Expat Living in Mataram, Lombok
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Expatriates in Lombok are living here for a number of reasons and may be involved in hotels, agriculture, pearling, education, restaurants, travel, surfing, diving, mining, arts and crafts businesses, etc. Many other expats retire here and enjoy the slower pace Lombok offers or base their families here and work off island.
Australian, British, New Zealand, German, Belgian, Korean, Dutch, Italian, French, Norwegian and other Europeans, North Americans and others, are well represented in the expat community and meet socially for a variety of activities. Newcomers have always been warmly welcomed.
Close to the beach and surrounded by green fields, Sekolah Nusa Alam is the school on the island which services the expat community. It is situated in the Montong area and is only a short drive from the city centers of Ampenan, Mataram and Cakranegara to the south and Senggigi (the main tourist area) and the Gili Islands to the north.
The expats residing in Lombok primarily meet each other in the bars, especially the Office Bar and the Beach Club, both in Senggigi. There is an active Rotary Club, the President is Mr Howard Singleton, the owner of the Office Bar. The Rotary Club does a lot of charity work locally, including building water supplies, helping children with cleft palette, etc.
Lombok, and especially the Gili islands, are famous for diving, snorkeling and surfing. Bangko Bangko in the southwest is the place to be for surfers. The Gilis (Trawangan, Meno and Air) are famous for diving and snorkeling. Gili Trawangan is known as the party island!
There are two golf courses on the island, Lombok Golf Kosaido Country Club. in the north near Sire; and in central Lombok you'll find the Golf Rinjani Golf Club, near Golong,
Several tennis courts are in the City of Mataram and the Hotels in the Senggigi area. There is an active hiking/running club, the Hash House Harriers.
One of the main attractions on the island for hiking and climbing is Mount Rinjani, the second highest volcano in Indonesia.
Utilities and Internet Service Providers
PLN is doing its best to increase the power capabilities to decrease shut downs. A new plant has been built and after a hard period in 2010 the electric supply is really getting better. We still have shutdowns but mainly after heavy rain and only for short periods.
The municipal water supply (PAM) is a problem in the dry season in many places. The solution is to install a pump and a water tank which fills up even if there is just a little water. Invest about 2 million and you will have water in any season.
The roads on Lombok are good and getting better every year. All main roads are reconstructed or under construction and allow a pleasant ride up north or south.
Since October 2011 the new international airport is in operation in the Praya, in central Lombok. This will allow additional visitors to Lombok as the old airport only hosted Silk Air from Singapore.
The Internet connections are relatively good, as long as you use Speedy from Telkom. All other providers (modem internet through XL, Telkomsel, etc.) are unstable or slow especially in the Senggigi area. Lots of mountains interrupt the signals. Most cafés, restaurants, and hotels that cater to tourists offer free Wi-Fi.
International and National Plus Schools
The only international school is in Montong (between Mataram and Senggigi) and is called Nusa Alam. There are several national schools with A accreditation. One of the best national schools in Mataram is Aleathia.
Shopping is getting better every year in Mataram. The Mataram Mall was renovated in 2009 and doubled in size. More and more national companies like Natasha Salon, Leko and XO opened in the last several years. Five years ago it was harder to get things you needed.
Mataram, Cakranegara and Sweta are filled with shops where you can find anything you need. Several big shops opened where you will find items to renovate your house. More and more expensive boutiques are opening.
What Expat Life is Like
Lombok is relaxed! The expat community is small and everybody knows everybody. It is easy to find your place in the Sasak community as the people are friendly and welcoming. If you just adapt a little, life is uncomplicated on Lombok.
The population of Lombok is predominantly Muslim, but getting along with people is no problem at all. Especially in the Senggigi area, the local people are used to western people and their sometimes “strange behavior”. Just ask the expats over here what they think and they will confirm this is the place to be for a relaxed life together with the local people.
Working with the government is the same as everywhere in this country. Services are charged at not only the official prices.
More and more up-scale housing complexes are being built in Mataram and along the west coast. In Senggigi you can find the Green Valley neighborhood where a lot of expats live. A 3-bedroom house starts at approx. Rp 20 juta a year up to 75jt for a more luxurious home (11/2012).
Land and house prices are still affordable and more and more foreigners choose Lombok as their place to stay instead of the much more expensive Bali.
There is a booming expansion of smaller luxury hotels like the Chandi, Jeeva Llui and the Lombok Lodge. In Mataram several big hotels have been built in the last few years, like the Santika.
Mataram, Cakranegara, Sweta and the Senggigi area are loaded with local restaurants. Best places for seafood are 99 in Mataram, Menega in Batu Layar (Senggigi), and Aroma in Mataram.
You should try Ayam Taliwang in Cakranegara in several places. Don't miss the Rawon at the Ramayana Restaurant in Ampenan or the Sate in Rembiga (near the old airport).
The best western restaurants can be found in Senggigi (Asmara, Square, Quake). Square has a wine cellar party the first Friday of the month with unlimited buffet (sushi, lamb, French cheese, etc.) and unlimited wine - 3 kinds of white and red. Price 350.000 per person.
