Jakarta, Indonesia Report of what it's like to live there - 01/04/12
Personal Experiences from Jakarta, Indonesia
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No, asia, north america, middle east.
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?
east coast usa, 28 hours, via seoul.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
best is apartment tower, houses difficult and expensive to maintain for expats on 3-5 year terms.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Twice U.S. costs for same imported items. Local goods are much cheaper, if available. Breakfast cereal is all imported and costs $5/small box.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
if you are a typical western size, then bring clothes to fit.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Indonesians love to eat. There are all choices of restaurants, but stay away from street food, it's preserved with formaldehyde, and you will get hepatitis. You will also even get food poisoning eating at 5-star hotels. That has happened twice to me in three years.
5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?
You can find ii, I guess, but the big risk to all eaters is food poisoning.
6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
mosquitoes and dengue fever even in jakarta.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Local mail is totally unreliable. Have a relative overseas put together a package and mail it to your office by courier once per month.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Good and cheap: $100-200/mo to include some English ability. If you have a car you must have a driver.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
most apartments have nice pools and gyms, gold's gym is here too.
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?
I get cash from ATMs using my U.S. bank card without problems. I use credit cards in 5-star hotels, but nowhere else. You can open local bank accounts with a local id card.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Yes for Roman Catholics and Protestants, but not for Jews.
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
Jakarta Globe, post, local edition of Singapore Straits Times, $1/day.
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
It is best to know taxi Indonesian, although staff in banks, stores, and hotels all have a surprisingly good level of English.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
life with disabilities would be horrid.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Blue bird, Silver horse, Express and Silver bird taxis are best bets. Stay off buses and trains, they are unsafe, dirty and home to pickpockets.
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?
Dont import one, it will sit for months on the docks until a palm is greased. Locally-made Toyotas are best, but about 20% more costly than U.S. models. Check the Toyota Indonesia website for info and diplomatic prices. In addition, driving is not for the faint of heart, roads are horribly congested. I used taxis exclusively until I got a company car/driver.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, I pay $100/mo for cable, international tv, fast internet and unreliable landline at my apartment.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
They are easy and cheap to get here. For $100 you can get a basic model, local sim card and some minutes that you can reload easily for $10/2 months.
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?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
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?
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
More formal that one expects in a tropical location. Long-sleeve shirt, with ties in embassies, but batik can suffice: short sleeve in day, long sleeve at night.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
terrorism:hotel and church bombings, made more unsettling by how genuinely nice most indonesian people are.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Indonesia is an incubator for just about every communicable disease. You will be sick a lot during your first two years here. 20% of your staff or family will be sick all the time. Individual physicians and dentists can be good, but for most serious work it is best to go to Singapore. All tap water is contaminated.
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?
fair to poor.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
hot and dry:apr to nov; less hot and less dry (but not cold and rainy):dec to mar.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
no kids in school here, but jis is typical high powered american pattern, intl school that is not user friendly at times.other choices abound:british, aussie, nz, local with ib curriculums, that may be less expensive/pretentious and more user friendly.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
none at jis.
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?
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
yes, thru most of the western oriented intl schools.expat teenagers probably recreate in the bars and nightclubs too.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. Morale among expats:
Depends on how often you can escape Jakarta. Once per month to Singapore kept me sane.
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?
can be quiet. Much indonesian entertaining is at a very wealthy, high level to which most expats and diplomats below ambassador level have no access.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
yes, although horrid traffic and lots of illnesses makes it hard to enjoy Jakarta at times. Single western men should have no problem meeting local women, but the latter's expectation of being take care of and attachment to living in indonesia, make long-term relationships that include the prospect of life outside of indonesia difficult. Single expat women must have a tough time.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Probably ok, but you must be very discreet due to religious and social conservatism.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Outspoken non-muslims face trouble, tho on the surface all is calm. Ethnic Chinese face pogroms every 25 years or so. There is freedom of worship for all but non-mainstream muslim sects and jews.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Near jakarta?not much. Bali is overrated and expensive. There are better, cheaper beaches in Malaysia, and you will be in a functioning place. Singapore is a 90-minute flight away.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
no particular advantages aside from living in a tropical southeast asian country.
11. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Perhaps, but I would lower my expectations. Social relationships are difficult if you become serious; domestic travel (except to Bali) is not worthwhile, difficult to arrange and very expensive Even Bali's beaches are polluted. Having spent 20 years in asia, this isn't quite it. It's very similar to india, with the same level of inefficiency, lack of public services, and corruption.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
winter clothes, except a sweater for movie theaters or airplane flights. Also your driving license, it's a recipe for stress.
3. But don't forget your:
patience, toiletries, sunscreen, vitamins, and otc medicines, which are expensive here.
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
"My year of Living Dangerously" captures some of the history.
6. Do you have any other comments?
A bigger and more imminent threat than terrorism is the almost total lack of decent public services and functioning social safety net. God forbid you get caught in shopping center or high rise fire, or have a heart attack. Road traffic is horribly congested.