Jakarta, Indonesia Report of what it's like to live there - 07/13/10

Personal Experiences from Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia 07/13/10

Background:

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

No. Have lived in Buenos Aires previously.

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

No. Have lived in Buenos Aires previously.

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3. 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?

30 hours, with a connection in Hong Kong.

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4. 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?

30 hours, with a connection in Hong Kong.

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5. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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6. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

Government.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most expats live in upscale apartments in Central Jakarta or houses in South Jakarta. Commute time from Central Jakarta was only 15 minutes. Traffic is not too bad before 8am.

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

Most expats live in upscale apartments in Central Jakarta or houses in South Jakarta. Commute time from Central Jakarta was only 15 minutes. Traffic is not too bad before 8am.

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

Indonesian-produced groceries are just as accessible as in the U.S--but cost probably 30% less. Imported goods may cost more than in the U.S.

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

Indonesian-produced groceries are just as accessible as in the U.S--but cost probably 30% less. Imported goods may cost more than in the U.S.

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

Storage racks and bins. Dryfit, polyester t-shirts to endure the heat. Large shoes (as sizes above size 10 U.S. can be nearly impossible to find).

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

Storage racks and bins. Dryfit, polyester t-shirts to endure the heat. Large shoes (as sizes above size 10 U.S. can be nearly impossible to find).

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

Jakarta is a foodie's mecca. Over 30 types of cuisine are found--and that is only counting the food types indigenous to Indonesia! Dinner costs between $5-$15 per person. Jakarta has to be one of the most affordable places to eat well in the world.

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

Jakarta is a foodie's mecca. Over 30 types of cuisine are found--and that is only counting the food types indigenous to Indonesia! Dinner costs between $5-$15 per person. Jakarta has to be one of the most affordable places to eat well in the world.

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

I hear there are malaria- and dengue-carrying mosquitoes. However, I had no insect problems in two years and cannot remember being bitten by anything.

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

I hear there are malaria- and dengue-carrying mosquitoes. However, I had no insect problems in two years and cannot remember being bitten by anything.

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Daily Life:

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

Private mail service.

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

Private mail service.

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

Plentiful, reliable, and costing around $100/month for a live-out maid.

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

Plentiful, reliable, and costing around $100/month for a live-out maid.

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

Yes. There are three world-class gym chains that have spread throughout Jakarta:Gold's Gym, Fitness First, and Celebrity Fitness. It only costs approximately $50/month and is a great deal. Gyms are social places too, with social advantages to joining.

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

Yes. There are three world-class gym chains that have spread throughout Jakarta:Gold's Gym, Fitness First, and Celebrity Fitness. It only costs approximately $50/month and is a great deal. Gyms are social places too, with social advantages to joining.

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

In two years, I have experienced no problems whatsoever with credit cards. ATMs are plentiful. Make sure to know the phone numbers of your banks, since foreign banks sometimes mistakenly block your card access out of (mistaken) fear it is being stolen and being used in Indonesia.

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

In two years, I have experienced no problems whatsoever with credit cards. ATMs are plentiful. Make sure to know the phone numbers of your banks, since foreign banks sometimes mistakenly block your card access out of (mistaken) fear it is being stolen and being used in Indonesia.

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

Services are available for all Christian denominations. I'm unaware of any English-language services for Islamic/Buddhist/Jewish/Hindu services.

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

Services are available for all Christian denominations. I'm unaware of any English-language services for Islamic/Buddhist/Jewish/Hindu services.

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

Jakarta Globe and Jakarta Post newspapers cost about $0.75/day and are of good enough quality.

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

Jakarta Globe and Jakarta Post newspapers cost about $0.75/day and are of good enough quality.

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

Not much is needed to survive. However, the more Bahasa you speak, the richer your experience will be. Indonesians are grateful and delighted by foreigners making even the most basic efforts to speak their languages. Efforts to speak regional languages (Sundanese, Javanese, Padang) are met with some of the biggest smiles I've ever seen.

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

Not much is needed to survive. However, the more Bahasa you speak, the richer your experience will be. Indonesians are grateful and delighted by foreigners making even the most basic efforts to speak their languages. Efforts to speak regional languages (Sundanese, Javanese, Padang) are met with some of the biggest smiles I've ever seen.

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

Many difficulties. Sidewalks are an endangered species in Jakarta.

