Quest for a Kost

How do you find a kost in Jakarta? Through research, having an afternoon (and patience) to look around the city and having an interpreter with you.

Finding a kost or boarding house is the best option for travelers looking to live simply and relatively cheaply for a few months or years, without scrimping on basic comforts.

The phenomenon was prompted by the influx of students from other countries and provinces, as well as expatriates filling in jobs in the rapidly developing city.

A kost used to be just a room in a local family’s house, a spare hut in their back yard or a rundown motel-type living area. But through the years, it has taken on the look of modern apartments. More and more beautifully furnished kosts are cropping up in Jakarta — evidence of its profitability.

I started my search for a kost by looking through kost listings online, upon the suggestion of my boss. I highly recommend going to www.infokost.net then reading through it using an online translator. I listed down the nicest kosts I saw, based on pictures and prices posted there, and noted down their address so I could have a look.

I went with my friend around Karet Kuningan, a known haven for kosts. One of the streets here is Karet Pedurenan, which has a whole stretch of kosts.

Just tell a cab or ojek (motorcycle taxi) driver to go to Karet and ask to be dropped off on a main street. Here, you can start walking around, entering kost compounds and asking if they have rooms available. If they say penuh (full), look for another house. You could also ask to be put on a waiting list if they tell you there’s going to be an available room soon.

Kosts have receptionists or owners holding office in small rooms at the front of the building. It’s standard procedure for them to show guests around rooms and common areas. This is when you’ll need someone to translate for you, in case you have questions.

They have a spiel already prepared, where they tell you how much the room costs a month (these range from Rp 2.5 million to as high as Rp 4.5 million, depending on the facilities, services included like laundry and cleaning, and the location).

Nearly every single kost has the following amenities: flat screen TV with cable, LAN internet socket, queen-sized bed, air-conditioner, mini-fridge, a private bathroom with sink, toilet, and shower (hot water also available), storage space and a writing desk and chair. The buildings also have parking spaces and 24-hour security. Ask about special arrangements if you tend to go home late at night, as some kosts have curfew.

For the cable internet, you have to buy your own LAN cable. It also pays to buy a plug adapter, if you’re not used to two-pronged round sockets.

Owners throw in good deals on maids and daily laundry service (2 to 4 pieces of clothing per day. Ask your landlady). Kitchens are usually communal, but you can rent a room with its own gas stove.You need your own utensils.

I found a nice kost that looked like a hotel, with access key cards and everything plus a nice balcony, but they won’t open until next month.

I looked around the Ambassador Residences, popular among foreigners, which looked more like a beach resort than a boarding house. The receptionists wear traditional kebaya, same as the stewardesses on Singapore Airlines.

Another room we were shown had a spa right next to it (I wanted to get it right away) but they don’t accept occupants in the middle of the month. I saw a kost that was really crappy looking and had cable tv but no TV set. You get all kinds, so be ready for a long search.

I saw Peak Residences, also well known, and its “King Koil Dream Bed.” But the deposit was too steep. Finally, after 2 days of searching and getting kicked out of the hotel I was staying in, I settled on a big kost on Jalan Tiong in Karet.

I had to show my passport, pay a deposit (around half or less of a month’s rent) and a month’s rent in advance. I also signed a contract, that was in Bahasa, detailing house rules. It’s also listed there how much you pay per day when you have guests stay at your room overnight. Some waive the charge if your rent’s high already.

For 2.75 million a month (around P14,000), I got a spacious room with nice wooden  fixtures and a window with a view of the compost pit. 🙂 It’s conveniently located near a main highway (Jalan Dr. Satrio) so I can walk to work.

Our landlady, Riza, is mulishly avoiding English, so I manage to talk to her by writing down questions I translated on Google and showing it to her. Most times, I use hand gestures or launch an interpretative dance for her benefit.

All in all, I think I made a good choice. I realize I don’t have a proper trash bin, cleaning materials or enough clothes to fill my giant closet. But all that will come later. For now, I’m enjoying my home away from home.

Tags: Looking for a kost, Living in a Kost, How to Find Kost Online, Jakarta Kost, Karet Kosts, How much does a kost cost, Where to find kost, Jakarta, Indonesia

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