The Complete Guide on How to Rent a House in Ubud and What to Expect
The more time we've spent traveling throughout the years the more we’ve found ourselves longing for a place to stay for an extended period of time. Slow, long term traveling offers the incredible opportunity to live in different regions around the world and create a base. This allows you to truly get to know a place in a way that you wouldn't if you were only there for a few days or a week.
We first visited Ubud, Bali in the beginning of 2016 and instantly fell in love with it. This was definitely a place we could see ourselves living in. The serenity, the rice field views, and the abundance of vegan food - it was perfect for us.
Unfortunately, we had other plans that time and left after a week.
But Ubud stayed with us and a few months later we decided to return - this time to stay for longer. Three months to be exact. We wanted to rent our own villa that we could call home for awhile and we were determined to do it. The problem was that we didn’t know where to start or what to look out for. It can be a daunting experience trying to find long-term accommodation in a foreign country, and every place has its own rules and systems in place.
Here is our complete guide based on our experience on how to rent a house in Ubud, Bali.
Where to Start
There are two main areas you should focus on when you are trying to figure out where to stay in Ubud. Most long-term accommodation including both private villas and room rentals are located either in Penestanan or Tirta Tawar.
Penestanan is really the main reason why we fell in love with Ubud in the first place. This is where we stayed during our first visit. It is located close enough to the rest of Ubud so you don’t have to commute too much but still far enough to be away from all the hustle and bustle. Every time we entered Penestanan it felt like time slowed down. It felt like home.
Penestanan is really a small village just southwest of central Ubud. It is placed in the middle of the rice fields and has been a favorite among expats for quite some time especially after Eat, Pray, Love was filmed here. You will find a few restaurants and couple of hotels but it’s mostly an area where locals and expats live. Penestanan is also a good place to start looking for long-term rentals when you come to Ubud.
Tirta Tawar is the name of a smaller but very long street that starts in the northern parts of Ubud and leads towards the famous rice terraces. The popularity of Tirta Tawar has really exploded lately and there is rapid construction going on. It is quite a sad situation considering they are building way more than there is current demand for. Nevertheless, Tirta Tawar is the area to be in for those looking for a jungle or rice field view. It is still a charming location and a quick ride away from the center.
Where to Search
One of the first things you have to figure out when you want to rent long-term accommodation in Ubud, Bali is where to start. It doesn’t work quite like it does in the Western world where there are legit rental portals online and agencies that you can go to. We recommend starting with two options, Facebook groups and locals advertising in popular areas:
There are a few different Facebook group that we have used and even though we did not end up renting through these groups, we did contact between 20 and 30 people with different offers. This is also the best way to find other expats that rent out houses, especially if you want to rent a room in a shared villa. These Facebook groups can also be a good resource for information about the area as well as scams to avoid.
Here are a few of the groups we used:
Locals usually advertise properties they have available on signs in the area around their rental which means that you should head to the main areas (Penestanan or Tirta Tawar) and start calling the numbers on the signs. This is what we were doing when we ran into a local guy who called his friend, who then called his friend, who ended up becoming our landlord. As you can see word of mouth travels fast and the locals actually make a small commission so they are eager to help.
Walking around an area you would like to stay in is a quick way to get in contact with the locals and get a feel of what’s available. It is also practical because you usually get a chance to see the house in person right away. Getting your own phone number is easy and can be done in most corner stores.
We never tried this option and believe that it's mostly for people who are looking to settle down or purchase, but it is worth mentioning anyways. There are a couple of agencies with realtors spread out around Ubud and they are usually open for you to just walk into.
You have the option to rent your own private villa. This is the option we chose. We rented our own villa during our stay in Ubud and loved it. The villa was quite small with two bedrooms and an outdoor kitchen, but it came with a large lush garden, a private pool, and a small gazebo where we spent most of our time. In the future when we go back to Ubud we would like to find an indoor living room and kitchen but these are quite hard to find in Indonesia as they are usually built outside.
Shared accommodation can mean several things. You can live on a compound with several villas sharing a garden and pool with others, sometimes even with the locals on their own family compound. Also, you can rent a room in a big villa and share all the common areas such as the living room, kitchen, and bathroom.
There are pros and cons with all of the options and it is really up to you to decide what suits you best depending on your budget and if you're traveling alone or with others.
What to Look Out For
Even though renting a villa in Bali can be a dream come true for many there are certain aspects that you should be aware of. Not every house is in great condition and not every place will be quiet and tranquil if there are roosters around crowing at all hours. We encountered two major problems that we would like to highlight for anyone interested in renting a home in Ubud.
Mold is a huge problem for most people in any tropical region where things never really dry. Combine that with somewhat careless architecture and a monsoon season and you have a disaster on your hands.
We had a great experience renting our own villa in Penestanan but the last few weeks we started getting mold in the bathroom and the mold quickly spread to the rest of the house. It literally took over every wall and most of our clothes in a matter of days and a good experience turned bad pretty fast.
We quickly realized that the issue was in the construction of the villa we lived in along with the unintentional carelessness of the landlord. The issue is that the locals are used to mold themselves and aren't really sure how to treat it. Instead they paint it over and wait for it to start spreading again when they paint it over once more. The cycle continues until eventually the house is ruined.
Sadly in many parts of the world cockfighting is a common sport and Bali is no different. It's extremely sad and widespread throughout the island. In Ubud everyone and their neighbor seem to have roosters and the crowing is incessant and loud. It's a good idea to scope out the area you will be renting if you're a light sleeper or want to live in peaceful environment. That was a big plus with the house we rented as there were no roosters around.
Unfortunately when we stayed in a guesthouse prior to finding our villa they had roosters and it was hard to even enjoy yourself sitting outside during the day let alone sleep at night.
Rental Prices in Ubud
The rental prices in Ubud fluctuate a lot depending on what season it is and the locals will do whatever they can to convince you that it's always high or peak season. Do your research before you arrive so you know what to expect. Prices also tend to get lower the longer you are willing to rent.
Seasons in Bali
The main high season runs from July to August when the humidity is low and rainfall is minimal. Low season is connected to the monsoon between November and March and during this period you can expect heavy rainfalls on a daily basis. However, the weeks surrounding Christmas and New Years are considered peak season and due to the summer school breaks in Australia the tourism can be high in December and January.
The best time to visit Bali is at the end of September through the beginning of November or during the spring. At these times the weather is the most pleasant and the island feels much less crowded. This is also when you have the best chances of getting yourself a good deal.
Our Rental Expenses
We arrived in low season and were lucky enough to find a nice guy that was eager to rent and therefore we ended up getting what we think is a great deal. As mentioned earlier we rented a private two bedroom villa with our own garden and pool.
The location was amazing just a short walk to Yellow Flower Cafe and the popular yoga studio Intuitive Flow. We also negotiated with our landlord to install AC in our bedroom the day before we moved in which is something we highly recommend having.
At the time of our stay we paid 9,000,000 IDR which converted to roughly $670/month for a two month rental.