my first post, gardening enthusiast from USA

mikemap

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Greetings, my wife and I are passionate about gardening, especially growing fruits and vegetables. We already live in the tropics (Hawai'i) and are very familiar with tropical plants and foods. We love Indonesian food, music and culture in general. We're wondering if it's possible to buy a small piece of land in a rural area on Java with low cost of living to have a small garden, like 1 acre. (I'm a US citizen.) We are interested in humble, rustic living conditions, like a very small, cheap home, and blending in with the lifestyle of a rural area, not living in a city or in a nice apartment or condo. I would be grateful for any insight on the cost or legalities of owning land in Indonesia. We are only interested in wet climates where there is abundant durian to eat.
 

R Cameron

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Foreigners can't own land, but you could get a multi-decade lease. The bigger concern for foreigners is typically what visa you will live with. In order to live in Indonesia continuously there are few options, for someone with no Indonesian spouse the options are generally to start or buy a 1 million USD business or get a retirement visa if you are 55 or older. Both options still come with many more restrictions.
 

harryopal

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Bad_azz

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Greetings, my wife and I are passionate about gardening, especially growing fruits and vegetables. We already live in the tropics (Hawai'i) and are very familiar with tropical plants and foods. We love Indonesian food, music and culture in general. We're wondering if it's possible to buy a small piece of land in a rural area on Java with low cost of living to have a small garden, like 1 acre. (I'm a US citizen.) We are interested in humble, rustic living conditions, like a very small, cheap home, and blending in with the lifestyle of a rural area, not living in a city or in a nice apartment or condo. I would be grateful for any insight on the cost or legalities of owning land in Indonesia. We are only interested in wet climates where there is abundant durian to eat.
Welcome to the forum, I always find it interesting to read posts from others who like to grow things.
Re owning land-as already stated, Indonesia doesn't permit foreigners to own. There are ways around that with long term leases, and strata titles.
You would need to figure out what visa you need before even thinking about a place.You state you are a US cit but what about your wife?
If neither of you are Indonesian citizens & under the age of 55 you are going to struggle getting a long term visa here unless you invest significantly , again, as already stated.


When you state cheap- what do you mean? Assuming you can work around the other issues some idea of budget would help us to help you re the costs.
 

mikemap

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We are well below 55 years old and we are both US citizens, so I see that Indonesia doesn't have a lot of options. I see they also put a minimum price for foreigners to be semi-owners of land, to steer foreigners into the gentrified real estate market, not the poor rural land.

But ownership isn't really important from my perspective because the lifestyle result is the same if you can rent a home with a big yard for an indefinite period of time, and occasionally leave the country and return to meet visa requirements without running a business. Our goal would be to have a home base with a garden and frequently travel around the world, especially in nearby SE Asia in order to eat as much durian and diverse other excellent foods as possible.
 

gemima

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We are well below 55 years old and we are both US citizens, so I see that Indonesia doesn't have a lot of options. I see they also put a minimum price for foreigners to be semi-owners of land, to steer foreigners into the gentrified real estate market, not the poor rural land.

But ownership isn't really important from my perspective because the lifestyle result is the same if you can rent a home with a big yard for an indefinite period of time, and occasionally leave the country and return to meet visa requirements without running a business. Our goal would be to have a home base with a garden and frequently travel around the world, especially in nearby SE Asia in order to eat as much durian and diverse other excellent foods as possible.
Visa options arent great - you could come in and out on tourist visa (buy visa on arrival which gives you 30 days and extend 30 days). Its just a bit of a pain to have to go to immigration and then fly out so regularly.
There are longer term visas like the SOSOBUD (which you need a sponsor for) which you could research.
Have you been to Java before? Your idea sounds very romantic in theory but I just dont see it being nice in reality (stresses over leases/ leaving your home empty regularly/ traveling to immigration (into a nearby city)/ having to fly in & out regularly).
 

cestpasmyjob

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I would say you are much better off buying in rural Puerto Rico than Indonesia - as it will is part of the USA
 

mikemap

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Thanks for all the helpful, thoughtful replies.

