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A day in the life

Hello,

I have seen lots of helpful posts here which probably answer all the questions below but I am keen to get the latest and greatest from the experts here:

I have the option to move to Jakarta.  My company has offered to match my London salary, which as often pointed out here, is obscene vs local pay, but I can already see the many ways in which an expat can be isolated into a vastly inflated separate economy, atleast some of which- notably school fees, will be unavoidable.  But I'm less interested in the cost of living than the quality of living so am keen for you to disabuse me of some romantic notions which I have highlighted below.

Let me paint an image of what I am hoping life may be like and you guys can have a snigger and put me straight.

We will be living in Kemang or thereabouts, as we have chosen the Australian International School- because my daughter has significant special needs and this is the school best set up for it.  I will be working at the Plaza Indonesia.

We have never had a car and in London I either run or cycle into work whenever possible-  so question 1:  How credible is it that with an early start I can at least try and cycle or run the 3-4 miles into work (where there will be a gym to shower and change)?  I know the traffic is going to be horrific.  But I would rather be dodging and weaving than tapping on my laptop if that doesn't involve the near guarantee of a serious accident every 3 months....

Meanwhile my wife will  start her day with dropping off the kids at school.  Q2:  How close would you need to be for that to be a pleasant(ish) stroll?  The romantic vision is she drops the kids off and then wanders down to local cafe's etc with some of the mums or dads etc etc.  Is that at all credible (and safe)?  and if the answer is only if you live 300m away from the school, is it reasonable to assume that the prices for accommodation will be the expat rental  prices that as mas fred points out, are inconceivable relative to the rates a local would pay?

If its not impossible to walk say 1km to the school, Q3 any suggestions of where might be a nice place to stay- Basically I want my wife to feel safe but don't really want to be behind the barricades if that is sensible.  So a bit of a mix of expats and locals would be ideal- and would prefer a house with a bit of outdoor space than an apartment.  We could conceivably pay up to $2500 a month but clearly would prefer not too.  Cipete, Cilandak, Pejataten Raya all seem to avoid the worst excesses of the expat tax you get when you google "rumah sewa kemang" (but we are still in the $1,500+ per month category not the $5,000 a year some of you guys quote).  Any views on these areas?  And generally is it naïve to assume that you can avoid the expat tax and be near kemang (i.e. basically am I trying to live in Westminster paying Peckham prices if you will forgive the London analogy?!)

Q4:  It looks like there are nice rugby clubs etc for the kids to join.  But they seem very expat-ish.  Any good ideas to help us mix-  I have a hope that kids are usually the best way to break down barriers, but being in an international school and the initial lack of language skills will not help I know.  atleatst I will have work colleagues, but other ideas would be much appreciated, particularly for my wife

Q5:  We would love to see more of the country.  We have been to Sulawesi and Kalimantan, and other parts of Java, Bali, Lombok etc in the past and would love to see more.  But spanking $50k a year on school fees and another $25K on rent (probably) means we wont be hopping on a jet every weekend!  We are happy to hop on trains etc and the kids are pretty good with it-  But in reality do you think it likely we will get out and about quite often- or with traffic and work etc, do those ambitions quickly fade into spending more time by the pool and sleeping?!

Q6:  Given all of the above, and the implied concerns and aspirations, is the dream of an expat life painted above more a symptom of a mid-life crisis and a desire to get the luxuries in life on the cheap .  Or, for all its challenges, do you think its not crazy to invest a few years while the kids are young enough (6 & 4) to take a chance on life and give us all a new perspective.?

Many thanks in advance and for the useful tips I have already garnered from this forum

Hello,

I don't live in Indonesia and am also an expat but I will try to answer your questions:

1) Forget running to work. Plaza Indonesia is right in the centre and the road is very busy. Kemang can take anywhere from half an hour to an hour to get to Plaza Indonesia. You'd better buy a motorbike.

2) No idea...

3) Stay in a condo. Bunglaows tend to get burgled at knifepoint.

4) Why worry about that. Your wife will make lots of friends at the Aussie School.

5) In a few years time they will build the Shinkansen line in collaboration with Japan. Current talk is to take it along the northern coastline then down to Bandung and then on towards Surabaya. Or just hire a car with driver for a few hundred rupiah per day to go anywhere.