In Cakranegare don't miss the XO Suki Restaurant.
Approximate Size of Expat Population
The expat population is small on Lombok - with approximately 400 (The last count in 2010 was 336) people holding a ITAS and another 100 who are here on a social budaya visa, so a total of approximately 500. Most of them living in the Senggigi area.
There are a number of hospitals in Mataram like the RS. Umum, RS Islam, etc.. But a better choice would be the new private hospital Harapan Keluarga in Sweta or one of the smaller new clinics in Mataram like the Risa Hospital. Basic treatment is available but in case of serious problems it's always advisable to fly to Bali, Jakarta or Singapore.
Dental care is good as we have several new dental clinics in Mataram with excellent dental care in clean and modern facilities.
Also a few small maternity clinics for the pregnant women have opened in the last years.
Medical care is improving but…… we fly to other places for serious problems.
Personal Assistant Services
Lombok Indah Personal Assistant Services assists foreigners in need of help on Lombok. We can provide translation services (Dutch, English, Indonesian, German), help you to apply for visas or other (business) permits, assist you when going to a notary, bank or government offices. We can also arrange bus and flight tickets and take care of your property. We will find the right people to assist you with your needs: shopping, IT, house maintenance or monthly payments. Let us help you take care of your problems!
Many travelers to Indonesia know about Bali… the “Island of the Gods”, renowned throughout the world as a tropical paradise with a fascinating and unique culture. Few people, however, know Bali’s neighboring island, Lombok, which lies just 25 minutes across the sea to the east. Although often overshadowed by her glamorous older sister, Lombok fits the role of the shy and beautiful younger sister well. On Lombok the pace is unhurried and the atmosphere laid-back.
The beaches are uncrowded and tourism areas are not marred by high-density development. Although the island has a good infrastructure, tourism development only started in the 90s and it has seen a slow, steady growth rather than a gold-rush expansion that is typical of Bali. That’s not to say that travelers have to stay in huts on the beach, although they are available for those wanting that kind of rustic holiday. The main tourism centre of Senggigi boasts a wide variety of accommodation ranging from budget hotels and home stays, to world-class resorts.
The five-star Sheraton Senggigi Resort sits on the shores of Senggigi Beach, with stunning views across the ocean to Bali. At the other end of the bay is the spacious Senggigi Beach Hotel, with its luxury “hotel within a hotel”, The Pool Villa Club. The Santosa Villas and Resort, in the centre, recently underwent major renovations and is now a stunning beachfront property. Numerous smaller hotels in the area offer comforts and facilities to suit all pockets. Accommodations on the famous Gili Islands also range from high-end to backpacker, with the up-market Villa Ombak and Ko Ko Mo Resorts on Gili Trawangan setting the standard for deluxe island getaways. The luxurious Oberoi Resort in the north and the Novotel Lombok Resort on the south coast, are excellent resorts that would suit the most discerning traveler.
For those who have simpler tastes, Lombok offers a good choice, at generally lower prices than in Bali. At around 5,300 sq km, Lombok is only slightly smaller than Bali and has a wide range of attractions and activities for all types of travelers. With so many coastlines, opportunities abound for water sports such as swimming, snorkeling, diving, surfing and fishing.
The island boasts two international-standard golf courses, one in the centre of the island with mountain views and the other in the north of the island, set on the edge of a picturesque bay. For the culturally-inclined, Lombok has a rich and diverse culture, which blends the traditions of the indigenous Sasak people with Balinese Hindu and Arabic influences, to name a few. Village life is simple and based on the mainstays of farming and traditional handicraft production.
The local Sasak people are friendly and relatively un-affected by tourism, with a warm tradition of hospitality to visitors that makes exploring the different parts of the island a rewarding adventure.The west of the island is lush and green, with a series of beautiful bays lining the coast all the way from Senggigi to Bangsal.
The west coast faces Bali across the Lombok Strait, and boasts wonderful sunsets with the sacred volcano, Gunung Agung on Bali, silhouetted against the evening skies. Senggigi, on the west coast, is the main resort area for tourism and is located approximately 60 minutes drive from Lombok’s International Airport in Praya. The pace here is very laid-back, with activities centered around the beaches, dining and day trips to places of interest, which are all within a few hours drive from the town. Dominating the north of the island is a mountain range of thirteen peaks, crowned by the magnificent volcano, Gunung Rinjani.
The area around the volcano is a designated national park and offers great opportunities for trekking and exploring the small mountain villages. Mt Rinjani is an internationally recognized world-class tourism destination, and attracts hundreds of trekkers and serious climbers from around the world to Lombok every year. Further inland, the island retains its natural beauty and, as extensive logging isn’t permitted, the unique flora and fauna of the region is protected. The southern slopes of the Rinjani mountain range, as well as the Rinjani National Park and the Sembalun regions in the north, are heavily forested in old stands of mahogany and hardwoods, interspersed with jungle vegetation. Jungle and forest areas are easily accessible for trekking and exploring; and the waterfalls, rivers, hills and mountains provide myriad opportunities for eco-tourism.
Last updated December 20, 2012.
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