Hunting the house

Now that we’ve settled into a bit of a routine as far as work and school goes, it has been time to get down to our pressing life business: house hunting.

In Canada, renting a house/apartment is fairly easy. You search online, check out ads in the paper, look around a bit, pay the landlord a small deposit – and voila you have accommodation. For comparison, let me try to detail the steps involved with renting a house here.

1. Learn Bahasa Indonesia, because the landlords, caretakers, groundskeepers, etc., do not speak English and are exceedingly unhelpful when it comes to the gesture-based language we’ve been using.

2. Get hold of the local house agent/language teacher who has cornered the expat rental market. But still expect to find houses on your own because she’s never going to get in touch with you.

3. Literally walk up and down streets, knocking on doors and forcing your cell number on the locals. Also, harass your new co-workers until they take pity on you and help.

4. Find a house you like. Check for termites (as in, check to see how many termites, since there are always termites), check for appliances (unlike termites, there are never appliances), check the hot water (there is never hot water), and try to find out whether the crazy guy in the yard is your new inherited help or just a squatter. Use gestures.

5. Negotiate the price…. and then pay it all at once for the whole year! Make sure you agree on all the fixes/changes you want done in advance, because once you’ve given them your money and something goes wrong… well, tough shit.

6. Move in and hope for the best!

All this aside, the prices are reasonable, and you can get a lot for your money. We’ve seen places that range anywhere from 60 million rupiah/year (approx. US$6000/yr) to US$1650/mo. But please, let me show you some examples:

Here’s a typical mid-range front entrance. We also captured a photo of the elusive rental agent!
A nice kitchen, upper range. Not the nicest we’ve seen, although it does have a fridge!
Another nice kitchen. This one is particularly western. I should point out that Indonesians have a “dry” kitchen and a “wet” kitchen – the dry one is mostly for show, and the wet one is hidden away in the back, for the cook to do her work without interrupting the household.
Lots of windows, always good.
Now this is more like it. There is always a free flow between indoors/outdoors here. So basically this is the dining room.
Love these little hidden gardens. They’re always part of the hallways and wide spaces in the houses.
A typical mid-range bedroom. No, this is not the master bedroom.
Love it! Bathtubs are rare, especially nice ones.
A gorgeous Balinese door frame.
The best part of these high-end houses are the wide, open spaces! Oh, did I mention this is the garage? Seriously, the garage.
……Aaaaaaand, here’s what 60 million rupiahs/year gets you. B stopped taking pictures after this because the landlady was cleaning out what appeared to be garbage left behind by squatters.

By the way, we’re currently somewhere between steps 3 and 4. A few houses have caught our attention, but unfortunately, we didn’t take any pictures of them. As soon as we’re serious about something, we’ll let you know!

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