Expat Living in Malang, East Java
Welcome to East Java! We’re glad that you found us and hope that you will come by for a visit so that we can get to know you. Are you interested in visiting us to explore for a new home or maybe just a tourist visit? Contact Joe Kirk at [email protected] and let us know what questions you have. See you soon!
Community: Our community stretches from Blitar and Gunung Kawi to Malang, Lawang, and Batu with many places in-between. They’re all home to us, and we welcome new arrivals. East Java Friends is a community of international citizens who live in East Java that support each other in adjusting to Indonesian culture and complying with Indonesian law. There are currently 131 families from 21 countries, a total of 355 members, and we are still growing.
We are an active community that meets Tuesdays for lunch and has monthly family gatherings and special occasions. There is an annual community festival featuring a parade, a picnic meal, and fireworks. You’ll find many good neighbors in our community that will help you adjust to the laws and culture as well as solve everyday issues.
Necessities: Malang and Batu are large enough to have the amenities that you need but small enough to enjoy living here. There are adequate schools, medical facilities, and shopping in a city environment that makes it accessible, not traffic jammed. Malang has domestic air service while Surabaya offers international air service, just 2 hours away from Malang. There is train service from Malang to the rest of Java. Government services for Immigration, Civil Registry, and Police are helpful and encourage “self-service” and not agents. Malang is known as a “resort area” due to its cooler climate than other areas, with theme parks, rafting, restaurants, mountains, and beaches. Our advantage is that this area is trendy during weekends/holidays and our disadvantage is that this area is trendy during weekends/holidays.
Getting here: Abdul Rachman Saleh Airport (MLG) serves Malang with Citilink, Garuda, Batik, Sriwijaya, and Wings scheduling flights between Malang and Jakarta or Denpasar. Being a city airport in the mountainous area of Malang, it is subject to closings due to weather conditions and volcanic activity. For those who prefer regional airports, Bandara Juanda, Surabaya, (SUB) is a 2 hour drive from Malang.
PT. Kereta Api has several trains with service to Jakarta-Gambir, Yogyakarta, and Bandung with connections to cities along those routes and executive and economy services. There is executive class service from Malang on those routes that are less expensive than air travel. For less stress, I prefer the train over driving between Malang and Surabaya.
East Java Friends Expat Life: Malang’s big attraction is the moderate weather and relatively slower pace here as Malang is cool and quiet. For recreational activities, you can play a round of golf, hike in Malang’s mountain ranges, visit one of the Agrowisata Hotels in Batu, make a day or weekend trip to the beaches at the south or north coast, explore the Bromo - Bertiri National Park or the Baluran National Park, experience one of the local waterfalls, go white-water rafting or tour the tea plantations near Singosari and Lawang. The landscape in East Java offers many possibilities for a day trip and also many culturally exciting places that could be visited, such as ancient Hindu temples. Search www.holiday-or-living-in-malang.com for more information about day trips and guest houses. Explore some of the villages and discover the Indonesian home industry where they produce leatherware, stone reliefs, and statues, bronze statues, or furniture. There are many wedding receptions, Javanese ceremonies, city festivals, Wayang-Kulit, or dance performances that you can attend. Your social calendar can be filled with social activities once you get in contact with the Indonesian people who will invite you to these festivities as a newcomer. Expat life in Malang is much more integrated with the community life of the Indonesian people than it is in other larger Indonesian cities.
If you are interested in living in Malang and want additional, specific information, contact Joe Kirk at [email protected]. If you are an expatriate living in Malang, let me know at that email, and we will provide information about joining East Java Friends (EJF), a social network for expatriates living in Malang.
