Jakarta, Indonesia Report of what it's like to live there - 11/08/10

Personal Experiences from Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia 11/08/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Dubai, Sharjah, Bahrain, Doha, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Lagos, Sofia, Limassol & Tripoli

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

UK to Jakarta - 17 hrs FLYING time; add on another 3-4 hrs for transfers etc. Economy is not for the fainthearted!!!

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3. How long have you lived here?

2009/2010 (18 months)

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

British Foreign & Commonwealth Office

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is generally very good for expats. Massive highrise apartment blocks with all modern amenities and/or large villas with pools & servants' quarters. All expats are well cocooned from the poverty,filth & squalor which abounds beyond these smart dwellings.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Plenty of good, large and well laid out supermarkets. Local food/products are cheap; imported can be extremely expensive. Pork is available. Alcohol is extremely expensive, both in liquor stores and hotels/restaurants.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Insect repellent, decent Tea, bacon, sausages, casual clothing in natural fibres.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Masses of restaurants from the very top to the very bottom of the price range but you sample the lower price end at your peril!

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

All available, at a price.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes carry Dengue Fever (NOT pleasant!)

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Through the Embassy Diplomatic Bag system.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Readily available and cheap but keep an eye on your personal belongings!

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, there is one in every shopping mall but they are generally more expensive than in Europe and very loud!

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Keep a local bank account and monitor the balance. Use a debit card at the readily available ATMs with this local account. AVOID using your credit cards in all but the most reputable hotels.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

All Denominations catered for.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

All available but much more expensive than UK.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not necessary at all.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Jakarta is a city designed for vehicles, NOT pedestrians. One is collected, and deposited, by one's Driver, at doorways. Only the poverty stricken locals walk anywhere.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Expats generally avoid local trains/buses but the taxis are cheap and readily available.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Large range of vehicles to buy locally and a large Diplomatic discount is available. Buy something high off the ground as flooding is a major and very frequent problem in Jakarta due to the over-building.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, but more expensive than UK.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Cell phones generally work well with the local providers. More expensive than UK.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes, two weeks. Diplomats also. The Clinic is next to the airport and very good; clean and well run. You can visit your pet every day.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Good care for incoming animals, from dealing with the clearance of animal from customs, through to transport to the Quarantine Clinic and home delivery. Plenty of pet shops with wide variety of animal foods and general needs. One good kennelling facility outside the city.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Salaries for locally employed staff are extremely low and most expatriate spouses do not go out to work.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Indonesian men dress as western expatriate men for the office. The local women often dress most inappropriately in their desperate attempts to secure a Western partner. Despite this being a 'Muslim' country, half naked prostitues openly display their 'wares' for sale on the streets of Menteng.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

General awareness has increased significantly since the bombings of 2009.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Most expats suffer an almost constant bombardment of diarrhoea and other related illnesses. A very good place to lose weight!Aside from the most minor complaints, medical care is sought in Singapore. The British Embassy does not allow any invasive medical treatment in Jakarta.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Amongst the worst in the world.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Suffocating. Very hot all year round with 100% humidity. Monsoon rain for most of the year.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Both the British International School and the Jakarta International School (US Curriculum) have very good reputations and excellent facilities; the only problem facing many families is the struggle to get to them through the legendary traffic jams!

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

No pre-school daycare. Families employ servants for child care and most live in.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

At the international schools, yes.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge; mostly Australian.

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2. Morale among expats:

Generally good I think. The oil company folk are extremely well paid and can cope better with the high cost of living. The less affluent Diplomatic community find it difficult to save money in Jakarta. Many spouses enjoy the very indolent lifestyle but outdoor/exercise loving types can find the city very claustrophobic.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

St George Society, St Pat's Society, British Womens' Association, ANZAC etc all abound. Plenty going on socially. Entertaining is done behind closed doors in the airconditioning for the most part due to the suffocating humidity.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Great for singles; lots of pubs/clubs/restaurants/gyms/cinemas/modern shopping malls/bowling alleys/cheap taxis etc. Notoriously bad for marriages due to the relentness pursuit of Western expatriate men by the local women desperate for a one way ticket to a better life elsewhere.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Homosexual friends have enjoyed this tolerant city without fear of any kind of discrimination.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The plane out!

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

You have to get out of the city to do anything interesting or fun and that is a feat in itself!Most people just jump on a plane in search of fresh air and clean surroundings. Good scuba diving out in the 1000 Islands and surrounding areas.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Lovely local furniture and wooden artifacts but they are always ready to rip off the western expats so beware!Bargain RUTHLESSLY!

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Travel to more attractive parts of SE Asia

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11. Can you save money?

Not easy. Jakarta is a very expensive city to live in, especially if you are a party animal.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No, 18 months in that filthy, noisy, smelly, overcrowded, gridlocked and heavily polluted city is quite enough for me!Not sorry I had the experience; just don't want to repeat it!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothes & bicycles.

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3. But don't forget your:

Insect repellent!

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Single and unaccompanied men LOVE Jakarta!

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