How to save money in Indonesia

In Indonesia, many foreigners feel like millionaires like here everything counted in thousands and millions. On one hand (comparing with European countries or others) in Indonesia you can say that everything is cheap but in another hand – when you live here longer and only from scholarship amount – you need to start to count and make some savings. So here are my recommendations on how to save money during the stay in Indonesia. It’s just advice, nothing is mandatory. Even if I mentioned a lot about the Darmasiswa scholarship, still everyone can save some money – foreign students, travelers, or employees. Also, you will figure out something for yourself as well, after you spend some time in Indonesia.

Notice: all the prices written according 05 2015 information and from Yogyakarta south area.

Home

  • Renting: try to agree to rent the place for the first 6 months and then extend renting 3 months more, like in summer you most probably will travel more than staying at home. The stuff you can ask to keep in other Darmasiswa student’s house. If an owner wants to rent for 12 months, try to negotiate to rent only 9 months then you can save some money for travels or other things.
  • Empty place or not enough things that you need:
    • First, asks the owner of the place, maybe she/he has and not use things that you need.
    • Check “Facebook” groups of Darmasiswa students, maybe somebody sells things that you need or put ad what you are searching for.
    • Check second-hand shops (for furniture, electrical devices and etc.). You can find there cheaper stuff, but before compare similar stuff prices in regular shops. Maybe the difference in the price between the new and second hand won’t be so big and in the shop, you will get a guarantee, second-hand shops don’t give it.
    • Some of the things you can make by yourself, for example, bamboo shelter, you just need an idea, measurements, bamboo, and ropes. All tools you can borrow from the house owner or neighbors.
    • Sometimes Indonesian people, if don’t use things, leaves in front of their house – if you will see something that you need, before taking just ask if you can take it for free.
    • If you need just one piece of something (bamboo, rock or whatever else) just ask to take it for free, therefore can bring some cookies.
    • If you would like sometimes to cook but at home don’t have a stove, buy a small travel stove. You can use it at home and will be useful for camping or longer trips. If you won’t use it frequently – can rent it for other student’s trips.
  • Drinking water: check in different places the prices of new gallons and refills. Like in some places you can find cheaper than in others. Different brands have distinctively different tastes, so try different and choose that you like best.
  • Electricity:
    • Turn off all equipment that you don’t use for a night (for example water dispenser) or during you are leaving, traveling.
    • If the owner will ask to pay the monthly agreed sum with the old electricity counter, ask to show the counter numbers and pay only for the amount that you use (but ask this in a polite way, like such request can be understood like you do not trust the owner, calling them a thief).
    • For the new counter – you can buy at once a bigger amount of prepaid card (“pulsa”) of electricity.
  • Gas: check in different places the prices of new gallons and refills. Like in some places you can find cheaper than in others. Depends on the size of the gallon will be a different price.
  • Internet: if near around your place is any free Wi-Fi spot (in coffee places with Wi-Fi enough to order a drink) – go there to use the internet instead of buying an internet modem (if you are not internet addicted). Before deciding to buy a modem ask local students which operator they are using. Like some operators have a better connection in one area than in another. So don’t take an operator that has the worst connection in your area. You can ask local students maybe somebody has an internet modem that they don’t use. So they can sell you cheaper or give you for free. For example, I bought an internet modem from a local student for 150 000 Rp and the same one, new in the shop costs 270 000 Rp. In providers, client service office managers put “pulsa” without a fee.
  • Textile: if you want to cover something or to buy curtains and etc. you can make it by yourself – there are places where you can buy textile by kilos or buy material in shops. There are many places that can sew for you what you want. It will cheaper than buying already sewed stuff in the shop and you will have exactly what you want and need.

