10 Most Important Points that “Expats” Should Know Before Moving to Jakarta

Live in Jakarta for Expats

Jakarta is one of the most crowded city in the world. Many people, both expats and locals, come to Jakarta for diverse reasons, including business, getting good jobs, and also getting good schools. However, not all Jakartans can speak English. If you are expats and you don’t speak bahasa Indonesia, you will likely face some issues because there is not much available information out there to make your live and your business easier. So, in this article, we want to help you out by giving your some hints to live and do business easier and more comfortable.

#1. Preparations

Preparation is a must. There are some important things you should do in this phase, including:

  • Preparing some legal documents, like your passport and visa (Read: How to choose the right type of visa in Indonesia). If you plan to stay longer, open local bank accounts, rent or buy any property.
  • Visiting your personal accountant and planning for your current tax position and future tax while you are working in Indonesia.
  • Making sure that the bank account you have in your country of origin also operate in Indonesia.
  • Checking your insurance plan.
  • Bringing all the records you may need during your stay in Indonesia, such as medical, academic, and employment records.
  • Visiting your doctor to know some potential health problems that may be caused by different seasons or weather. If you have a specific illness, you should also prepare some medicine.

#2. Accommodation

Hunting a house in Jakarta may be a very difficult process. Here are several things you need to pay attention to:

  • Research carefully on what kind of a house that you are looking for. Choosing an area is one crucial initial step. You should pick a place that is closer to your office because commuting in Jakarta is painful and is one of the biggest challenges for most expats.
  • Your main option for accommodation will be renting an apartment or a house (Read: Land and Property Ownership for Foreigners in Indonesia).
  • Expatriates will be surprised that the living cost in Jakarta could be lower than the living cost in their home countries. Usually, there are some companies who provide the accommodation for their employees as a part of the employment package so you do not need to find a house. For those responsible for their own accommodation, a furnished two-bedroom apartment will usually cost at a minimum of US $1000 per month.

#3. Business in Jakarta

If you plan to stay long in Jakarta, you might consider to open a business for your own. There are many opportunities for foreigners if you want to establish a company in Indonesia, especially in Jakarta. Some business fields are open for 100% foreign ownership, but some others are restricted (Read: The Latest Negative Investment List) . If you have limited budget it’s better to use Virtual Office or Co-Working Office to start your company. Having a company will also can bring lot of advantages for you, such as: you can own a property in Indonesia, you can also generate many profit as Indonesia is the 4th most populated country in the world which means potential market for your business, and many more.

#4. Communications

When you arrive in a foreign country, getting connected by telephone, mobile, and internet usually becomes a high priority. There are two kinds of Phone SIM cards (providers):

  1. Prepaid card, in which if you are running out of credits, you can reload it by purchasing more “pulsa”.
  2. Postpaid system that is based on an abonnement or a basic monthly charge plus the usage and all relevant taxes.

If you want to make calls within Indonesian territory, you should use area codes. For example, the area code of Jakarta is +6221. However, if you are in Jakarta and call someone in the same city, you don’t need this area code. For international calls you will need to use a combination of calling codes. To save your money people usually use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which uses an internet connection.

#5. Transportation

Jakarta has many kinds of transportation. Some of the most popular ones are:

  1. Online transportation services, such as Go-jek (motorcycle taxi) as well as Go-car, Uber, or Grab (for 4-wheel-taxi). You can also use this online service to deliver some packages or documents and take some meals or food that you order in a restaurant safely and quickly to your house or office. The price is fair and transparent, which means that you only pay the amount stated in the app.
  2. You can also use other transportation, such as: Trans Jakarta bus, mikrolet/angkot, local ojek and local bus. If you want to use the train (the commuter line) & Trans Jakarta in Jabodetabek area, you should use E-ticketing.
  3. You can rent a car, a motorcycle, or a bike in trusted rental agencies. However, we suggest you to ask for a local person’s help because it will be more expensive if the renter is a ‘bule’ (a term used to call a foreigner). The Indonesian traffic accommodates the left-hand traffic system.

#6. Daily Needs Shopping

Shopping in Jakarta takes many forms, from the traditional markets to the luxurious world class malls with a wide range of international shops and restaurants. In Jakarta, there are many supermarkets (like Carrefour, Giant, Hypermart) and minimarkets (like Alfamaret, Indomaret, 7-Eleven) if you want to buy your daily needs. All big malls in Jakarta have modern market chain stores inside. The price in Malls will be more expensive than those in traditional markets (Pasar). For expats, it would be better if you shop in the modern market because it is cleaner, more organized, has more complete and diverse choices, as well as offer better facilities (parking, restaurants, shops, ATMs, etc.).

