City Cost of Living Comparisons

Sep 3rd, 2008, in Business & Economy, by

RupiahComparing cost of living in Indonesian cities, most expensive, Balikpapan to cheapest, Mataram.

According to the 2008 Living Costs Survey (Survei Biaya Hidup 2008) put out by Mercer Indonesia and carried out in July 2008 Balikpapan in East Kalimantan is the most expensive city to live in.

Cost of living estimates are based on prices of food and basic goods, transportation, utilities, housing, education, health care, entertainment and sport. kilasberita

The figures in brackets are off a base of 100, for Jakarta.

  1. Balikpapan (107)
  2. Jakarta (100)
  3. Bekasi (94)
  4. Samarinda (94)
  5. Bogor (92)
  6. Jayapura (91)
  7. Pekanbaru (90)
  8. Bandung (89)
  9. Batam (89)
  10. Medan (89)
  11. Padang (88)
  12. Manado (88)
  13. Semarang (86)
  14. Palembang (85)
  15. Banjarmasin (85)
  16. Pontianak (84)
  17. Tangerang (84)
  18. Cilegon (84)
  19. Makassar (84)
  20. Yogyakarta (84)
  21. Surabaya (83)
  22. Jambi (81)
  23. Cirebon (81)
  24. Denpasar (80)
  25. Bandar Lampung (75)
  26. Mataram (75)

The last time the survey was conducted, in July 2006, Balikpapan came in at 103 on the index. Both Denpasar and Banjarmasin became relatively much cheaper to live in compared to 2006, while Bekasi and Medan shot up.

In worldwide terms Jakarta is ranked 82nd most expensive city, and is not in the top five for Asia, the top five being: mercer

  • Tokyo, Japan (2nd worldwide)
  • Seoul, South Korea (5th)
  • Hong Kong (6th)
  • Osaka, Japan (11th)
  • Singapore, (13th)

16 Comments on “City Cost of Living Comparisons”

  1. Mas Martin says:

    I miss Surakarta and Malang in the list – certainly two among the cheapest cities in Indonesia.

  2. Rob says:

    Depok doesn’t rate a mention? Yet, Jakarta, Bogor, Tangerang, and Bekasi do! Kasihan deh, Depok…or is it kasihan deh, Jakarta, Bogor, Tangerang, and Bekasi 😀

    So, Balikpapan must be ranked higher than 82nd, right?

  3. David says:

    Yes Surakarta and Depok should be on the list, maybe Malang as well. Rob I guess for the worldwide list they only have major cities on it so Balikpapan probably didn’t make the cut, in those terms.

  4. Bas says:

    Interesting list. Surabaya is cheaper than Jogja? Amazing.

  5. DXP says:

    hm .. surabaya is less expensive than pekanbaru ? in which aspects ? this study must be very wrong

  6. Purba Negoro says:

    Cannot be accurate.
    Jogja is far less expensive than Surabaya. Semarang also.

    my listing would be (I don’t know Sumatera so very well as Java):
    Balikpapan (107)
    Jakarta (100)
    Bogor proper
    Bandung (89)
    Medan (89)
    Semarang (86)
    Surabaya (83)
    Jambi (81)
    Cirebon (81)

    Mataram should be so much further down the list.

  7. Andy says:

    Haven’t been to Surabaya. Jakarta must be the most expensive considering the price of housing, apartments and entertainment. Semarang ranks number 1 on the bore factor in fact this is the most boring city I have ever been to in the world. Jogja is nice, the good thing being it’s centralization of all the important landmarks. Denpasar is best avoided. Bali is better everywhere else outside of there and you can avoid going there as the airport is even closer to Kuta and the main points of interest. Bogor is forgettable except for the deers grazing in the Presidential palace.

  8. Rob says:


    All things are relative.

    The costs chart sets Jakarta as the bench mark. The rest is discretionary. Statistics can conceivably give you any outcome that you want depending on what you put into the equation.

    I quite like Semarang, but I am fonder of Yogyakarta because I am really into the history of the place.

    Denpasar depends on what you are looking for in your Bali experience.

    Bogor has a little more going for it than just the deer grazing in the grounds of the presidential palace.

    Yet, to each their own.

    Have a good one! (day that is)

  9. Farah says:

    This cant be right…..

    I don’t know what this list based on…
    As far as i know, in Yogyakarta you still could find nasi kucingan for the price of Rp 1500 and in bandar lampung nothing is cheaper than Rp 8000,- for food (only). Could be more expensive if you’re eating some padang restaurant.
    Jambi compare to bandar lampung ? errrrhhh i wont say all things in Jambi are expensive.

    Rugs, crystals, and ceramics are cheap in Batam, Jambi and Palembang.

    Electronics are cheap in Batam…. (smuggling things ?)

    Foods and clothes are cheap in Jogja

    Houses/room for rent are cheap in Lampung but expensive in Batam, Jambi, and i think Yogyakarta also bit expensive.

