Mistakes expats make in Indonesia

Hello everyone,

Did you make any mistakes when you first moved to Indonesia? What were they?

How did you address your mistakes? Did you learn anything from them?

With hindsight, what would you do differently?

Are there any tips you could give future expats in Indonesia to help them avoid these kinds of mistakes?

We look forward to hearing from you!


I arrived in an Indonesia very different from today's version so my many mistakes won't really apply to new expats who come here.

My first was trusting a very corrupt immigration officer, but immigration has cleaned up now so that's no longer an issue.

The cops were too eager for their first bribe when I first arrived without realising foreigners should register with the local police within 24 hour of moving into a place. Luckily they arrived for their bribe 4 hours early so I thanked them for their help and went to the cop shop to do the honours.

Another was owning property without realising that isn't legally possible. That's an error many expats still make so take great care as there's a bit of a crackdown and that can lead to the expat losing the lot with no hope of seeing any of their money back.
Forget schemes that use a local's name on the deeds - way too dodgy and it won't protect you from the law.
I still own my first house but that's another story and it's legal now.

The biggest mistakes expats commonly make are expecting Indonesia to be like their homeland and not treating locals as people.

One very common error is living in a 'bule bubble; that being an expat life that consists of a driver taking you to the office, hanging around in posh shopping malls and getting drunk in western bars.
A year in Indonesia and they see nothing and learn nothing - what a waste of time.

I saw one man in immigration last week getting seriously uptight and being very rude to the staff - he went away empty handed and frankly deserved the nothing he got.
NEVER make the mistake of getting angry at an official when they want that extra piece of paper, rather smile and laugh about the next trip to photocopy shop for the document they want and never get ratty when they toss away the stuff the last guy asked for because the new one says you don't need it.

A big one is driving licences, many expecting their European or US licence to be valid here. It isn't and you could get into trouble if you don't have a local version (SIM A doe a car or SIM C for a motorbike)

As for the mistakes I made, I'd happily make them again because they were great learning tools and no real harm came from any of them.
I'd go further, the vast majority of Indonesians are lovely and very friendly people and I ended up becoming good friends with many of the officials who addressed my errors.

Errors aren't always bad news.

I came here thinking everyone was honest and friend and that was naive of me. I almost lost my wallet on my first bus ride. In a club the same. People I met were friendly enough but always wanted something at the end which I still find disappointing.

Meeting with other westerners also was at first fun but then it became fairly obvious that many here didn't care about Indonesia and therefore treated those around them badly as well as showing wealth unequal to the places we were at. Also others just moaned and complained endlessly about their lives which again was a negative too me.

But that's about it. I had no real expectations of what to find here 10 years ago and still try to have that view now. Corruption, bad policing, traffic, inequality are part of my life now so I just go along with it. I can't change it so don't try.

At the end of the day, I would change anything about coming here because hindsight however useful is also something that would cause the future to change and I quite the future my past has become.

Doing business is the reason why I entered Indonesia. Much humility and courtesy goes a long way and being rude require lessons to be learnt.

However dealing with government whatever the level is at low admin or directors level is very annoying and disturbing as they have the right to detain your staff from overseas. And when we try small disbursements like USD 500, it is automatically turned down.

Bu if you really want to disentangle your staff from all the disturbance and unrecorded detention (you can take him home....but have him stay here) you need to bring cash USD5000. Then you need your local staff to go on rounds from the lowest level and put money in hand for 6-8 levels until all is finished.

Or your file is kept at immigration at entry and harassment whenever submitting your immigration form and passport at entry...sent to interview room for a long chat and in other words being detained unrecorded. If you try walking off you will be arrested on trumped up charges.

I do not live in Indonesia so I am being frank for all business adventurers to bring bundles of cash, you will need it when you are engaged in business. It is only money for you, but for them, it is a legitimate earning left behind as a rule by past history. Logic: you are earning money in Indonesia that's why you come...share some of your good fortunes with the staff of government.

I personally really like Indonesia and enjoy the food, culture and making friends for life....for that they create real opportunity. But doing business is a crash course in corruption resolution at the personal level (not taught in best schools of business).

narilulla wrote:

And when we try small disbursements like USD 500, it is automatically turned down.

