Cost of living on Gili islands really depends on the kind of lifestyle you want. The two biggest factors that determine how much money you should spend every month living on Gili islands are rent & food.
Cost of living on Gili islands for a decent lifestyle is US$ 450 per month per person. This includes rent, food, internet and transportation.
Living cost on the Gili islands is higher than any place in Bali. This is due to the difficulties of transferring goods or basically everything into these little paradises.
Let’s break down the cost of living on the Gili islands and get to know how much exactly you need to have a good life as an expat.
The Gili islands are three small islands that are built for tourism. If you were to live in the city, whether it's in Lombok or Bali, you would definitely be able to find many apartments or houses available for rent.
It's a different story on the Gili Islands, houses have been converted into hotels. Which means you don’t rent an apartment or house, but you’ll have to
stay live in a hotel.
The lowest average cost of a hotel room on Gili islands is US$ 5 or equal to IDR 75,000 per night. Cheap, right? However, this number is based on the low season, and during the summer costs can be three to four times higher.
Now if we take this number and times it with 30, we get US$ 150 per month for accommodation alone living on Gili islands.
What you can get for this much is a single room with a big bed, air conditioning and WiFi. It also comes with a pretty large bathroom and toilet, all in western style.
Food on Gili islands is pretty much at the same price as food in any place in Bali. I’m going to explain by splitting it into three categories.
Food in restaurants is averaging at around US$ 3 or equal to IDR 50,000. This is considered cheap but if you were going to eat out everyday three times a day, it’s going to be US$ 270 per month for a single person.
That’s almost double the rent!
For your information, western food is only available at restaurants. If you try to eat at the traditional restaurant you’ll only have local food on the menu.
Traditional restaurant food
Traditional restaurant or what they call warung in the local Sasak language is basically a restaurant that sells local food.
The price is cheaper than food at normal restaurants, the price is around US$ 2 or equal to IDR 30,000. And you’ll get three times the size of restaurant food.
You probably won’t like it at the first try, but the longer you stay the more you’ll get used to the local taste. Food at traditional restaurants is considered delicious by the local people.
Cook it yourself
If you want to be really conservative with your money, serving meals yourself is one of the things you can do to save some money while living abroad.
Gili Trawangan does have small retail stores to shop for bread and some basic household stuff, but when it comes to buying domestic appliances, you need to go to the nearest city which is Mataram in Lombok.
For grocery shopping, they do have grocery stores but they cost more expensive than what you can find at the local market.
Local families of 4 spend an average of US$ 3 per day for meals. If you choose to cook for yourself that means you’ll only spend US$ 90 per month on food.
Groceries on Gili islands in USD:
Cereal1 box 12 ounces
Toilet paper1 roll
Water5 gallons refill
You may already know that Gili islands are car-free islands. There are no bikes or cars there unless it’s electric powered.
As a result, the only transportation left are horse wagon and bicycle. Renting a bicycle is a common way to go around the island besides from walking.
Cost to rent a bicycle is US$ 3 per day, you may get a lower deal for a monthly rental. I’m not going to include this in the living cost because most people prefer to just walk.
Another thing to mention is the cost to go to the city.
Public boat costs US$ 3 for a round-trip from Gili Trawangan to Bangsal harbor in Lombok. A taxi round-trip from Bangsal to the city of Mataram is around US$ 35.
The total cost is just under US$ 40.
Let’s say you go to the city 5 times a month, so that would be a total of US$ 200 for transportation.
Most hotels have WiFi but if yours happens to have none of them, or if they do have but you constantly have an issue with the connection, buying a data package can be your alternative.
Data: US$ 10 for 100+ GB
You should be able to work and stream youtube all day long with 100+ GB. So for the internet on Gili islands you’ll need to spend around US$ 10 per month.
All citizens of Indonesia have access to government-provided health insurance called BPJS. However, as a foreigner you won't be eligible for this coverage.
If you have a history of serious illness, I would recommend getting private health insurance which typically costs around US$ 50 per month.
The cost of a doctor's visit varies depending on who you are and whether or not the doctor is kind.
The average cost for a visit to a doctor is around $3 or IDR 50,000, but you may be charged a lot more than that, especially if the doctor is the only one on the island.
Even though healthcare isn't crazy expensive like it is in the US, it's still smart to have insurance just in case you need major treatment in the city.
That kind of stuff can rack up a ton of bills, so having insurance can give you peace of mind and save you from a financial nightmare.
As an Indonesian, I would respectfully say that public schools on the Gili Islands are not as good as those in cities like Denpasar or Mataram on the mainland of Lombok.
Unfortunately, there are no private schools on the islands either. If you have kids, I would recommend homeschooling them as an alternative.
Monthly cost of living on Gili islands:
Hotel: US$ 150
Transport: US$ 200
Groceries: US$ 133
Meal: US$ 90
Eat out: US$ 270
Data: US$ 10
It costs only US$ 450 to live decently on Gili islands for a month.
It costs only US$ 5,400 to live decently on Gili islands for a year.