Living in Indonesia: Complete 2023 Guide
Living in Indonesia can seem like an exciting yet daunting idea, especially if you've never been to Southeast Asia before.
The idea of moving to a place with a different culture, language, and lifestyle can be intimidating.
However, armed with the right information and preparation, you can navigate this transition with ease. This article aims to offer you a detailed overview of what life in Indonesia entails, giving you the knowledge to make an informed decision about your next big adventure.
Factors to Consider When Deciding Where to Live in Indonesia
Before packing your bags, let's delve into some significant aspects to consider when deciding where to live in Indonesia.
Indonesia's climate is characterized by its tropical nature, making it an ideal destination for those seeking warmth and sunshine.
The country lies along the equator, resulting in a fairly consistent hot and humid weather pattern throughout the year, with temperatures averaging around 28°C (82°F).
However, Indonesia's climate is not without its nuances. There are two main seasons - the wet season, which typically runs from October to April, and the dry season from May to September.
While the dry season is represented by sunny days and lower humidity levels, the wet season can bring heavy rains, high humidity, and occasionally, flooding in certain areas. The intensity of the rainy season can vary across different parts of the country.
In particular, Bali's climate shares these general patterns but has its unique aspects. Nestled in the Indonesian archipelago, Bali experiences a slightly cooler average temperature, around 27°C (81°F). Its highlands, such as the area around Mount Batur, can even be quite cool in the evenings.
While Bali's wet season aligns with the rest of Indonesia, the island's unique topography can influence local weather patterns, sometimes creating microclimates. Regardless, the beauty of its beaches and cultural heritage sites remain accessible and enchanting all year, making it a beloved spot for both expats and tourists.
Despite these seasonal changes, the warm tropical climate allows for year-round outdoor activities, a feature that many expats appreciate about living in Indonesia.
Transportation in Indonesia is as diverse as the country itself. In larger cities like Jakarta and Surabaya, a wide array of public transportation options are available, including buses, taxis, and the rapidly growing ride-hailing services such as Grab and Gojek.
However, due to often congested traffic conditions, many locals and expats opt for motorbikes, which can navigate the crowded streets more easily.
Bali too offers a distinctive transportation landscape. The popular tourist island is notably less congested than Jakarta, yet motorbikes remain the preferred mode of transport due to their versatility and convenience.
Traditional taxis and ride-hailing services like Grab and Gojek are also available, providing reliable options for those less inclined to navigate Bali's roads themselves.
For inter-island travel, domestic flights, speedboats and ferries are the main modes of transport. While the country's transportation infrastructure is continually improving, traffic congestion, particularly in urban areas, remains a challenge.
Understanding the local transportation system and strategically planning your commute can significantly influence your overall experience of living in Indonesia.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Indonesia offers a wide range of possibilities, catering to various lifestyles and budgets. Despite the country's increasing modernization and popularity among expats, it remains a relatively affordable destination.
However, costs can vary significantly between regions. Urban areas, particularly Jakarta and Bali, can be comparable to Western cities, especially for those seeking luxury accommodations or specific Western amenities. In Bali specifically, the cost of living is indeed diverse, echoing the island's mix of luxury and simplicity.
Renowned as a destination for both high-end travellers and budget backpackers, Bali offers a range of living costs. Upscale areas like Seminyak and Nusa Dua host luxury villas and high-end dining, paralleling Western city prices.
Conversely, areas like Ubud or Canggu, while still popular, can be more affordable, particularly for long-term stays.
Local markets offer fresh produce at low costs, but imported goods can be expensive.
The key to living cost-effectively in Bali lies in embracing local resources and understanding the island's distinct cost landscape.
Hiring a knowledgeable real estate agent can be invaluable in navigating Indonesia's varied property market and finding a home that fits your lifestyle and budget.
The cultural landscape of Indonesia is incredibly diverse and rich, reflecting the country's history as a crossroads of trade and migration.
With over 300 ethnic groups and an estimated 700 languages spoken across the archipelago, cultural traditions can vary significantly from one region to another.
This diversity is evident in the country's arts, cuisine, music, and local customs. While the majority of Indonesians are Muslim, there's a notable diversity in religious practices, including Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and local animistic beliefs.
Bali's culture offers a unique facet of Indonesian diversity. Predominantly Hindu, in contrast to the Muslim-majority country, Bali's customs and traditions are deeply intertwined with its religion. This is evident in its many temples, and festivals like Galungan and Nyepi, as well as daily offerings called 'canang sari'.
As an expat, learning about and respecting the cultural nuances of Indonesia can enrich your experience and help you build strong relationships within your new community.
Safety in Indonesia, as in any country, varies and can depend on a number of factors, including location and personal behaviour.
Generally, most areas in Indonesia are safe for living and travelling, but it's essential to stay aware of your surroundings. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and theft, does occur, particularly in crowded areas.
Road safety remains a concern due to the popularity of motorbikes and sometimes chaotic traffic, making adherence to local road rules essential.