6) It does seem that you may be going through a mid life crisis. Perhaps if you have so many concerns you'd better stay in the UK. Most people just move to wherever they want to live and find things out as they go along. That's the excitement. As long as you can afford the schooling the rest is easy.

Many thanks for taking the time to reply Mike

I must admit that paints a slightly darker picture.  Never having been an expat, its difficult to read between the lines when you get comments that "Jakarta is as safe as any other big city" and then your point that you should expect to be robbed at knifepoint if you live in a detached house

I take the point that most people just move to wherever they want to live and find things out as they go along, but its the moving where you want to live that I am solving for.  In my experience people tend to move where either work or family take them rather than an objective view of their ideal location.  In my case, I would like to try working abroad and fancy something a bit different to the States or OZ, and have the job offer for Jakarta. Ultimately, I'm trying to get a feel for the trade-off between an adventurous and potentially more luxurious lifestyle in Jakarta with the stress of day to day living.

For example with 2 youngish kids, a bit of outdoor space particularly in a warm country feels to me to be quite an important part of the quality of life.  Clearly space of any kind, and green stuff in particular is at a premium in Jakarta, but being cooped up in a condo is not hugely appealing. Maybe a town-house or some other gated community is the way forward- there do seem to be a few of those around in Jakarta. I would be interested in any views on this question of outdoor living in Jakarta and the extent to which it can still be accommodated despite the intensely urban nature of the place.

My sister lived in a Bungalow with a pool in Jakarta and they got robbed and the maid had a knife to her throat. Later they employed a security guard. Lots of expats with families live in Bintaro area (they have gated communities) and some live in Senayan area or Permata Hijau. Jakarta is a place where even though bungalows are nice, condos are safer because they have 24 hour security. Probably if you contact your embassy in Jakarta they would probably recommend one of these places. For gated communities a lot exist in BSD which is a satellite town outside of Jakarta.

I think bungalow living is actually ok but you should employ security guards (at least one) around the clock.

But definitely Indonesia is a fabulous place to live and to experience a different culture. I think it is one of the best in Asia because they have rice fields, volcanoes, beaches and some amazing culture. I plan to move top Bandung in a year or two having just bought a couple of houses there for a very good price.I'm also interested in photography and belong to the Jakarta Photography Club and often go photo hunting with those guys whenever I have the chance. It's an amazing place and definitely worth the move.

Mike is right. Find a decent house witj big gates in a guarded compound and a trustworthy housekeeper.  Make sure you look after the security guards and they will look after you better. My house turned over and no one bothered to stop them or help me after including the police and an ex maid once let a complete stranger into the house for no reason and she just stole a few things and wandered off. Its a crazy city thats for sure.
My blog mylifejakarta.blogspot.com shinesca light into my view of it out here. Take the plunge but if you can and try, come out here first with the wife to look at Jakarta to get a first hand view because uprooting everyone to here will be a stressful and possible difficult time so make sure you feel it is right for you.

thanks Luke-  I was just visiting your Blog this morning actually- its very informative.  You have a beautiful family.

I think you are right regarding bringing the family out in advance.  It is probably too much of a leap of faith just to give it a bash- its just a bit painful to splash out on the travel knowing that the plan is to end up living here.  But better than tying ourselves into a life for a year or more and hating it!

It is certainly difficult to get a clear picture of what life is going to be like out there.  I naively assumed that a London salary would  guarantee the nice house, nice school and plenty of disposable income, but it does not seem that simple.  School fees and rentals for places like you describe near Kemang seem very similar to London.  But it still seems like a life enriching adventure as long as suitably well planned

Yup, nice blog Luke, really enjoyed reading it. Very informative and you do have a lovely family.

Despite all the negatives there are far more positives about living in a place like Indonesia and I would jump at the chance with no hesitation at all. Another good thing about living in Asia is that new opportunities often turn up and you may find yourself with other job offers that cover schooling for your children. You just never know. Hope you decide to come here  :)

A London salary can get you all those things thats for sure but the problem is the years rent up front followed by lacklustre landlords and their lack of care and then the red tape and nonsense you get being given to pay for things. There are a lot of good schools here for ex pat children, however I personally find Kemang over rated, dirty and full of naive expats paying far too much for a house or an apartment they can get elsewhere for half the price.

