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Leasing or Renting an Apartment / Flat in Jakarta
For more information on other Housing Options in Jakarta, see the Housing Forum.
Advantages to Living in an Apartment
Just as in your home country, there are several advantages to living in an apartment instead of a house, though ultimately it is a personal choice. First, less maintenance is required for apartments due to their smaller size. Also, you will not need staff to help you with the upkeep, as the apartment complex has its own security and maintenance crew. The security staff or concierge can accept deliveries when you're out. Apartment buildings allow you to live above the street level which can help reduce bugs, rodents and dust.
Looking for an ApartmentWhen searching for an apartment, you can either go through a reputable agency or broker who can show you a wide range of apartments from their database to meet your needs, or you can visit the apartment complexes yourself.
It is easy to visit apartments on your own, provided you have the names of the complexes and their addresses. Most apartment complexes have a management office and their marketing staff will be happy to show you the available, or soon to be available, apartments. More likely than not, the marketing person will also speak English. If the apartments are owned by individuals and are not managed by a professional management company, there may be a number of individual agents that have been appointed by individual owners to market the apartments separately. In this case you may need to schedule an appointment ahead of time to view the apartment..
Staff of the apartment-appointed management company will show you only the management-owned apartments or apartments that they represent. The Management companies are bound to offer the published rate for units of similar size. There may be some ability to negotiate the price, depending on the contents of the apartment, floor that the apartment is on, and the view. Reputable agencies, such as Colliers International may be able to show you not only management-owned apartments, but also privately owned apartments within the same complex, because of their network with individual agents.
An agency should provide transportation and pick you up from your hotel or temporary accommodation. Look for a reputable agency that represents you as the tenant and not the landlord on any offers or negotiations on a property. Services they should provide include : negotiations with the landlord regarding all terms and conditions of the lease agreement, a letter of intent to insure that the apartment is reserved for you, arrangements for payments of deposit, base rent and service charges. An agency should also conduct a pre-lease inspection of the apartment on your behalf and check the following: electrical capacity and overall wiring condition, water supply, telephone, air conditioners, woodwork and structure. If renovations have been requested, the agent should follow up on these renovations and make sure they have been completed prior to the client moving in.
How to Locate Major Apartment Complexes
As was suggested in the Preparing for your Move article on this web site, an initial visit before you move would be a good time to start looking for your new home. If you don't have the chance to make a familiarization trip, you can stay in Temporary Housing (i.e., a hotel or a serviced apartment) until you find a permanent home. During your search you should be equipped with a good map of Jakarta or download an accurate GPS program or app to your hand phone or tablet. The best maps to buy are the Falk Planmaps. These maps comes in two versions, the fold-out Jakarta City Map which is great for initial orienting to the layout of Jakarta, and the book version Jakarta Jabotadebek Street Atlas which provides more detailed information with a street index. These maps can be found in most bookstores in Jakarta.
The Falk Street Atlas lists major apartment complexes in Jakarta in its indexes well as locates most of them on the map with an “A” symbol in a circle. Other useful information on this map are locations of major shopping centers, schools and office buildings. This can help you decide which areas of town you want to begin looking in. Keep in mind, traffic in Jakarta is heavy; if possible it would be wise to live near places you frequent most often (schools, shops, work). It's best to drive to these areas and see for yourself what the area is like. It would be a good idea to drive from your intended home area to your future work place during rush hour (both morning and evening) to see what the commute would be like.
If you do not have someone from your future employer to drive you around to look for an apartment, you can rent a taxi on a daily basis from Silver Bird or Bluebird (the most reputable taxis in Jakarta). These drivers speak enough English to get you safely to your destination and they also know the location of most apartment complexes. You could also rent a car and driver. When you are speaking with the rental company, specify you will need a driver with a good knowledge of the city who can speak English.
Buying vs. Leasing
Since most expats stay for only a few years, they usually choose to lease rather than buy an apartment. Apartments in Jakarta are expensive in comparison to other types of housing. Apartment owners can either be individuals or the original developers/building owners who are represented through a management office. If you lease an apartment that is individually owned and not a unit of the original developers, you are leasing from the owner of that unit and all legal transactions and contracts are made with the owner. Typically the sponsoring company will lease the apartment on the employee's behalf so the company will be the “lessee” and the expat will be listed as the tenant. For more information regarding buying properties see Buying an Apartment.
What to Expect in an Apartment
In general, the better apartment complexes provide similar facilities and services as you would expect in your home country. Usually complexes have full fitness/recreation facilities (gym, tennis courts and swimming pool), children's playground and a small convenience store on the premises. More luxurious complexes may even have a putting and chipping green for golfers. A satellite dish or cable television connections are common, though there may be an additional charge for the service. A single phone line is normally provided, and often broadband or dedicated lines for fax/internet.
Apartments, on the whole, are similar to what you would expect in western countries with one exception, the addition of household staff quarters. These usually consist of a small bedroom and a bathroom situated off the kitchen and laundry areas. It is not air-conditioned (most household staff find air conditioning too cold). Some apartments have a separate entrance from the outside which leads directly into the staff's quarters and/or kitchen area. In this arrangement, the door between the kitchen and the rest of the house can be locked, yet the household staff still have free access to the kitchen and laundry work areas as well as access to enter or leave the apartment. This can be beneficial for your privacy, but can also prove to be an additional security problem since the household staff will probably hold a key.
Apartments range in size from studio to five bedrooms. Penthouses can have up to four bedrooms plus sitting room, living room and terraces. The predominant feature of penthouses, besides their larger size, is that they are multilevel. Two-bedroom apartments average 75 to 150 square meters and can cost from US$ 3,000 to US$ 5,000 per month. Three-bedroom apartments average 100 to 200 square meters and can cost from US$ 3,000 to US$ 6,000 per month. Normally, rent for the entire contract period is paid in advance with the addition of a security deposit. Therefore, if your lease is for two years you must pay the entire two years up front. Sometimes this can be negotiated to pay on a yearly basis.
If the apartment building is part of an international chain, they normally rely on corporate pricing dictated by overseas headquarters. Typically apartments will incorporate a 10% – 12% yearly increase. Because of this predictable increase, apartment building leases are normally only one year so this price increase can be incorporated for the following year. This, however, does not include the service fees which can vary greatly from building to building depending on how extensive the grounds are that they have to upkeep and what kind of facilities they offer. Service fees typically consist of a 10% VAT and 11% service charge. For example, a number of apartment buildings have given notice that as of January 1st 2014, their service charge will increase to 13.5%.
Types of Apartments
Apartments come in three types:
- serviced and furnished
- non-serviced and furnished
- non-serviced and unfurnished
Serviced apartments are normally the most expensive to rent as they provide maid service similar to star-rated hotels. These apartments are normally furnished, can have one to three bedrooms, a kitchen, living room and perhaps a sitting room. The maid will change the linen, clean your apartment and in some cases even do the dishes. Some complexes have a laundry room and or laundry service, others may provide a washer and or dryer in the apartment.
Non-serviced apartments are furnished or unfurnished. New developments continue to open and there is a wide variety and selection of apartments available at the current time. Many of these apartments are located near the “Golden Triangle” which is the main business district. Quite a few new apartment buildings are also being opened along the Outer Ring Road and Jl. TB Simatupang for easier access to the Central Business District.
Besides their actual location, the primary differences between different apartment complexes are the arrangement of rooms as well as the quality of the construction. The size of apartments varies as well. One complex may have very small two bedroom apartments while another may have quite large ones.
When inspecting your prospective apartment check carefully for wear and tear on the building and its structure. Tropical weather and a lack of consistent, good maintenance may have taken its toll on the building.