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

Many difficulties. Sidewalks are an endangered species in Jakarta.

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Transportation:

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

Jakarta taxis from Blue Bird company are among the most reliable--and inexpensive--in the world. Local trains are slow and usually crowded. However, train trips to other parts of Java (Bogor, Bandung, Yogyakarta) can make for a cool train adventure...that you only probably want to take once! Local buses leave much to be desired.

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

Jakarta taxis from Blue Bird company are among the most reliable--and inexpensive--in the world. Local trains are slow and usually crowded. However, train trips to other parts of Java (Bogor, Bandung, Yogyakarta) can make for a cool train adventure...that you only probably want to take once! Local buses leave much to be desired.

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3. 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?

Roads on Java are smooth enough for any car. Bring a good radio/cd player since you'll be stuck in traffic plenty!

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4. 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?

Roads on Java are smooth enough for any car. Bring a good radio/cd player since you'll be stuck in traffic plenty!

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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?

It is available though reliability and speed are issues.

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

It is available though reliability and speed are issues.

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

Telkomsel has the most reliable coverage. Get your thumbs ready for sms-happy Indonesians!

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

Telkomsel has the most reliable coverage. Get your thumbs ready for sms-happy Indonesians!

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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?

See above.

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2. 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?

See above.

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

Really, if you are letting the quality of pet care determine your move to another city, you should get a life.

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

Really, if you are letting the quality of pet care determine your move to another city, you should get a life.

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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?

Yes, especially in the NGO fields.

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2. 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?

Yes, especially in the NGO fields.

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

More casual than other cities. Batik fabric is often worn, especially on Fridays.

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

More casual than other cities. Batik fabric is often worn, especially on Fridays.

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Health & Safety:

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

Jakarta is much safer than one would imagine listening to the international media. I felt safe walking around any part of the city at any time of day. For the most part, criminals do not target foreigners as in other countries. I feel safer in Jakarta than I do in Washington, DC or Amsterdam.

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

Jakarta is much safer than one would imagine listening to the international media. I felt safe walking around any part of the city at any time of day. For the most part, criminals do not target foreigners as in other countries. I feel safer in Jakarta than I do in Washington, DC or Amsterdam.

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

Quality of medical care? How to write this in a diplomatic way?

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

Quality of medical care? How to write this in a diplomatic way?

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5. 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?

Jakarta's air quality cannot be considered healthy. The lungs tend to burn after going for a run outside. Smog is visible some days.

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6. 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?

Jakarta's air quality cannot be considered healthy. The lungs tend to burn after going for a run outside. Smog is visible some days.

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

There are three seasons in Jakarta: Hot, Hotter, and Hottest. The temperature never drops below 78 degrees. That said, the temperature becomes bearable and is noticeably not as warm as Singapore or India.

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

There are three seasons in Jakarta: Hot, Hotter, and Hottest. The temperature never drops below 78 degrees. That said, the temperature becomes bearable and is noticeably not as warm as Singapore or India.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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

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

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5. 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?

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6. 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?

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

Probably few, apart from international schools. There is very little public space for sports.

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

Probably few, apart from international schools. There is very little public space for sports.

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Expat Life:

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

Compared to other cities of Jakarta's size, it is small. Expat community tends to congregate near Kemang neighborhood and the international schools. One can spend days in certain areas of Jakarta and never see any expats.

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

Compared to other cities of Jakarta's size, it is small. Expat community tends to congregate near Kemang neighborhood and the international schools. One can spend days in certain areas of Jakarta and never see any expats.

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3. Morale among expats:

Depends on who you ask! For those expats who are flexible, culturally sensitive, patient, and speak some Bahasa, Jakarta can be a very rewarding, comfortable place to live. For those expats who expect the conveniences of their home countries, and don't endeavor to make bridges with Indonesians, they tend to spend too much time complaining.

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4. Morale among expats:

Depends on who you ask! For those expats who are flexible, culturally sensitive, patient, and speak some Bahasa, Jakarta can be a very rewarding, comfortable place to live. For those expats who expect the conveniences of their home countries, and don't endeavor to make bridges with Indonesians, they tend to spend too much time complaining.

