Expand your social circle in Indonesia

Hello everyone,

Moving to Indonesia means leaving one's family and friends behind. Creating a circle of friends or joining an existing one should therefore be paramount in order to fight loneliness in your host country.

But how can one develop a social network in Indonesia? Where and how to meet people there?

How easy is it to meet locals? What about cultural specificities?

Share your advice and experience!

Many thanks in advance,


Hi Priscilla,

My social circle in Indonesia actually comprises mostly my wife's family and friends. I don't know any westerners here, except for those regular chatters I see here. But through my wife's family I have friends all over Indonesia, Jakarta, Surabaya, Java, West Sumatra, Bali, Sulawesi. Wherever I want to visit there is always an invitation to stay, which is very nice. My children have so many aunts, uncles, cousins that they cannot remember them all.

For me I live a very full life in Indonesia and my family is more than enough to keep me fully occupied and very happy here in this beautiful land that is now my home.

Meeting locals is one of the easiest things to do in Indonesia. People are friendly and always willing to become friends. My circle of local friends is ever expanding just by meeting people through everyday life. Sometimes when I see posters asking "how to make friends?" in a country, I really do not understand how anyone could not make friends here. But for those who really cannot find friends, I'd say just get out there and explore, travel, be friendly and friends will come to you.

As I spend much time in both Malaysia and Japan I also have a pretty wide circle of friends in those countries too. Many of them visit Indonesia or have business dealings with my wife or her family, and many have become very goods friends over the years.

This is my circle of friends. They are precious to me and they are enough for me and keep me very happy.


In general...

Indonesians tend to be very friendly and will welcome people into the country with open arms.
This goes double when the expat takes an interest in Indonesia, makes at least some effort to learn the language and tries to be part of the local community.
Small things like a Sunday morning working with all the guys in the local RT, usually cleaning the streets or tidying something up does wonders for your reputation and acceptance within society.
You become part of your local RT (neighbourhood), and that makes a lot of friends very quickly.

This will really depend on what a person's definition
of "friends" actually means.  In general, there are
two definitions of "friends":
  1)  acquaintances -- people you know, you can relate to,
     people you talk to, conversate, have coffee, etc.
     But when "real problems" or disasters arrive, they
     will run away and avoid helping you, by coming-up
    with all kinds of excuses.
2)  Dependable friends (buddies) -- all of the characteristics
    of acquaintances.  Biggest difference:  When disaster strikes,
   you're in trouble, and really fall down --- your friend would
   be the first person who will shoulder everything you need
   to get back on your feet.

With those two definitions in mind, the typical Indonesian
falls into the acquaintance category.
Behind those friendliness, smiles, and warmth you see
and feel on the surface -- many will just run away, and
vanish when things go bad.
Financial Help will be the LAST thing you will receive.

I guess this goes back to the collectivism culture behavior.
Hansson feels that way because he has "family" who
can help him -- mainly because they are "obliged" to do so.
But for the average person who is NOT in a particular circle,
they're basically out of luck.

So my best recommendation to survive in Indonesia
is to quickly find a join a particular circle (whether through
church, social group, job, or something) and do your best to
make friends / connections in that group.
So when disaster, or problems occur -- they will be people
who can help you out, and help you strive/survive.

Always remember the "collectivism culture' mentality.

Hi Hanson....nice reply....what kind of business your wife involved ....thanks....hany

As far as community goes, friends and neighbours tend to be the same thing, especially in villages. That tends to be weaker in larger towns and cities, but bonds are easily made in many estates.
The newer clusters, especially the very expensive ones are losing this now, but older places still have it.

hany1111 :

Hi Hanson....nice reply....what kind of business your wife involved ....thanks....hany

Thanks Hany,

“As far as community goes, friends and neighbours tend to be the same thing, especially in villages.”

Fred, that is an excellent point, and it’s particularly true when it comes to the many hundreds of villages in Bali.

The Balinese have a unique word, nanceb, which can basically be described as ties to community.  Here in Bali whenever a family is having a ceremony, be it a wedding, tooth filing, 3 or 6 month baby ceremony, cremation, melaspas (purification), ancestor temple odalon…on and on,  everyone pitches in and helps.  Given all the preparations needed for these ceremonies, this is the only possible way to accomplish the necessary tasks.

This concept extends to aide whenever the unthinkable happens as well. 

The nucleus of Bali life is the family compound, and the accumulation of those compounds is the village.  They are equally reliant on each other, thus in Bali there is a real community spirit which is so sadly missing in many other parts of the world.

I found exactly the same in my old community in a Javanese village, but cities have a nasty habit of losing that wonderful way of life.
Between work, commuting and not talking to the neighbours much, a lot of the community spirit is gone.

Hi Priscilla, yes I am interested in moving to Bali in particular, Seminyak is the place I love.
Is now going to be later as property market bad in Perth WA, so dont want to sell the house at a big loss at the moment.

However I wondered the same thing, as my partner would only be with me half the year, due to work commitments.

Was wondering Internet, online, are there groups to join for eg.

So will take a look.

I think the best way, which can often require a lot of persistence and going out of your comfort zone is to stay active and try new things and be positive.

For example, a thread topic on here was sports in Indo, go and play badminton or whatever is your preference, it's as much if not more a social event than a fitness event but you will get the benefits of both.

Before you might think of doing that, learn the local language to a beginners standards and above, not only will you meet like minded people who may become your new friends by learning through a class in Indonesia it will also open up your scope for so many things such as said sport event, maybe a yoga class, book club, gym classes and on and on depending on your preferences.

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