Those moving here on an expat salary can expect to live in upmarket housing with large gardens and endless offers of domestic help.

On the northwest coast of Java lies the port city of Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. More than 10 million residents of myriad different tribes, cultures and religions thrive in this veritable melting pot.  Indonesia, like other Southeast Asian economies, has been resilient to the global economic downturn; in recent years, its economy has grown faster than other major emerging market economies, second only to China. These days in Jakarta, new restaurants open regularly and convenience stores are mushrooming.

Those moving here on an expat salary can expect to live in upmarket housing with large gardens and endless offers of domestic help. Beyond your front door, however, the city suffers high traffic congestion and an aging infrastructure, so don’t count on getting to work on time every day.

Jakarta is dominated by water. Several major rivers carve through the low-lying region, and 40% of the land area of Jakarta’s five sub-cities lies below sea level. Consequently, the region has been prone to regular flooding during the wet season and during high tides.

What is special or unique about your city?
Home to over ten million people, this exciting city has a metropolitan flare and a never-ending selection of places to see and things to do.

Although much has been written about the personality of Jakarta, there are few words that can capture the electric vitality of the city. The city is a mosaic of broad, tree-lined streets and one can still find thousands of tiny lanes or “gang” crisscrossing the neighborhoods where Jakartans live.

The country of Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, located between mainland Southeast Asia and Australia. The country consists of approximately 17,000 islands, of which approximately 6,000 are inhabited, and is divided into 27 provinces. The five principal islands are Java, Kalimantan, Sumatra, Irian Jaya, and Sulawesi, which together account for nearly 92% of the land area. Indonesia stretches some 5500 kilometers from east to west, and 1600 kilometers from north to south.

Jakarta offers an array of entertainment, ranging from discos and bars to sedate films and cultural performances. There is so much to do and see in this unique city, with a character all of its own. Once you get settled in to your new home, we feel you're going to love it!

What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
Typically the first impression for newcomers is of bad traffic and air pollution. Major traffic jams occur on a daily basis especially during peak hours from 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Newcomers are taken aback by Jakarta's beauty and brilliant contrasts. This city is a combination of the most up-to-date buildings along major arterials, small local repair shops and popular outdoor restaurants.

Although the city's high heat and humidity can sometimes be overwhelming, newcomers tend to overlook this because of Jakarta's many other qualities.

Are these impressions likely to change?
The only first impressions that usually change are people's initial anxiety to the climate and hectic traffic. Everything else stays the same: great fondness and admiration for a city with a great history and culture.

What is the local language?
Bahasa Indonesia, which is a variation of Malay, is the official language of Indonesia. Even though each region has its own language, about 90% of Indonesians are Muslim and many can read the Koran, which is in Arabic. Many Indonesians also speak English and Dutch.

How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
Indonesian people are very friendly and when they hear someone trying to speak their language, they will be very helpful. After you live here for a while, it will be very easy to learn the common language because it has the same letters as English. Another good thing is that it is usually pronounced the way it is spelled. English is widely used in business, especially in multinational companies.

Throughout the city, knowing a few key words in the local language will be beneficial, however not necessary, as most expatriates speak English.

Below are a few words and phrases that may help you communicate with your new neighbors, friends and business acquaintances:

Good morning Selamat pagi
Good afternoon Selamat sore
Good evening Selamat malam
May name is… Nama saya…
How are you? Bagaimana kabar mu?
Yes Ya
No Tidak (don’t pronounce the k)
Where is the bathroom? Dimana kamar kecil?
How much does it cost? Berapa harganya?
Bus Bis
Soccer Sepak bola
Money Duit
Thank you Terima kasih
Excuse me Permisi or maaf
Can you help me? Bisa bantu saya?
Please Tolonglah
One Satu
Two Dua
Three Tiga
Taxi Taksi
Be careful Hati-hati

What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
Some tips to avoid offending residents of Jakarta are:

  • On greeting and departure, it is customary to shake hands
  • Saying someone's name is important in Indonesia and you should never laugh at a person's name
  • Before sampling food when in someone's home, wait until it is offered
  • Indonesians are not known for their punctuality and offense should not be taken if events do not start on time or if a guest arrives late
  • The left hand is considered unclean in this culture. You should use your right hand at all times and whenever possible in public
  • Feet are also considered unclean and you should never point with them or put them on tables or chairs
  • Some Indonesians also consider it rude to point with a finger so this should be avoided
  • Do not pat adults on their head as this considered offensive
  • Indonesians generally are very physical in their personal relations, patting acquaintances on the back, putting a hand on their shoulder and so forth
  • Do not chew gum in public; this is considered rude
  • Restrain yourself from eating or drinking in front of fasting Indonesian Muslims
  • Women are expected to be sensitive to the Muslim and Hindu beliefs and, therefore, wear clothing that keeps the majority of the body covered up
  • Personal questions regarding salary, education and family life should be expected and politely sidestepped if you do not want to answer them
  • Very little is said during meals as Indonesians like to concentrate more on their food
  • The subject of birth control is openly discussed although sex should be avoided
  • Topics to avoid are: human rights, politics, religion, military influence, corruption, personal success, sex/role of the sexes and criticism of Indonesia

How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Being located near the equator, the Indonesian climate is divided into two seasons: hot and rainy. This type of weather causes it to be very humid. If you get up into the hills and mountains, the temperature drops dramatically in the evenings and during the night it can be quite cold.
It is important to give yourself time to adjust. Be sure to drink plenty of water.

Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
Jakartans are more sophisticated, more modern and more efficiently minded than most other Indonesians and their way of life clearly shows the difference. Family life is still important, but more cosmopolitan ideas about shopping and recreation can be seen in the multitude of shopping centers, international restaurants and nightspots. However, despite their cosmopolitan veneer, Jakartans are quintessentially Indonesians.