Bribery used t be a massive issue within the immigration department but it's very much cleaned up now.
Offering a bribe can get you locked up.

narilulla wrote:

Bu if you really want to disentangle your staff from all the disturbance and unrecorded detention (you can take him home....but have him stay here) you need to bring cash USD5000. Then you need your local staff to go on rounds from the lowest level and put money in hand for 6-8 levels until all is finished.

7 or 8 years ago, I'd would have believed you.
Record the conversation and the KPK will hammer anyone taking bribes. Assuming it's true, they can get evidence of that sort of money moving around easily enough.

narilulla wrote:

Or your file is kept at immigration at entry and harassment whenever submitting your immigration form and passport at entry...sent to interview room for a long chat and in other words being detained unrecorded. If you try walking off you will be arrested on trumped up charges.

Immigration is pretty good these days but they are very tight on potential illegal workers.
People with the correct documentation have no problems.
Walking out of an immigration interview in any country will get you arrested.

narilulla wrote:

I do not live in Indonesia

I can tell

Can I speak openly here or is only for expert levels to speak? I would like to participate but I feel unwelcome to speak a truth that happened to me not so long ago, but it is contradictory to what the expert has say but it is a truth. It is about corruption.

Corruption in immigration is a thing of the past so old accusations are a shade misleading.
I could point to corruption regarding driving licences but that has also been stamped on so the old situation would be equally wrong to post as fact ....... but history would be fine.
As I said, some years ago you would probably have been right, but that has as much to do with today as quoting news about the invention of the steam train.

Sounds really great if it is true now.

Yeah, there needs to be a great deal of love and affection to the country to "....Record the conversation and the KPK will hammer anyone taking bribes." But you did not mention that you have to stay in Indonesia or fly back so often that it will burn a hole in your pocket.

Nevertheless, I believe you that things must have improved since. Life goes on but to those who do not have USD 5000 or more, imagine the anxiety of wife and family not being sure what will happen. The guys will not forget in a lifetime that their liberty depended solely on the kindness of their boss willing to pay up whatever it takes. Not a nice situation or experience for a mid-career person getting involved with these types of people with "strange" motivations to extract money without doing any work- just causing pain.

But for me, it was just a mistake, even that we had done all that was written in the books. I would still invest in Indonesia but with a partner who knows how to settle such innate traditional conduct. Indonesia is not a country to get your hackles up and argue or threaten to report to the higher ups. It is the higher-ups who are in the game. like wayang-kulit puppet play. Too much stacked up against a normal businessman. It is a real wonder how the bules in this forum can cope-probably local wives pour over with cool water, "coo" a lot, provide honeyed drinks and great company :D

I appreciate the encouraging words and the provision of hope for a wonderful future for this nation, minus the civil service bad attitudes. Thank you for the opportunity to share

But I tell you, I have friend higher than immigration department, he is Director of Law and Human Rights department here and he tells me that he receives complaints from foriegners all the time about this. He knows corruption is still ongoing. When I told him of my very recent problem he fired an immigration officer. I am happy that there is no problem in your own area.

I used to hear of corruption all the time, every visit to immigration was a time to hear both locals and expats complain of being forced to pay bribes if they wanted anything, but I haven't heard or seen a single thing in years save one open secret where immigration at SH airport were fleecing Indonesians returning from working overseas.
You can read what happened to them on the news.

Several visits to the airport with a special eye on the lookout for corrupt offices showed nothing at all, even when there was ample chance.
I've been in out out of my local immigration office every couple of weeks for the last two years or so, all coming up zero on corrupt officials.
I've heard complaints, but only about immigration status and not being able to get visas, but not a word about paying bribes.
The cash is now paid into a bank, not in the office as before.

I'm sure the odd case is still around, but the duff officers get kicked out as soon as found.
Expats (and local) have nothing to fear from corrupt immigration officers any more, especially as the KPK are so keen to investigate any complaints, and they have serious teeth with which to bite offenders.
This is no longer an issues for expats, but offering a bribe is a clear expat mistake as it could land you in serious trouble.

Yes it is good that in the big city like Jakarta that immigration have clean up the corruption problem. I am hoping it will be same in the other parts of indonesia too, in the smaller cities. Thank you.

I am from Australia, have had a business in Bali for 7 years, don't live there but travel there every month. I have experienced any of the things you write about. Have never had to pay a bribe at immigration however the exorbitant fees the agents charge could fall into that category. Doing business in Bali is very different to Australia...just suck it up, you are in a different country.