Temporary Housing:There are many hotels in the Malang area, so check one of the rating websites such as Tripadvisor for a listing of favorite hotels or guesthouses with reviews and more information. I have a couple of favorites; Hotel Tugu and The Shalimar Hotel, both owned by friends and have been in Malang for many years. Tugu is traditional Javanese and features an extensive collection of antiques and several choices for dining while also having an array of activities that will introduce you to the culture of Malang. The Shalimar, formerly named Graha Cakra, is a Javanese boutique hotel with friendly and attentive staff and located in an area with several excellent dining choices. Both have swimming pools, warm and courteous staff, their charm, and will be glad to help you find your way around Malang.
If you would like something more like home, try a guest house that offers fewer services but a more intimate setting. There are many Guest Houses in Malang, and each has its charm. Again check rating services such as Tripadvisor for reviews and more information.
East Java Resident Housing: You can find what you are looking for here, whether it is a large villa or a private home in an orchard as we have members that have done just that. There are available lots in Malang and Batu, as well as the surrounding area. You’ll find plenty of guesthouses, apartments, hotels, and rental houses. East Java has a mild climate that makes a living here enjoyable.
Resident housing is much like you would find anywhere around the world. Some expats live in a large house with a spacious garden while some prefer a home with a swimming pool. There is a good selection of homes available for rent or purchase in Malang or the mountain area of Batu, and there are housing communities (perumahans) such as Istana Dieng, Araya, and Tidar that feature various conveniences. For example, Istana Dieng features paved streets, underground utilities, and a clubhouse with cafés, swimming pool, children’s play area, Atlas gym, and indoor tennis. The majority of rentals are by the owner and not real estate agents, so the best method of locating houses for rent or sale is to drive through a housing area that you like and look for “sewa” or “dijual” signs with contact information. Rental contracts are typically for two years, with full rental payment in advance.
Schools: There are two international schools in Malang; Wesley School (WIS) and Bina Bangsa School. Wesley School, Jalan Simpang Kwoka 1 Phone 586-410, email at [email protected], website at www.wesleyinterschool.org, is accredited with the Association of Christian Schools International and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and has a curriculum for kindergarten through grade 12. Bina Bangsa School, www.binabangsaschool.com, at Jl. Ahmad Yani Utara Riverside Blok AA No. 1, Malang 65125, is an entirely English based school with Mandarin and Indonesia as second languages. Charis National Academy is a national SPK school that offers classes for preschool through grade 12.
For playgroups and kindergartens, there is My Little Island, Oasis, Wonder Bridge, Happy Kids, Smart Kids, and Kidsland. All of these have an excellent curriculum and offer varying levels of language introduction, such as Mandarin or English.
Living in Malang is enhanced if you can speak some Indonesian language since many local people don’t speak English or other foreign languages. There are several good language schools in Malang that can accommodate your schedule; Rumah Bahasa, www.indonesianlanguageschool.com, Worldbridge Language Center, www.wblcindo.com, ILP International Language Programs, ilp-malang.blogspot.com, and Universitas Negeri Malang.
Health Care: For routine health care issues, you can find adequate professional service in Malang. Some expats schedule exams and periodic checkups while in their home country on holiday or vacation, and for more severe cases, use the more extensive facilities in Surabaya, Jakarta or Singapore. We rely on personal recommendations and use “second opinions” for more severe cases.
The following contacts are provided as a starter list:
Hospital Emergency Rooms: Panti Nirmala 362-459, Baptist in Batu 594-161, RKZ366-033 and Syaifal Anwar 362-101
General Family: Dr. Hendra, Jalan Esberg 1, 561-605
Pediatrician: Dr. Chandra, Jalan Raya Dieng 26, 568-247
Ear-Nose-Throat: Dr. Andrew Halim, WA 0815-5022-999
Dentist: Dr. Ilham Setiabudi, Jalan Istana Dieng Raya II #15, 0813-3007-0055.
Orthodontist: Dr. Chandra Wigati, Jalan Burung 51, 363-415
Medical Lab: Prodia Lab, Jalan Merbabu 10, 366-042, 6am-9pm
Pharmacy: Pelita Sari, Jalan Letjen Sutoyo 31A, 493-625, 495-271.
