2014-12-08 13:39:54

As Indonesia's capital and biggest city, Jakarta has a range of housing options for expatriates. Here are some tips to help you find accommodation.

Indonesia's dynamic capital of Jakarta has many faces and offers plenty of fun surprises if you look beyond its gridlocked streets, skyscrapers, and smog. Read this article to find out more about living in this city of contrasts.

Nicknamed the Big Durian, after the region's infamously strongly-odored fruit, the city is considered to be the Indonesian equivalent of New York City (the Big Apple), and continues to attract expatriates from all over the world.

From the richly-scented streets of Glodok and Chinatown, to the vestiges of a Dutch colonial past in the historical quarter of Kota, Jakarta is filled with unexpected twists and turns. On the other hand, newer areas such as Merdeka Square, are symbols of the confident country that Indonesia wants the world to view it as.

If you head further south, the contrasts of this global business hub are further heightened, with luxurious mega-developments rubbing shoulders with some of the continent's most impoverished neighbourhoods. Jakarta boasts the country’s top museums, as well as a fantastic diversity of restaurants, bohemian cafes, and countless shopping malls that give those in Singapore a run for their money. Although religious pressure has dimmed Jakarta’s former reputation as a party city, night owls can still hang out with friends in sleek lounge bars and all-night clubs, and the city hasn't lost its appeal with foreign professionals.

However, if you are planning on living in this bustling city, then consider renting accommodation that is near to your place of work or children's school, so that you can avoid the exhausting and chaotic traffic and keep your sanity.

Types of accommodation in Jakarta

Modern housing estates, townhouses, and condominiums are popular amongst expatriates, as well as highly-paid Indonesians and foreign embassy staff; and rental terms and prices are tailored with this target audience in mind.

Many expatriates choose to live in western-style gated communities in Jakarta, which often come with shared playgrounds, swimming pools, gyms, as well as security guards, and even living quarters for full-time domestic help. Some of these housing complexes are so large that they even have private golf courses!

However, these are not always to everyone's taste or budget, and less expensive housing is available in the form of a small apartment or a kost, but be aware that Indonesian-style housing is often quite difficult for foreigners to rent.

Where to live in Jakarta

When it comes to popular places for expatriates to live in Jakarta, Kemang in the south of the city has long been at the top of the list due to its numerous international schools and residential enclaves that offer high-end housing options.

Kemang is particularly popular amongst European and American expats in high positions, as the rent for a house can be costly, and can range from IDR 26 million to IDR 33 million (US$1,900 to US$2,450) per month.

Kemang Village is also relatively near to the many entertainment options in the Golden Triangle, which is filled with restaurants, cafes, shopping malls, and office buildings.

Menteng, in the centre of the city, is also a popular residential area for affluent expats and government officials. However, housing in this area is often even more expensive than in Kemang, due to its exclusivity and level of luxury, and rent ranges from IDR 39 million to IDR 83 million per month (US$2,880 to US$6,130). Thanks to its central location, it is within easy reach of many shopping malls, restaurants, markets, parks, and even embassies. And if you happen to have a passion for vintage collectibles, it's only a few minutes' walk to Jalan Surabaya, which is often known as Antique Street.

If you can afford to live in this area, the only downside to consider is that it is one of the busiest districts in the city and the traffic is atrocious, particularly during rush hour.

Finding accommodation in Jakarta

The best way to find suitable housing in Jakarta is arguably by networking and asking anyone you know who lives in the capital for advice. Alternatively, do some internet research and browse specialist housing websites for options.

Newspapers in Jakarta are unfortunately not very helpful in providing clear information about housing rentals, and you'll often need to understand Bahasa Indonesian to understand what is advertised on the streets.

If you have the time and savings to spare, it is advisable to stay in an affordable hotel for a couple of weeks while you look for suitable accommodation on a more permanent basis. If you contact a real estate agent when you're in Jakarta, they should also be able to find you accommodation that suits your needs and budget.

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