There goes another common expat mistake.
Some agents are fine but a lot of others overcharge to the point it could almost be considered theft.
One expat site here charges stupid numbers for visas you can easily make yourself.

Don't make the costly error, shop around or do it yourself.

Actually in this country u can just make everything wrong, because u are an expat. If u are rude u will feel that, if u are nice u will also feel the effect and that actually sooner and harder than the first one.

People here are very racism. This country is good for holiday. But if u wanna work or stay here ... horrible.

To work with this people is horrible, because of the bad education they received. What ever you are working in, you have to controle every single step, never expect that they will think during work, even you explained things 100 times the moment u turn your back its going wrong and not just one small thing no everything or they simply stop working.

Laziness is the main core of their lives.

If you have a business its even worse, they will try to cheat on u what ever small thing it is. Never trust anyone! If u think now its time to trust someone, because u know that person as honest for such a long time, thats the moment they worked for and your moment of eye opener, because thats the moment you will lose everything.

If you just wanna stay here for good for pensiun or because u have to much money, dont expect they respect your privacy, as a white person, as a western person you are like public property.

What ever u do u will be judged on, if u feel u are arrived in a place and u get excepted by the society there, thats the moment you will hard learn what does it mean living in your own dream world.

So better stay away from here, but if u still wanna live here u have to deal with all those bad conditions, permanent danger, permanent missuse, permanent lies and permanent disappointments.

I am going through this since 20 years and right now i think to relocate, but i am trapped in a way.

Everyone is always complaining about the racism which is going on in europe or america, but those racism is open clear to be seen and possible to fight against, the racism in indonesia is even worse, because its covered with a nice smile and with that not touchable.

Ya udah good luck.

There must be two places called Indonesia because I don't know that one at all.

Perhaps there's only one Indonesia, but two types of expat.

So better stay away from here, but if u still wanna live here u have to deal with all those bad conditions, permanent danger, permanent missuse, permanent lies and permanent disappointments.

Conditions, especially the roads, can be bad. There are other issues some expats can't cope with but nothing to really worry about for the vast majority.
No idea what you mean by 'misuse', unless it's abuse but I haven't experienced that in 10 years except for one extremist idiot without a clue.
I feel no serious danger here, and much less than in the UK.
Some do lie, usually in an attempt to get tourist dollars, but that's normally poorer people so not a lot to worry about and perhaps allow the odd minor rip off.

"disappointments" - Not for me, I love Indonesia.

Oh ya i agree on that: one expat who are sourounded by just the expat society and one which taking the risk of living with the local society. And of course the first one are actually not really living here they for sure dont have to face the hard reality of that country.

Try this.
I go where expats an most local don't go, and I do it to find out how this country works.
The only real danger in Indonesia, apart from a tiny terrorist issue, is the drunks and very rare drug addicts.
I've seen both but but wasn't in any real danger as they were too off their heads to fight.
Perhaps it's a mistake to wander into these places but I have great fun and the danger is minimal.

https://www.expat.com/forum/viewtopic.p … 573#527221

Matabiru111....wow why have you stayed 20 years??? I spend alternative months in Australia & Bali. A large percentage of the expats I know continually whinge & complain about Bali. My answer to them is go back to where you came from for a while, then see how different you see things. Life is the same all over the world. If you only see the negatives, then you will never be happy no matter where you are.

Ya iank in general u are right. And if u ask me why i stayed for so long than exactely because i always try to see the positive things. And of course i always thought this time its the worse one and it cant get worse. But believe me in here it can. And its simply about live and commitments i made. And i am not indonesian so i stick to my promises, but indonesians make it very difficult to do so. And the question of the post is what can u do wrong and i simply wanna warn people to not see this place from the permanent smile they offer you, behind that smile is a strong double moralistic dirty world. For me this eye opener is to late, I am through all of this, this is just to warn others to think twice or even more to move here for what ever.

Dear Priscilla,

I hope you are well.

In order to make a substantive contribution to this blog/website, we need to have an auto-save function. each time I get diverted to my office phone, everything is lost. Then to start again is very hard.

See if Fred or the others have a better solution. I am out of my depth so I am not offering any solution.