Doctors’ schedules vary, of course, but it is not uncommon to see a doctor after 7 pm, and some schedule their regular office hours as 6-11 pm.
Shopping: Malang features two malls; Malang Town Square (MATOS) and Mal Olympic Garden (MOG) that will handle the significant portion of your shopping needs. There are also local plazas such as Cyber Mall and Araya Plaza, for your convenience. At MATOS, Hypermart is an anchor tenant organized like a Super Wal-Mart with dry goods as well as the grocery market. Giant is about the same for MOG. You can buy fruits, vegetables, and spices in the local markets in good quality and at less cost. The best traditional market for fresh vegetables, fruits, chicken, meat, and fish is Pasar Oro Oro Dowo, at the intersection of Jalan Guntur and Jalan Brigjen Slamet Riyadi. Hypermart in MATOS and Giant at MOG also have a good selection of fresh fish. For those “hard to find” grocery items, there is Lai-Lai Fruit Market on Jalan Semeru, which has made its reputation on providing for the expats and UD Sukses Jaya at Jalan Bandahara 7. Sukses Jaya is a meat and supplies distributor to restaurants and offers such things as baby back ribs, Australian beef, and frozen foods to private customers as well. Indoguna Meats, phone (031) 911-70493, is a delivery service from Surabaya that supplies hotels and restaurants but takes individual orders also for meat, cheese and spices. There are bakeries at Hypermart (Matos) and Giant (MOG), but Holland Bakery, Jalan Wilis, and other locations are the most convenient.
Clothing is not a problem in Malang. If your size is not available in the stores, you can get it tailor-made in good quality. It is possible to have custom-made clothes using a clipping from a magazine. Swimsuits and shoes for ladies in bigger sizes can be a problem, however.
There are several large book stores in Malang, of which Gramedia (books, newspapers, stationery, sports, music) is the leader and has several locations. If you want a newspaper in English, Jakarta Post offers subscriptions and delivery.
There are many shops for building supplies, but if you want something more familiar, there’s Ace Hardware in Mal Olympic Garden and Malang City Point. Depo Bangunan at Jalan Raya Karanglo 69 is a large building supplies store that carries tools, home repair materials, and home accessories.
If you need household items, stationery, toys, school supplies, sandals, and shoes, try Toko Lancar Jaya, on Jalan Danau Toba in Sawojajar. The vast selection changes frequently, and their prices are unbelievably lower than most other stores.
Are you looking for Malang specific items? Try PKK Corner, Jalan Tangkuban Perahu 1 in the Kartini Imperil Building, for jewelry, batik, ceramics, leather goods, masks, toys, and snacks. PKK Corner is a great place to shop for those souvenirs for your visit back home.
If something is not available in Malang, sometimes it can be found in Surabaya, which is 2 hour’s drive. Many expats go to Jakarta or Singapore for business reasons, and these trips are always an excellent opportunity to stock up on missing necessities.
Culture, Recreation and Entertainment: Part of the advantage of living in Malang is being able to explore the culture, and these excursions will make family memories for a lifetime. If interested in “things to do” in Malang, check out www.holiday-or-living-in-malang.com, a website by a friend that has information about Malang from a local’s viewpoint. You can also check TripAdvisor.
Malang has facilities for golf, tennis, swimming and aerobic exercise. With a small-town environment, several expats use bicycles for their primary means of transportation, blending exercise with their daily schedules. Klub Bunga, a resort in Batu, provides a fitness club with gymnasium, pool, sauna, spa, massage, tennis courts, basketball court, and beach volleyball field. Also in Batu is Jawa Timur Park www.jawatimurpark.com, Batu Night Spectacular, and Museum Angkut, all excellent family recreation venues. There are golf courses in Malang at Araya, in Padaan at Taman Dayu and Fina Golf & Country Club. There are several fitness centers here with Atlas Fitness Center as an excellent example of having aerobic, step, and yoga classes in the mornings and evenings. There are Hash House Harrier groups in Malang, so that you can choose the most convenient time during the week or weekends. Contact Pak Poedji, Jalan Jagung Suprapto 7, and phone 325-888 or 361-996 for more details.
