Jakarta internship

Life in Jakarta

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life in Jakarta

Jakarta – considered to be the “Big Apple” of Southeast Asia – is one of the world’s greatest megalopolises with over 10 million inhabitants. This bustling city is the political, economic and cultural centre of Indonesia. Jakarta is a conglomeration of villages known as “kampung”, crossed by main roads and super highways.

Indonesia has a long and turbulent colonial history with Europeans first coming to Jakarta in the 14th century. The city has been mainly influenced by both, Dutch and Portuguese, and both influences are still prevalent in Jakarta. Many traces from colonial times can still be found in Jakarta, such as buildings, parks, and the way the city itself is structured. Many Asians (especially Chinese people) immigrated to Jakarta due to the lucrative work opportunities afforded by the Dutch government rule of the city. Due to these influences, English is widely used as the second language with many elderly people also speaking Dutch. The first language in Jakarta is Bahasa Indonesia.

Today, Jakarta’s business opportunities, as well as its potential to offer a higher standard of living, attracts migrants from all over Indonesia making it a mix of many communities and cultures. Jakarta is also the centre and hub of Indonesia’s national finance and trade, and its economic growth (ranked 34th among the world’s 200 largest cities) has grown more rapidly than cities like Beijing, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.


Expats in Jakarta

Jakarta’s industrial sector includes industries such as electronic, automotive, chemical, mechanical engineering and biomedical. Natural resource mining such as oil, gas, coal and gold is also of great importance. However, the economy in Indonesia is mostly dependent on government funding and with Jakarta being home to the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDK), which has a significant influence on global markets, expatriates in search of a job in Jakarta should consider positions in the service sector such as financial, banking and trading sectors. Jobs in engineering, telecommunications and, especially, education, should not be excluded as many expats have also gotten positions in these sectors.

To work in Jakarta, expats need a visa. Visa regulations are very strict making it very difficult for foreigners to apply for and be granted one. Because Indonesia’s unemployment rate is quite high, visas are often not granted to expats looking for certain positions if these can be filled with residents. This doesn’t mean getting a job is impossible. Some career opportunities are still available in certain sectors, workers can also benefit from intra-company transfers and many expats (especially recent graduates) find English teaching positions for which there is a great demand.

Expats looking for accommodation in Jakarta have many different options to choose from. There are properties available to rent from luxury penthouse apartments, to houses with a pool and garden, to a room in a “kos” (guesthouse) with a shared bathroom and dining facilities.

For an upscale lifestyle try the neighbourhoods of Menteng, the Golden Triangle in Setiabudi and Kuningan. However, rent prices in these neighbourhoods are higher due to the proximity to the Central Business District and some areas here can be quite loud due to traffic. For a more modest budget, moving to East Jakarta, where rent prices are cheaper, might be a good option. This district is very popular due to its proximity to the commercial and industrial areas of the city. For expats looking to move to Jakarta with their family, the best neighbourhoods to live in are Kemang and Pondok Indah, both in South Jakarta. These offer large gardens, many shopping malls and restaurants as well as being in proximity to several international schools.

Healthcare in Jakarta might not be of highest quality and it is therefore advised that expats get private healthcare as well as making sure that vaccinations are up to date before moving to the city.


Jakarta and its residents

The traditional life of the Betawi, the original inhabitants of Jakarta, can be experienced at Setu Babakan at Srengseng Sawah in South Jakarta and they are known for their straightforward and democratic language. The Betawi icon is the huge doll called “Ondel-ondel” that parades at weddings or circumcisions. Outside this location, Jakarta residents are predominantly modern and very fashion conscious with the majority embracing Muslim faith. However, even though it’s a Muslim country, Jakarta is filled with various nationalities since many employees of foreign companies live here and many people from Southeast Asia take their holidays here. Thus, residents of Jakarta are not only open-minded towards foreigners, but the mix of nationalities brings a unique flair to the city.


City Highlights

Jakarta for expatsThere is much more to this sprawling city than meets the eye. Jakarta offers an insight into its culture and history for anyone interested in it. The National Monument (MONAS) is a grand obelisk that both celebrates and commemorates Indonesian independence from the Dutch. Around the MONAS you can also find The National History Museum where Jakarta’s history is displayed with collections on Javanese living, historic musical instruments and early Javanese tools. Did you know that Java Man, the first homo sapiens, was discovered in Indonesia? The Old City (Kota Tua) is a very historic part of the city with roots dating back to the time when the Dutch occupied Java in the 1600’s. The centrepiece of Kota Tua is the Jakarta History Museum, which housed the Dutch Colonial Government.

If you’re looking to gain an overview of what Indonesia looks like and gain knowledge about its culture, head to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah where you will find a miniature of Indonesia and many museums worth visiting. Pasar Baru, the oldest market in Jakarta, is where you will not only find a shopping filled area, but also some of the best Indonesian street foods. There are also many other shopping malls you can choose from or you can just have a relaxing day in one of its many parks.