As far as Puerto Rico, that's an interesting thought, but we are specifically attracted to SE Asia and especially Indonesia. Among many reasons, we want to be close to all the major durian countries to eat durian cheaply and frequently. We already own a small rural lot (1 acre) in Hawai'i and it's quite nice here in many ways, but we were thinking we might prefer Indonesia and be semi-retired very soon, by which I mean pursuing hobbies more than business. We are workaholics with some entrepreneurial ambitions and want to stay involved with intense physical labor (gardening/landscaping) part-time, not looking for any kind of condo/beach/TV lifestyle. Our cost of living is very low in Hawai'i, but I think it would be far lower in Indonesia, allowing us to focus on passions/hobbies more than income/survival.

Visa options arent great - you could come in and out on tourist visa (buy visa on arrival which gives you 30 days and extend 30 days). Its just a bit of a pain to have to go to immigration and then fly out so regularly.
There are longer term visas like the SOSOBUD (which you need a sponsor for) which you could research.
Have you been to Java before? Your idea sounds very romantic in theory but I just dont see it being nice in reality (stresses over leases/ leaving your home empty regularly/ traveling to immigration (into a nearby city)/ having to fly in & out regularly).
Haven't been to SE Asia at all yet. We're planning to visit various SE Asian places as soon as possible in the next few years, but since it's such a vast region, we're thinking in terms of choosing places to get familiar with that have potential as long-term homes.

This is a dumb question probably, but I couldn't find the answer anywhere I was reading up on Indonesia visa stuff. If you do the 30+30 tourist visa, can you leave for a day and come back for another 60 days and keep repeating that indefinitely? Or can you only do 60 days per year? Could you live on Borneo and go to the Malaysian part for a few days and then go back to the Indonesian and start a new 60 days? (Or vice versa, if anyone happens to be familiar with Malaysia's version of the visa laws.)

The idea of flying around to different spots in SE Asia every 60 days actually seems very appealing, like a nice rhythm of exploring the region, but having a home base and a garden. I was imagining someone in a rural part of Java would be thrilled to have a long-term tenant just as a source of income.
 

Bad_azz

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Thanks for all the helpful, thoughtful replies.

As far as Puerto Rico, that's an interesting thought, but we are specifically attracted to SE Asia and especially Indonesia. Among many reasons, we want to be close to all the major durian countries to eat durian cheaply and frequently. We already own a small rural lot (1 acre) in Hawai'i and it's quite nice here in many ways, but we were thinking we might prefer Indonesia and be semi-retired very soon, by which I mean pursuing hobbies more than business. We are workaholics with some entrepreneurial ambitions and want to stay involved with intense physical labor (gardening/landscaping) part-time, not looking for any kind of condo/beach/TV lifestyle. Our cost of living is very low in Hawai'i, but I think it would be far lower in Indonesia, allowing us to focus on passions/hobbies more than income/survival.



Haven't been to SE Asia at all yet. We're planning to visit various SE Asian places as soon as possible in the next few years, but since it's such a vast region, we're thinking in terms of choosing places to get familiar with that have potential as long-term homes.

This is a dumb question probably, but I couldn't find the answer anywhere I was reading up on Indonesia visa stuff. If you do the 30+30 tourist visa, can you leave for a day and come back for another 60 days and keep repeating that indefinitely? Or can you only do 60 days per year? Could you live on Borneo and go to the Malaysian part for a few days and then go back to the Indonesian and start a new 60 days? (Or vice versa, if anyone happens to be familiar with Malaysia's version of the visa laws.)

The idea of flying around to different spots in SE Asia every 60 days actually seems very appealing, like a nice rhythm of exploring the region, but having a home base and a garden. I was imagining someone in a rural part of Java would be thrilled to have a long-term tenant just as a source of income.
When you talk about rural Java, you need to comprehend the insanity of the place when it comes to getting to & from immigration offices, etc.
I live in a kinda rural area yet am just 15 minutes from KanIm(immigration office), I used to live best part of an hour away and it used to be extremely complicated for me to get there without my own transport, so you would need to consider how you would travel to & from the place & how it feels when you have waited a while to do processing to be told you need another document ... that you may or may not have but it is back home on the kitchen table.
The above is quite the norm or was pre online visa stuff.
Re transport how do you intend to get about? Many rural areas have signs up strongly advising GoJek/Grab drivers not to enter, as it puts the local ojeg/k out of work- a bone of contention there.
If you intend to have your own transport, that has its own issues, not least the driving licence- the place I have to go to for mine is 2 hours away (or was until they built a new toll road - now cut the time to 40 mins - ace!)
Then there are the questions & hassles around ownership documents etc.
Then there is the whole thing about having an empty house whilst you are off travelling elsewhere- we NEVER leave our house empty, because we are in a village and not behind the walls of a (ahem) secure complex.
The 'secure' complex near us is the place that gets bikes stolen from it.
We to date have only had chickens stolen & that was before we had garden walls & gates on.


