If you have just found work in Bali or are thinking of moving to Bali then you will obviously be wondering where to stay and what kind of accommodation is on offer. This post is intended for those looking for long-term accommodation in Bali. If you are looking for a holiday rental, this is not the post for you. I will try to explain the different types of accommodation in order, starting from the cheapest moving up to the most expensive.
First of all, things in Bali are quite different to what you may expect regarding accommodation; despite there being a lack of space and lots of overcrowding, apartments are rare in the Western sense with most people living in small rooms called kos (or boarding house.)
Rooms in a kos generally comprise of a bedroom with a bathroom without cold water and often no sit down toilet, just a hole in the ground and a bucket. They normally have a communal kitchen on the grounds and are usually single storey. Standard is for them to be empty except for a mattress. They are often in blocks of 10s or 20s and so privacy can be an issue also. However, kos can be much more complete than as described above – if you are willing to pay a little more you can find kos with hot water, air-con, furnished and a kitchen, but these are rare and will usually cost up to 3 or 4 times that of a standard kos. A bog standard kos might cost around 700,000 Rupiah / month whereas a complete one will be more in the region of 2 million Rupiah & up. When looking for a kos, usual signs are Kos Kosan, Terima Kos, Rumah Kos. (see below for further Indonesian vocabulary for house hunting.)
A traditional Balinese home courtesy of
If you have a bit more money, you may want to consider renting a house. This, however, is not as straightforward as it may seem. Most landlords looking to rent a house prefer people to live there long-term with some even asking only for people interested in 2 years rent minimum. Another frustrating thing about trying to find a house for rent in Bali is that many ask for you to pay a full year’s rent in one installment – yes, that’s right, one lump sum! This is what rules out many people from renting a house as, even though the rent for a year is actually quite reasonable, having that kind of cash at hand is not possible for everyone, especially seeing as many will have just spent a lot of money on a flight to get to Bali. The cheapest prices for a year’s rent I have seen are around 30 million Rupiah (empty, no furniture, excluding electricity and water bills). More of an average price would be around 35-40 million Rupiah for which you should be able to find a furnished house in a nice area. Many landlords often promise to improve the premises with lump sum you will have paid for the rent and I have heard of many sticking to their word and doing – I would advise you to ask them what they will do to improve the house as building works may also be annoying. I would like to point out that, if you are looking for a house in the dry season, when the rainy season comes you will only then find out how good the roof is as many house have leaks. This usually solved by a quick call to the landlord but can be a major annoyance if it gets onto your bed or sofa!
A housing complex is usually called perumahan and will be a set of detached / semi-detached houses in an enclosed area. This is not like a gated residence elsewhere & is definitely not to be taken as a sign of good quality.
Houses are also available to rent for a month but these often cater to holiday rentals and hence the prices are quite a lot more for obvious reasons. Having said that, houses for monthly rent should be fully furnished – this is not a general rule so it’s best to check before going.
One final point is that these may be in a traditional Balinese style which adds a certain character and uniqueness to them.
Finally, the top end of the market has many villas for rent. These should be fully furnished and often come with perks such as swimming pools, maids, possibly even security if part of a housing complex. For yearly rental of a villa I believe the prices would be in the 65 million Rupiah & up category.
One problem with villas is that they cater for holiday rentals more than yearly ones so many landlords prefer to make their money from tourists rather than long-term rental.
Another point is that, generally speaking, prices in Denpasar are lower than eslewhere as it is in the city (not the preferred choice for many expats). Kuta, Nusa Dua, Canggu & Sanur are all popular tourists hot spots and ex-pat locations hence the higher prices.
Here are some useful links for finding accommodation in Bali:
Houses & Apartments for Rent in Denpasar / Sanur
Houses & Apartments for Rent in Kuta / Nusa Dua / Tuban
Here is some useful vocabulary for house hunting in Bali:
air panas hot water
dijual for sale
disewakan for rent
kos bedsit / boarding house
lengkap complete (i.e. furnished)
perumahan housing complex / residence
© Stephen Beale @ livebali.net
Renting a house / apartment in Bali