When living in Jakarta, you can profit from the city’s cultural offerings. From jazz festivals and fashion weeks to international art exhibitions and traditional trade shows, the capital offers a wide range of leisure activities. There’s a reason why Jakarta is known as the cultural centre of Indonesia.


What to expect


Jakarta’s climate is typical of the tropical monsoon climate. The rainy season in Jakarta covers most months and runs from October through May. The months from June through September are considered the dry season. Temperatures are constant all year round with average highs from 28-32ºC and average lows from 22-24ºC. This makes Jakarta a very hot city, but also very humid with humidity ranging from 75-85%. Light clothes are advised, but keep in mind that Muslim is the predominant religion and you should therefore dress accordingly.



Getting around in Jakarta means patience. Especially when travelling during peak hours and into business districts, including the area of the Old Batavia, be prepared to meet traffic jams. The best way to travel around is by public transportation or taxi. Taxis and tuk-tuks can be an inexpensive way to get around, whilst the rapid transit system called TransJakarta serves the entire city centre as well as the outer suburbs with tickets at 3.500 IDR (about 0,30 USD). Due to traffic nightmares, Jakarta’s administration is working on a new advanced transportation system, the MRT, which is expected to open to the public in 2019.



Jakarta’s spectacular culinary offering is due to the large number of domestic and foreign immigrants, especially “betawis” (immigrants from Southeast Asian countries) and offers a mix of flavourful culinary traditions that abound in the streets of Jakarta. From exclusive restaurants to food stalls and road-side food carts, one can find anything ranging from regional dishes from the archipelago to international cuisine serving Western, Chinese or Middle Eastern food.



The cost of living in Jakarta depends on the lifestyle that you choose. The city is not a cheap place to live if choosing to shop only at Western-style supermarkets or high-end stores, but local shops (Warungs) are quite affordable. Imported goods can be expensive, but Indonesian products are cheap, and the many markets found in Jakarta make for a colourful shopping experience. While a basic lunchtime menu in the business district can cost around 76.800 Rp, mains at food stalls can be found from 20.000 Rp. Monthly rent ranges from 4.500.000 Rp to 15.200.000 Rp depending on what type of accommodation you choose.




Krakatau is a volcanic island located between Sumatera and Java and is a popular tourist destination. Just three hours away from Jakarta, Krakatau offers a wide range of activities. For instance, you can choose to hike up the Krakatau, the tallest point in the surrounding area, and look over the ocean blue water and the lush green islands that surround Krakatau. The trek cuts through thick jungle at first, but once you get to the main slope of the volcano the vegetation disappears and you’ll mainly find small stones and sand. The hike to the top is a slow and hard walk. If you decide that hiking is not for you, Krakatau also offers some of the best diving in West Java. You can go snorkelling around Cabe Lagood and Rataka Island and see what life underwater has to offer.


Baduy Luar

Life in JakartaThe Baduy are a traditional Sundanese ethnic group that live in the province of Banten and practice animism as their religion. Visiting Baduy Luar feels like travelling back in time. The tribe guards their culture and traditions so protectively, that they rejected any form of modern influences of the outside world. Prepare yourself for no phone signal, no electricity, no electronic devices, no schools, no soap… and so on. There are basically no traces of them living in the 21st Century. However, despite keeping their distance from the outside world, travellers can still visit Baduy Luar, observe their way of life and even stay there if the wish to.


Gunung Padang

Gunung Padang is one of the oldest and largest megalithic sites in Southeast Asia. The hike to the top takes around 20 minutes and follows a path of stone. The platforms become smaller and smaller as you move up. This symbolizes the layers of ascending authority in societies of the past. Once you stand on the ancient place of worship surrounded by volcanoes and trees, the serenity you feel will help you get a picture of how life once was in prehistoric times. Muse about the significance of residing in the highest terrace, while gazing at the life and wilderness below.



Bogor was a favourite getaway for Dutch administrators during the colonial era of Indonesia. Located only one hour from Jakarta, Bogor is the go-to place for anyone craving nature and quietness after having been in the city for too long. Here you can find the vast and elegant palace complex with lush trees and hundreds of deer that the Dutch build, as well as the Bogor Botanical Garden, the oldest and one of the biggest botanical gardens in Southeast Asia. It also offers modern attractions such as restaurants, shopping malls, cafés and more.


Thousand Islands

Bali doesn’t need to be the go-to place for a beautiful island getaway. Just a few hours away by boat from mainland Jakarta you’ll find the Thousand Islands, a chain of islands to the north of Jakarta that are still part of the city. These tropical islands offer the perfect weekend getaway. Here you can do activities like diving or just relax in the sunshine and enjoy the beautiful beaches and being away from the city and its noise and pollution.

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