Expats make many mistakes in Indonesia, but I still don't see the issues as described above,
Of course there are problems but none have even made me consider the possibility of leaving and none have been serious enough to warrant the loss of a night's sleep.
I keep being told the police are a problem but (apart from one bent cop trying to extract a bribe and old, out of date issues with driving licences and forced bribes) there has been nothing at all and I've got to know a lot of coppers here. All have been very helpful.
Same goes for the general population, pretty much everyone has been lovely, their smiles being genuine and backed up with positive action.

I know some expats live in a bubble and that is always a mistake, partially because they tend to get a poor idea of Indonesia and partially because never forge relationships with the local and never get used to the place properly.
That leaves them open to other problems.

Dear Mata Biru,

I wanted to offer some insight being unmistakably Asian myself ( I am not an "orang putih"). Because I truly enjoy my stays in Indonesia I wanted to speak up in favour of the local people. In their hearts, most Indonesians adopt a very respectful stance in reference to foreign persons and they give hospitality beyond even their capacity. Their body language is very charming and they typically do not say "no" to any request. But they actually cannot afford financially to say yes.

Now in a way of saying, it would appear they "change" because of familiarity levels. Yes, and most of us want to be with honest and frank people it feels comfortable if you are long-staying.

However, it may be that you want to be "straight-backed" and formal permanently. That will be a difficult call from a people who are naturally friendly and by custom required to provide hospitality and be subservient as a culture. At some point, they would hope to be accepted as equals. So obviously in your 20 years you have met a sample of the whole population. Just like any other country, there are good and bad people.

But the country has a very small upper class and a medium middle class and a very very big poor class ( I am referring just to their financial situations). So on the road, you may have the appearance of a rich guy (white guys are all from currencies and countries that are wealthy in finances). So, unfortunately, it would be that persons interested to extract some of your wealth may come your way more often than typical. Or  :D that you may have a physical stature smaller than Fred ( :D -joking) or the next macho man. (I would not argue too much with Fred as he would always win).

So I would recommend a kindly view to those that had in mind to enrich themselves out of your wallet pocket. That ou paid them for a day's work and they worked less. Tell you a lie to get a day off (usually some relative seems to pass away so often). That is the because under their culture applying for a day off when all the rest have to work. Or to face the ire of the boss as he surely cannot agree to a day off with a new girlfriend ( or some other equally difficult commodity). It is their culture to try to please the white man, above all else.

So think of it as they will suffer to have to add an extra prayer this Friday at the mosque to get forgiveness. There are no 10 commandments to obey. There are the Panca Sila drilled into them.

So what would I do if I was a "white man" and dear old "blue eyes"?? I would live up to the popular image and become quite a generous guy with small money. Giveaway 100s of rupiah easily. Be nice and forgive minor transgressions easily, set a budget of charitable actions and give off easily.

So the kindness you show will provide the safety and protection of the wider genteel Indonesian population. They will stop all that you complained about by holding the bad persons away from you. Read up on the history of Indonesians loyalty to their bosses and foreign occupants of their land. I am charmed by it and I am sure you would too. I really enjoy my stays in Indonesia. It will be a loss for them, the bigger majority, to lose you after 20 years of residency.

Sorry Priscilla,

My part post was saved in a new separate Chrome page. Found it after I emailed you on the imagined "shortfall"

narilulla wrote:

that you may have a physical stature smaller than Fred ( :D -joking) or the next macho man. (I would not argue too much with Fred as he would always win).

Only because I'm as strong, handsome and cuddly as I am intelligent and lovely.

Seriously, Indonesians tend to be lovely people and that makes the place perfect for me as I'm also lovely.
As with every country, Indonesia has a nasty element but they're limited and the poor (and many are very poor) remain polite when you bust them trying to rip you off.
Of course, being a wonderful human, I then allow them to rip me off a little as long as they aren't stupid about it or trying to sell be a fake Canon camera battery as a real one (I get ratty at that sort of stuff - you can mess with my wallet but there's no way you're messing with my electronics).
I see it this way, to the guy who's trying to extract an extra Rp3,000 for the bottle of water I must look crazy rich, so I make sure he knows I know what I should be paying them open my wallet and pay him anyway.

There goes another expat mistake - some get nasty with the poor guy and assume he's just a crook instead of some bloke trying to put food on his family's table.

You did well to enter your thoughts in a forum of members. I do not feel that members in response intend to criticise even by implications. I really feel welcomed by you to reply.  As you said you take things positively. So without intending to criticise some of the respondents, I think wanted you to see how they managed to enjoy an alternative life experience in Indonesia.

