Updated 4 months ago

Known as the 'city of heroes' as it is where the struggle for Indonesian independence began, Surabaya is the second largest city in Indonesia and is home to approximately 3.5 million people. If you want to join this burgeoning urban community, then read this article to find out more about living in Surabaya.

In recent years, the metropolis has also garnered the nickname “Sparkling Surabaya”, thanks to the bright lights that decorate the parks and streets at night. Generally speaking, it is considered to be a relatively safe city, but there is still crime, so many expatriates choose to err on the side of caution and live in residential compounds or apartment buildings that have security guards.

As there is also a lot of traffic as a result of its large population, you may wish to consider living near the office or in close proximity to friends or popular hangouts, such as G-Walk or Loop, which is popular amongst young people thanks to its numerous food stalls and bars.

Expatriates usually opt to rent rather than buy in Surabaya, even though rental prices are not considered to be cheap compared to other parts of the country. However, compared to other expat havens, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, it is still possible to find comfortable housing at a reasonable price. And, as in most big cities, the cost of your rent will depend on the location and the type of housing you choose.

Where to live in Surabaya

If you are looking for a budget option, then it could be a good idea to look for a studio apartment or even a home-stay. The majority of the local population lives in a metropolitan area called Gerbangkertosusila, and there are a lot of slums around Surabaya, nearby which most expats may not feel comfortable living.

Most foreign professionals choose to live in west Surabaya, as this area has the largest expatriate community and many amenities that appeal to foreigners, such as international schools, supermarkets with imported goods, and golf courses.

A wide variety of housing options — from high-rise condominiums and low-rise service apartments to homes in gated communities — are available close to the toll gate. Some of the most popular neighbourhoods in west Surabaya include Graha Famili, which is a prestigious housing area offering family homes and high-rise apartments; Darmo Satelite Town, which is another a good option for those seeking spacious accommodation; and Citraland, which is known as the Singapore of Surabaya due to its wealthy residential estates. The areas of Puri Matahari and Graha Residen are also worth considering if you are looking for serviced apartments, from studios to duplexes.

In most cases, you can expect to pay a minimum of two years' rent before you move into a house and one year's rent for an apartment. If you are renting a house, then a security deposit is not typically required, but if you are renting an apartment, then you will probably be expected to pay the equivalent of one month’s rent. Note that utilities are considered an additional expense on top of this.

Find accommodation in Surabaya

If you are already in Surabaya, then it could be worth touring the different neighbourhoods to get a feel for where you would like to live and to see if you can spot signs indicating whether a villa is for rent (disewakan rumah). Otherwise, you can search for accommodation options on the internet, directly contact an estate agent in Surabaya, or even ask anyone you know in the city.

Be aware that once you have found and agreed to rent private accommodation in Surabaya, you must then register your new address with the local police. If you fail to do this, you could face a large fine. However, if you choose to stay long-term in a hotel, then you will be registered automatically.

 Useful links:

Surabaya Official website
Puridarmo Surabaya

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.