Food

  • Cook at home: if you calculate that cheaper to cook at home than eat in “warungs” – do it. The main thing, if you don’t have a fridge the food won’t be a fresh couple of days. The fruits are fresh in Indonesia, so you need to eat for a maximum of a couple of days, otherwise, ants and other insects will make their job :D
  • Markets/ small shops: buy food and small stuff in the nearest market (better to visit in the early morning till ~8:00 am) or in small shops near your place. I was surprised that the same stuff in big supermarkets is more expensive than in small ones. As well as check a couple of different small shops, sometimes even in the same street different shops sells cheaper the same stuff.
  • Neighbors: if it’s possible to buy fruits, vegetables, or other stuff from neighbors. It will make a stronger relationship with neighbors as well you can get a better price.
  • “Warungs”: eat-in “warungs” in small streets. Check some streets around your place. Sometimes “warungs” in front of busy streets are more expensive than in small streets. For example “soto” (rice soup) in small street “warung” cost ~ 6 000 Rp, in bigger street ~ 10 000 Rp.
  • Imported food: everywhere imported food will be expensive. If you need some spices for your cooking (like oregano and etc.) ask to send your family from your home country – probably in your country it’s cheaper than here.

Clothes

  • Misfit: if you have some clothes that not fit you anymore, damage some parts and etc. instead of buying new, you can try to make from it something else. For example from pans – shorts, a T-shirt with sleeves – without sleeves and etc.
  • Dislike: if you dislike some of your clothes, you can organize a clothes exchange between other students. They will have as well things that they don’t wear anymore – so you can just change, instead of buying new ones.

Travels

  • KITAS (“Kartu Izin Tinggal Terbatas” – temporary stay permit card): to most of the visiting places you will get a bigger discount with KITAS than with a student card. So be patient and visit for example Borobudur after you will get KITAS.
  • Couchsurfing.com: during the travels stay in “couchsurfing” members’ places.
  • Local friends: ask your Indonesian friends maybe they have relatives or friends in a place where you are planning to go, so maybe you could stay in their place, rent cheaper a motorbike and etc.
  • Time: go on trips during the rainy season – the prices will be cheaper and in different islands the rainy season is different. For example in January, when in Java was raining a lot, on Lombok island 3 weeks during my trip – wasn’t any rain.

Other

    • Ask local students which operator they are using, like most they are using the cheapest one and that has a good connection in the exact area. But the cheapest one – sometimes means not the best quality of connection and sometimes can’t be reachable in some areas.
    • Before choosing an operator answer yourself what you need mostly – write SMS, use the internet on mobile, and something else? Compare some operators prices by your requirements and then choose,
    • Instead of writing SMS, you can use “Watsapp”, “Viber” like Indonesians use these programs more often than write SMS and also it will be cheaper.
    • Put at the once a bigger amount of prepaid sum “pulsa” – like every time to put “pulsa” (for service) will cost.
    • Talk with local peoples/neighbors: usually, they know someone who can help you, knows someone who has something and etc. – so you can get things a bit cheaper.
  • Fuel for motorbikes: put the fuel in petrol stations it will be cheaper around ~500 – 1 500 Rp per liter than buy in the streets from bottles. In the evening the petrol stations can be closed, so take care to put fuel before, because at night people who are selling fuel in bottles asks more money than during the day time.
  • Natural products: instead of buying some chemicals products you can try to use naturals ones.
    • For example, if your home floor is made from cement and it dusty, use coconut cutting – it will make your floor darker and the dust won’t be stuck.
    • From coconut milk, you can make some products for your skin, hair (in the internet there are many recipes).
    • To clean oily hands you can use the plant (in Bahasa Indonesian) “kemangi”.
    • Instead of buying air fresher for the bathroom – use coffee, it will observe all the bad smells in the bathroom.
    • Talk with elder neighbors – they will give you advice on what to use natural products.
  • Before buying anything: spend some time to check some different places and compare the prices of the same stuff. It can help you to save some money especially when you will just arrive and will need to buy some stuff as well for things that you are planning to buy quite often.
  • Laundry: if you don’t want to pay for laundry service – clean your stuff by yourself. To dry it during the rainy season will be a bit more difficult but possible.
  • Parking: usually the motorbike parking costs 1 000 – 2 000 Rp (other places and 3 000). If you are going somewhere with a friend with 1 motorbike (for example shopping in the supermarket) the friend can stay on a motorbike and you take all stuff that needed – in such case the parking guys won’t charge you for the parking fee.

 

The main tip – negotiate the price anywhere, anytime.

  • If you know that some things you will buy all the time, try to buy in the same seller to show your locality and ask to get those things cheaper.
  • Barge the price in second-hand shops, markets. Like the first price will be given like for foreigner, better even go with a local friend, ask him to barge the price.
  • Ask for a discount on transport and any other places – like you are a student can show your student card.
  • If in the shop there are no price tags – you can negotiate the price.

