An Expat Guide to Shopping in Indonesia: From Groceries to High-end Luxury Goods

This article discusses a guide for expats to shopping in Indonesia.
Expat Guides Shopping In Indonesia

RumahCom - The cost of living in Indonesia is generally relatively cheap when compared to several countries in Europe or neighboring countries in Asia such as Singapore or Japan. According to the index released by Movehub, compiled from by referring to New York, Indonesia is in the 12th position in the list of countries with the lowest average cost of living in the world. This means that the cost of living in Indonesia is approximately 61% cheaper than in New York. Living costs are usually determined by daily needs, such as housing costs, daily food costs, transportation costs, communication costs, insurance costs, entertainment to shopping. The Cost of Living Survey (SBH) can be used as a benchmark in determining the cost of living in various cities in Indonesia. The survey, which is conducted every five years by the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), reveals that in Indonesia, as a comparison, DKI Jakarta is still the area with the most expensive living costs, followed by Jayapura and Ternate and other big cities such as Surabaya, Medan, Bandung and Makassar.

Indonesia is not only famous for its attractive tourist destination, the products, food, and services offered by local and international merchants are also quite diverse. Products of daily necessities such as clothing, food, furniture, and home appliances, to luxury goods can be found in various big cities in Indonesia with business actors ranging from MSMEs to international outlets with branded goods.

Regarding taxes in Indonesia, it is usually charged on products, food, and services sold in malls or shopping centers. Meanwhile, MSME entrepreneurs are generally not subject to tax. Therefore, buying goods, products, or services for MSMEs is commonly tax-free. In addition, the types of taxes in Indonesia include income tax, value-added tax, sales tax on luxury goods, land and building tax and others. Not only are Indonesians subject to taxes, but expats are also subject to certain taxes, namely PPh 21 for expats.

Groceries and daily-use essentials

It is undeniable that the need for food cannot be eliminated from human life. Expats don't need to have trouble finding grocery stores in Indonesia, especially in big cities like Jakarta, Bandung, Medan or Surabaya. You can fulfill your grocery needs by shopping at various places in every corner of the city, from traditional markets, to large-scale local and international supermarkets. In Jakarta itself, there are quite a lot of traditional markets, for example, the Kebayoran Lama, Tanah Abang, Santa, Kramatjati, and so on. On the other hand, you can also easily find supermarkets such as Lotte, Carrefour, Hero, Kem Chicks, etc., in most corners of the city.

Price-wise, traditional markets are the cheapest. Even more uniquely, you can bargain with the traders to get the right price. However, if you want a comfortable shopping activity, shopping at the supermarket is the right choice. Apart from being in an air-conditioned room, supermarkets provide other conveniences such as cleanliness and tidiness as well as guaranteed durability of food and beverage ingredients thanks to the chillers and freezers.

Living in such a big city in Indonesia, which has a fairly high level of pollution, it is imperative to live healthily by consuming foods and drinks that are rich in nutrients and clean. Among the food commodities available on the market, organic food is an attractive option. The process of cultivating organic food ingredients is free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals commonly used to repel pests, so that the food produced is guaranteed to be clean, natural and healthy. In Jakarta alone, we can find many organic grocery stores, such as Keranjang Sayur, FAM Organik, and Namaste.

Clothes & Apparel

In Indonesia, you can find clothing outlets with a diverse range in almost all cities. Local streetwear such as the Wellborn Company, United Hart, Crooz, Studio Moral and others are choices you can look into, if you want to support the fashion created by the local craftsmen. In addition, you can also go shopping in overseas brand outlets such as Uniqlo, H&M, Zara, GAP, and others. Also do note, that the Indonesian department stores such as Matahari and Ramayana have contributed significantly to the fashion world in the country.

Generally, the fashion outlets above provide a wide range of men's and women's clothing choices. Price-wise, local products are indeed cheaper than products from overseas brands. However, the quality presented is competitive compared to foreign brands. What's more, several streetwear brands such as Crooz and Studio Moral have also gone international.

The atmosphere or interiors of the clothing outlets does influence customer behavior. Located in malls, international fashion outlets are indeed the right choice if you want a comfortable shopping experience. However, shopping at the local shops is no less interesting. With a typical streetwear interior, you can have a different shopping experience. In addition, at streetwear outlets, you will usually find streetwear communities who share experiences and knowledge about the local fashion industry.

Furniture & Home Items

To fulfill your home furnishing needs, various furniture stores are widely available in major cities in Indonesia. Outlets such as Informa, Ace Hardware, DIY, and others are the most suitable choices for shopping for home furnishings, and other tools. Informa and Ace Hardware provide loyalty cards for your shopping convenience. Jepara is also an interesting alternative for shopping for furniture so that will lift up your home interiors.

Luxury, high-end items

As the capital city and the industrial center in Indonesia, Jakarta offers a wide range of facilities to support the luxurious lifestyle of the millennials and gen-Z generation. Jakarta is indeed the right city to look for luxury and high-end products. Some of the most suitable malls to shop for expats include Pacific Place, Plaza Indonesia, Grand Indonesia, Senayan City, and Plaza Senayan. At the mall, you will be spoiled with various luxury brands from abroad such as Bvlgary, Hermes, Chanel, Dior, Balenciaga, Rolex and others.

Looking to move to Indonesia and find a home? We can help. Check our rental listings here.

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