Jakarta is the city that we all love to hate. Its traffic, pollution and lack of outside space can be a frustration; but, if you look beyond that, then it is easy to see why people fall in love with the place.
The upbeat, never say die attitude is infectious. The brilliance of applications like Go-Jek mean you never need to lift a finger and the world comes to your door.
As an expat myself, I can relate to moving to this great yet complex city. Its constant changing skyline and ability to show enterprising entrepreneurship is everywhere. Jakarta isn’t perfect, but which city is.
Certainly, the initial move can make or break your love affair with Jakarta. Getting the right support, finding the right home and settling in efficiently can really help optimise your first impression during your move.
But before you take the plunge into Jakarta life, there are a few things you should consider:
In Indonesia it is fairly standard practice to pay 1 years rent up front as well as 1 months deposit. Despite the average salary being extremely low, costs to rent homes and apartments are not too dissimilar to that of the western world. Yes, it is possible to rent a small 2-bedroom apartment in the heart of the city for less than $1000 USD per month, however, if you have high standards then your budget will need to increase dramatically.
Additionally, you will most likely need to pay electricity, water, cable TV & Internet costs on top each month, unless you consider a serviced apartment.
Other factors to consider is the location of your most frequented places of travel. The traffic is notoriously bad, so to save your time and stress levels, get advice from an expert before starting your home search.
If your company is paying for your home and helping you find it, that is great news, however without the support it can be quite challenging finding reliable agents who listen to your requirements. Most comparison websites are not updated and it is common that as a foreigner, people will ‘up the price’ for personal gain.
International relocation companies will charge anywhere between $600 – $800 USD for a day of home searches, which is obviously very expensive.
As Jakarta’s most Trusted Real Estate Agency, LetsMoveIndonesia can assess your needs, find exactly what you are looking for and help you find your new home for FREE. We are a whole of market agency, which means, we will research the market for you and find your new home in the most efficient and stress-free way possible.
What area should I live in?
I personally think this comes down to where you work and how long you are prepared to sit in traffic. Traditionally in the past, most expats lived in Kemang due to the variety of housing options, expatriate shops and leisure facilities, but nowadays Mega Kuningan has become the cool place to live. Some of Jakarta’s most coveted restaurants, bars and clubs are there and this area has seen huge growth over the last few years.
Do I need a driver and how much should this cost?
If you have ever tried to drive in Jakarta you will soon realise it is a very frustrating experience. Laws are more for guidance than rules and people tend to avoid collisions primarily because they don’t have insurance.
Having a driver is a nice perk and can certainly be helpful when it is raining, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. Costs of having a driver who supplies a car, petrol, parking expenses, road taxes, insurance etc could easily range between 7 – 12 million IDR per month.
Fortunately, with the fantastic applications of Grab and Go Jek, it is extremely simple to book transportation and the cost is extremely reasonable.
From experience, losing my driver and using ride hailing applications has saved me approximately 6 Million IDR per month!
Obviously, overall it depends where you live and how much you plan to travel. If you have children or live on the outskirts of the city, having a car would be sensible, but if you are a city dweller like me, then ride hailing apps are significantly cheaper.
The Indonesian language is much simpler than most European languages. The grammar is less confusing, and it is quite easy to grasp simple communication. The level of English from the locals in Indonesia is generally lower than that of its neighbouring countries, however most people in service industries such as hotels and restaurants tend to have a decent grasp of the language.
It would be advisable to get Indonesian lessons when you arrive; even if it is just covering the basics. Overall, speaking the local lingo will make your life easier and the locals will appreciate your efforts to immerse yourself in their culture.
Insurance & hospitals – Although insurance it isn’t absolutely necessary, it is advisable to get international healthcare insurance plans in case of the worst. The hospitals in Jakarta generally are not to the same standards as of those in the west. People that can afford the best healthcare tend to leave Indonesia and get medical treatment in neighbouring countries such as Singapore & Malaysia.