Do you know other tips? Share your advice and help others! :)

Useful? Great! :) You might also like these:

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What to do before going to Indonesia

Here is my recommendations what to do before going to Indonesia. Mostly this information useful for Darmasiswa scholarship students but as well some parts for those who are planning to come to Indonesia longer than for 1 month.
It’s just advices, nothing is mandatory. All “must to do” things written in official Darmasiswa scholarship website.

How to save some money

  • Mobile payment plan: check possibilities to change your mobile payment plan and pay less till you will be in Indonesia. Like here – you will buy local SIM card and will have local operator (it will be cheaper and easier to contact between other students and local friends).
  • Unused stuff and clothes: maybe some of clothes or stuff you didn’t wear or use for a long time? Try to sell it in second hand websites. Double benefit – will clean your wardrobe, shelf and can get extra money. If nobody will buy it – just give for charity.
  • Club membership: if you have any – cancel it, like pay during your stay in Indonesia it’s not worth.
  • Proper clothes for Indonesia: buy them in second hand shops – it will be cheaper and the heart won’t hurt when it will be damaged in laundry (maybe).
  • Travel tickets: leave for yourself enough time to search for the cheapest plain tickets. Check all possible websites, flights from nearest countries capitals and etc. Compare different routes, which can modify the price of the same company: Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur / Kula Lumpur- Yogyakarta, Amsterdam– Jakarta / Jakarta – Yogyakarta and etc. If you have 1 year scholarship – probably you won’t find the return ticket, so you can buy one way ticket (usually it’s enough, only if Indonesian embassy in your country will say opposite). Or buy both ways for period of maximum duration and later change return date – but usually it will cost almost the same price (to change) like whole ticket and not with all cheap tickets is possible to change the date.
  • Stuff list: make a stuff list that you want to take with you (my recommendations what to take before coming). If you need to buy something before the trip – leave time for yourself to search, wait for the discounts for needed stuff.
  • Liabilities for the bank: if you have any (like credits and etc.) check possibilities to suspend it for your scholarship period. Then you won’t need to pay and that money could spend for the trips or extra money for daily life in Indonesia.
  • Local institution: inform your local institution that you will live in Indonesia. Then you won’t need to pay taxes for a country during scholarship period (if your country system works like this ;)). For Lithuanians: Lietuvoje reikia informuoti seniūnija, kuriai priklausote 7 d.d. prieš išvykimą. Tuomet nebus skaičiuojamas privalomi mokesčiai kol būsite Indonezijoje.

Don’t buy too many stuff, like mostly everything you will find in Indonesia and much cheaper than in your country. Just read some advices which stuff better to take with you from your country (my recommendations what to take before coming).

