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House Hunting 101: Finding Your First Apartment in Bandung

BandungThere’s no denying that finding a place to live in Indonesia can be a challenge, whether you’re looking for student housing or a new home to start a family. The population centers in Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung have many new, affordable projects to fill the housing shortage, but those offer pitfalls of their own, especially for the first time renter.

Fortunately, there are lots of tips and tricks out there to help you on your way. With a little care and foresight, you can find the perfect place in Bandung, without any of the risks.

What Brings You to Bandung?

If you’re a first time renter moving to Bandung, you won’t be alone. Indonesia’s third largest city attracts a huge number of young people just starting out on their own. Bandung is Indonesia’s most popular destination for higher education, and it’s not hard to see why. The city is home to sixteen universities, including Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia, the country’s leading higher education institution, and over forty technical and professional training schools. That means lots of students looking for housing, but it also means lots of renters and construction agencies eager to provide housing for all those incoming students. It also means a flourishing job market, as lots of agencies and corporations look to recent graduates from Bandung schools to fill openings in their companies.

What Should You Expect?

Moving to an entirely new place is an intimidating prospect, especially if you don’t know what to expect from the rental market. So, as you’re starting your search, what should you expect to see, and what do you need to include in your budget?

The first thing you need to decide is whether to search in the city center, or outside the city center in a quieter rural area. If you’re looking to the city center to be close to school or work, you can expect to pay more than double the rent of a rural apartment: the average monthly rent inside the city is 4,597,910 Rp for a one-bedroom apartment, as opposed to 1,901,647 Rp outside the city.

Renting an apartment will require you to save up a fairly large amount of money beforehand: most Indonesian landlords require the full rent for the term of your lease in advance. Most leases have a two year minimum, so be sure you’re prepared to cover that full rent payment before you start planning for a move.

There are pros and cons to living in the city center or a rural or suburban area. Apart from rent, the primary difference to expect is transportation and traffic. Bandung is a traffic-heavy area with frequent traffic jams, so many people prefer to live in the city center where they can walk and take public transportation. Rent is higher, but when you live outside the city drive times and transportation costs add up quickly.

What to do Before Moving In

There are lots of new building projects and low-cost apartments available in Bandung, but unfortunately not all landlords are reputable. Because building codes in Indonesia aren’t enforced for rental properties, you need to be careful to ensure the quality of any apartment in Bandung. The easiest way to do this is to search through a reputable broker, such as Rumah, a popular website with an easily searchable database of trustworthy apartments.

If you prefer to search on your own, it is strongly advised that you get an independent audit done of the property, especially the electrical wiring. And audit will find bad wiring and plumbing, potential structural problems, and bad past repair work, and potentially save you future costs. One Indonesian electrician reported that he can often save tenants as much as 60 percent off their electrical bills, simply by reorganizing faulty wiring.

Electricians also recommend that all renters get an electrical leakage circuit breaker, or ELCB, installed in their apartment. Because faulty wiring is a common problem in rental properties, it’s easy to get slapped with a huge electrical bill because of a leaky circuit draining your power supply. An ELCB will detect leaks and shut down that circuit until it can be repaired, saving you huge amounts of money on your bills.

Before You Go

Bandung is a great place to live, especially for a young person just starting out their adult life.  Unfortunately, this means there are some disreputable landlords hoping to take advantage of new arrivals looking for housing. The good landlords and great, low cost apartments are out there if you know where to look – all it takes is some careful searching and some basic precautions. Your dream apartment in your dream city is waiting for you: time to go and find it!

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