Updated 5 months ago

Surabaya may not be ideal for tourism, but the business opportunities in Indonesia's second largest city still attract many expatriates. Read this article to find out more about Sparkling Surabaya.

As a modern and industrial city, the congested capital of East Java may not appeal to everyone. However, it offers an authentic Indonesian experience away from major tourist hotspots for those who can look past the pollution and congestion to appreciate its impressive (although crumbling) Dutch architecture and gastronomic delights. It is also a great base from which to explore East Javan attractions, such as Malang, the Ijen Plateau, and Mt Bromo.

For locals, Surabaya is an important destination, as it was here that the battle for independence began in 1945 (the Battle of Surabaya was fought on 10th November, and this date is now a national holiday, celebrated as Heroes Day). As a result of its history, it is also known by the name of Kota Pahlawan, which means the 'city of heroes', and statues commemorating independence can be seen across the city.

As the Indonesian capital of Jakarta gets more developed and more crowded with each year that passes, the Indonesian mayor of Surabaya has tried to seize the opportunity to promote the city as a haven for investment. It is also trying to reinvent itself as a safe city in Indonesia to heighten its appeal amongst investors.

Labour market

Situated on the mouth of the Brantas River, Surabaya is a port and is home to the nation’s navy. The city offers sweeping waterfront vistas and views of the bridge that connects the neighbouring island of Madura over the strait. As a result of its prime location, it has been an important trading hub for centuries and is now considered to be the economic and trading centre of East Java.

This business-driven city has long attracted many foreign investors and international companies due to its relatively good infrastructure and strategic position that supports international trade.

As a centre of commerce, it's widely accepted that most foreigners are primarily there for business purposes. There are many opportunities in the manufacturing sector in Surabaya, as there is a notable labour force and a low minimum wage. The city also has a strong agricultural sector, as commodities such as rice, milk, tapioca, tobacco, rubber, corn and sugar are all grown in East Java. And due to rapid development and a large population, the construction and retail sectors are both booming (Subaraya is home to some of South-East Asia's tallest buildings, and many multi-level shopping malls make it an attractive retail hub in the region).

Find a job in Surabaya

If you can't apply for an internal transfer at your current company, then it's worth signing up to job websites and forums, such as and, and joining social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, to track positions at international firms that work in your field.

If you wish to teach English as a foreign language, or work in an international school, there are also several opportunities in Surabaya, so it's advisable to contact schools directly or check out job boards and newspapers to see what positions are available.

 Useful links:

Glassdoor - Surabaya
English First
Surabaya European School

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