4 Insider Tips for Living On A Budget on the Gili Islands

Are you planning to stay on the Gili Islands for two weeks, one month or several months? It’s always important to make sure you stick to your budget. We’ve written out a few tips for you to make sure you have a smooth stay while living in paradise on the Gili Islands.

It’s important to keep in mind that post-earthquake in the Gili islands, the locals have been getting back on their feet and have had a hard year financially in 2018. So remember to stay true to your budget but also be understanding when they ask for more. Of course we will always encourage you to support our local friends as much as you can!

The islands got very quickly back on their feet after August 2018 earthquake. Take a look at our blog Gili Air – Shaken But Not Shut, confirming this!

The Gili Islands have turquoise waters, white sandy beaches and local homestays and hotels to stay in.

Tip #1 – Get a Good Deal with Your Accommodation

What’s the average rent price?

On average you can find a house for 2-3 million a month. When you find a house that is more expensive, for example, fo 3.5 million, bear in mind that they are not necessarily trying to rip you off but they could have struggled financially in the last year. A lot of homestays had to rebuild and that is also why you can stay in newly furnished accommodation.

Hotels and villas are approximately 3.5 million and up per month with other benefits included, such as a private villa or a pool. It all depends on your budget and how much you’re willing to spend. The majority of the rooms, whether it’s a homestay or hotel, have a double or king size bed and their own bathroom. All in all, it’s very cheap to live on the Gili Islands when you’re used to wages outside of Southeast Asia.

Homestays and hotels on the Gili Islands.

One thing to keep in mind when you’re searching for housing is to confirm if the electricity is included with your monthly rent. One month of electricity costs approximately 150,000 – 200,000 Rupiah. Some homestays include it in their monthly rent, but others keep it separate, so confirm this with them before moving in!

How do I find a room?

There are several ways to go about finding accommodation on the islands. One way is word of mouth. Speak with the locals to see if they know of any homestays on the islands. They might have a cousin that owns a homestay or a friend of a friend that’s looking for someone. It’s also a great way to start a conversation with the locals, so have a chat with them!

Facebook groups are another very helpful way to reach a wider crowd and the communities on the Gilis. There are two helpful groups that people use on the islands: Gili Air – Pinboard and Gili Trawangan Pinboard. They provide information on events or general questions about the islands. If you’re looking for a place to stay long term, post your question in these groups. For sure you will receive some nice offers

Do you prefer hot or cold showers?

Outside shower in a homestay in the Gili Islands in Indonesia.

Some places will have hot water and others won’t. The homestays that get more business and customers can afford to include such amenities. Other places that don’t get as much business can’t afford hot water, and will only have cold water available for you to use!

If this is of importance to you, make sure you confirm this beforehand. Small sidenote, cold showers are actually great for your immune system and your health. If you happen to find the right place to stay and it has everything except hot water, take the plunge and take cold morning showers – you won’t regret it!

Tip #2 – How Do I Rent or Buy a Bike?

There are no motorized vehicles on the islands, so riding a bike is the way to get around. Your homestay or hotel can offer you a bike. Try to get it included with your monthly rent, you’ll get more value for your money in this way!

Renting a bicycle is a great way to explore the Gili Islands

For long term stayers, buying a bike on the islands is pretty common. You can buy bikes from certain local bike rental shops. You can then sell your bike before you leave, and get your cash back!

Also, a small tip, try to get a bike with a basket. It’ll be very helpful for you later on when you want to get groceries and other small things that you may not be able to fit all in your bag. We also recommend that you buy a bike lock. There is not a lot of theft on the Gilis, but it’s always good to keep your things safe. You can buy a bike lock at the local supermarket for about 45,000 Rupiah

Tip #3 – Finding Daily Necessities

You can find all the necessities you need at the local supermarkets on the islands! Everything ranging from toilet paper, fruit, shampoo, conditioner, body soap and whatever else you’re looking for.

Would you believe us if we said that it’s cheaper to eat out than cooking at home? That’s the beauty of living in Indonesia! 

One meal on the islands can cost you approximately 50,000 – 100,000 Rupiah. If you decide to eat at a local warung, the price will be cheaper, around  20,000 – 30,000 Rupiah per meal.

There are homestays, restaurants, cafes, bars and nightlife events on the Gili Islands.

Is it time to do laundry, but you’ve just been putting it off as every traveller does? Luckily doing laundry on these islands is quick and easy! There are several places around the islands that provide laundry services. You can also ask your homestay or hotel to check if they are able to do it for you.

On average you pay 20,000 – 35,000 per kilo. We put these ranges because prices can be very flexible in Indonesia, and you have to do a little bargaining here and there to get a good price. Save plastic while you’re living on the island! Rather than buying plastic water bottles, you can refill your reusable water bottle at different restaurants and bars.

Use the RefillMyBottle app to refill your reusable water bottle on the island. It shows you a map view of the different places that allow you to refill your water bottle for free or for a small fee of 5,000 – 10,000 Rupiah. So take advantage of this and save our planet!

Tip #4 – Which Internet Plan Should I Get?

This next part is for you digital nomads out there working a remote job and need fast internet to work! Use your personal hotspot from your smartphone so you don’t have to rely on the wifi on the islands. There are several Indonesian carriers that all offer different internet plans, but the most popular is Telkomsel. You can buy your Telkomsel sim card on the islands at the local tech store.

Once you’ve bought your sim card, download the Telkomsel App and take a look at the internet packages that they have available for you to use. Their plans range from 5 – 60 GB of internet usage per month.

There are several different offers to select from. You want to make sure you understand all of their ‘quotas’ under each internet plan. Search for the quotas that have the name “Internet” or “Internet Lokal” – they will work only in the place where you bought your sim card. For example, if you bought your sim in Bali, ‘Internet Lokal’ will work only there and not on the Gili Islands. Same goes if you bought your sim card in Lombok or on the Gili Islands, it will work only there, and not in Bali.

Use your personal hotspot while on the Gilis Islands, it will make your consumption of internet easier for work.

If you happen to finish your internet plan, you can go back to the tech store, top up your account by paying in cash and then see it appear in the app. Then you can select the plan you want once again, without having the wait for the next monthly payment cycle!

Well, that’s all we have for travellers and digital nomads planning to stay longer on our beautiful Gili Islands! If you’re curious to find out more tips about the Gili Islands or just want to stay updated with what’s happening, feel free to follow our Facebook page.

Do you know of any other tips that you would like to share? We would love to hear from you! Curious to see what kind of questions we receive every day? Check out our FAQ page!

Feel free to share the sunshine!

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