I like the idea of growing my own food and we grow a few basics easily such as tomato/chilli/fruit/tumeric/ginger etc- I asked my hubby about growing areas in Java for durian , he suggested central Java.
IF you intend to work whilst here, be it online or physically then you would need to meet certain criteria - if you spend any longer than 180 days in the country in any 1 year you have to register for a tax code.
If you are on a reasonably large plot and are creating produce that could be construed as agricultural work you need to be aware of the likelihood of having to explain it to officials when they come calling they will not take kindly for example to you selling the produce. On a tourist/visitor visa that is exactly what you have to be- a tourist/visitor, not a cottage industry :)
They most likely will come calling have your explanation ready.

Also you would need to consider the stability of the land, its proximity to active volcanoes and other such specifics, one of the main issues around the rural parts of the islands is landslides.

I am trying not to be too negative as I live here & LOVE living here & can completely understand the appeal, I just wanted to share some of the absolute realities of living outside of the apartments/ complexes of the big cities.
 

Bad_azz

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Thanks for all the helpful, thoughtful replies.

As far as Puerto Rico, that's an interesting thought, but we are specifically attracted to SE Asia and especially Indonesia. Among many reasons, we want to be close to all the major durian countries to eat durian cheaply and frequently. We already own a small rural lot (1 acre) in Hawai'i and it's quite nice here in many ways, but we were thinking we might prefer Indonesia and be semi-retired very soon, by which I mean pursuing hobbies more than business. We are workaholics with some entrepreneurial ambitions and want to stay involved with intense physical labor (gardening/landscaping) part-time, not looking for any kind of condo/beach/TV lifestyle. Our cost of living is very low in Hawai'i, but I think it would be far lower in Indonesia, allowing us to focus on passions/hobbies more than income/survival.



Haven't been to SE Asia at all yet. We're planning to visit various SE Asian places as soon as possible in the next few years, but since it's such a vast region, we're thinking in terms of choosing places to get familiar with that have potential as long-term homes.

This is a dumb question probably, but I couldn't find the answer anywhere I was reading up on Indonesia visa stuff. If you do the 30+30 tourist visa, can you leave for a day and come back for another 60 days and keep repeating that indefinitely? Or can you only do 60 days per year? Could you live on Borneo and go to the Malaysian part for a few days and then go back to the Indonesian and start a new 60 days? (Or vice versa, if anyone happens to be familiar with Malaysia's version of the visa laws.)

The idea of flying around to different spots in SE Asia every 60 days actually seems very appealing, like a nice rhythm of exploring the region, but having a home base and a garden. I was imagining someone in a rural part of Java would be thrilled to have a long-term tenant just as a source of income.
I would think you may be able to get a multi entry business visa - it is valid for 1 year but you have to exit every 60 days. It seems to cut out the kanIm visits for sure, I am not overly familiar with this visa as I never had it, but I know several people who have.
here is some detailed info about it (from the NZ embassy but even so it has the basics covered)
.

Also once here you would be well advised to visit the local RT/RW/ police & register your presence.

Re your question , yes many have popped out & back on the same day or overnight- BUT from all accounts this is being clamped down on. I expect changes are afoot.

At this particular time none of these options are available to you as Indonesia isn't open for international travel unless one has a more permanent visa.
 

mikemap

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I didn't realize theft would be an issue, but I suppose it's an issue in every single place in the world, so I shouldn't be naive. Do you feel that your computers and other valuables would be stolen right out of your house if you were away for a few weeks and people knew you were away? Do you feel like your neighbors are watching out for you?
 

harryopal

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I wonder what kind of time frame you have in mind. With all the problems thrown up by Covid 19 the visa processes have become rather more complicated. For example, a common practice for people on short term visas was to fly to Singapore and return the same day. With the virus concerns, anyone going to Singapore might find themselves having to quarantine for 14 days. Such is the volatility of virus infections quarantine requirements could be introduced to a chosen destination while in flight,

At the moment anyone flying in to Australia has to pay $3000 to be quarantined in a government nominated facility. Australian citizens are not allowed to leave the country and many borders between states are closed.

