Jakarta, Indonesia Report of what it's like to live there - 10/04/21
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?
Lived overseas for over 15 years in South America, Asia, and Africa.
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?
California. You transit through Narita. 6 hours to Japan and another 10-12 to California.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. 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?
Apartments near embassy, apartments in central Jakarta, and houses in South Jakarta (stand alone and in compounds).
Stand alone houses can seem to be isolating so be very specific in the housing survey.
Most houses are old and small (don't bring a lot of stuff).
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Most things are available, but just expensive.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Real maple syrup.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Gojek is a delivery App; most restaurants deliver especially since COVID.
Many options are available Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Turkish, Mexican, etc.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Ants, mosquitos, cockroaches, mice, and rats.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Takes about 6 weeks for DPO and the same for pouch.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Most people have a maid that may or may not cook.
Hired staff generally have a specialty; nanny, maid, cook, driver or gardener. Few do more than one thing.
Occasionally you can find maid that will help with cooking but that is uncommon.
$350-400 a month. Drivers can be more and most gardeners are part-time.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
The Embassy has a small gym. Two housing compounds also have gyms and swimming pools.
One apartment building has a gym, too. I'm not sure about the other apartment buildings.
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?
ATM machines are widely used and are safe. Credit cards are also accepted in most places.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Many Apps have English translation so I have been able to get around without a lot of Bahasa.
I'm trying to learn.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes, most places do not have sidewalks and when they do they are uneven. Open drains are common and dangerous.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Taxis are very easy to use here. They are safe and you can use with an App. (Called Bluebird taxis). The App tracks you and you have a record/receipt sent to your email every time you use.
If you leave something in the taxi you can call and they will return to you (we left a backpack once and it was returned).
I have used a taxi almost everyday for two years with minimal issues.
Also very cheap 3-4 dollar from South Jakarta to Embassy. Grab and Gojek are also available and easy to use (similar to Uber).
They also have an elevated train called MRT that is new, safe and easy to use.
The Embassy also provides a shuttle to/from the embassy.
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?
Buy one at post. It's a pain to import and the steering wheel must be on the right side. There are many available to purchase.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes. We have two routers from two different internet companies (we needed back-up for teleworking and on-line school).
One on them usually has an issues 1-2 times a month (luckily never at the same time).
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
You can get a SIM chip when you arrive. This is not difficult to do with an unlocked phone.
You can pay monthly with a local bank account (most people do this) or with cash/credit card at most convenient stores.
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?
There are vets, but I don't know a lot about them. They seem reliable.
Pet need to quarantine (these rules frequently change, especially in COVID).
This is a Muslim-majority city. You may have issues with staff not wanting to walk your dog or not allowing your dog in a hired car/taxi.
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?
There is no bilateral work agreement, so diplomatic spouses can work only in the embassy. There are many jobs; if you want to work you can find something.
Starting to work in another story: it seems it can take six to nine months to get a job, even with a clearance.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
So many organizations. There are refugee centers where you can tutor, etc.
The international school has over 20 service clubs that are affiliated with local organizations.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Business casual. Batik shirts are considered very formal and are worn every Friday in the embassy.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
COVID was/is a nightmare here. Schools have been on-line for 19 months.
GI infections, dengue, rashes etc. It's a tropical island in the developing world and you will have diarrhea :)
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Healthcare is hit and miss. Pre-COVID it was easy to go to Singapore but since the pandemic Singapore has closed its border.
Foreign doctors are not allowed to practice here. I have had very good experiences and some very bad ones; it all depends on the provider.
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?
Mod - Bad.
We have air filters in our homes so that helps.
Most houses have mold so be aware your allergies may be exacerbated.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Bring all your meds for environmental allergies (pollution and mold are particularly bad here).
Food allergies could be an issue depending on the restaurant. If you can communicate properly, there usually aren't any problems.
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
I believe there have been many issues with depression and anxiety since COVID. We have had several lockdowns and travel restrictions that have affected morale.
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Rainy season and dry season. Always hot.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Most go to JIS K-12.
Many good preschools available.
British and Australian schools are good, too.
JIS is still online and this has been very difficult for parents. Many have curtailed or have chosen to have children and spouses remain in the U.S.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
JIS: IEP is great in MS and ES. Not much help in High school.
If you have a high-schooler with an IEP go to Australian school.
Severe learning disabilities go to Australian school.
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?
Many options and most are good. You can also hire a nanny.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Yes. Usually with the school but since COVID many parents have hired coaches to teach basketball, soccer, tennis, martial arts, etc.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Large expat community. Poor morale with COVID. Online school and travel restrictions have been the main reason.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
American club, woman associations, many golf courses, SCUBA diving trips, day trips for hiking, etc.
There are many people who bike here even with the crazy roads and traffic.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
It's challenging for singles - especially with COVID restrictions on social gatherings.
Great for families and couples, if you're able to travel. Children under 12 cannot travel as of Oct. 2021. That may change with vaccinations.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
Yes, easy to make friends with locals.
5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Hiking to volcanos and waterfalls
SCUBA diving and snorkeling
surfing in Bali and Lombok
6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Day trips to the thousand Islands.
7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Furniture, art, baskets.
8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
Traffic is as bad as they said it would be.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes, Indonesians are so friendly.
The city is generally safe and the travel opportunities are amazing (when we can travel).
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
4. But don't forget your:
Snorkel gear, SCUBA license, surfboard, and flip-flops.