Choosing an area is the obvious first step, and the best way of doing this is by exploring each one yourself. You may find that there are certain areas and even buildings that are more popular with the expatriate community, and it may be worth your while asking around.
Finding temporary accommodation in the beginning is often a good idea, allowing yourself to get to know the different areas and to give yourself time to choose somewhere that’s right for you. Many expats opt for hotel stays, with serviced apartments often a preferred option if arriving with children.
The closer to the main cities you are the wider your housing options will be. If you don't want to drift too far from the style of accommodation you are used to, the major cities’ ‘expat areas’ may be the best choice, although these neighbourhoods do come at a price.
If you are moving with family it’s always a good idea to think about which school you want to send your children. Once you have decided this you can narrow your search to nearby neighbourhoods. Bear in mind that Indonesian traffic can get quite congested, so somewhere close to work may also be worth thinking about.
Apartments can be serviced, furnished, both or neither. Some serviced apartments have facilities similar to those you’d expect to find in a 5-star hotel, with swimming pools, tennis courts and even restaurants. Serviced apartments may also include rooms for household staff which is a consideration to bear in mind. In many complexes you’ll find yourself living in your own expat community. Many apartments will have internet etc. already set up, though don’t assume this to always be the case.
Houses are another choice, and can be found in complexes similar to those of the city apartments, with security guards, swimming pools, etc. Entire estates have even been developed just outside of the main cities, offering expats security, leisure facilities, and fresher air than in the city centres.
Unless offered help or housing by your employer, finding yourself a qualified housing agent to help you with the process is recommended. Some employers may in fact have set up relationships with certain housing services, who can help not only with finding property and location decisions, but also with the legal specifics.
Before 2016 expats in Indonesia were not allowed to purchase housing in the country, apart from luxury apartments. The law has changed however and expats now have the right to purchase houses. They are only allowed to own them for a maximum of 80 years however, and there are minimum values that must be met when foreigners are purchasing houses or flats.
It’s important to read through property contracts with the assistance of a property lawyer or notary who knows the local market and regulations.
Contracts tend to be for fixed periods, so subletting is a common option. In this case, make sure the landlord is in fact allowed to sublet the property, and that you’ve seen their land title (sertifikat tanah).
It is usual to be asked to pay a security deposit which will vary in amount depending on the property. Make sure everything is in working order at the beginning of your tenancy, and even take photographs to prevent disagreements later on. If you are looking to renew your contract in the future, check at the beginning to see whether this will be an option. You don’t want to find two years down the line that you are unable to renew the contract on the home you’ve been living in for the last two years.