While a lot of hope is being pinned on some successful vaccine being a game changer the unpleasant reality is that all the associated problems to do with the virus may be around for at least a couple of years. Not the least of these problems is the impact on airlines and stiff increases in flight costs.

Perhaps the way to go is keep your present assets and make a couple of exploratory visits here and there if and when things do settle down.

As for security, in more crowded areas of Java opportunistic theft is a serious consideration. In many poorer countries all foreigners are thought to be wealthy, so an empty house presents opportunity. With millions now thrown out of work, for many the choice might seem starve or steal. But then that is hardly an Indonesian phenomenon.
 
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mikemap

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Hello harryopal, I agree it could be a few years before it's worth getting into the whole bureaucratic mess. We're not in any rush to move. Our time frame is "the next few years or so".

I was thinking that a small rural community might have a lower security risk because people would know each other and look out for each other, as opposed to crowded urban/surburban areas. But maybe there's no such thing as a non-crowded rural area? Or maybe you get so remote you don't even have much of the basic infrastructure of roads and internet that most people expect.
 

Bad_azz

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I didn't realize theft would be an issue, but I suppose it's an issue in every single place in the world, so I shouldn't be naive. Do you feel that your computers and other valuables would be stolen right out of your house if you were away for a few weeks and people knew you were away? Do you feel like your neighbors are watching out for you?
My husband is local so we have connections with some of the neighbours, & have done things to help the community so I think the Pk RT & some of those around us would watch out BUT I would never count on it- if we go away a cousin or the Bro/Sis in Law come & stay we have dogs anyway so we have to have someone here for them, BUT I would not leave the house empty.

IF you find a way to follow your dream here, I would advise you employ someone trustworthy to help around the house & stay on site when you travel.
If you have a large amount of land build a little home for them on it & then you end up with live-in 'security'.
For the most part a house that is empty is easy pickings.
Even if not for particularly nefarious reasons- there is an empty house near us - it has been empty for years but every now & then the owner sends someone to tidy the garden & clean it up etc.... but when it is empty I frequently see local kids scrambling the walls & picking the fruit etc. (or as UK people would call it, scrumping)

Computers and all valuables are fair pickings as anywhere- BUT in some areas , example remote villages, stealing is NOT dealt with by the police but by the 'ronda' which is a group of village men who work on a rota at night protecting the village- I know about this as my husband does 1 night a week, I also know they are armed with steel bars, sticks, machetes - it hasn't happened in my village that I am aware of, however if a thief is caught, assuming he/she isn't burnt alive & survives he/she is unlikely to go stealing again, deffo not in that same area.

If there is a break in /theft please do not think it is as simple as picking up the phone & calling the cops & then getting a number for your insurance - I don't even know the number to call the cops here hahaha.
I have never done so - I have had some dealings with the police for other matters unrelated to theft & I now have some pretty decent connections, so for me, I haven't ever had a hard time since that.
Prior to that I was fair pickings for the police .

It isn't all sunshine & rainbows, it is real life and it is not cushioned - this is a developing country & in the time I have been here the progress is marked.
There are drugs , thefts, prostitution and all manner of vices as in any other country. They are perhaps less publicly addressed.
The plus side is that the vast majority of people I have met have been lovely, smiling & happy and very helpful.
Kindness, politeness and family values here are incomparable with say the UK. I much prefer here.
 

Will_M

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Village living in Indonesia is great in many ways. It is also awful in a lot of ways.

If you source land in a village and local people have always used the area to cut grass for their cows, they will expect this to continue, regardless of the wall you build. If your not careful, whilst they are there they will take apples and oranges and definitely the odd chicken if your not there. I wouldn’t rely on satpam or police. Most (all) village folk cannot speak English.

I find it crazy your considering this without even visiting Indo or any SEA country. But that’s just me, if your more of a “dive into it” person / couple, then power to you. It would be one hell of an adventure.

Most people would advice visiting first and visiting the areas that interest you. Lembang, Ciwidey areas around Bandung would be good locations. Small villages around Merapi, Jogja also have highly productive land as would berastagi area around Medan.
 

