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Expat Exchange - Pros and Cons of Living in Indonesia
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Balangan Beach in Bali, Indonesia


Pros and Cons of Living in Indonesia

By Betsy Burlingame

AGS Worldwide Movers
AGS Worldwide Movers

Summary: If you're moving to Indonesia, it's important to learn about both the Pros AND Cons of living in Indonesia.

Indonesia, a Southeast Asian nation made up of thousands of volcanic islands, is home to hundreds of ethnic groups speaking many different languages. It's known for its beaches, volcanoes, Komodo dragons and jungles sheltering elephants, orangutans and tigers. But what is it like to live there? Let's delve into the pros and cons of living in Indonesia.

Pros of Living in Indonesia

Indonesia is a country that offers a unique blend of modern amenities and traditional culture. One of the biggest advantages of living in Indonesia is the cost of living. Compared to Western countries, the cost of living in Indonesia is significantly lower. This includes everything from rent, to food, to transportation. For example, a meal at a local restaurant can cost as little as $1, while a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can be rented for around $200 per month.

Another advantage of living in Indonesia is the rich and diverse culture. With over 300 ethnic groups, each with their own customs and traditions, there is always something new to learn and explore. This diversity is also reflected in the food, which is a delicious mix of flavors from different regions. Whether you're a fan of spicy food, sweet desserts, or exotic fruits, there's something for everyone in Indonesia.

Indonesia is also home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. From the stunning beaches of Bali, to the majestic mountains of Java, to the lush rainforests of Sumatra, there's no shortage of natural beauty to explore. And with a tropical climate, you can enjoy these outdoor activities year-round.

Finally, the people of Indonesia are known for their warmth and hospitality. Whether you're in a bustling city or a rural village, you'll be greeted with smiles and friendly faces. Many expats have shared stories of how they were welcomed into their communities and made to feel at home.

For example, John, an expat from the UK, shared his experience of living in Jakarta: "I was initially worried about moving to a new country, but the people here have been so welcoming. My neighbors invited me over for dinner on my first day, and since then, I've made so many friends. I feel like I'm part of a community."

Cons of Living in Indonesia

While there are many advantages to living in Indonesia, there are also some challenges that expats should be aware of. One of the biggest challenges is the language barrier. While English is widely spoken in tourist areas and by younger generations, it's not as common in rural areas or among older generations. This can make everyday tasks like shopping or getting directions more difficult.

Another challenge is the traffic. In major cities like Jakarta and Surabaya, traffic congestion is a major issue. It's not uncommon for commutes to take several hours, and the lack of public transportation infrastructure only exacerbates the problem. This can be a major source of stress for expats who are used to more efficient transportation systems.

The healthcare system in Indonesia is also a concern. While there are some high-quality hospitals in major cities, the quality of healthcare can vary greatly, especially in rural areas. Additionally, the cost of healthcare can be high for expats, as many insurance plans don't cover treatment in Indonesia.

Finally, while Indonesia is generally a safe country, there are some areas with higher crime rates. Expats should be aware of their surroundings and take precautions to ensure their safety.

Despite these challenges, many expats find that the benefits of living in Indonesia outweigh the drawbacks. As Sarah, an expat from Australia, put it: "Yes, there are challenges, but the beauty of the country, the kindness of the people, and the richness of the culture make it all worth it."

Ultimately, the decision to move to Indonesia is a personal one that should be based on your individual needs and circumstances. By weighing the pros and cons, you can make an informed decision that's right for you.

Expats Talk about Pros & Cons of Living in Indonesia

"Housing costs are very reasonable. I can easily get everything I need delivered to my door, and pay with bank transfer directly. The terms of rentals is sketchy, as it is generally month to month, with no real requirement to give notice, but which also makes it hard to move from one rental to the next when day of occupancy is usually NOW. Means you might lose money to move, if you have to move out early. Many rentals prefer tourists to long term, which puts pressure on long term rentals to locate something in an increasingly competitive market for long term rentals. There is no real niche being developed in the tourism profile for long term renters per se, as it is assumed that short term tourist turn overs can be much more lucrative. There is no long term planning in Bali for accommodating the capacity of the country to sustain the level of tourism that the country is experiencing going forward. Government is considering different kinds of visas for people who are like digital nomads. Visas are expensive. . My retirement visa costs $600 a year, and I use an agent. It is less expensive if you do it yourself, but also the Immigration Beaurocracy can be tricky. Important to get clear about what can and cannot be imported into the country. I bought a renewed phone from the United States and it is still sitting in Customs after over 10 weeks, and since they won't let me have it because it's used, I am subject to the whims of a beaurocracy that does not seem to want to return it but to run out the clock and confiscate it. On health issues, I have decided that I am no longer wanting to live in the tropics as my immune system is not strong enough to handle the level of exposure to parasites that I encounter. I as given inatravenous antibiotics during a nominal procedure at a hospital, and now my gut micro biome is destroyed and I have a horrible case of worms that no one seems to know what to do about. There is no one in Bali who can do a comprehensive stool test, and they cost $500 to be sent to Jakarta and back which takes over a month. The response to protocols for Covid is a huge issue, as Balinese don't understand social distancing, do not bother to use masks much of the time, etc. Despite the rules issued by the government. Being in a third world country during a pandemic, is dicey, and the government struggled a long time to frame a response and also rushed to acquire vaccines way too early in the phase of evaluating the vaccine's success rate. Also, the plan for how to vaccinate westerners is still vague and undeveloped and changing as Westerners will not be able to get the vaccines available from the government for Indonesians, and how and who and whether private companies can purchase vaccines that are not earmarked for Indonesians has still not been worked out," commented one expat living in Bali, Indonesia.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


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Balangan Beach in Bali, Indonesia

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