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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Indonesia Offers a Warm Welcome & Great Finances

Expats in Indonesia can look forward to a friendly population, affordable housing, and short working hours. But the low quality of life and insufficient digital infrastructure take their toll.

After a slight dip in 2023 (13th), Indonesia is back on the podium in 2024, ranking 3rd out of 53 destinations in the Expat Insider 2024 survey. While there is certainly room for improvement in some areas such as Digital Life (46th), Travel & Transit (49th), and Healthcare (48th), Indonesia delights with low costs (4th), friendly people (2nd), and a great work–life balance (1st). Consequently, a total of 84% of expats are happy with their life in Indonesia (vs. 68% globally).

How Expats Rate Life in Indonesia

Fair Pay & a Pleasant Working Life

Indonesia registered an impressive improvement when it comes to Working Abroad: while the country ranked 27th out of 53 destinations in 2023, it makes it into the top 10 in 2024 (9th).

Expats love their comparatively short working hours (5th) — in fact, respondents in a full-time position report working just 38.8 hours a week, compared to a global average of 42.5 hours. So, it’s hardly surprising that close to four in five (79%) are satisfied with their work–life balance (vs. 60% globally), resulting in a 1st place for this factor.

Indonesia also ranks 1st for expats’ overall job satisfaction and personal career opportunities; though only about half (52%) find that moving there improved their prospects (vs. 56% globally). Jobs don't stand out as a main reason for relocating to Indonesia, either (34% vs. 35% globally). Instead, five times the global average made the journey to retire there (15% vs. 3% globally). Still, among those working, two-thirds (67%) agree that they’re paid fairly for their work (vs. 58% globally).

Perfect for Personal Finances

For the third year in a row, Indonesia places in the top 10 of the Personal Finance Index (3rd). Thanks in part to comparatively low living costs (4th), 86% of respondents find that their disposable household income is enough (or more than enough!) to lead a comfortable life in Indonesia (vs. 70% globally).

“It definitely takes less money to live comfortably here.” – US American expat

Correspondingly, nearly three-quarters (72%) say they’re happy with their financial situation, compared to about half of expats worldwide (54%).

But Digital Woes Await

Speaking of finances: a big plus in Indonesia is the affordability of housing. Close to two-thirds of expats (64%) rate this factor positively, 30 percentage points more than the global average (34%). The majority (61%) also agrees that accommodation is easy to find (vs. 45% globally) — that’s one thing expats-to-be don’t have to worry about much.

The language barrier, on the other hand, was a concern for respondents prior to their relocation (40% say as much, vs. 35% globally). Luckily, you can get by without speaking the local language, according to more than half of expats (55% vs. 48% globally).

Getting a visa sorted to move to Indonesia is comparatively easy, too (14th), and results for dealing with the local bureaucracy are pretty average (23rd).

What’s more of an issue is the Digital Life (46th) of expats in Indonesia. The country finds itself in the bottom 10 for every single point of this subcategory: high-speed internet (49th), cashless payment options (45th), online administrative services (47th), and unrestricted access to all kinds of online services, including social media (44th).

“The thing that most bothers me is the unpredictability of things like internet, traffic, and power outages.” – Canadian expat

A Low Quality of Life?

Indonesia receives some of its worst results in the Quality of Life Index (44th), where it’s in the bottom 10. An amazing climate & weather (11th), culinary variety (11th), and an enjoyable culture & nightlife (14th) cannot make up for the fact that expats face some major challenges.

Healthcare (48th) is one such challenge: less than two in five expats (39%) are satisfied with its quality (vs. 66% globally), and only 46% rate its availability positively (vs. 68%). Plus, twice the global average say the air quality is bad (38% vs. 19% globally).

“The terrible air quality and noise pollution really bothers me.” – US American expat

Indonesia only ranks 45th for the Environment & Climate and 49th in the Travel & Transit Subcategory. Both the car infrastructure (41% negative rating vs. 14% globally) and the availability of public transportation (41% vs. 17%) stand out as sore points, and getting around on foot or by bicycle (44th) isn't always a safe option, either.

Mutual Respect Is Key

On the bright side, expats really feel at home (3rd) in Indonesia and have an easy time getting used to the culture (8th). An impressive 85% say they feel welcome in the country — 22 percentage points above the global average (63%).

“I am always, and I mean always, treated with respect and I am always learning something new every day about the language, the culture, the food, the animals who live here, the plants that surround my home — the list goes on and on.” – US American expat

Over nine in ten respondents (91%) agree that the people are friendly towards foreign residents (vs. 61% globally), and a comparative few find it difficult to make local friends (15% vs. 41% globally). Hardly surprising that Indonesia ranks 4th for expats’ happiness with their social life.

The Typical Expat in Indonesia

Further Reading