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

If you search for it, you can find it in Jakarta. There are some good dance clubs available--Dragonfly, Blowfish, Immigrant. Jakarta's nightlife is unique given one cannot find it concentrated in one area (except for Kemang); one often is taking taxis around to the different clubs/bars. Music festivals and international DJ parties keep the variety high enough. Expats often throw fun parties too.

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

If you search for it, you can find it in Jakarta. There are some good dance clubs available--Dragonfly, Blowfish, Immigrant. Jakarta's nightlife is unique given one cannot find it concentrated in one area (except for Kemang); one often is taking taxis around to the different clubs/bars. Music festivals and international DJ parties keep the variety high enough. Expats often throw fun parties too.

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

There are few public spaces for families to spend time together, aside from the malls. Single men tend to enjoy Jakarta more than single women. Couples seem to like the great variety of restaurants, nightspots, and vacation destinations within Indonesia.

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

There are few public spaces for families to spend time together, aside from the malls. Single men tend to enjoy Jakarta more than single women. Couples seem to like the great variety of restaurants, nightspots, and vacation destinations within Indonesia.

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

From a heterosexual point of view, Jakarta is a neutral place when it comes to homosexuality.

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

From a heterosexual point of view, Jakarta is a neutral place when it comes to homosexuality.

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

Indonesians are usually tolerant people.

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

Indonesians are usually tolerant people.

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

Making friends with Indonesians. Seeing the smiles of Indonesians while speaking their language. Vacationing on the islands of Sulawesi, Sumba, Kalimantan, Sumatra, Bangka, Belitung, Bali, Flores, Halmahera Utara, Ternate. Trying the rich smorgasboard of ethnic cuisines. Seeing the vibrant street culture in Jakarta. Watching the Indonesian democracy progress.

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

Making friends with Indonesians. Seeing the smiles of Indonesians while speaking their language. Vacationing on the islands of Sulawesi, Sumba, Kalimantan, Sumatra, Bangka, Belitung, Bali, Flores, Halmahera Utara, Ternate. Trying the rich smorgasboard of ethnic cuisines. Seeing the vibrant street culture in Jakarta. Watching the Indonesian democracy progress.

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

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

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

Woodcarvings, batik fabric, rattan furniture.

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

Woodcarvings, batik fabric, rattan furniture.

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

Diversity of cultures, luxurious lifestyle, close vacation destinations, friendly people, hospitable people, lack of arrogance.

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

Diversity of cultures, luxurious lifestyle, close vacation destinations, friendly people, hospitable people, lack of arrogance.

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21. Can you save money?

Easily, especially if you don't travel and eat out.

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22. Can you save money?

Easily, especially if you don't travel and eat out.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, as long as my housing was close to my workplace. Commute times can make or break your stay in Jakarta.

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

Yes, as long as my housing was close to my workplace. Commute times can make or break your stay in Jakarta.

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

Rudeness. Loud voice. Impatience. Expressiveness. Winter clothes.

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

Rudeness. Loud voice. Impatience. Expressiveness. Winter clothes.

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5. But don't forget your:

Smile. Gratefulness. Ability to say "sorry." Ability to make your points in subtle ways. Weekend travel bag. Sense of adventure. Bahasa dictionary.

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6. But don't forget your:

Smile. Gratefulness. Ability to say "sorry." Ability to make your points in subtle ways. Weekend travel bag. Sense of adventure. Bahasa dictionary.

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

Indonesian Idioms and Expressions: Colloquial Indonesian at Work (by Christopher Torchia and Lely Djuhari), Any Book by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Jakarta Inside Out (by Daniel Ziv), Making Out in Indonesian (Tuttle Publishing), Culture Shock! Jakarta (by Terry Collins and Derek Bacon).

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8. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Any film made by Indonesian filmmaker Nia Dinata.

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

Indonesian Idioms and Expressions: Colloquial Indonesian at Work (by Christopher Torchia and Lely Djuhari), Any Book by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Jakarta Inside Out (by Daniel Ziv), Making Out in Indonesian (Tuttle Publishing), Culture Shock! Jakarta (by Terry Collins and Derek Bacon).

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10. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Any film made by Indonesian filmmaker Nia Dinata.

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11. Do you have any other comments?

Jakarta is an underrated place. It has its many charms. Those willing to endure its urban issues will be rewarded!

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12. Do you have any other comments?

Jakarta is an underrated place. It has its many charms. Those willing to endure its urban issues will be rewarded!

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