However with a family in tow, you would be wise to choose a more expat filled community for levels of language, security and things to do.

Again I will fully agree with Mike about the positives of Indonesia if you can stick with its frustrations, because there is so much to see and do and explore and if you enjoy adventure then this is the place.

Thanks again both for the very helpful tips.  Will look you up as and when things come together and I find myself heading east.

MikeWallace77 :

3) Stay in a condo. Bunglaows tend to get burgled at knifepoint.

I'd love to see links to stories about bungalow living expats being robbed at knife point.
I read two Indonesian newspapers every day and seem to have missed every one of these pieces.
One event doesn't mean there's a general problem.

In the real world.
Cars are a waste of time. There's expensive and slow and, in the event of an accident, can be a headache you wouldn't achieve with ten bottle of Newcastle brown.
Parking isn't impossible but can be a pain.
Blue bird taxis work out far cheaper.
Their android app allows you to get one to your doorstep.
Take their Rp40,000 minimum fare and compare that to the cost of buying and running a car.
The taxis win, as far as city travel goes.

NEVER even consider a place that's too far from work and school - the travel will kill you.
Jakarta, in general, doesn't have pavements so walking can be a bit of a game.

Now, consider this - I live in a gated estate with reasonable security and all the stuff expats like but I pay well less than 30 million/year.
A London salary that would have Karl Mark spinning in his grave will allow you to get a wonderful condo with all the trappings but....how much of that stuff do you actually need or use?
A nice place in a small estate will allow you a quiet home life and there are loads of good swimming pools around not a long way from everywhere.

As has been mentioned; take care of the security guards and you'll be very unlikely to have a problem.

Hi Mas Fred,

My sister was working for the British Council in Jakarta and her husband was working for Ogilvy Advertising. They had a bungalow with a pool and got burgled. The maid had a knife put to her throat. Shortly afterwards they got two security guards, I think a total of one driver, one cook, one cleaner and two security guards. Finally they decided to move to Permata Hijau.

I don't like to come here just to get into arguments as some people like to do in blogs/forums. And I am not one for seeking stories on the web to quote here as I know some people tend to do to give the appearance of being knowledgeable. I am just referring to some experience and my general opinion and there is no need to make an argument about it. If you haven't experienced any bad experiences then no need to try to put down others.

By the way, several years before that incident, after the Marriott Hotel was bombed, the next target was reported to be the American International School. This information came directly from the British Council.

Sorry if I'm supposed to get articles from newspapers of from the internet, this is just something which I can speak about which happened.

Thanks for the extra info Mas Fred.  I think I can draw a helpful conclusion across your and Mike's information:  as a newbie expat I probably don't want to go for the big place sitting on its own somewhere/right off the street, but would be better off somewhere a bit cosier with more of a community feel and 24 hour security.  But it doesn't need to have the spa and pool on site (which will probably get neglected once we have coughed up our 2 years rent!)  As I said, a bit of private-ish green space for the kids to potter about in (and maybe keep a pet) is what I really want and we can hopefully find a nearby pool for the kids.

Re your point on the price of places though, it may be that I have to be out there to get a real feel,  but the combination of rumah123, tokobagus etc is not getting me much below $2K/20m rph a month for a 3 bed within a 1-2K journey to the Australian International School.  I have worked out that using the word "Kemang" puts a 30% premium on property (and that Bangka, Pejatan, Cipete get you pretty close at something of a discount).  But nothing that looks remotely like what you describe for those prices- and I have tried to focus on searching in bahasa and using rupiah as the currency.  As you say it feels completely incommensurate with the local salaries, and seems hard to believe that in such an entrepreneurial place there wouldn't be local people willing to split the difference between what they need to pay and the "company" rates for the expat compounds.  But the internet doesn't seem to be the place to unpick it

If you have any tips on that would be much appreciated

Thanks again

House prices reflect how far you are from places in Jakarta. The closer to Sudirman, Kemang etc the higher the price. Satellite cities like BSD, Depok, Gading Serpong are cheaper but far out. However bargains can be had if you are able to be on the ground. Property agents need to be met with someone who will negoiate for you because they see white they think in dollars and so will charge far over the real price.

