Guesthouses and Indekos (Kos) - Indonesian Bed and Breakfasts
Guesthouses across Indonesia - from the metropolis of Jakarta to the vacation isle of Bali - come in all shapes and packages, but offer an attractive alternative to the more traditional methods of housing for expats. While apartments, townhouses, and single family homes with full facilities all have their pros and cons, many single expats and couples alike are looking into and choosing a guesthouse for both short and long term stays.
A guesthouse is roughly the Indonesian equivalent to a bed a breakfast. Traditionally a guesthouse has been set up in a renovated large older Indonesian home where some of the family bedrooms or a new wing of the house are turned into fully furnished guestrooms. Accommodations include breakfast in a shared dining room. Currently, you can find purpose-built guesthouses which cater to everyone and which have most of the modern conveniences you would find in a hotel, yet with a more home-like atmosphere.
Guesthouses vary widely in the facilities that they offer, so don't assume they're all the same. Better guesthouses offer full facilities which could include: fully furnished rooms, en suite bathrooms, telephones in each guest's room, television with cable TV, ensuite refrigerator, air conditioning, and coffee / tea making facilities in the bedroom and/or breakfast area. Internet Wi Fi may be provided as well with paid, limited, or unlimited usage for guests. Do you own laundry options may also be available with use of the facility's washing machine.
Each guesthouse offers a range of services, depending on their management and policies. Some are just strictly bed and breakfast and you're left on your own for all other services. At the high end of the spectrum, the better guesthouses offer the equivalent of full hotel services.
In these full-service guesthouses, rooms are cleaned daily by housekeeping staff, just like at a hotel. Most guesthouses offer laundry services for a set fee. Some even offer the usage of a fully equipped shared kitchen for those guests who enjoy cooking.
Some guesthouses even offer an on-site Coffee Shop with beverages, light meals, and snacks. Ask about other food/beverage options and the availability of neighboring restaurants when you inquire about a guesthouse's services.
In addition to the living facilities, many guesthouses also offer facilities for leisure by providing a private swimming pool, sun deck area and BBQ facilities for occupants of the residence.
Some guesthouses even offer an on-site Coffee Shop with beverages, light meals, and snacks. Ask about other food/beverage options and the availability of neighboring restaurants when you inquire about the accommodation. Ask also about bus services, distance from the airport. your office, supermarkets.
Be sure that the guesthouse has a strict security policy, and enquire about their on-site security staffing as well as if they have closed-circuit TV for monitoring the residence.
What benefits can guesthouse living offer me?
The primary benefits of staying in this type of accommodation, as opposed to renting an apartment, is the cost factor. When you rent a house/apartment you have all the additional utility/running costs of electricity bills, water bills, household staff/cleaning service, laundry, garbage collection, internet, security staff, etc. You also, often, have to pay 1-2 years rent in advance or sign a lease agreement which obligates you for an extended period of time.
Of equal benefit is the fact that guesthouse stays can be shorter in term, with no need to sign multi-year contracts or pay large sums up front. Guesthouses residents enjoy the flexibility of moving in and knowing exactly what their monthly accommodation cost will be. Also guests don't have to worry about purchasing furniture and other furnishings, as you would have when you furnish a household.
Of equal benefit will be the small community of residents in the house. Living in a home-like environment makes it easier to practice Bahasa Indonesia and get to know other people in a more relaxed situation. Many expats also make friends with the other residents of the house.
Some companies hold corporate accounts with guesthouses, as they recognize the flexible benefits for their corporate guests and their employees.
For a nice Guesthouse you can expect to pay - single room around $290-$330/month and double room around $390-$450/month with nightly rates for a single room at $25 and double room at $35. Ask about price differences between rooms in the guesthouse as some offer cheaper or more luxurious rooms within the same facility.
Guesthouses in Bali
Many areas in southern Bali cater to short term tourists on holiday and therefore accommodations in those areas can be relatively expensive. If you are planning on staying for a long period, look outside the tourist areas for a lower accommodation cost.
Indonesian Indekos (Kos)
An Indonesian indekos is a big step down from a guesthouse, as normally the facilities are very minimal, consisting of a room in a shared house with all facilities being shared with the other tenants. This is the preferred housing for many college students and much of the low-salaried office staff who aren't able to reside with their families. For some, they live in the kost in town during the week to avoid daily traffic, then go "home" on the weekend.
It often consists of a row of small rooms and a shared bathroom at the rear or side of a house. These kos with few services (beyond a small bedroom and shared bathroom) run from $50-$100/month.
Bendungan Hilir (Benhil) and Karet Pedurenan are popular areas for kost, as both are located near business districts and many office buildings.
However, some nicer kos can provide an excellent option for a lower income expat English teachers, volunteer workers or someone studying on a fellowship in Indonesia. Rent is charged monthly and depending on the kos, the facilities can be somewhat comfortable. Laundry services are usually available, for an additional fee.
Ask the owner what their policies and rules are regarding noise and residents that are disrespectful of resident privacy and quiet times. Also ask about their policies for overnight guests of the opposite sex, if it's allowed (if that's an issue for you).