Everyone wants to one day own their own home. But the math doesn't always add up. Take the average monthly salary for millennial age workers in Jakarta—it's Rp 6.1 million ($435 USD). How much house can you afford on Rp 6.1 million a month? Somewhere in the range of Rp 350 million ($24,956 USD) if you still want to have an actual life (because the mortgage on Rp 350 million is about Rp 1.9 million ($135 USD), or 30 percent of your paycheck. And what does Rp 350 million get you in Jakarta? Not a whole lot.
So what if you want to buy a house that's a bit nicer? I asked a lot of people and the most common advice I got was to leave the city. Audrey Mariane, 24, was able buy her first house, but she had to do it out in the suburbs, in Bogor, West Java.
Audrey purchased a home that, at Rp 290 million ($20,663 USD), is costing her Rp 2.5 million ($178 USD) a month. It's got two bedrooms, one bathroom a kitchen, garage, and a small yard, or at least it will next month once construction wraps up. It's pretty much everything you want in a home, but it's still going to take a lot of sacrifice on her part.
Audrey makes about Rp 5 million ($356 USD) a month, and that means that half of her income is going to her house payments. With the add-on costs (electricity, commuting, food), she doesn't have very much to do much else but own a house. Still, Audrey sees this as an important investment. Whenever she gets married, she'll be the one who already owns her own home, she said.
"A house is a private asset," she told me. "I would love to have an investment for my own future."
Audrey isn't alone. The demand for homes that cost less than Rp 700 million ($49,842 USD) is really high right now, and in more popular locations, like in Cibubur, East Bogor, housing prices can go up 25 percent every single year, according to Hendry Nurhalim, the CEO of Harvest City, an Indonesian property developer.
"Especially if the house is located near a new infrastructure project,” Hendry told the property site Rumah123.com.
Now, Rp 700 million is still waaaay to expensive for a lot of millennials. But it still got me thinking… if I wanted to get my own home now, where would it be? My choice would be the suburbs of Medan, North Sumatra, because it's green, affordable, and still near a city. But if Medan isn't for you, here's what Rp 350 million gets you in the rest of Indonesia.
THE SATELLITE SUBURBS
Sure, Bekasi may not be the sexiest address out there, but it's also a pretty good choice when it comes to finding an affordable home. The city is as affordable as Bogor, but way closer to Jakarta. It's also got some cute homes like this squat two-bedroom, one bath in Villa Gading Harapan Bekasi. The best part? It's only Rp 255 million ($18,149 USD).
Want something even cheaper? Then head out to Cikarang, Bekasi, which is about 43 kilometers from South Jakarta, but might as well be another planet when it comes to how far you can stretch your money. This two-story, three-bedroom house in Puri Cikarang goes for Rp 257 million ($18,291 USD). That's a bit more than the previous home, but it's also way more modern-looking.
Average home prices in South Tangerang are a bit too high, and Bogor, while great for Audrey, is a bit too far from Jakarta for most people's tastes. But down on the edge of South Tangerang and Depok, I found a place for Rp 350 million that's only 21 kilometers from our office, and a stone's throw from the capital's southern border. Not bad for those of us who have to be close to Jakarta for work.
But what about the rest of the country?
Are you really into metal? Then maybe this house in Ujungberung, the home turf of legendary metal bands like JASAD, is right within reach. For Rp 325 million, you get 30 square meters with two bedrooms and one bath. This other house, in Cibiru, is way cheaper at Rp 275 million ($19,597 USD), but it's also pretty old, and probably will cost a bit to fix up. Still, at 70 square meters, it gives you way more space to live than most others on this list.
Artsy Jogja is known as a pretty cheap place to rent. But what about buying a home? Way out in Kalibawang, Kulon Progo, about 23 kilometers from the city center, you can find a two bedroom home for Rp 290 million ($20,665 USD). It's only 40 square meters, but just look at that orange and black color scheme and those modern accents. Not bad.
A bit closer to downtown is this home in Margoluwih, Sleman, for Rp 330 million ($23,516 USD). It's bright, modern, and pretty large—70 square meters. It's also almost in the city, so it's a pretty good choice for anyone who wants to hang out in Jogja.
There are plenty of homes in Indonesia's fourth city for around Rp 350 million, but it's this one, out in the suburbs of Medan Helvetia that has me sold. For a mere Rp 140 million ($9,975 USD) you can live in a green residential community that's a short drive from the city center.
Bali isn't exactly a cheap place to live, but in some areas of Badung and Tabanan, it's still possible to find a house for less than Rp 310 million ($22,091 USD). This one, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a garage, might not be beach front, but the ocean is still only a 30 minute drive away. It's also brand new, as in not even built yet, and it comes with a garage. Try to find anything even close to this good in Jakarta for that price. I dare you.
It's not impossible to find a home for less than Rp 350 million, even one close to Jakarta. But if you really want more space for your money, or a mortgage you can actually afford, then look outside the metro area. It's a big country after all and this is only a small selection of what's out there. I mean, don't even get me started on how many spots you could buy in Makassar.