If you are planning to work at Grand Indonesia and School the kids elsewhere then choose something in the middle. Can your employer help give you someone to do some ground work for you? But I would still suggest you move near other expats for ease and comfort especially for the wife.

Thanks for the extra info Mas Fred.  I think I can draw a helpful conclusion across your and Mike's information:  as a newbie expat I probably don't want to go for the big place sitting on its own somewhere/right off the street, but would be better off somewhere a bit cosier with more of a community feel and 24 hour security.  But it doesn't need to have the spa and pool on site (which will probably get neglected once we have coughed up our 2 years rent!)  As I said, a bit of private-ish green space for the kids to potter about in (and maybe keep a pet) is what I really want and we can hopefully find a nearby pool for the kids.

Re your point on the price of places though, it may be that I have to be out there to get a real feel,  but the combination of rumah123, tokobagus etc is not getting me much below $2K/20m rph a month for a 3 bed within a 1-2K journey to the Australian International School.  I have worked out that using the word "Kemang" puts a 30% premium on property (and that Bangka, Pejatan, Cipete get you pretty close at something of a discount).  But nothing that looks remotely like what you describe for those prices- and I have tried to focus on searching using rupiah as the currency.  As you say it feels completely incommensurate with the local salaries, and seems hard to believe that in such an entrepreneurial place there wouldn't be local people willing to split the difference between what they need to pay and the "company" rates for the expat compounds.  But the internet doesn't seem to be the place to unpick it

If you have any tips on that would be much appreciated

Thanks again

Google time.

Rumah disewa .

To give an idea, a well paid local gets about Rp10 million/month, most get 2 to 5 million.
Now consider that against the price of the house, and ask if you're being ripped off.

Rp30 million/year would be middle of the range for a reasonable house in BSD or Bintaro but, as has been mentioned, it'll get more expensive as you travel towards the city.

Things are a bit rough at the moment as were're at the peak of a property boom but that looks like it's coming to an savage end.
I'm seeing prices fall and 'special offers' on new properties in lots of areas.
One local estate has dropped its base house price from Rp1.2 billion to Rp938 million in the last six months.
As for new shopping centres, a bad joke.
I've seen two very large ones open in the last 18 months but both aren't even close to fully occupied.
The latest is open but it isn't even finished so still has workmen everywhere and the food court isn't open at all.
More are planned in the near future, some have already broken ground, but I can't see them doing much.
The same goes for shop houses, thousands being built, not many being occupied and I'm seeing a lot of those go bust.

MikeWallace77 :

Hi Mas Fred,

They had a bungalow with a pool and got burgled. The maid had a knife put to her throat. Shortly afterwards they got two security guards, I think a total of one driver, one cook, one cleaner and two security guards. Finally they decided to move to Permata Hijau.

I don't like to come here just to get into arguments ....
.....By the way, several years before that incident, after the Marriott Hotel was bombed, the next target was reported to be the American International School. This information came directly from the British Council.

Sorry if I'm supposed to get articles from newspapers of from the internet, this is just something which I can speak about which happened.

If you make a sweeping claim, you have to provide proof.
I have to be honest and tell you, one event does not mean there is a general problem.
I'm not here to argue but I should correct inaccurate claims and that, as far as I know, is an isolated case, not a common problem.
If you insist it is, provide links to the multitude of cases and I'll be happy to admit I was wrong on this matter.

Of course there's crime here, show me a city that's crime free, but it's far less a worry than in the  satellite towns of London.
My small home town had more crime in a week than I've seen in 6 years of life in Indonesia.
When in Wonosobo, the local police intel officer was pulling his hair out because of a crime spree.
They'd had less crimes in a month than the first two hours of any typical day in Sheffield, a geographically similar sized area.

Now the question is, how the hell would the British council, a low level lot at best, know about a terrorist threat the Jakarta police were unaware of and there is no verifiable record of existing?
Try searching for any official reference to any such threat and you'll find nothing - not a sausage.

https://www.google.com/search?q=America … ist+threat

Yes, of course there was a threat - The Americans said so. No proof or anything, just they said so.
You have to believe it, it was in a newspaper.
Almost forgot - one of the links suggests there is a problem with bird flu in Jakarta.
Yep, half the population has dropped dead of that - not.

