Moving to Jakarta?

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Living in Indonesia, from Norway

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Jakarta at a Glance

Moving to Jakarta

Moving to Jakarta will take you to a bustling city, complete with skyscrapers and traffic jams. Indeed, Jakarta is often considered to be the Big Apple of Southeast Asia. Our guide on moving to Jakarta will help you with your move by providing you with advice on housing, education, visas and more.

The Big Apple (Big Durian) of Southeast Asia is the economic, political and cultural hub of the Indonesian archipelago. With about 10 million inhabitants, it is the largest city in Indonesia. Jakarta is a fascinating city, even though it is fighting against the negative image of being a terrorist stronghold. (This prejudice arose in the wake of violent terrorist incidents across Indonesia in the past decade.) Actually, most expats in Jakarta are quite pleased with their decision and enjoy a lot about the city’s flair.

Jakarta: Brief Historical Background

Jakarta – formerly Batavia – has a very turbulent colonial history. Europeans first came to Jakarta all the way back in the 14th century. Between the Portuguese and the Dutch colonists, Jakarta has seen its fair share of foreigners. Due to the lucrative work opportunities afforded by the Dutch government rule of the capital city, many Asians, especially Chinese, decided to immigrate to Jakarta, making the Chinese the largest minority in today’s Indonesia.

In 1942, Indonesian guerilla forces succeeded in regaining control over their city with the help of Japanese soldiers; however, they quickly backed down from the then Allied-occupied city. In 1950, after much back and forth, the city was finally proclaimed independent and made the capital of Indonesia.

When moving to Jakarta you should not be surprised to find many remnants of the colonial era, such as buildings, parks and the general infrastructure of the city.

Upscale Neighborhoods in Jakarta

Generally speaking, it is a good idea to investigate housing options before moving to Jakarta. There are many neighborhoods, so everyone should be able to find something which fits their budget. Most expats moving to Jakarta end up renting a house or apartment. Indonesian property laws are rather complicated, and it’s very difficult for foreigners to buy a condominium, let alone purchase land.

Central Jakarta is one of the most beautiful and oldest areas in Jakarta. If you are looking for a more upscale lifestyle in Jakarta, Menteng with its colonial-era mansions, the busy neighborhood in the Golden Triangle, and some expat enclaves in Kuningan would probably be of interest to you.

Due to their proximity to the Central Business District (CBD), rents in these neighborhoods are higher in comparison to that in some of Jakarta’s other districts. Housing in these neighborhoods comes mainly in the form of elegant apartment buildings, complete with a facility manager. Be aware, however, that some of these areas, especially the Golden Triangle, are quite loud in terms of traffic – something you should get used to when moving to Jakarta!

Other Residential Districts in Jakarta

Expats with a more modest budget might consider moving to East Jakarta. This district is well liked among expats for its proximity to the commercial and industrial areas of town, where many expats tend to work. Housing is not quite as expensive as in other parts of the city, but the cheaper costs are made up for by the long travel distances. It is not recommended to live here if you have children, as most international schools are quite far away. A large Indian expat community lives in East Jakarta, though, so families from South Asia might give it a go.

Those of you moving to Jakarta who are not necessarily fans of living in apartments are in luck! Neighborhoods like Kemang and Pondok Indah are beautiful areas in southern Jakarta, with many gorgeous villas hidden behind veils of flowers and trees. Those who are moving to Jakarta find this the perfect place to raise a family, thanks to the large gardens, the many shopping malls and restaurants nearby, and the proximity to several international schools.

InterNations Expat Magazine