Formalities

  • Visa: don’t forget on time to manage to get Indonesian visa from Indonesian embassy in your country (or other country that responsible for your country Darmasiswa scholarship participants). For Lithuanians: Indonezijos ambasada yra Danijoje, todėl teks siųsti savo pasą į Daniją, kad ten įklijuotų vizą. Visas procesas (nusiųsti per kurjerių tarnybą pasą, laikas vizai ir gauti atgal pasą užtruks ~1,5 savaitės. Kad būtų pigiau siųsti visus atrinktų dalyvių pasus galite siųsti kartu – jeigu susikoperuosite tarpusavyje).
  • Visa for other countries: if you will have a flight change in some Asian countries – check if you don’t need a transit visa there, if needed – check how to get it before you go there.
  • Bank: inform your bank (where you have any payment cards which you will use in Indonesia) that you will live in Indonesia and sometimes will use the card there. Like Indonesia is in the risk country list and some banks when they will see that your card used in Indonesia can block it, because they can think that somebody stole your card.
  • Payment card: if your payment card will expire during the stay in Indonesia – talk with your bank to extend it before it will expire.
  • Power of attorney: leave power of attorney during the Darmasiswa program period for one of your family members – in a case, they could manage to solve bureaucracy things in your country by your name without your participation.
  • International insurance: make insurance in your country for the period of staying in Indonesia. Like here you can have stomach, skin problems and etc. Probably you will need to go to private clinic or hospital (there more chance that doctors will speak in English, you can have better treatment). Visit to a doctor, x-ray, analysis, medicine and etc. will cost a lot, so why to use your scholarship money or savings? Insurance will cover expenses. Also save main information from insurance rules how and to whom you need inform about medical accident and etc. For Lithuanians: nesidrauskite pigiausiu kelionių draudimu. Atidžiai perskaitykite taisykles nuo ko būsite apdrausti ir kokios išlaidos bus padengiamos tuomet nuspręskite, kurią bendrovę rinktis. Naudinga pasidaryti ir bagažo draudimą, nes kelionė bus ilga ir tikriausiai keisite ne vieną avialiniją ir ne vieną šalį, kol nusileisite Indonezijoje.
    In Darmasiswa scholarship contract that you will need to sign, written that Ministry of Education and Culture provides medical/health care for 200 000 Rp per month and this amount included in the scholarship monthly stipend. It doesn’t mean that you will get insurance – this amount is for visiting doctor, buying medicine, making analysis. From my experience this amount not enough – in some hospitals the visit, medicine, analysis can cost even ~ 800 000 Rp per time.
  • Registration in your country embassy/consulate: inform your country embassy/consulate in Indonesia (or nearest country where is located your country embassy) – that you will leave in Indonesia and which city. Its good information for your country institution in a case of eruption, earthquake and etc. they will know how many their country people can be needed help also they could manage quicker to contact with your family. For Lithuanians: Kinijoje esanti Lietuvos ambasada atsakinga už lietuvos piliečius esančius Indonezijoje. Apie konsulinę registraciją plačiau čia.
  • Collect main information: print the main information about Indonesia from your country Foreign office – where is your country embassy in Indonesia, who is responsible person, contacts and etc. It will be useful in emergency case.

Other

  • Vaccine: take necessary vaccine before coming to Indonesia (you can discuss with doctor which vaccine is necessary). Some of vaccine need to make twice during 2 weeks so doesn’t leave this for the last minute. For Lithuanians: gavus siuntimą iš šeimos gydytojo, kai kurios vakcinos bus atliekamos nemokamai infekcinių ligų ir tuberkuliozės ligoninėje Vilniuje (Birutės g.). Šioje ligoninėje ir likusios vakcinos buvo pigiausios – bent taip buvo 2014 m.
  • Devices: check if your mobile, photo camera, laptop and other devices works properly – if not, fix it before coming to Indonesia. Here to fix the problem will take very long time and you don’t know if they will manage to fix it. Make a copy of all your documents from laptop in separate hard disk. Because of humid sometimes computers just not turn on – would be pity to lose all information. My recommendations what to do during rainy season.
  • Health condition: before coming to Indonesia – check your health condition, make all needed analysis and etc. obtain medical record from your doctor. Visit your dentist to obtain dental records.
  • Extra money: take some extra money with you and change it in Rupiahs (if possible), if not – take dollars or euros (before check which currency is friendlier for exchange to Rupiah). Dollars must be in perfect condition, with no rips, tears, marks or creases, and must be printed no earlier than 2007, like older one – money exchange in Indonesia won’t accept. Extra money you will need ~ for 2 first months, like you will need to pay for house/room rent for 6 months or 1 year period and it can be more than scholarship amount. Maybe you will need to buy some stuffs for a house and etc. (from my experience (but it’s not rule) in first month I spend: for house rent (1 year) 5 000 000 Rp, buying stuff for a house ~1 500 000 Rp (like the house was totally empty).
  • E-mail box: check your mail boxes – delete old letters and etc. because you don’t know how often you will have access to internet. The e-mail box can be full quite fast (if you get many newsletters, spam) and you cannot get main letters. If some newsletter you didn’t read often, just unsubscribe them.
  • Movies: download some movies before coming – like in Indonesia internet is very slow and will take days to download bigger file. You can download movies in some internet cafe but then you will pay for it.
  • Information about Indonesia: if you have time and wish, just read some articles, travel forums, blogs about Indonesia – to have better clue what to take with you, what to do and etc.
  • Indonesian language: write/print some main phrases in Indonesian language – just to be polite to saying “hello”, ”thank you” and etc.

Useful? Great! :) You might also like these:

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