Again, if you make a serious claim that could effect a choice of school for a poster's child, you really have to back it up with facts, not any old crap you heard and spewed out as fact, especially ancient history.
Last time I checked my watch, it was the year 2014, 12 years after the last, totally unverified, threat and the terrorists of that time were all killed anyway. That group don't pose much of a danger at the moment. Perhaps the daisies they push up will have C4 in their seeds.

I walk around the 'forbidden' areas of Jakarta, places where foreigners never go and, in doing so, I see a lot more than I ever post on the internet.
Basically, Indonesia is a generally safe country and, unless you do daft things, you have far less a chance of a problem than you do in many parts of London.

Again, if you paint this country as a violent, terrorist filled death trap, I really think you should prove it with reliable links.

PS. the terrorists that did the Marriott thing were led by a dude from, yes, Malaysia.
Perhaps a man living in KL, who has never been to Indonesia, uses that to form his opinion.

By the way, my sister was once accused of stealing a pair of shoes but, because all British shoe shops accuse their customers of that sort of thing, she was ready to point out the obvious wear and told the shop assistant to go spin.

Nasty people work in British shoe shops, so you should never go to one.

BDS is a satellite new town, nothing much there in the way of history although it is close to lots of villages that make handicrafts such as pottery and basketware and places such as Tanjung Kait where they have beautiful sunrises with bamboo piers and fishing boats is not a long drive away. I have family and friends (locals) in BSD and they like it because it is developing nicely. They have lots of new malls and good hospitals and a large German community there. However, I agree that is does feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere and the commute to Jakarta is long and often crowded. BSD does have good gated properties and rents are not that high. Nevertheless I would agree with the others to try to find somewhere central in Jakarta both for your job and the school.

Hi Mas Fred, yes the ringleader was a Malaysian college professor I think. It's a bit crazy that they choose Indonesian targets rather than those in their own country. But I think he was shot dead by the Indonesian forces in a shoot out.

Hahaha...I try to stay away from the UK full stop. Never been accused of stealing shoes but I think the general attitude in the UK is pretty awful these days and getting worse all the time. It's in places like Indonesia where the people are genuinely nice and friendly where we can feel happier.

By the way, I am English, not Malaysian. I just lived here for the past ten years or so because it is easy to buy property in my own name. However, the rules are changing all the time and that's why I will be moving to Bandung in the next year or two.

Mas Fred, I am not someone who searches on the internet for proof and information. I am just relating an incident that happened with my family. Please don't feel that I am challenging your authority or expertise on Jakarta here. I am sure you know more than anyone else as you are living in Jakarta. But please do allow me to relay my family's story without trying to put me down. Let's be reasonable here and not argue. This is not a case of Mas Fred is always right and Mike Wallace is wrong. There are no points for having the last word. Just relax and stop being argumentative because it is a bit childish. You have a good day Fred.

Me, childish? never.

nar ne nar ne nar neer.

My point is simple enough.
While one crime may well be bad news, extremely uncomfortable and generally nasty, it's one crime, not a common problem.
No putting down your family, it must have been a pretty crap day, but you can't claim this is a common problem. The same applies to terrorist threats that never there, just silly rumour, put about be people with an agenda.
Right, now that's out of the way.

BSD is pretty good, still cheap(ish) but pretty much everything an expat or local could want.
Loads of easy shopping and, not too far away, lots of places with electronic goodies and other boys' toys.
Food and hangouts are plentiful but getting to South Jakarta would kill you (Without the need for a terrorist or knife wielding maniacs).
By car would be a killer, even using the Bintaro toll most of the way, the trains are very crowded and you'd still need a taxi, and public road transport is a bit of a joke.
Add the state of the roads at the moment, potholed to hell, and you really don't want to be either there or Bintaro.
I was very disappointed with the Indian restaurant in Teras kota the last time I went. It had previously been pretty good but the meal on that occasion was crap.
I haven't been back since - it put me off bothering to go.

As for the terrorist, he was killed not too far from where I lived at the time of his demise.
Turns out his bum was rather well used by gay terrorists so he wasn't much of a Muslim anyway - just one more moron, trying to hide his own self hate by hating others.
I suppose his pals were trying to get to the bottom of the issues they were concerned about - Noordin's bottom.
A very foolish man.

