Lunch at the Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta, Indonesia
Lunch at the Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta, Indonesia
Lunch at the Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Jul 11, 2021

Summary: Jakarta is home to more than 10.7 million people. Expats and digital nomads say that the cost of living is high, the locals are very friendly (and always smiling), the traffic is terrible and any effort they make to learn the language is appreciated. Jakarta has a tropical climate and daily temps reach the high 80s to low 90s year round. Newcomers tip: if you have kids, apply to schools early.

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What do I need to know about living in Jakarta?

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When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Jakarta, they said:

"Don't worry too much. It's pretty easy life here but will require patience a plenty. Traffic is horrible! But I get lots of reading done in my Mitsurbishi Grandis. Good staff are very important and should be rewarded with your trust and better than average pay if you find good ones. We love ours. Finally, as usual, a little bit of the local language goes a long long ways. Vocabulary is the key here b/c the rest of the language is easy," explained one expat living in Jakarta.

What do I need to know before moving to Jakarta?

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When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Jakarta, they said:

"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," explained one expat.

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How do I find a place to live in Jakarta?

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We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"We moved into staff housing already selected and under contract before we'd arrived," remarked another expat in Jakarta.

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We've partnered with Explorastay, the largest aggregator of 1-12+ month stays. Compare listings and rental rates from 20+ accommodation sites in one search, including: Booking.com, VRBO, Expedia, UniPlaces, Spotahome, HousingAnywhere, Zumper and over a dozen more accommodation companies. Search rental properties in Indonesia.

What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Jakarta?

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"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," remarked another expat in Jakarta.

What is the average cost of housing in Jakarta?

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If you are thinking about moving to Jakarta, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"Much higher and not justifiable in my opinion! Average cost of housing is US$3,000/month, payed 24 months in advance, lump sum, and in US dollars. Most houses are built with inferior material and shoddy methods. They look good when newly built or renovated, but they are not meant to last more than 15 years (when they are gutted and renovated). Many owners paid more for the lot than they did to construct the house," explained one expat.

Need a rental in Indonesia? We've partnered with Explorastay, the largest aggregator of 1-12+ month stays. Compare listings and rental rates from 20+ accommodation sites in one search, including: Booking.com, VRBO, Expedia, UniPlaces, Spotahome, HousingAnywhere, Zumper and over a dozen more accommodation companies.

Search for Rentals

Need a rental in Indonesia? We've partnered with Explorastay, the largest aggregator of 1-12+ month stays. Compare listings and rental rates from 20+ accommodation sites in one search, including: Booking.com, VRBO, Expedia, UniPlaces, Spotahome, HousingAnywhere, Zumper and over a dozen more accommodation companies. Search for Rentals in Indonesia

How do I meet people in Jakarta?

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When we asked people living in Jakarta about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"Travel, Java Lava mt hiking club, BIS PTA, Cub scouts (either British First Kemang or American scouts) and the various artist groups," said another person in Jakarta.

What to Bring When Moving to Jakarta (and what to leave behind)

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When we asked expats living in Indonesia what they wish they had brought when moving to Indonesia and what they wish they had left at home, they replied:

"Wish we had brought an artificial Christmas tree, a swing set and more inexpensive, remnant, area rugs. Wish we'd left at home books we'd already read, a 110-volt TV and collectibles," explained one expat living in Jakarta.

Will I be able to find a job in Jakarta?

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When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Jakarta, they reponded:

"Oil, Gas, Mining, IT, Natural Resources. Indonesia is a BIG country and a very RICH country, that is managed very poorly. 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," said another expat in Jakarta.

What is life like in Jakarta?

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When we asked people living in Jakarta what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"The local's lives revolve around work, getting to work and family affairs, photography and facebook but beyond that I can't comment. Expat lives revolve around work and family too of course but the family bit comes and goes. Many seem to let the nanny's take over and participate in a lot of Golf or women's organizations, and football/rugby. For us we travel, throw house parties, and participate in school activities," explained one expat living in Jakarta.

