3 of us (me, Karolina and Mesi ) moved to our first home . We were first people who lived in that house, so everything were still new (“everything” I mean clean walls, not broken ceramic floors, clean squat toilet, like nothing else was in that house – just curtains and 1 Indonesian style carpet ;)). Even this condition didn’t calm us down about the price (15 00 000 Rp/per 1 year+additional money for electricity). We thought that it’s a bit too expensive, so when our local friends visited us, we asked what they think about this house. All of them told, that it’s really too expensive for such condition house (without furniture, ceilings, even some of them told, that by ”standard” this house not finished yet). So, we just understood that we got such price because we are foreigners and almost everybody in Indonesia wants to “earn” money from them.
Our owner with a family lived beside our house, in the same “yard”. Sometimes she was bringing us breakfast, tea, sweets and etc. We were happy and were making a joke that we have ”second mother”. Nobody from her family was speaking English, so we thought we will have good opportunity to learn Indonesian language as well. We could anytime ask owners husband to help us at home or just borrow the tools. We were quite happy at that time there.
In Sewon area (Yogyakarta) didn’t live many foreigners, so some neighbors were hanging around in our terrace because of curiosity, the owner’s family celebrations was held here as well. Kids were running around, sometimes trying to get into a house without permission. Everything was fine for us, we knew that Indonesians are curious people and shares everything with everyone.
We were polite with all, smiling for everyone that we passed, never had any party or stayed loud till late, dressed properly and etc. In my opinion we adapt very quickly and really respected their lifestyle, we were just good neighbors.
Don’t rent this house in Sewon, south are of Yogyakarta
But everything changed after 4 months living in this house.
Once (before Christmas) Karolina, me and Indonesian friend were at home, when somebody knock the door (~10 pm). It was owner’s husband who asked our friend to come out because they have to talk. When I open the door wider I saw that our entire house was surrounded by ~ 20 men. Mesi was coming back home and she told that the view was intimidating – the local men stands in each corner of the house, by windows, like would be afraid that somebody can escape from house. We didn’t understand what’s happening. Nobody explain us anything, like nobody speaks in English, so we were just waiting till friend will come back and tells what is going on.
After ~30 min. friend came back, he didn’t explained anything, took a motorbike, told that he will tell everything next day and just left. But one of the men came to our house, started to point to one of motorbikes (another friend just keeps it in our place, like he had 2 motorbikes) and asked where another guy is. We told him that nobody is else at home, only 3 of us. They didn’t believe, so couple of men were sitting in front of our street till ~12 pm and “guard” if somebody else will come out. They wasted their time.
Next day, when friend came, he again was invited by owner’s husband to have another talk. Inside the house was the owner’s son as well (who didn’t live there and during 4 months we saw him first time). Finally after this talk friend came to explain everything.
So, somebody told to “RT” (the smallest unit of governmental system to manage the living area. Each “RT” has their own community leader that makes decisions, solves the problems) leader that in our house happening orgiastic things, man stays over the nights and etc. Like in Indonesia not allowed to live together not married couples, those gossips gave a “result”. The community man with a leader in front came to check our house in the evening when they saw that in front of a house parked not our motorbike (they had so much time to observe our place that they even knew which motorbikes we are driving and which ones in not ours). During second talk with friend, owner told that from now on if we have male visitors we need to open both doors (front and back) to show that we are not hiding anything and villagers can see that we are not doing anything “bad”. As well visitors should leave our home till 10 pm. We were surprised about such changes, because when we moved in, nobody told us, that it’s not allowed to have visitors in the evening (owner just told us, that male can’t stay overnight here, except if it’s relatives). All 4 months we had visitors – nothing happened, owner didn’t say anything and suddenly it became the “huge thing”. Also we didn’t understand why they talk with our guests, not with us about “new rules”.
We tried to figure out which our behavior could rise such changes. And we could think about 2 cases: 1. Once our local friend was smoking in the kitchen with open back door a little after 10 pm and one villagers was just passing by (in the back door was a small path to pass people to their houses) and saw him. 2. We had massage course in our home, came couple males, females (all foreigners), we stayed longer than we planned (till ~10.30 pm) and maybe talked a bit louder than usual. But are both case so “bad”?
What happen next? Almost 1 week after that “event”, local man were spying on our house every evening (in opposite street), owner husband was coming to our place at ~9 pm, knocking the door and asking our guest leave (even didn’t wait till 10 pm, probably wanted to go sleep earlier :D). Like we didn’t accept to open every time our doors when he have guest, owner was coming and remind us about “new rule”. We couldn’t live like this, without any privacy, all the time under pressure of community. We went to talk with our Darmasiswa program coordinator, explained what happened and asked come together to community leader to talk directly what is the situation about.
