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From my experience, the ATM machines in Indonesia can dispense a maximum of 30 notes. This means that the transaction limit is 1.5m in 50k notes or 3.0m in 100k notes.

Lessons Learnt: Try and find the 3.0m ATMs because, with ATM Fees and Foreign Transaction Fees,  this helps keep the cost of Travel Money down.


So, you are flush with 100k and/or 50k notes fresh out of the ATM… Now try spending it… NOBODY HAS ANY CHANGE.

I stayed at one place on Gili Air for 23 days and every day I had to dig out what change I had to pay my bill. Yet, every morning guess what? THEY HAD NO CHANGE!

This is typical of everywhere. There is some sort of change gobbling monster roaming the islands.

When you get change… hang on to it. Give them a 100k or 50k note and let them sort it out. They can be very resourceful when they need to be (and when there is a sale involved).


If you get tired of the constant hawking, here are some tips:

  • Keep walking; never stop
  • Do not make eye contact
  • Avoid entering into any form of conversation; Keep your answers short: Yes / No

If you don’t do these things, they think that they have ‘got you’.

Even better, plug some earphones in (you don’t even have to be listening to anything), they will think that you are in a world of your own and cannot hear them… if they bother to even try to hawk you, they will give in pretty quickly if you ignore them.


If you are still able and willing to do so, a scooter would be an excellent option for getting around. It would really ‘open up’ islands the size of Bali and Lombok.

One of the locals told me that you don’t get 50cc scooters in Indonesia. The smallest ones are 110cc which sell new for about 12m. A 125cc option should sell new for about 15m.


Property prices in Bali are rising rapidly and becoming very expensive compared to elsewhere in Indonesia.

This price escalation is now spreading to nearby Lombok and the Gili Islands.

You should be able to rent a nice, modern, western quality house (big enough for a small family) in Denpasar / Kuta for about RP 50m a year. This is NZ$5,400 a year / NZ$450 a month / NZ$100 a week.

You should be able to rent a scooter for 50k / day.


Prices in Lombok are starting to move like Bali did and there are a lot of people buying (especially along the waterfront).

There are modern, gated, expat communities on Lombok. As an example, a community with 8 western quality houses that includes 24 hour security, maid service, a pool, etc rents for about 10,000,000 per month (NZ$1,000 / US$700).


Personally, I believe that the best retirement option in Indonesia would be Bali… BUT NOT KUTA and its surrounds. I could see a great lifestyle being had living somewhere like Padang Bai or other places around the island. From such a place, you get easy access to all of the facilities that Bali Island has to offer. You. also, get easy and speedy access to the likes of the Gili Islands, Nusa Lembongan (or, in the future, Nusa Ceningan).


According to local expats, prices on Gili T are now so high that expats are starting to wonder how businesses are going to make a profit. In the end, the capital gains being made can only be sustained if the operational profits can be made to service them… that means one thing… tourism prices will have to increase. This can already be seen with prices on Gili T being comparably higher than those on Gili A.

An expat owner of a waterfront hotel and bar on Gili A told me that the value of his property has doubled year on year in each of the past 3 years.

Old hats who have come to the Gilis over the years say that Gili Air (now) is like Gili T was 5 years ago.

My opinion: The Gili Islands will need to re-invent themselves over the next 10 years. The budget accommodation along the waterfront will be replaced by height restricted 3, 4 and 5 star hotels and you will see more of a Nusa Dua vibe to the Islands. My advice is to get to the Gili Islands soon, the prices WILL INCREASE year on year. The idyllic Gili A (as is) won’t last much longer.



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