    Public transport…. errrhhh.. theres special price for students in Lampung and Yogyakarta (in some cases, the driver only ask half price/student price for me), but not in Jambi and Palembang.

    Hotel-rooms-houses Denpasar and Jambi ? errrrhhh…. i would say.. in Kuta, Bali, rooms are cheap !! You wont find clean and nice hotels with price below 300.000 in Lampung, Jambi, Pekan baru or Batam ! Houses ? bali are expensive.. I think its because theres more land in Sumatra so things are… not as expensive as in Bali (yet).

  10. Purba Negoro says:

    Andy- yes Jakarta is not too much different to Western city- some things cheaper, some things more expensive.

    Surabaya is ok- maybe a bit boring for Expat. A lot of Revolutionary history for those interested.
    Soon the Arabs- I forget which one, mabye Qatari or Omani will build a gas facility not too far.

    Solo or Surakarta is nice for expat- very quiet and traditional without being too dirty

    Bogor is fast becoming a commuter and ‘eco’ city.
    But not so much for tourist to see or do, I agree.
    Although there is good rabbit satay, sometimes kancil (mousedeer satay) and grilled corn.
    Bandung very popular for expat to go shopping and exploring.

    Semarang is very boring. Must be all the old Dutch there- like a retirement villa as a city. My wife family live in Semarang- so boring I hate to visit- I stay home.

    Jogja is getting better every year I visit. The Sultan has done excellent work- and always more improvements.I think it is definitely one of the best tourist ctiy- with many culutral and traditional event.
    Jogja is very cheap. My servant was telling me just now still can buy good fresh Bakso for 1000 Rp.
    I remember when could buy Tebotol for less than 200 Rp. Can you imagine!

    Balikpapan very pricey.
    Medan is quite ok- very cheap electronic- yes maybe because of smuggling and close to Batam, Kucing, Penang and Singapore- this is historical activity since time of Raffles.

    Batam is naughty place.
    Bali is fantastic for tourist- everything possible there- for adventure tourist to cuture or eco tourist.
    My son loves the rafting and the parasailing.

    Lombok and Gili Islands very under-rated- but very, very beautiful. I encourage any traveller please visit- especially if you are keen scuba diver. Many Australian run dive business out there- I know of one Australian man who grows green turtles for conservation.

    If you want to enjoy real Balinese culture- you have to go to Klungkung, Negara or Ubud- not Denpasar- just another crowded city- but still some interesting museum.

    I am not so familiar with Sumatera- I hear Palembang is very quiet, nice and cool, cheap and very friendly.

  11. timdog says:

    I too have always found Boor a little over-rated, though I would be tempted to look into living there if I was working in Jakarta…

    Semarang’s not so bad PN – very fine old Dutch domestic architecture, a large Chinese population, thus good Chinese food and some interesting old Chinese quarters… ah – I’m begining to see what your problem might be ;-)… still, loads of good street food around Simpang Lima, and wingko babad is tasty… don’t think I’d want to live there though.

    Surabaya – great food, good people, good location, horrible language, fine history…

    @Andy – deer, buddy, deer; it’s an uncountable noun. Thought you were an English teacher…

  12. Purba Negoro says:

    Very few Javanese like Semarang.
    A city for the Collaborators
    Actually- it has a lot of Revolutionary history too- it was centre for the Dutch military.
    Three are many prisons used by the Dutch for torture still vacant.
    The Javanese poor majority want the Klenteng etc moved back into the Chinatowns.
    The Chinese refuse- this is a continuing point of friction.

  13. Andy says:

    OK, I didn’t like the place because I had to spend a weekend there without the pleasure of the local ladies and / or alcohol. I was there with my ex gf who wanted me to meet her grandma. She even pretended that I prayed with the local guys because it was haram for me to be non muslim. It was a truly boring affair but also with a tour of the city and nearby mountains I couldn’t see anything to write home about. Too many people in your face and the mountains were laughable for anyone from the west who have seen fantastic scenery without the crowds and bus tours and markets in the way.

    This is why Jogja is the main attraction of Central Java with Borobodur the main attraction.

  14. deden says:

    According to the 2008 Living Costs Survey (Survei Biaya Hidup 2008) put out by Mercer Indonesia and carried out in July 2008 Balikpapan …

    I think Mercer forgot to consider the transportation cost factor, say if you live in Jayapura and want to go to Jakarta, the cost is like a going to moon budget for me here in Samarinda.


  15. rahul says:

    what will be cost of living in Surabaya, Indonasia.

    If i get salary for 27000 usd per ann. what can be estimated saving.
    we are two people in family.

  16. Thomas says:

    I moved to Surabaya from Batam last year ( 2015). Batam was considerably cheaper than Surabaya, especially for renting an apartment. At similarly central locations, e.g. business district, apartments in Surabaya are twice as expensive as in Batam.

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