What do expats in Jakarta appreciate most about the local culture?

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"No matter how bad things are for the Indonesians, they always manage a smile. They are friendly & kind. Indonesia is wealthy in art & culture & history," remarked another in Jakarta.

What do expats find most challenging?

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"You cannot get angry & shout at someone in Indonesia, 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 & 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 & then blunder through what ever they are doing. i.e. my husband is mentoring at work & 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 & he doesn't know where it is but drives in the wrong direction, so you have to direct him all the way," said another expat in Jakarta.

Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Jakarta accepting of differences?

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"Religion is not diverse. It's mostly Muslim among the locals, and aetheism and Christianity among the expats. Their are of coarse plenty of folk beyond that mold though," explained one expat living in Jakarta.

What are the schools in Jakarta like?

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"This school really cares about your child's development, they will let your child learn by explore the world, explore many resources and by exploring themselves instead of textbooks. It's not like the usual international schools.," remarked another parent with kids at Sekolah Cikal in Jakarta.

"Apply immediately because there is a waiting list. I have 5 kids and 3 got in relatively easily but we had an agonizing wait for 2. Luckily they all got in in the same year. There is a lot of requirements so make sure you have your kids' report cards filed away. Choose your teacher reference carefully because you will need a reference and the school will contact them. One of mine was flaky and I was truly concerned she was the reason for one of my kids being in the wait pool. Thank god she got in. Visit the school. You will be wowed. The first time we started the application was on paper but we had to apply for reenrolment and were asked to fill out a digital form. Lengthy process but hey its worth it," explained one expat living in Jakarta, Indonesia.

"If you want your children to improve their English because they come from a non-English as a first language speaking country then this is good for a six-month English course, and then most then go to Jakarta International School, British International School, Australia International School or ACG Jakarta. They're all accredited, whereas I don't think the New Zealand International School is actually accredited - they are just authorised to let students sit Cambridge International Exams, which is different," said another parent with children at The New Zealand International School in Jakarta.

"When in Jakarta come see the school in person. You can look up the phone number on the website http://www.bis.or.id & make an appointment, but as in our case we just turned up & the lovely Christine in admissions took us around to see the school. My husband is American but we chose BIS over the "American" school in Jakarta because BIS teaches the youngest children academics (reading & math) earlier & instills a true sense of community in the children. Not only are my kids proud to wear the BIS uniform but also enjoy helping the local people in charities run from class. They also promote recycling at school from the youngest to the eldest. BIS has the most beautiful campus of all the schools in Jakarta & it's safety conscious without being barricaded behind 10ft walls. The air quality is probably better too, as local traffic isn't right outside the main gate," commented one expat when asked about British International School Jakarta in Jakarta.

"I think it was a surprise. I was expecting only Dutch education but found that NIS has a complete International Stream as well! It has a small community family feel with really great teachers and staff. Its worth a look," explained one expat in Jakarta, Indonesia with kids at NIS (Netherlands) International School.

"Think twice! At the moment dubious management, which makes dubious educational decisions. At the end of last schoolyear (2008-2009) many parents took out their children. There are reports of children who took tests at other international schools and their scores were very bad," wrote an expat living in Jakarta with children attending Netherlands International School.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 8 Best Places to Live in Croatia and the Living in Mexico Guide. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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Lunch at the Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta, Indonesia
Allianz Care Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

Jakarta, IndonesiaGuide to Living in Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia: Cost of Living, Healthcare and What to Know About Living in Jakarta

Indonesia Forum Indonesia Forum
Join our Indonesia forum to meet other people living in Jakarta, Indonesia.

ContributeContribute
Help other expats and newcomers by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Jakarta.

Healthcare in IndonesiaHealthcare in Indonesia

Expats talk about healthcare conditions in Indonesia, the importance of health insurance, traveling abroad for medical care and more.

Jakarta, IndonesiaExpats Talk about Living in Jakarta

Expats share their experiences living in Jakarta, Indonesia and offer advice about meeting people, schools and more.

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