Cassandra: "Jakarta is easy to live"

  • Cassandra in Jakarta
Published 3 years ago
Cassandra left Singapore, her home country, to live in Indonesia as her husband got a job opportunity in the country. They settled in Jakarta with their children...


We are currently based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Prior to Indonesia, we were previously staying in Singapore where I was a manager in an international advertising firm. We moved in support of G's new role here and I am now a stay-home mummy ...

Why did you decide to move to Jakarta?

We moved in support of my hubby G's new role here and I am now a stay-home mummy who don't stay home all that much ;).

How was the moving process?

It was fairly easy since we were previously based in Singapore, which was only an hour from Jakarta. The hardest part of the move is to get relevant visas to reside in Indonesia, which hubby's company arranged.
We brought along our toddler's nanny/helper with us from Singapore so that helped to ease the transition; allowing me to have time to run errands and establish connections in the first few months in Jakarta.

What are the formalities you had to undergo in order to be able to live in Indonesia?

My hubby's company helped to apply for the relevant documents and visas for us to come and stay in Indonesia so it wasn't too difficult.

How was your accommodation search? Any advice to share with the other members?

We were in a dilemma for a while in terms of where to stay; the choice was either to live in the city center near my husband's workplace or at Kemang where a huge expat community resides. We decided to go with the first option as I would rather my husband spend more time with the family rather than in the traffic. And we are thankful we did that, we calculated that my kids and myself probably have two hours more with him each day. To me, that's a lot.

Did you face some difficulties to adapt to your host country (language, culture, do's and don'ts)?

The first three months were great; I guess that's what they call a "honeymoon phase". However after the initial novelty of being in somewhere new, reality starts to kick in and we started to notice the cultural differences in Jakarta as compared to other cities we have been. To be frank, it began to be a bit of challenge trying to understand the mindsets of the local and their motivations. It is very difficult to explain to an outsider who has only visited Jakarta/Indonesia but not lived over an extended period of time.
If I need to sum it up; Jakarta is easy to live in if you are someone who don't care much for logical processes, rules and lateral thinking.

How did your kid(s) lived that change and how did they adapt to their new environment?

Thank goodness my oldest kid is still a toddler so it wasn't difficult at all for him to adapt to the new environment. I gave birth to my second child in Jakarta.

What surprised you the most in Jakarta?

How the locals take the meaning of "C'est la vie" to a whole new level.

Is it easy to meet new people in Jakarta? Any advice?

Yes it is easy to meet new people; it is more about meeting the "right" and like-minded peo-ple. I have tried going to associations and clubs as well as linking up with friends/acquaintances of friends. I find the latter more effective in finding like-minded friends.

Could you please share with us something you like about Jakarta and something you don't like?

I like that Jakarta is the total opposite of Singapore.
I don't like that the local culture does not promote people taking pride in their work and what they do.

A common belief about Indonesia which wasn't right:

Outsiders including myself and friends have the perception that things are really cheap in Jakarta but it is not true. If you compare lower-middle class living in Jakarta and in Singapore, then perhaps Jakarta is cheaper. However quality is also way worse if we were to compare Indonesian hawker food, transportation, quality of housing, healthcare, etc.
If you compare expat living in Jakarta to Singapore, the cost is comparable. Imported products and groceries are 30-50 percent more expensive than Singapore; and yes labour is cheaper in Jakarta but they are also three times less efficient so you have to hire more.
Maybe to some, having a troop of household helpers seems like a luxury but to me, it is more of a chore and lack of privacy.

What do you miss the most from Singapore, your home country?

Everything I used to complain about: the structure, the way people take matters seriously, the way the government babysits everyone.
Oh not forgetting the cleanliness, efficiency and sidewalks. I sound like Singapore tourism now, don't I? Ha ha. I seriously miss all that very much.

Why did you start your blog, Mummynista?

After arriving to Jakarta, I found that there is a lack of detailed information online for expats and mothers like myself. And so many times I found that many reviews are misinformed or too politically correct. As a consumer, I would like to know exactly what I am buying into and I thought... perhaps there are others who would appreciate that as well!
So I begin to write. I write about my experience, my thoughts, reviews about places I go to in Jakarta. Unlike many other kind and sweet bloggers, I don't beat around the bush nor sugar coat. I write this blog as a hobby and not for monetary purposes; so I have no one to please except myself and my readers.

Which advice would you give to people wishing to live in Jakarta?

Speak to Indonesian friends and acquaintances residing outside of Indonesia, ask for their views and what they would warn you about. They may sound like they are exaggerating (which I thought they were) but they are probably not (which I found out myself after staying in Indonesia for a while).
Consider what they told you about Indonesia and decide if it's something you can embrace; weigh your job opportunity at the same time. If both are something worth for you to pursue, then go for it. For us, it was still the right decision to move to Jakarta. The job opportunity and experience for us outweighed all the disadvantages.