Vaccinations –To be on the safe side, it may be proactive to get vaccinations for typhoid, polio, hepatitis A & B.
Being a tropical country, there is a risk of contracting malaria; it is wise to make sure you reduce the risk as much as possible by using insect repellent whenever possible and ensuring your home is subject to pest control treatments regularly.
There are a variety of visa’s you can apply for and it can be quite difficult to know which one you need to apply for. The common working visa is called a KITAS, which can cost anywhere between 10 – 16 million IDR depending on which agency you use. It is possible to find agencies cheaper, but always be careful they are legitimate, will stick to time constraints & will support you professionally throughout the procedure.
Additional charges for a KITAS will involve an upfront $100 USD payment per month for Mandatory Skill Development Fund (DPKK) which is payable upfront to the government when you process your visa, as well as another $150 mandatory payment called PNBP which is payable to the government. Additionally, you will need to pay for your travel expenses when collecting your telex. Please note that to pick up the visa, you will have to obtain it from a Indonesian Embassy overseas, which will take 2-3 days. If you would like to do it in one day, it is possible with the help from a local agent.
The processing time should take approximately 60 days.
The big relocation agencies will charge you a premium price for visa services & if you research on the internet and contact agencies yourself, you will find they will charge you somewhere between 10 – 13 million to handle your KITAS.
LetsMoveIndonesia is proud to be the only agency in Jakarta that openly advertises our prices at competitive rates.
There are a variety of other visa’s available, if you need help determining which is the right one for you, then feel free to ask us.
What should I bring from home?
Generally, I would say it is quite easy to get things in Jakarta. Tokopedia is the Indonesian answer to Amazon and you can usually get things delivered immediately.
The most common complaint expatriates make here is about the cost of imported foods and the price of the wine.
Items deemed as luxurious, carry a very high tax; wine in particular being grossly overpriced. A bottle that would cost $7 USD at home could easily cost $21-28 USD in the shops here.
Fortunately, there are quite a lot of excellent happy hours around the city that can help, but if you are a wine and cheese lover, fill up your suitcase with as much as you can and bring it with you.
Friends visiting from overseas? Give them your shopping list of your favourite treats.
Additionally, there are a couple of International supermarkets, including Grand Lucky & Kemchicks located throughout Jakarta which should have most of the things you might be missing.
Is Jakarta safe?
Overall, from my 7 years of experience I would say it is very safe. At no point have I felt threatened or worried by any of the locals.
That being said it is always best to air on the side of caution, particularly if you are a lady.
It is unlikely you will walk outside in Jakarta at night due to the lack of pavements and the quality of them; but if you do, as with anywhere in the world, safety in numbers is always recommended.
People in the streets and airports will often approach you asking if you need transport, they will always over charge you. Personally I wouldn’t recommend using any transport service unless it is from an application or a licensed taxi. If you take a taxi, it would be recommended to use Blue Bird.
Finally, when using a taxi, always make sure the driver uses the meter. If they refuse, get out and use another.
How can I make new friends?
Jakarta has a variety of clubs and government initiatives that are great ways of making new friends and building your network. From personal experience I would recommend InterNations & Jakarta Business Networkers (JBN).
For those that have never heard of either before, InterNations is a global community set up in a variety of countries around the world. Every month they hold a variety of events and activities around Jakarta, ranging from social networking nights to badminton clubs. It really is a great way to make new friends and try new things.
JBN is a professional lunchtime business networking event, whereby they encourage referrals and help expand each other’s networks. In Indonesia, business is often done via relationships rather than advertising, so having a large network is paramount to running a successful business.
Want to know more about living in Jakarta? Then check out our useful guides below by clicking the links:
About the author – Gary Joy is the founder of LetsMoveIndonesia, the number 1 expatriate Real Estate and Relocation Provider in Jakarta. They specialise in providing ethical services at cost effective prices. If you have any questions for Gary regarding moving to Indonesia you can reach him at T: 021 300 297 27 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org