Jakarta at a Glance
Living in Jakarta
Although Indonesia is perhaps not the highest ranking among expat destinations, life in Jakarta can be thrilling. Due to Indonesia’s long and turbulent colonial history, many remnants of Dutch and Portuguese rule are still prevalent. There are still many traces from colonial times in Jakarta, from the buildings to the way the city is set up.
Since it is the largest city and capital of Indonesia, Jakarta attracts many new residents from other parts of Indonesia, too. Not only are the residents of Jakarta fairly open-minded towards foreigners, but the mix of nationalities brings an altogether new flair to the city.
With quite a few cultural offerings to bait tourists, Jakarta is also successful at luring expats to its city center. The Jakarta Arts Center, for example, has, along with a number of other buildings, been restored and now boasts some of the country’s best concerts and exhibitions.
Jakarta’s climate is generally hot and humid, with the Indonesian wet and “dry” seasons dividing the year in two. If you are planning on living in Jakarta, be prepared for average temperatures in the upper 30° C range year-round, and be aware that the rainy season is long, beginning in November and lasting until March.
As a result, life in Jakarta also means putting up with severe flooding, as the city, due to its many rivers, does flood quite often. The flooding, however, can be mainly attributed to overpopulation and the resulting deforestation required to provide more space for the city’s growing number of residents. The lacking infrastructure can lead to clogged sewers as well, causing some parts of the city to be impassable at certain times.
Culture and Food in Jakarta
When living in Jakarta, you will have a number of opportunities to make up for any cultural deficits you may believe you have acquired. Jakarta is known as the cultural center of Indonesia for a reason. In fact, expats in Jakarta are able to greatly profit from the city’s cultural offerings. From jazz festivals and fashion weeks to international art exhibitions and traditional trade shows, life in Jakarta is filled to the brim with leisure activities.
If you are a food enthusiast, Jakarta’s spectacular culinary offerings will make your mouth water at all times. Due to the numerous domestic and foreign immigrants, especially betawis (immigrants from other Southeast Asian countries), the mix of flavorful traditions abounds in the streets of Jakarta. From savory traditional dishes displayed by a street vendor to expensive high-class restaurants, Jakarta has it all.
Public Transportation in Jakarta
At the time of writing, Jakarta’s public transportation system is still undergoing construction. A mass rapid transit system is in the planning stages – construction on one line is set to begin in October 2013. This system encompasses an elevated and underground railway system, which, however, will most likely not be finished until at least 2016. As many people living in Jakarta commute from the suburban areas around the city center, traffic jams are a major problem in Jakarta.
Currently, the residents of Jakarta have the opportunity to take a number of rickshaw-type vehicles (bajaj, becak, bemo, etc.), which can seat up to four people comfortably. However, using such a rickshaw in areas with heavy traffic can be rather dangerous. In addition, Jakarta has a bus rapid transit system called TransJakarta, which serves all of the city center as well as the outer suburbs, making it easier for those living in Jakarta to get around. Timetables are available on the TransJakarta website (Indonesian only). Tickets are relatively cheap at 3,500 rupiah (about 40 US cents) per ride.