Updated 5 months ago

What Medan may lack in immediate natural beauty (it cannot boast being by the coast or up in the mountains), the capital of North Sumatra makes up for with its urban charm and famous food scene.

As Indonesia's third largest city, Medan is often regarded by tourists as being a stopover city en route to more exciting destinations on the island of Sumatra, such as Lake Toba (the largest volcanic lake in the world) or the wild Sumatran jungle to spot orangutans. However, Medan not only has some of the most underrated and under-developed locations on its doorstep, where tropical beauty abounds in the form of lush rainforests, waterfalls, mountains, and lakes, but it also provides some welcome trappings of ‘civilisation’ in the form of shopping malls, amenities, and restaurants.

Among other things, thanks to its ethnic diversity, which is reflected in its blend of Minangkabau, Batak, Sundanese, and Chinese cuisines, the city is considered to be one of South-East Asia's greatest gastronomic getaways.

Multicultural Medan has rapidly developed over the past couple of decades and, as a city on the cusp of modernity, with chic cafes and bars rubbing shoulders with crumbling colonial buildings and backstreet food stalls, it is arguably more than just a gateway to the rest of the island.

Labour market

Thanks, in part, to being conveniently close to Singapore, Medan is a booming economic hub and the commercial centre of the region. It is primarily known for being a palm oil town, being situated close to 4 million acres of palm oil plantations on the island of Sumatra.

The province is fertile and rich in commodities — it has a strong agricultural sector and is particularly famous for palm oil, cocoa, rubber, and tea. And PP London Sumatra owns more than 100,000 hectares of plantations, which can be seen in surrounding areas that you pass through after arriving at the new airport in the Deli Serdang area.

As a result of its location, Medan has greatly benefited from the multibillion-dollar (although controversial) palm oil trade and, as palm oil can nowadays be found in about half of all supermarket products, there are still plenty of opportunities in this industry.

The busy city has more than doubled in size to around 2.5 million people over the past two decades, so you may need to exercise patience when it comes to traffic jams. Condominiums, hotels, and amusement parks have popped up everywhere to support this influx, and development has certainly trumped conservation as far as many inhabitants are concerned. However, in recent years, environmental concerns with regards to deforestation have augmented, and there will hopefully be more employment in the green sector and eco-tourism as international pressures increase.

English teaching jobs are also available in the city, so if Medan has won your heart through your stomach, then you should be able to find a position if you have the necessary qualifications.

Find a job in Medan

If you work for an international company that has offices in Medan, then applying for an internal transfer would be the easiest way to secure a position in the city.

If you're already there, then it's worth attending a networking event to meet people and ask for advice. Otherwise, the internet is your friend and it's advisable to peruse job websites and forums to see what positions are available.

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