By the way, searching the internet can be an invaluable tool for self education. I rather enjoy political forums because, to argue effectively, I must familiarise myself with a wide variety of events, ideals and situations.
That's one of the reasons I'm never wrong.

Sounds like you have a potential adventure inline for you. I am about to move to jakarta in July and have visited the city three times for a week or two in the last couple of years. I can't answer all your questions but from my experience, running or biking to work in the CBD would be a rarity. If you survive the traffic, and intersections, u might not survive the inhalation from the heavy fumes. The walkways have big holes in them and often metal concrete wires stick out.  I have never seen a local in Indonesia running as a form of exercise on the street, they might ride bikes for transport but even that is unusual in Jakarta. Unless u r moving to a small newly built town like lippo villiage in Tangerang that could be part of the dream to leave behind.

I personally am looking forward to a lot of things in I jakarta, the community of the school I will be working in, the food. The friendly people, visiting the coast (places like serwarrener, and turtles where I have been surfing before). Life will be very different from London, but on your salary you could easily afford luxuries like a driver and maids. I too have been looking for rugby clubs, they do seem expat heavy but that's because most Indonesians don't have the body size or incline for such a physically demanding game in 33degree heat and 90% humidity. However knowing what indo is like, I'm sure there will be a lot of rugby club supporters that are Indonesian.

I know the AIS, and it is a good school, what they do for special needs is excellent, there woul be a great sense of community there.

If I was you I would sign a 1-2 year contract and experience the good the bad and the ugly, you will learn a lot, even if its qualities like patience and a new appreciation of freedom regarding the uk, overall I think indo has a lot to offer, but I am expecting many challenges, and I don't have a family to worry about.  Ben

Ben,  thank you very much for taking the time to reply. 

It sounds like you work in education so your comments on special needs at AIS are particularly reassuring as this is the key reason why Jakarta might work out for us.  Breaking through the bureaucracy in the AIS admissions dept to understand both the duration of the waitlist and to actually speak to someone in the special needs department about provision for my daughter is proving a useful test of my patience in advance of the challenges you outline!

I did say to my wife that one of the upsides of the downsides if it doesn't work out would be a greater appreciation of the luxuries we have today.  We won't sell out place in London so in the end, we can always come back after a year or so if it doesn't work out.  We thought at 5 and 4, this would be one of the few occasions where trying something and it potentially not working out would not be too disruptive to the kids education

Dear Musher,

Sorry for my bad written, I'm a french Canadian.

What I can tell you is this : I lived in Bali, Indonesia since December 11th, 2013 and me and my Indonesian friend decided to go visiting Jakarta (my friend was born in Jakarta). Before my trip, I didn't understand why she didn't want to go back live in Jakarta until I visited the city for one week-end.

I had the time to see the two sides of the city. The poor area and the rich one.

The night live and the chic restaurants are great and for sure you will find all the accomodations that you need but here's the drawback. The rate of poverty is raising fast, how many mother with her baby in their arms I saw laying down on the street. I felt bad to be a tourist with more ressources than the average  Plus, the traffic is something you can get over it if you're patient but the pollution is simply a disaster. The majority of the people wear a mask. You can litterally feel and smell that you are intoxicating yourself if you don't wear a mask and it was a normal days when I went there !

When I came back to Bali for me it was a blessing ! Even if someone will pay me 2 or 3 times my salary to go work in Jakarta I won't go. A lot of tourist web site wrote that Jakarta is one of the worse city in the world because of the pollution, the traffic and poverty. For a short trip it's worthy and exciting but not for living there.

Xavier

Bonjour Xavier,

Comment ca va? I kind of agree with you about the pollution and the traffic in Jakarta, it really is awful and the main places that you'd want to go are spread out across the city so no choice but to be stuck in a jam. For the poverty yes of course it exists as it does in many parts of Indonesia. When my wife was a student, she earned money to go to university by teaching school kids and part time jobs. However, on weekends she and some of her friends would get together and teach those young kids that you see begging under Jati Negara bridge. Finally the group of students became more established with their teaching and they managed to establish a school and we always visit and give donations when we go to Jakarta.

However, it should also be noted that many of the people that you see begging and carrying babies are making a lot of money. Sometimes the babies do not belong to them but are just hired and sometimes these people can make more money than many working people. It's actually quite difficult to know for sure whether they are genuine or whether they are part of organized gangs.

