1950’s along the lines of Menteng,  Indonesia’s “first garden city.”   There’s plenty of green and a lovely sprawl to it all.  The houses have been built more recently and remodeled more frequently than Menteng, and it’s all very interesting. Perhaps as a result of unsettled zoning laws (or none at all), you sense that there’s a lot of really flash houses plus some intriguing, low profile offices – since you can’t really tell the difference.

The Senopati area was to die for even before South Central Business District (SCBD) – the stock exchange, Pacific Place etc.  — happened. There, you’ll see healthy mix of ambassadors, generals and other conspicuous types living in neat Beaver Cleaver city blocks under massive trees.  Wijaya, meanwhile, is a study in superb-anism. There you can build it and do it your own way. No one has to know, but if you want them to, that’s OK, too. There are spots in there that feel just like Newton in Singapore.  And if you’d like to purchase a piano or enroll you kids in the newest career-coaching-for pre-schoolers fad, this is where you’ll have to go. I actually saw a four-person upper/middle class Indonesian family – dad, mom and two kids walking down the street one evening; and dad was wearing Bermudas. It may be difficult (for me) to explain why, but  that’s just not something you’re going to see a lot in Jakarta.

Santa and Barrito, which lie just beyond Kebayoran Baru’s most blocked and beautiful areas (and aren’t Mexican after all), provide a slightly funkier mix. Perhaps they can be compared to Halimun/Guntur, just on the “wrong” side of the tracks from Menteng.

And then there’s Blok S, AKA Little Korea. I don’t know the history of the area, but it’s still going on today, so rock on up. It’s got this clutter-chic thing going on. Like no one wants to bother to clean up the front yard because in a few months it will be covered with snow anyway. This area may have once been trapped between a flood spot and a standing traffic jam (Tendean). But now it’s just around the corner from SBCD and destined to become another happening part-a-Jakarta.

— Next in this series– Kosts & Kosts: Kebayoran Baru.