Moving to Indonesia
Expats moving to Indonesia will find themselves in a colourful and exotic country, consisting of a vast archipelago stretching over more than 17,000 islands and 5,000 km of ocean in Southeast Asia. With an ethnically and culturally diverse population of over 200 million people, Indonesia is home to the world's fourth largest population.
Rich in natural resources, the country acquires most of its wealth from gas, oil and other mining activities, and most expats in Indonesia tend to work in these sectors. The telecommunications industry and English teaching are other attractions for expats seeking work in Indonesia. Most expats find themselves living in the popular tourist hub of Bali and the sprawling metropolis of Jakarta, the country’s capital and economic, cultural and financial centre. The more remote mining areas in the Papua region also attract a fair share of expats.
Obtaining a visa or work permit for Indonesia can be a frustrating process and one riddled with bureaucracy. Even more frustrating for expats planning a move to or already living in Indonesia, is the fact that the requirements and processes for obtaining a visa change constantly.
The cost of living in Indonesia can be quite steep, with schooling for expat kids certainly not cheap; after accommodation, education will likely be an expat parent’s biggest expense. There are numerous schooling options, with international schools in Indonesia mostly focused on Australian, British and New Zealand nationals.
Healthcare in Indonesia is considered quite poor and certainly not up to Western standards, particularly outside of Jakarta. Any serious medical conditions will likely see expats having to seek medical attention outside of the country, typically in Singapore. Increasing air pollution in Indonesian cities is a further health hazard.
Expats living in Indonesia, particularly Westerners, may take time to adjust to the conservative way of life, largely influenced by Islam, which is the dominant religion in the country. Women expats, especially, will find themselves having to make adjustments; men are viewed in higher regard than women, dress is conservative and the concept of personal space is not one Indonesians are too familiar with.
Indonesia is an exciting expat destination, but it’s certainly a country that is not without its challenges. The most prominent of which is the ongoing threat from terrorism; attacks have taken place in the past and these have specifically targeted Westerners. Nevertheless, Indonesian authorities have made a concerted effort to address the problem, and there have been no recent significant incidents.
Full of contrasts, Indonesian cities have on the one hand grand modern offices and tower blocks marking their skylines, and on the other, overpopulated shanty and slum areas representing the poverty that the vast majority of Indonesians continue to live in. Outside of city limits, the country has contrasting landscapes of volcanic mountains, tropical beaches and jungles, which can offer expats a relaxed and outdoor lifestyle, and many attractions for a weekend break from the hustle and bustle of the working life. However, with a hot and tropical climate, it may take a while for expats coming from cooler climates to get used to the humidity, which is present all year round.