So you’ve made the decision, you are moving to Jakarta! A new adventure and once you’ve come to terms with the macet, the noise, and the smell, the city is just brimming with things to be explored. But what are the things essential in settling in Jakarta? You’re new, without friends, and not knowing how to cross the road! Here are some things that you can consider once you have collected your bearings and ready to start a life in the city:
1. Where to Live?
With the utmost consideration to Jakarta’s traffic and the immense size of the city, you’ll want to pick a house/apartment that’s reasonably close to where you/or your spouse works and your children go to school. Many expats favor central & south Jakarta, including Kemang, due to their proximity to many of the international schools, and the abundant choice of international restaurants, bars and shops. It is where the of Jakarta’s premium business districts are located. The only downside of this area would only be its higher prices than most of other areas.
For first timers to Indonesia, this can be a real hassle. Having to deal with immigration office and knowing the actual rules and steps, is a challenge even for those that have lived in the country for decades. Even the officials themselves might not know the regulations that they need to enforce! Do note that visas or temporary stay permits can take weeks or even months to be ready. So make sure with your employer or organization that all the permits and visas line up and ready by the time you need to relocate. If you are responsible for your and your family’s permits, make sure you choose a trusted agent or relocating firm to help you
After having the permits situated, you can look into setting up a bank account. Of course this depends on your period of living in Indonesia. Some expats that have shorter period of stay prefer to use their home country bank account. But for those living for an extended time, we recommend setting up a bank account for ease of use and safety precautions. With the level of credit card fraud and ATM crimes, it is recommendable to have a local bank account for daily use. Most Indonesian banks also provide a reasonably safe and secure internet banking system, which come really handy for payment of utilities, salaries (for house workers), and other use.
4. Selecting Schools
Finding school for your children is crucial to get them settling in, finding friends, and getting comfortable as soon as possible. It is going to be their second home, after all. Over the years, there has been a constant rise on the number of quality international schools in Jakarta. You will be surprised at the number of options and level of education and facilities that many of them offer. Some of the most popular include Jakarta International School, British International School, Australian International School.
5. Where to Find House Assistants?
One of the perks of living in Indonesia is the ability to employ live in assistants for your home, in a very affordable price. Most expats would usually employ a combo of maid (Asisten Rumah Tangga/Pembantu), a driver (supir), and occasionally a gardener to help with house chores. But where to find them? You can ask around in expat community groups (online and offline), bulletins, notice boards, etc.
6. Moving Your Stuff
Make a check list of what you should bring with you and what can be obtained in Indonesia. For those that you need to haul from home, use trusted relocating services such as Santa Fe that will help you with any aspects of domestic & international moving, storage, pet relocation, and handyman service, and even visa and immigration services.
7. Get in touch with Expat Organizations
Upon your arrival or prior to relocating, you might want to get in touch with an expat community in in Indonesia such as the British Woman Association (BWA), American Women’s Association of Indonesia (AWA), Australian & New Zealand Association (ANZA), “Die Bruecke” German Speaking Women’s Association, and many more. AWA has a monthly Newcomer’s Coffee Morning to help answer your many questions and concerns about living in Jakarta.
8. Pick Up an Indonesian Phrase Book
A few Indonesian phrase goes a long way; pick up an Indonesian phrase book and learn the basic and essentials: Apa Kabar? (How are you?), Terima Kasih (Thank You), Nama saya.. (My name is..), Selamat Pagi (Good Morning), Selamat Siang (for late morning), Selamat Malam (Good Evening/Night), Maaf (sorry), Permisi (excuse me). Want to take it up a notch? Always refer the older men with ‘Pak’, and the older women with ‘Ibu’ or ‘Bu’ for extra politeness.
9. Where to Shop
Jakarta’s expats usually enjoy visiting the various malls not only to find the latest fashion trends; but to spend hours on hours walking around, eating world-class international food, bowling, getting massages, going to the movies and even karaoke all in the same place. Describing the malls in Jakarta as big would be an understatement; most of the major malls does not only offer multiple floors of stores, restaurants but also bars, playgrounds for kids, entertainment venues, fitness centers and even medical centers.
Most of the shopping malls carry the same internationally known stores with some minor exceptions here and there. ITC shopping centers carry anything and everything from imported goods and bootlegged DVDs and computer programs to gadgets, phones, and computers for every budget.