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5 Tips For Living in Jakarta, Indonesia

By Joshua Wood

Summary: Expats in Jakarta, Indonesia offer some great advice on what it's like to live in the capital of this island nation. From choosing a house to a stark warning for husbands and wives alike, this is a great place to start when considering a move to Jakarta.

Expats Living in Jakarta - 5 Tips For Living in Jakarta, Indonesia

Expats in Jakarta, Indonesia live in the capital city of Indonesia, a nation comprised of over 14,000 islands in the South Pacific.

Basics For Expats in Jakarta

Jakarta is referred to as the "Special Capital City District of Jakarta" in Indonesian, which translates to "DKI Jakarta" using abbreviations.

There are excellent restaurants in Jakarta, and for those interested in taking an expat look-see or pre-assignment trip, there are quite a few options for hotels in Jakarta.

One expat summarized some basics of interacting with people in Indonesia: "When working in Indonesia, You cannot get angry and shout at someone, they will close down totally. To "lose face" is the worst thing for an Indonesian, therefore they won't own up to not knowing something and shouting at them makes it worse.

People are afraid to say "no." Rather than say they can't or don't know something, they will say yes and then blunder through whatever they are doing. My husband [is mentoring at work and has to ask 50 questions] before he realizes his Indonesian colleague doesn't know what he's talking about. Or, tell a taxi driver the address you want to go to and he doesn't know where it is but drives in the wrong direction, so you have to direct him all the way."

Health Care in Jakarta

Expats living in Indonesia interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

As of 2014, Healthcare in Indonesia is currently in transition toward a universal healthcare system.

Siloam Hospitals has several hospitals in the Jakarta area.

Culture and Expat Culture Shock in Jakarta

In an expat culture shock report for Jakarta, an expat reported: The (British) company my husband works for had an Indonesian lady come and tell us about faux-pas other expats had made and what was taboo in Indonesia. About 3 weeks before our move (from Texas), they decided to send someone to teach us basic Indonesian... not a good move as 3 weeks before moving across the globe you're not in the right mindset to listen or learn. Besides, the teacher thought it would be a good idea to teach my husband pick up lines instead of office language. After the move my husband got costly lessons, but HR were merky [as] to whether I was entitled... I didn't get any lessons despite being the linguist (I already speak 3 other languages), my husband is a tongue-tied scientist.

The expat also warned other married women AND men: "For wives...NO MATTER HOW YOUNG YOU ARE, Sugar Daddies are extremely sought after... so if you don't have a rock solid marriage, Jakarta may not be the destination for you. If you are going to employ a nanny or housemaid, get someone more mature and already married and preferably someone who has worked for expats for many years.

"For husbands...if you think you can get away with "a girlfriend," think again. The type of Indonesian girls who find "sugar Daddies" have more than one at a time, they are interested in your money, not you. It is not unusual to hear of "girlfriends" turning up at family homes to let the wife know of her existence if she thinks he will divorce his wife and marry her. When you marry an Indonesian girl, you inherit all her family, their problems and monetary needs."

In an expat living in Jakarta report, one expat wrote that "even though it's a Muslim country, Balikpapan and Jakarta are filled with various nationalities. This is basically because employees of foreign companies live here. And, because many people from Asian countries like Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong take their annual holidays here.

"Accepting differences? If it means culture, no but they are strong to letting other culture/countries know that being a Muslim means being one."

Expat Housing in Jakarta

One expat wrote in a moving to Jakarta report that he lived in a "Single family detached house, which is typical for most expats in our area. High-rise apartments are also popular for those not wishing to employ a lot of staff for gardens or security, and those who don't want to worry about their homes when traveling."

In another moving to Jakarta expat report, an expat advised that "the very first thing is to know whether the area is high enough not to get flooded..." and also to "know your neighborhood. Like if it's mostly local, know the history."

Another expat shared: "My advice is to get on the internet and learn all you can about neighborhoods and available housing. Try to communicate with people already living here to survey their housing situation. Select your neighborhood based on convenient drive to work and school. Use a reputable agent, or better yet, use many agents. Be firm about your requirements so you aren't dragged to the listings they are pushing, but the properties that meet your needs. Visit your prefered property at noon or 3 p.m. to hear how loud is the local mosque's call to prayer (because you don't want to discover this on your first night in the house when the 4 a.m. call is made!). Highly recommend having a housing audit (electric, plumbimg, mechanical) before signing a contract, and get a maintenance contract from a vendor of your chosing, not the owner. In this city, it is more the rule than the exception, that having maintenance done after the owner had been paid is an exercise in frustration."

Real Estate Listings in Jakarta are available on Expat Exchange.

Working in Jakarta, Indonesia

The economy in Jakarta is broad based in terms of the industries served.

In a working in Jakarta expat report, one expat reported that the main industries are "Oil, Gas, Mining, IT, Natural Resources. Indonesia is a BIG country and a very RICH country, that is managed very poorly."

Other important industries in Jakarta include Banking and financial services, other services, manufacturing and electronics.

The expat also added "Most people come here either because they were transferred here by their companies or because they came here under contract. People either hate the place and cannot wait to leave, or fall in love with the place and the people and stay for extended periods."

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood joined Expat Exchange in 2000. His areas of responsibility include creative aspects of the community, research, sales and business development. Joshua received his Master's Degree in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University and graduated from Syracuse University with a BA in English Textual Studies.

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Comments about this Article

Feb 15, 2016 04:51

In case you are keen to read about some more 'aha' moments read the blog post written by Dr Irene Jansen about her life in Jakarta: http://www.labourmobility.com/13-signs-youre-an-expat-in-indonesia/

Feb 15, 2016 10:28

This is Very True : The expat also warned other married women AND men: "For wives...NO MATTER HOW YOUNG YOU ARE, Sugar Daddies are extremely sought after... so if you don't have a rock solid marriage, Jakarta may not be the destination for you. If you are going to employ a nanny or housemaid, get someone more mature and already married and preferably someone who has worked for expats for many years. Warning sign for anybody that has a husband work in Indonesia, be careful.

Feb 15, 2016 12:12

This is an excellent article. I have encountered so much of these experiences in other countries. I feel like I could go here and already have a slight edge on how to get by with these people. Th 'sugar daddies, the apartment maintenance after payment...Wow! This is what we need to know before we start any transaction. Excellent job, Joshua. Keep us informed. We are only trying to protect ourselves when away from home..

First Published: Feb 10, 2016

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