Keep going forward my friend and try not to lose 20 years of experience. Just try if possible to have a more generous view and kindliness to people who failed you and gave you a bad experience for the moments you dealt with them. There is a whole wide world in Indonesia and a diverse people you can enjoy.

On the subject of expat mistakes, not being positive is near the top of the list of total disasters.
The lack of an open mind is also a killer to an expat life.

"Of course, being a wonderful human, I then allow them to rip me off a little as long as they aren't stupid about it or trying to sell be a fake Canon camera battery as a real one (I get ratty at that sort of stuff - you can mess with my wallet but there's no way you're messing with my electronics)."

Fred, Do no spend your holidays in Singapore. You need bring along a bazooka to wipe same type people, in the whole of Orchard Road, Sim Lim Square and tourist locations sell things at Rip-off prices.
Not really Rip off prices because then you would not get engaged. After the engage you, you will find that what you paid for was just the empty box with nice pictures. The camera and lens are extra.

So guys of that sort heard of Orchard Road and the scams....nothing wrong if a big wallet happens by, that they try for some of the moola in there.

Yes you right that being generous is very attractive to Indonesians, but they get to recognise fast that it is pure generosity and they are real happy to block the bandits in that area from getting to you.

In Singapore unfortunately, if you do that, I will not be surprised if they stick a label on the back of your shirt " 1st Class Sucker". So your experiences could be tough in Singapore. It's nice that Mata Biru just writes to the forum to complain. It would be terrible to see so many dead bodies on the street past his house lah!

Narilulla u are funny of giving me this suggestion. I cant count the money i spent here and there and there an here for my "safety" how many faked sick mothers or grandmothers hospital i paid, even i think this should not be the social behavior but i followed and i am not a rich guy and i am also tired of this stupid box every asian is putting white people in.

And sorry to disagree hospitilaty in their blood? Hospitilaty is connected for me to giving, they are not giving, every small single service u need to pay and u will get a bad one.

And to freds comment about the smile, they smile in your face but stick the knife in your back. You just didnt experience it yet, be happy and wait.

matabiru111 wrote:

And to freds comment about the smile, they smile in your face but stick the knife in your back. You just didnt experience it yet, be happy and wait.

Ner, I've had ten years here with hardly a ventilation hole in my back but a couple of people have been a pain in the bum.
The solution is easy - ignore them.
Of course there are some bad cases here but they don't bother me in the slightest as they're the sort of fools that just look for any target, not me specifically. The vast majority of Indonesians are great people.
I've never paid for a sick grandmother as I'm not an easy target for scammers - the scammer dudes in Malaysia found that out quickly enough.
So soon left me alone and it just doesn't happen to me here. A couple of scammer tried their luck in Jogjakarta but came away with a big fat zero for their trouble. That lot are really easy to spot so no worry at all.

There goes the expat mistake - believing scammers - they tell their pals where the sucker lives.

I cant count the money i spent here and there and there an here for my "safety"

Are you joking?

Indonesia, except the very few bits infested with drunks and a few druggies, is amazingly safe with a tiny crime rate and little of much else to worry about. Many of these are the tourist areas and most of the danger is drunken tourists or the sort of people who hunt them down for sex sales or drug deals.
If you've been paying protection money, someone is peeing up your back royally.

Talk about an expat mistake. - massive style.

Another serious expat mistake..

i am also tired of this stupid box every asian is putting white people in.

Racist stereotypes are rubbish, more so when you live in their country.

Ya u are not living involved with the sociaty than. And to the topic danger my last story: my very best friend, we shared over 30 years our lives, moved here a year ago to spend her pensiun time with me and my family. Three month ago she got murdered. We lived far away from any touristic crowed in a very small village.
And for what? Money? We dont know because everything is covered up. Its just an expat life which is nothing worth in this country than money.
Orher cases where foreigners are involved as the killers are long solved already and with big media focus, this one is an indonesian killer and the victim is a western, as i said a western life is nothting worth and everything will be covered up and even they know who is the killer, it will never be opend.
Nice country ya!
Please no unconsidered comment on this this is quiet fresh for us.
I dont know in the which society u are involved here, but definetely not the indonesian very normal family bonded one.