Leader explained that there are rule in this RT, that visitors can’t stay longer than after 10 pm and somebody saw that we have visitors later. Those people were “afraid” that our behavior can influence the local teenagers and etc. He asked to follow the rules and that’s all.
Next day we went to owner asking her to “protect” us in front of villagers, like we don’t do anything bad, if somebody doesn’t have what to do just gossiping it’s not our problems. Especially when in opposite street lives foreigner couples, holding parties and nobody said anything to them. But later we figure out that, next street is already another RT, so another rules, more flexible and we were just unlucky to live in strict RT. The owner told that she can’t do anything; we just need to live like this for a while. But we weren’t happy about it. We started to think about moving out and ask to give back half of paid money. We didn’t know where and how we will move yet, but live like this wasn’t normal for us.
Couple days later we asked one of university “buddies” to help us to translate to owner that if situation won’t change we are ready to move out and we want get money back. During the talk with the owner we figure out some interesting “facts” that was told for “buddy”.
Our house was built on the land that belongs to couple of the same family relatives, who lives almost next to owner’s house. Relatives are jealous for our owner that she rented a place for the foreigners (it means got more money). So they started to make “problems” to the owner (as well she told that it’s not first time, when relatives tries to harm). Everything it’s not because of our behavior, but because of relationship between families, we were just not lucky, probably any other foreigners who would live there would sooner or later had the same situation.
As well when we asked to give back half of the sum that we paid, they didn’t agree (of course who would? :D). They told that we moving out because of our own decision, they asked as to stay. But we told that with such living condition we can’t stay if owner won’t protect us. We suggested to take money only for 6 months that we won’t stay, even if we are moving after 4 months, not 6. We suggested to leave during 1 week, so they can find other people to rent – but they were stubborn. Even when the owner already agreed but the son didn’t allow to give back money. After couple of hours talking, making jokes of us in Indonesian they told us that all money they already spend and they don’t have any. They could give a little bit only after 4 months and then later the rest of the sum. We didn’t agree-we needed money now, because we will need to pay for the place renting now. Finally they told they will give money but only 7 000 000 Rp. When we asked why not 7 500 000 Rp, they told that they got only 14 00 000 Rp. What we figure out? The student from ISI who helped us to rent this place, took commission from owner 1 000 000 Rp. When we asked him to negotiate the price, he told that it’s not possible, but it was possible, he just wanted that money for himself. Another fact – when we wanted to signed the contract before moving in, that student told that it’s not necessary, it’s not polite and etc. Now we know why he told like this, he wouldn’t get any commissions! So the lesson to learn – contract is necessary, to avoid all situations like we had, to be clear how much money paid and it’s totally normal and polite!
When we agreed finally about amount that they will give us back, they asked us to move during 1 week and the money they will try to collect as soon as possible, at least half of the sum during that week, and rest of the sum later. But suddenly next day they already had all the amount (yeah, and somebody told that they don’t have money to return :D).
Like in January was holidays in university, 3 of us already had plans to travel. So we agreed with some friends that we leave our stuff for a while in their places and after the trip, will take it back.
I was traveling almost 3 weeks in Lombok island and left my stuffs in my friends Debby’s place (by the way I meet her through couchsurfing.com as well :). When I came back, she hosted me till I found the “big tent” :). We visited some places but not many options left – it was middle of study year, the places were or not very good, expensive or they asked to rent for 1 year. It’s pity but 3 of us didn’t find a place stay together so we moved to separate places.
But now I feel really happy – no problems with neighbors, the RT leader and community is quite flexible. But still I’m quite polite, if I make any party, I always inform the owner that will come more people and maybe we will stay till late.
What’s left “behind”?
We speak with several local friends about our entire story with first house and we found out interesting things.
First of all, some local people – who are childish – are jealous to those who can speak with foreigners in English, especially if it’s man from another community or village. That’s why (probably) the neighbors in first house, when recently saw that some local friends visit us – was a bit jealous to those guys and started to observe our house more.
Second, some Indonesians friend from other islands told us, that Javanese usually will smile to your face but in back of you will gossip about you, well they aren’t totally wrong just it happens not only with Javanese but other people as well. In Javanese traditional clothes, the knife “kris” is hidden in the back, when in other islands is in front. It means behind the politeness and hospitality of Javanese they are still similar with other people, that can react hardly if they didn’t get respect or other people insult them. Javanese people who put their knife in the back – in their traditional clothes, can mean that their not so straight, like people from other Indonesian islands, who put the knife in the front. It’s possible to make connection with our owner behavior – she was very nice, but when some things happened she didn’t want to take responsibility that she didn’t inform us about the rules, when saw that in the beginning some friends stays longer never told as anything.
Have you ever experience anything like that? What are your experiences renting a house abroad?
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Indonesian people lifestyle
Good manners in Indonesia
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