Helpful Herbert

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I have a similar set up to the one you are looking for, we grow cloves nutmeg mango rice banana coconut manggis passion fruit coffee chocolate and other tropical things. Its 1.5 acres.

My observations would be:
  • iit wouldn't be possible to own without an Indonesian spouse
  • life in the village itself is also difficult to imagine as a foreign only household. There are lots of communications needed and the occasional difficulty to navigate.
  • although mostly peaceful,, your peace will be regularly disturbed by noises from a) motorbikes b) mosque loudspeakers
  • road infrastructure is poor and traffic or very narrow roads can prevent you getting around easily and quickly.
  • the frequent travel thing seems incongruous. A) there'll be no easy regional travel for a LONG time B) you'd probably be living hours from an airport

Ps our durian plans are a work in progress, the trees do not yet feel like producing fruit.
 

Puspawarna

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We love Indonesian food, music and culture in general.
Which Hawaiian island are you on? We have a beginning Javanese gamelan group in Hilo that welcomes new members. (And there are world-class Javanese and Balinese gamelan programs at UH Manoa, although I don't know if members of the community can join unless they are already advanced.)

EDIT: Oops, I should explain myself. I lived in Indonesia for 17 years but have retired to the Big Island, with my gamelan.
 

gemima

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Thanks for all the helpful, thoughtful replies.

As far as Puerto Rico, that's an interesting thought, but we are specifically attracted to SE Asia and especially Indonesia. Among many reasons, we want to be close to all the major durian countries to eat durian cheaply and frequently. We already own a small rural lot (1 acre) in Hawai'i and it's quite nice here in many ways, but we were thinking we might prefer Indonesia and be semi-retired very soon, by which I mean pursuing hobbies more than business. We are workaholics with some entrepreneurial ambitions and want to stay involved with intense physical labor (gardening/landscaping) part-time, not looking for any kind of condo/beach/TV lifestyle. Our cost of living is very low in Hawai'i, but I think it would be far lower in Indonesia, allowing us to focus on passions/hobbies more than income/survival.



Haven't been to SE Asia at all yet. We're planning to visit various SE Asian places as soon as possible in the next few years, but since it's such a vast region, we're thinking in terms of choosing places to get familiar with that have potential as long-term homes.

This is a dumb question probably, but I couldn't find the answer anywhere I was reading up on Indonesia visa stuff. If you do the 30+30 tourist visa, can you leave for a day and come back for another 60 days and keep repeating that indefinitely? Or can you only do 60 days per year? Could you live on Borneo and go to the Malaysian part for a few days and then go back to the Indonesian and start a new 60 days? (Or vice versa, if anyone happens to be familiar with Malaysia's version of the visa laws.)

The idea of flying around to different spots in SE Asia every 60 days actually seems very appealing, like a nice rhythm of exploring the region, but having a home base and a garden. I was imagining someone in a rural part of Java would be thrilled to have a long-term tenant just as a source of income.
We all sound very negative dont we :)
I couldnt imagine living in rural java - I have enough problems living in an apartment complex in the middle of Jakarta filled with expats. I cant really describe how difficult things can be just trying to live here - I have had so many "challenges" over the years. If someone told me before I moved here I wouldnt have believed them. I will say that I love Indonesia and it is beautiful and full of some of the nicest people I've ever met so it is worth the hassle overall.
Re the 60 days fly out/ in thing my boyfriend was doing that for a year up until COIVD came along (he had been working here on a research KITAS before that). It wasnt a secure visa but it worked for us and he never got any hassle from the immigrasi (he didnt use an agent) or at the airports (he regularly flew into SG and back the same day). Now he is back in his home country and I have no idea when I'll get to see him again (thanks COVID).

Edit: its easy for me to say that that VISA option worked for "us" because I have a KITAS and just go to immigration once a year - the BF would sometimes have to go in on 3 occasions to extend his 30 days which was quite annoying (sometimes they would do it in 2 trips - with an agent it probably would be just 1 trip), since he wasnt working he had the time to waste but it was frustrating for him and if you are living rural all those trips could get very annoying very fast.
 
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Ruserious

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We all sound very negative dont we :)
Probably because the idea of moving to completely different part of the world without having been there or even anywhere similar is insane. I get it they might just be doing long term research (i hope so), but even then the research should be - just go and visit and see if you like the place and then after ask the questions and work on a plan.
 

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