Quite a few Australians die whilst on the Island of Bali, most of natural causes but a few who make serious expat mistakes such as buying the local bootleg vodka on the cheap or riding motorbikes drunk and without a helmet.
Some are killed by firing squad for making the expat mistake of drug dealing. An English woman is likely to end up the same way as soon as the Indonesian government get their finger out and stop bowing to pressure from various parties who think it's unfair to shoot her.
There was a French expat killed by the police but he made the serious expat mistake of arrogance and killing a copper so that was sort of his problem.
As for your ladyfriend, I don't recall that being on the news so perhaps II was busy that week. Perhaps you could link to it.

Another expat mistake is trying to buy property, either flat out illegally or using one of the many 'schemes' advertised by dodgy dealers.
Owning land here is exclusive to Indonesians and the schemes pretty much all use a local's name on the deeds, but that is no guarantee of not having your land taken by the government with no compensation or the named owner simply selling it out from under you without a hope of you doing anything about it.
You can hardly complain someone ripped you off as you were breaking the law engaging in the deal.

Some expats know this and enter the deal eyes wide open whilst others simply make a mistake.

All what you described is true and makes it not comfortable to live as an expat in this country. But in my case they ribbed me of inside family, I am married to an Indonesian, so don't make those examples like those cheating are actually my mistake. And by the way trusting people is actually not to be called a mistake, its the other way around if some is chatting on you, this is the one who should get blamed for not the one who trusted. Right?
So I am saying clearly this country is not the best choice for an expat to stay, never forget you as an expat has no rights here at all, as you said by yourself. You are a traveler, based on your earlier posted link and you are probably not involved in a real daily life struggle of the Indonesian society and hopefully u will never experience what I had to go through here, if you are not in trouble, you will ignore that fact that expats have no rights here, but once you are in some trouble, you will know what does it means having no rights.

The case of my friend is quiet covered as I said already, its a foreigner killed by a local, none wants to expose that, as I said earlier If a foreigner is killing a local, oh ya this will be exposed loud in the media, as well all those things if foreigners are involved in drug dealings, yes this will be also exposed very loud, so you can see what foreigners are for here. A foreigners life is nothing worth here.

But whatever, I said what I had to say as warning to other expats as my responsibility to others. And I am actually also tired of Freds permanent judgment of my comments as my mistakes I made actually. Those things happen to me, are not my behavioral mistakes, I was always a victim in all cases and I didn't behave wrongly or against common Indonesian behavioral standards. I was always very connected to the culture and the people here, I respected their life style, tradition and culture, its simply that they are mean behind a nice smile. But the most problem is that expats if they want to sattle down here, have no rights! You cant own house or land! In case of your stay an expat will always be depends on a good will of an Indonesian citizen which is quiet dangerous, those "good will" are based on money and this can turn very badly against you! That are all not good preconditions for a comfortable stay.

2 Indonesias... or two types of expat.
I can't say I've really seen any of the above, or at least not enough to rate more than a footnote in comments about safety in Indonesia.

It would also be a mistake to say expats have no rights and everything is based on getting cash out of you.
Frankly, except a couple of bent officials before the KPK strutted their funky stuff, I've seen nothing of that nature in 10 years of seriously exploring the places bule never go .. and most Indonesians never go.

I actually understand fully Mata Biru's input and there is a large degree of truth on how Indonesia is evolving. In Indonesia  (more so in Djakarta based on experience) there are major flaws in police and some of it in written law.

Indonesians and companies seek out criminal law over what are truly civil offences with two points of view. using criminal law is easy if you have "village status". So some bules have that too...... until there is a fall-out with Indonesians.

Trust is the basis of living and if one's trust erodes by daily unfavourable outcomes/occurrences that are not rational, so one becomes entirely defensive. Forewarned by example in recent past one tends to be guarded in living within the community one has selected. But that is not the whole country. So just like unpleasant neighbours who encroach upon your private space, some soft hearted people quickly change the location of their boarding. Or even change the location of their community surrounding t get a fresh start and for the safety of the family and comfort.

But I am sure Fred's remarks were not intended to blame anyone. He provided examples opposite that he experienced with qualifications (psst I better be nice, as Fred carries a big stick like General Mc Douglas that is used on guys irreverent language on forums :P ) I would like to be of help in situations like yours and to suggest to uproot yourself is far too painful. Maybe long stay guys right there like Fred and Iang (sorry about spelling) can be helpful on their happy personal experiences. For me, I would directly ask them where to stay at based on their comments in trying to help you.

Stay happy my friend!!