The Big Apple (Big Durian) of Southeast Asia is the economic, political and cultural hub of the Indonesian archipelago. With over 10 million inhabitants, it is the largest city in Indonesia. Jakarta is a fascinating place, even though it is fighting against the negative image of being a terrorist stronghold, which arose in the wake of violent terrorist incidents across Indonesia in the past decade.
Jakarta — formerly known as Batavia — has had a very turbulent colonial history. Europeans first came to Jakarta 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 people, decided to immigrate to Jakarta, making the Chinese one of the biggest foreign minorities 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 withdrew again from the then Allied-occupied city. In 1949, after much back and forth, the city was finally proclaimed independent and made the capital of Indonesia.
Therefore, you should not be surprised to find remnants of the colonial era, such as buildings, parks, and the general infrastructure of the city.
Generally speaking, it is a good idea to investigate housing options before moving to Jakarta. There are plenty of neighborhoods, so everyone should be able to find something which fits their budget. Most expats end up renting a house or an 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 the city. If you are looking for a more upscale lifestyle, Menteng with its colonial-era mansions, the busy neighborhood in the Golden Triangle in Setiabudi, and some expat enclaves in Kuningan would probably be of interest to you.
Due to their proximity to the Central Business District (CBD), rent prices 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 generally get used to when moving to Jakarta!
Expats with a more modest budget might consider moving to East Jakarta. In addition to being more affordable, this district is well liked among expats for its proximity to the commercial and industrial areas of town, where many expatriates tend to work. Housing is not as expensive as in other parts of the city, but the cheaper costs are made up for by the long travel distances. If you are looking for a large Indian expat community, East Jakarta is the place for you to live. It is not recommended to live here if you have children, as most international schools are quite far away.
Instead, if you are moving with your family, the best neighborhoods to live in are most probably Kemang and Pondok Indah. These are beautiful areas in southern Jakarta, with many gorgeous villas hidden behind veils of flowers and trees. Many expats find this the perfect place to raise a family, thanks to the large gardens, the many shopping malls and restaurants nearby, as well as the proximity to several international schools.
We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.