Monday, June 24, 2013

Hey, Give Me My Money!

An Inconvenient Challenge…
Estelle asked me what my next blog was going to be about and I thought about it for a moment and then it came to me. I really needed to share my issues that I experienced while trying to access MY cash to pay for rent. I know that this may not be as exciting as sharing our experiences about learning how to ride scooters or our new hangouts, etc. But for me this became not only uber frustrating but actually quite hilarious.

A Little Bit About Renting a House in Bali
It is no secret that one of the major reasons we came to Bali was for the affordable living. Renting a decent place for a few thousand USD dollars a year was possible. It is also quite possible to pay tens of thousands of dollars or more! With that said, instead of paying monthly and paying a damage deposit here - you pay for an entire year... UP FRONT.  After spending several days trying to locate a house (e.g. looking online, calling agents, etc.) I found that the methods of back home just don’t work here. In Bali, it’s all about asking locals because someone knows someone that knows someone that is renting a house. Oh, and of course literally driving through neighborhoods and looking for “House for Rent” signs. Somehow, some way we scored a nice, modern, gated house, in a very nice part of town with clean streets and is actually quiet…SCORE!

The Deal
The house ended up costing more than we had budgeted for but we were both glad to have found a pad so central. Next came paying for it. Estelle was smart and brought a bit of cash with her and so she was able to stop at one of the million “ Money Changers” here to exchange her share of rent for the year in Rupiah. And Mr. Kurt, well I thought that I could do a simple transfer from Capital 360 or Bank of America directly to the owners account. Oops…

And Now It Begins
Okay, got the owners account information, now I just need to go to a caf√© and do an online bank transfer. 
  • That’s not good…I login and realize that I can’t do a simple transfer from my Capital 360 since our landlord doesn't have a US bank account.
  • Okay, well how about B of A ? I login and see that there is a way to do it but I need this “Safe Pass”- so I attempt to get this but realize it needs to text me some code. Unfortunately I don’t have a US Phone number anymore - so I can’t. I try to call the bank but of course they are closed (it’s like 2AM their time). However, I do see that I can wire $1,000, so I decide to at least do that so i can give the landlord some cash!
  • Transaction complete…then I realized that it just cost me $45 to wire that. Ouch. I definitely don’t want to do that a few more times if I can help it!
  • Next day - we see the landlord and we agree to pay him daily via cash that i would pull out from the ATM. Over the next 6 days, I would go to ATM and max out what I was allowed with my Capital 360 card since they are kind enough to not charge me a transaction fee. (Note: There was no way I was going to use BofA – they charged me ridiculous fees).

  • You think that was bad - hear this. Along the way, my cards (both bank accounts) were suspended at least a couple of times, my online banking account was frozen for a few days, oh and my Capital 360 card got used so much it actually stopped working. Thank goodness I was able to shine it up a little bit and it now works just fine! Apparently sticking it in an ATM machine 5 times a day will wear out your card. (Each ATM has a limit to withdraw per transaction of about 1-3 million Rupiah. This meant that i was sticking my card into the ATM at least 4 times a day, for 6 days straight. Once I would get the money, I would stuff my board shorts with up to RP.10 Mil which can take up quite a bit of space. Estelle and I would then have to navigate through the craziness of downtown Kuta traffic to got to the landlords business office. He has a sprawling business (all in one big building) filled with a silver store, a general store, a pharmacy, a doctor's office, and a hostel! It became routine to go upstairs and hand over the cash to the accountants and they would literally triple count the money. I would then receive a receipt of what i had paid and what the remaining balance was. I really felt like a drug dealer going to my mafia boss to pay my dues or something…it was pretty cool J

I have never been in a situation like that before where I was in debt to someone and even though I had the means to pay them, I couldn’t. It was a very frustrating experience, but a good lesson learned when traveling abroad!

But I’ll tell ya - it felt great to finally make that last payment!


Kurt “The White Shaq”
(my new nickname at the gym)



  1. Can't wait to check out this house that caused you so much trouble .... I guess the moral of the story is "Bring cash, not plastic" Love you Kurt - give my Stelly a hug!

  2. Very true LM! It really is all about the dolla bills around here ;)