#7. Banking and Personal Finances

If you are staying more than three months in Indonesia, we suggest you to create a local bank account. Learn how to open an account, get a credit card, transfer money abroad and change currencies. Some important things that you should consider are:

  1. Your daily transaction in Indonesia will be ruled by the Rupiah (IDR). Even for foreign companies that may budget in their foreign currencies are now obliged to do the transaction in rupiah based on the newest government regulation.
  2. If you want to save money in an Indonesian bank account, it has a special requirements for foreigners to open a bank account. You will find some differences between the policies of Indonesia banks and the foreign banks. For example, you should bring a copy your passport and Residence Permit, make a minimal initial deposit of USD 100, and many other different requirements from each bank.
  3. You can exchange foreign currency in major cities at banks and money changers.
  4. You may only deal in only 7-8 major currencies and for others, you should order first.
  5. You may also have difficulties in getting small denomination of currency. Most commonly banknotes carried are the US$ 50 and US$ 100.
  6. Use this helpful currency conversion links Today’s exchange rates – XE.
    Money changers are found in areas where many expats congregate: in malls, hotels, near luxurious accommodations and in major business district.
  7. Indonesia also have sharia (Islamic) banks. Sharia prohibits the fixed or floating payment or acceptance of specific interest or fees (known as usury) for loans of money.
  8. Some of the largest banks are Bank Mandiri, BCA, BRI, BNI, CIMB, and Danamon. There are various international banks in the larger metropolitan areas, such as Citibank, HSBC Bank, DBS, JP Morgan, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank and many more.
  9. US$ cash withdrawals are available at Citibank ATMs.
  10. At times if an expat wants to get credit cards, it can be difficult because often both local and national banks require a deposit on the card. It has been reported that occasionally expats’ applications are not responded because credit card fraud is very common in Indonesia.

#8. Legal Documents

The processes of acquiring legal documentation to live and work in Indonesia can be like an endless maze of bureaucracy. New laws and regulations, lack of socialization, irregular application, vested interests and other matters complicate what one would think would be a relatively postpone processing of paperwork for expats to live and work in Indonesia. But you don’t need to worry, cause we can help you to get the visa or other legal documents based on your needs. Depending on your purpose of your trip, you may need an entry visa, residence permit and /or work permit.

  1. Legal entry document in Indonesia are usually short-term visas for Indonesia, Indonesian residency, and getting a driving licence and additional visa for social/cultural visit visa and student permits.
  2. For short term visa, there are visa on arrival (valid 30 days), visit visa (60 days), working visas, tourist and transit visa (14 days).
  3. The types of resident visas are: Izin Kunjungan Sosial Budaya Visa (VKSB) for six month, Kunjungan Beberapa Kali Perjalanan Visa or Sosial Budaya (12 months), Visa Izin Terbatas or Temporary Residency Permit (for foreigner hired by an Indonesian company), Kartu Izin Tinggal Terbatas (five years in total), Kartu Izin Tinggal Tetap (KITAP) (for five years), and Retirement Visa for those aged over 55.
  4. If you want to get a driving licence in Indonesia you should go to Department of Motor Vehicles, which is responsible for issuing driver’s license for the residents of Jakarta, Tangerang, Depok and Bekasi.

#9. Health and Medical Concerns

There are some health problems when expat arrive in Indonesia because of different temperatures, food, and atmosphere. Then, this sub-heading needs to be highlighted, especially for the following things:

  • All medical facilities (such as hospitals and clinics) are available for expats and foreign travellers.
  • Indonesia’s hospitals are state-owned, privately owned, military owned, or NGO-owned. There are only 5 out of 1,800 hospitals in Indonesia which have been internationally accredited.
  • Food and water precautions are important. Water from the tap is not safe to drink. Therefore, it should be boiled, filtered, or chemically disinfected. Avoid to drink beverages with ice cubes in public places. Instead, order cold bottled beverages.
  • It is recommended to avoid unpasteurized milk and raw, under cooked food.
  • As a tropical country you can easily find mosquitoes, so you need to protect yourself with anti-mosquito cream which you can find in any minimarket.

#10. Community Involvement

There are a lot of communities for expats that you can find in Jakarta, here are some communities which you can consider: internationslivinginindonesiaforum, etc. It is good for expats to join certain communities of their interests because it is a perfect place to share, ask question, build networking, and know more about Jakarta.

For more inquiries, we would be happy to give you more clues so that you won’t get lost when exploring the opportunities in Jakarta. Type your comments below and for sure, we will answer your questions. Or you can also directly send your question to reception@virtualofficeinjakarta.com.


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