Furthermore, as Indonesia is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, it's prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
In Bali, safety considerations largely mirror those of Indonesia overall, with some specificities. Tourist areas can be prone to petty crime, and as such, vigilance is advised.
We advise you to stay informed about local news and take necessary precautions, just as you would in any other country.
Medical Services and Healthcare
Healthcare services in Indonesia vary widely between urban and rural areas. Major cities like Jakarta and Bali have modern, well-equipped private hospitals and clinics, many of which offer services from English-speaking medical professionals. These facilities often provide a standard of care comparable to what one might find in Western countries.
Regarding healthcare in Bali specifically, there are several top-tier hospitals and clinics in areas like Denpasar and Kuta, equipped with modern facilities and bi-lingual staff. These institutions cater to a range of medical needs from periodic check-ups to emergencies.
However, in more remote regions of Bali, such as the northern and eastern parts, access to high-quality healthcare can be limited or non-existent.
In recent years, the Indonesian government has been working on improving the country's healthcare system and accessibility, but progress can be slow, particularly in the more remote regions.
Due to these discrepancies in healthcare quality, it is crucial for expats and long-term visitors to secure comprehensive health insurance. This insurance should ideally cover a range of medical care, including routine check-ups, emergency services, and potentially costly medical evacuation.
Living in Indonesia can offer a unique blend of experiences - from navigating the dynamic city life in Jakarta to enjoying the serene beauty of places like Lombok.
Understanding these various aspects, such as the climate, transportation, cost of living, culture, safety, and healthcare services, can help you make an informed decision about your move and ensure a smoother transition into your new life in Indonesia.
Indonesia's Best Places To Live In
As a country of diverse landscapes and vibrant cultures, Indonesia offers an array of remarkable locales to call home. From bustling metropolitan cities to tranquil beach towns, the options are plentiful. In this section, we delve into three prime choices for the best places to live in Indonesia:
Bali, fondly known as the "Island of the Gods," is an island and province that has long captivated the hearts of locals and foreigners alike. Particularly popular among expats due to its stunning natural beauty and the well-established international community.
The island's aesthetic appeal is undeniable, with its picturesque beaches, lush rice terraces, and majestic volcanic hillsides.
Bali offers a unique blend of modern convenience and traditional charm, providing a lifestyle that's both comfortable and culturally engaging.
In terms of pros, Bali boasts a vibrant social scene, a wealth of recreational activities, and a spiritual culture steeped in Hindu traditions. Home to a thriving arts scene, Bali offers traditional dance and music to painting and craftwork to all who are interested.
The island's wellness scene is also a big draw, with numerous yoga retreats, wellness resorts, and health-conscious eateries.
Deciding where to live in Bali is the hardest part as each location provides benefits that may suit your lifestyle and preferences.
However, Bali does have its downsides. The cost of living can be high in certain areas, and the island sees a substantial influx of tourists, particularly in areas like Seminyak and Kuta.
The language barrier can also pose a challenge for some expats. Although English is widely spoken in tourist areas, understanding and speaking a bit of Bahasa Indonesia, the local language, is essential for deeper integration into the community and for handling administrative or daily tasks outside of the main tourist hubs.
Accommodation in Bali varies from affordable guesthouses to luxurious villas, catering to different lifestyle needs and budget considerations. On that note, the cost of living in Bali can range from mid to high depending on location and lifestyle choices,
The gorgeous island's unique charm and beauty often outweigh the disadvantages that can occasionally occur, thus moving to Bali will always be a good idea.
Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, is the nation's economic, political, and cultural hub, a bustling metropolis, offering a stark contrast to the tranquillity of Bali.
For expats who thrive in a high-energy urban environment, Jakarta is an ideal choice. The city is a melting pot of cultures, with a diverse population hailing from all over the archipelago and beyond.
The main advantage of living in Jakarta is the sheer amount of opportunities available, particularly in fields such as finance, technology, and education. It's also a shopper's paradise, boasting everything from high-end shopping malls to traditional markets.
Furthermore, Jakarta's nightlife is vibrant and diverse, offering a wide range of entertainment options.
On the flip side, Jakarta is notorious for its traffic congestion, which can make commuting a significant challenge. In addition to traffic woes, Jakarta is also known for its high levels of air pollution, which can impact the quality of life and could be a concern for those with respiratory conditions.
The cost of living is also higher than in many other Indonesian cities, particularly when it comes to accommodation. Housing options in Jakarta range from high-end apartments in the city centre to more affordable housing in the suburbs.
Lombok is an island located east of Bali and is often described as a quieter, less commercialized version of its famous neighbour.
It's known for its beautiful beaches, lush forests, good waves, and the majestic Mount Rinjani, Indonesia's second-highest volcano.
Lombok offers a relaxed pace of life, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a quiet and natural environment.
One of the main advantages of living in Lombok is its natural beauty. From the pristine Gili Islands to the pink beaches in the south, Lombok is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Lombok also has a vibrant Sasak culture, which can be seen in its traditional music, dance, and handicrafts.