In Bandung, which also has a problem with people begging and carrying babies, the new Mayor offered the beggars a salary of Rp800,000 per month to do jobs such as keeping the roads clean but they turned him down. They told him that they were making often Rp7-8 million  per month from begging and if he agreed to pay them that amount only then would they stop begging. Finally the Mayor has made it illegal to beg in Bandung and also illegal to give money to beggars and you can be fined Rp1 million if the police catch you giving them money.

However, for sure there is a lot of poverty in Jakarta. Usually I will only visit to see friends or to go to Mangga Dua for software or to buy camera gear or visit the gemstone market, or if my wife has a photoshoot there. We prefer it in Bandung which not only has a much cooler climate than Jakarta but is surrounded by mountains and beautiful scenery. The only problem there is that so many people from Jakarta come to Bandung on weekends and holidays that it also starts to get some serious traffic jams, not to mention the Malaysians who come for the factory outlet shopping.

Hi Musher,
I would be interested in knowing whether you decided to move to Jakarta in the end and your experience of setting in over there. The original e-mail you wrote is very similar to what I could be writing right now, I am also considering AIS as a school for my children. So any feedback on your experience would help!
thanks

Hi MAPL,

I am afraid we didn't make it out there in the end.   I can give you a bit of a view on why if that helps.

We went out to Jakarta as a family to check everything out which as the guys here suggested is a must before you commit to anything.  We had a really good experience, loved the buzz around the place, and the people and the food.  However, once on the ground it was clear it was going to be hard to get everything to line up.  As per the comments below, the traffic was something to behold, which meant we would have to be living within 1k of AIS.  While as frequently pointed out, you can find some very cheap places to live in Jakarta, they are not within a sensible daily commute of AIS. That meant for the type of place we wanted (a condo/bungalow with small garden) it was $2k a month.  That was for a nice house ...  but there really wasn't much option to trade down and still be in walking distance of the school.  Kemang itself was very civilised and it was easy to imagine living there- although it was a bit of an expat enclave.  We also stayed in a lovely (airbnb) house in kalibata, which was equidistant between my office and AIS.  That was great and felt more like an immersive local experience.  But we were travelling back and forth to AIS for a couple of days and despite being about 5k it was 1-2 hours each way.  Biking really wasn't an option-there just isn't any space on the roads not filled with mopeds.

If we added in the school fees (because my daughter has special needs it was more expensive) that was c$75k of non-discretionary spend out of post tax income.  While that would hardly have left us penniless, adding in the cost of maid and gardener, daily taxis for all the family plus regular trips around the archipelago and trips home  (clearly all luxuries but basically apart of the point of living there) and it was hard to leave much for savings/pension which was not part of the package (although 13 months pay was- so make sure you get your offer in monthly salary!)

Then there was the fact that the guys in my office atleast, seemed to be working crazy hours- good in that there was a real buzz around the place and the economy (this was pre the oil price crash) but again, not ideal with family in tow.

when we were offered a place in a really good special needs school, in London, for free, despite the real draw of an adventure, it was just too hard to justify to ourselves, atleast for the next few years.  But it was a tough choice because Jakarta has a lot going for it.

Matt

pS

AIS looked like a nice-  Basically felt a lot like Erinsborough high on Neighbours if you have ever watched that.  So not a top notch, Oxbridge feeder sort of place, but a very good, "local" school with a mix of expat and local kids and teachers

Thanks so much for your feedback. I am right in the middle of package discussion with my company. I won't be able to go there before confirming whether I take the role, therefore your feedback is extremely helpful.
The atmosphere of the school matters more to us than the academic achievement so what you said about AIS also helped.
Just one more question: regarless of the cost of the rent (definitely not a minor point but I have decided I will not take the role unless the package allows us to live within close reach of the school), do I understand correctly that the location of AIS still allows to find accomodation within walking distance? Sorry to be so ignorant but I read somewhere that, in some places, even for those who lived really close it was difficult to walk because of the lack of place to actually walk. So just wanted to check whether this may be the case around AIS too.
Thanks again and glad you found a good school for your daughter.

Hi MAPL,

Yes one of the nicest things once you are in Kemang proper is that its a bit of a respite from the traffic madness. 

