Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Setting Up in Bali: Part I -- Accommodations, Furniture, and Appliances


Sorry for the delay in between posts. Life has gotten quite stressful and busy here in Bali land.
I had mentioned previously that I lived in Bali for a couple of years before leaving for a year-long holiday of traveling. Now that Mike and I are back here for a couple (or so) more years, we are faced with the exhausting task of house-hunting and setting up.

This is also the reason why we haven't been able to reply to the comments on the popularly spread "dating a surfer" article. Thanks everyone for the love by the way!

When I was still single, I would always rent out an already furnished place to save me the trouble of fixing and setting up. But now being in a relationship and with the lack of properly furnished abodes here in Bali, I and Mike have to do all the domesticated stuff ourselves -- from getting the right house in the right location to buying beds to pots to light bulbs.

So, if you are in the same position as we are or still contemplating on moving to Bali, here are things you need to know:

It's manual labor. 

Unless you're lucky enough that your company sets you up with accommodations, transportation, and all the luxuries, you will have to sort all these out on your own.

Bargain. Bargain. Bargain.

You should know that as a 'bule' (foreigner) you will often if not always be given the 'bule' price -- meaning, the price is about 3-10x more what they would offer a local.

For example, you're looking at an item, the local will quote you something outrageous to check if you will bite. Don't. Always bargain (the locals expect this anyway). And if they won't agree to your price, just walk away, unless you really want it.

In Bali, the best way to get set up painlessly is to get referrals from trusted friends. This way you avoid getting ripped off and are more confident in purchasing good products. Having a trusted local friend will be a great help too in communicating with the other locals especially when you're bargaining for prices.

How to find a house to rent?

Ask your friends if they know of any house for rent or if they're moving out themselves.

No friends? Go around the neighborhood and scout. This may take a day or a week or a month. It's exhausting but that's how it's done.

Have the money to spare? Go to a real estate agency. Be warned that they mostly offer high-end properties. So if you're on a budget, the above options are better for you.

Regarding Houses, you may want to know that:

A full year rent is the deal for houses and villas. Yep, a lump sum upfront, so make sure you have enough cash to last you on your holiday or until your first paycheck.

Prices for houses in Bali are dependent on the area, size, and amenities. Houses in the more upscale areas will probably fetch for $400-800/month. These houses are usually 200-400+m2 in size. The villa types or houses with swimming pools are more expensive, about $500-1,000/month. For 100-150m2 houses, the going price is about $200-350/month.

'Kost' housing or studio types -- bedroom, living area, and kitchen in a 50m2 space is a cheap option at $50-80/month. Kosts allow daily or monthly payments. If you don't mind a small space and living amongst locals, this is a good deal.

You will hear the words "juta" or "mil" a lot. Juta means Million. So, 20 juta = 20 million or $2,000 (approx.)


Where to buy furniture?


There are loads of local furniture shops in Bali. But I found facing the problem of being given ridiculous prices and the stress of bargaining not worth my while so, I just go to the big supermarkets like Carrefour, Hypermarket, and Nirmala for my basic furniture and kitchen needs. Here, the price is the same for locals and foreigners, so there's no need to haggle. More so, stuff here aren't really that expensive, if not similar to local stores!

So unless you're a master haggler or can be bothered to scour the local merchants, just save yourself the trouble and visit the supermarkets.


How about appliances?


The supermarkets I mentioned above have almost everything you need except maybe for beds (which I will discuss later).

But there are also some appliance centers in the Tuban area and Denpasar that may be worth the trip like Ud Karika Elektronik in Tuban (across Supernova Supermarket). Then, there's also Sakura Elektronik on Jalan Diponegoro in Denpasar. At these stores you can bargain for better prices.

Now, regarding buying a bed..... 

These can be bought at the local furniture stores called "Muebles" and there's loads of them in Bali. Just go around and canvas for the prices and yes, bargain.

The good quality mattresses are from the American Standard and Marco Polo brands. Mattresses are bout 1-2 juta = ~$100-200.

A set = mattress + base + headboard, would cost about 2-3 juta = ~$200-300.

If you want the best bedding on the island, you may order from King Koil (branch at Bali Mal Galeria. Beds here range from $500-1,000++.

For special custom-made 'Teak Wood' bed frames, you can get these at the furniture-making shops along the Bypass, Canggu, or Denpasar. A queen-size frame including headboard (no mattress) will cost about 2.5-3 juta.

Next: Renting Transportation, Communications, and Internet on Setting Up in Bali - Part II

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