Another positive aspect of Lombok is its affordability. The cost of living is generally lower than in Bali, and property prices are more affordable. This makes it an attractive option for those seeking a tropical lifestyle on a budget.
Accommodation options range from beachfront bungalows to mountain villas, offering a variety of choices for different lifestyles and budgets.
However, it's important to note that Lombok is less developed than destinations like Bali and Jakarta. While this adds to its charm, it also means fewer amenities, less nightlife, and limited healthcare facilities. Those seeking a bustling social scene or requiring specific medical services may find Lombok lacking.
Despite these challenges, many expats are drawn to Lombok's serene beauty and laid-back lifestyle, making it a worthwhile option to consider when deciding where to live in Indonesia.
Day To Day Life In Indonesia
Join us as we delve into the key aspects of everyday life in Indonesia.
Indonesia is home to a population of 300 ethnic groups and an estimated 700 languages spoken across the archipelago. Bahasa Indonesia, the official language of Indonesia, is widely spoken nationwide.
While English is common in tourist hubs, learning basic Bahasa Indonesia enhances cultural immersion, fosters connections with locals, and facilitates daily interactions, even in non-touristy areas. It shows respect and enables a deeper understanding of Indonesian culture and traditions
Working in Indonesia as an expat
Working in Indonesia offers diverse opportunities, especially in sectors like technology, education, and tourism.
Navigating work permits and finding the best visa to suit your specific situation can be complex. Working with an official agent can help to expedite the process and ensure that you and your family are covered.
Building a local network and understanding business etiquette will often emphasise respect and foster relationship-building and in turn create professional success.
Coworking spaces are increasingly popular in Indonesia, particularly in cities like Jakarta and Bali. They offer a conducive environment for digital nomads, freelancers, and startups, with flexible plans and amenities.
Our guide on the best coworking spaces in Bali will make your life easier when deciding where to set up your office for the day.
Getting a SIM card
Securing a SIM card in Indonesia is straightforward, with providers like Telkomsel, Indosat, and XL, offering wide coverage and affordable plans. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased at the airport, convenience stores, or official provider outlets, and require a passport for registration.
Food in Indonesia
Indonesian cuisine is a rich blend of flavours, drawing influences from native culture and international cuisines. Street food stalls, locally known as 'warungs', are ubiquitous and offer a variety of dishes like Nasi Goreng (fried rice) and Satay.
High-end dining options are plentiful in urban areas, catering to any and all dietary preferences and requirements. Bali is world-renowned for its focus on serving delicious food in beautiful locations.
Pros and Cons of Living in Indonesia
Living in Indonesia offers a unique experience with its diverse culture, natural beauty, and warm climate. However, there are also certain challenges to consider. Here are some key pros and cons of living in Indonesia:
- Cultural richness: Indonesia's diverse ethnic groups and traditions provide an immersive cultural experience for residents.
- Natural beauty: From stunning beaches and lush jungles to volcanic landscapes and rice terraces, Indonesia offers breathtaking scenery.
- Affordable cost of living: Compared to many Western countries, the cost of living in Indonesia can be significantly lower, allowing for a comfortable lifestyle.
- Warm climate: The tropical climate offers year-round sunshine and opportunities for outdoor activities.
- Traffic congestion: Major cities like Jakarta can experience heavy traffic, leading to longer commutes and potential frustration.
- Language barrier: While English is spoken in tourist areas, language proficiency in Bahasa Indonesia is important for deeper integration and effective communication.
- Healthcare disparities: Access to quality healthcare can be limited, especially in rural areas, necessitating careful consideration and planning.
Understanding and weighing these pros and cons will help individuals make informed decisions about living in Indonesia and navigate the unique opportunities and challenges that come with it.
Can a foreigner live in Indonesia?
Yes, foreigners can live in Indonesia, typically through different types of visas. In Jakarta, many expats reside due to work commitments, whereas in Bali and Lombok, it's common to see foreign retirees or those running small businesses.
Where is the most affordable place to live in Indonesia?
While Jakarta can be more costly, it offers more job opportunities and amenities to expats. Bali and Lombok offer a range of living costs, with less touristy areas generally being more affordable.
Cities in East Java such as Malang and Surabaya, despite being large cities, can be more affordable compared to Jakarta or Bali.
Is Indonesia good for expats?
Indeed, Indonesia is well-regarded by expats, offering a warm climate, affordable living, and diverse cultures. Jakarta is a bustling metropolis, attractive for career-focused individuals, while Bali and Lombok are favoured for their laid-back lifestyle and natural beauty.
Living in Indonesia is a unique experience that offers a blend of cultural richness, natural beauty, and vibrant city life.
Whether you're drawn to the bustling streets of Jakarta, the laid-back atmosphere of Lombok, or the beach life in Bali, the country offers a variety of lifestyles to suit different preferences.
It is important to be prepared and understand the local customs and lifestyle nuances if you're considering making the move.
Our team of knowledgable real estate agents will point you in the right direction and ensure that you find your dream home in Indonesia.