The beaches are 2-3 hours’ drive to the south coast; Sedangbiru, Balekambang, and Ngliyep. Unfortunately, there are only the necessary accommodations available, and you cannot find a nice restaurant. If you go, prepare for a picnic on the beach. Swimming can be dangerous on the south coast, so ask the locals for a safe place to swim.
For water parks, there is the Hawai Waterpark in Malang at Jalan Graha Kencan Raya that will provide hours of wet enjoyment for your family. Outside of Malang, there is Waterworld, a modern water park in Citraland, Surabaya, and Taman Dayu half-way between Malang and Surabaya.
There is a children’s playground next to MATOS. It is an extension of the Derumah housing complex but is open to the public. They have two swimming pools for small and older children as well as plenty of kiddies’ rides and indoor football fields and a playground with white beach sand.
Malang has several movie theaters with a choice of 3-4 films.
Want to try something a little different or new for your family? Make an evening of karaoke with the family. Get a private room and just enjoy singing and being together. There are many family karaoke facilities in Malang.
Restaurants: Restaurants are abundant in Malang, and you can make a quest out of finding that special place to eat. Check restaurant rating services such as TripAdvisor to see their reviews.
Several places are favorites for us and others in Malang:
AB Kitchen, a European style restaurant, has a warm and cozy atmosphere, serves tasty steaks, specializes in Swiss Roesti, and has live music on weekends. Inggil’s, a Javanese restaurant, features local food, atmosphere, and entertainment with their specialties of grilled or fried fish, sate’ and fried rice, and while the portions are ample, the price is very reasonable. Niki Kopitiam is a restaurant resulting from its successful catering business. Located at Jalan Bondowoso 8, it features Indonesian and Chinese cuisine. Batavia has fresh seafood, Chinese and Javanese dishes in a comfortable setting. Malibu features wood-fired oven pizza but has a variety of other recipes. Try their outstanding onion rings. Harmoni is a family-oriented restaurant with a children’s play area and tasty local food. KDS is the most well-known Chinese restaurant in town and offers traditional dishes at reasonable prices. Taman Indie River View Resto features a romantic location and good Indonesian food. Kantri, Javanese restaurant at Jalan Raya Singoasari, features excellent beef, chicken, and goat sate’. Also, there are two large dining tables with chairs, a record size wooden wall screen, and antique carriages to see while there. J Co and Starbucks at Malang City Point feature coffee and snacks with a relaxing sitting area. For a special treat, try Rotiboy in Mal Olympic Garden (MOG) for a unique pastry bun.
The larger hotels, Hotel Tugu, Shalimar, Santika, Harris, Regent’s Park, and Kartika Graha, have dining facilities as well.
Are you looking for something fast and familiar? Try an American chain restaurant: McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dunkin’ Donuts, Pizza Hut, or A&W Root Beer. Pizza Hut has an extensive pasta menu in addition to its famous pizzas. For extra convenience, most of these have delivery service.
There are always new restaurants opening, such as Signora Pasta. Signora Pasta is truly Italian as Pino and his wife Maria are there as chefs and owners. Fun place with great food.
Personal services: While you will want to find the personal services best for you in terms of convenience and price, there are a few places that we recommend. For salons that offer a full range of services such as hairstyle, manicure, pedicure, and makeup, try Pacific, Jonathan’s, Tinara, or Gester. For a great hairstylist, there’s Hengky’s Salon, Jl. Simpang Bondowoso 15-17. For a gentle massage, there’s Djemari at Jl. Raya Tidar 40 or Zen Pijat.
If you need help in finding specific goods or services in Malang, contact Joe Kirk at [email protected]gmail.com.
Last updated July 22, 2020