If you look at a google Map, the area we were looking at living in was the square bounded by Jalan Kemang Selatan I to the north, Kemang Selkatan Raya to the south, Jl Timur to the east and Jl Raya to the west.  Here there are lots of smallish roads, lined with nice bungalows and lawns etc with not much through traffic.  I would have been more than happy for the kids to cycle to school along them.  There is just a final 50m or so to the school gates which is a busy road.  That is the primary school.  The secondary school in Pejatan would be a little bit more of a hike but still manageable.

had a quick look on rumah 123 and last year you could get this type of place for c$2-2.5k with a bit of negotiation- but you do have to cough up atleast a full years rent upfront.  Now they are quoting a fair bit more, but I think there would be some discount after negotiation

http://www.rumah123.com/detil-rumah-dis … 78-id.html

So in terms of my image of a nice house, a bit of a garden and pool with the wife walking the kids to school and then heading off for coffee (couple of quite chi-chi places next to the well stocked Hero supermarket that was clearly the hub of expat life in Kemang), that was definitely still on the cards!  but there was no getting around my 1.5hr+ commute into the centre any time day or night-  the roads getting into and out of kemang are particularly choked

My overall tips would be to try and get the school fees and ideally a driver as part of the package.  Then negotiate a monthly salary, and get the extra month that they have to give you on top.  Show them the cost of the accommodation in Kemang, to prove that despite the expat salary, you won't, unfortunately, be living like a bond villain!

Thank you. Your description of what you'd want as a life over there is exactly what I am aiming for (except that it will be my husband going to cafes :-) ).

Thanks for the tips around exact location(we'd also be looking at AIS primary school).

Basically my plan (and I have absolutely no clue whether this is realistic) will be to look at my salary post school fees/healthcare/accomodation/driver and ask for this to remain roughly the same as in London once I also deduct my rent (considering my husband will leave a full time job for us to go, I don't think this is too greedy). When I add things up though, I am wondering whether my company will think I am mad! They can however do the same exercise of checking what's available on the internet and will come to the same conclusion (my plan is not to rip them off of course)
I am a bit worried about my own commute (but prefer having to do a long commute/work in the car for my children to be able to walk to school). I am going to try and see whether I can work from home every now and then or leave earlier once in a while as indeed it would be a bit sad to have this family adventure and end up not seeing my children.

A massive thanks for all your help!

No worries MAPL.  It is always so difficult to get a feel for things, and even having been out there it was always going to be a leap of faith.

Your plan sounds entirely the right one re your negotiations.  as you say, on the one hand, asking for what you have in London seems ridiculous compared to the typical wage in indo, but there is no getting around the fact that it is really expensive to live there as an expat if you have young kids and want to protect a certain quality of life for everyone.  When I looked at what the company was willing to pay me and thought through what that meant in terms of billings to the end customers in rupiah, it seemed a tough one for them to get the numbers to work.  but at the same time, it was clear there are a lot of very bright people in Jakarta but they lack the necessary experience, so there is definitely a lot of leverage for them in having a few older hands to pass on a bit of wisdom. the people definitely seemed very welcoming- I think it would have been a good professional experience- though as I said, I think quite hard work.

As you say, getting a chunk of working from home in there will really help with the drag of the commute, and its really easy and cheap to get flights out of Jakarta to all the amazing places around the area to keep you going through the week. 

I was never sure whether me or my wife were getting the better end of the deal.  On the one hand, dropping the kids to school before having a day at the gym, playing tennis, etc sounds like bliss, but I can see the potential loneliness/frustration piece as well (to paint a picture, the Hero supermarket did seem full of mum's of a certain age stocking up on chardonnay).  But I gather some of the AIS parents (yes it was I am afraid predominantly mums) did some interesting charity stuff, plus I am sure your other half could get himself and the kids quite involved in local rugby/football/running teams  etc

All in all, if you get the right package, its not a big risk for a few years (Jakarta feels very safe for a big city, and the money would definitely go a lot further than Singapore, where even post school fees being covered, I was looking at trading down from a nice house in London to a 2 bed flat on the 20th floor...)

Definitely would be an exciting experience, and even if it proved hard for one or both of you, you would end up with a greater appreciation of what you have now

anyway, good luck with your plans

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