Falling in love with Jakarta: “Be flexible. Always stay relaxed.”

Falling in love with Jakarta is not that easy for many people moving here. Often, it means having to adjust your lifestyle to the conditions of this mega city. Jakarta has a lot to offer, but that often only becomes apparent at a second glance. Falling in love with Jakarta is our new interview series where expat women who found their way in this bustling mega city and who even fell in love with Jakarta share their individual experiences and tips.

We kick off our series with Karen, a British woman, who moved from a small rural town in Scotland to Jakarta together with her husband. Jakarta is the first overseas posting for Karen and her husband. They live in the city since 2018.

In which area do you live and what do you like about your neighborhood?

“Our home is a four bedroom house in Bangka, a district of Mampang Prapatan and very close to Kemang. We love the location which is within walking distance of the buzzing community of Kemang but also close to the highways out of town.”

What was the most difficult thing moving here?

“We had no idea that we would have to pay twelve months rent in advance for property. In the UK, we rent monthly in advance.” Note: we have put together information you should know before moving to Jakarta. They might be a helpful resource for surviving in Jakarta.

What do you like about Jakarta?

Jakarta is a very busy and diverse city. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic there were lots of things to do and places to go. Also, being so close to Bali and other Indonesian islands is great. There are so many places to explore in this country. We’ve been to Bali, Lombok, Komodo and Raja Ampat. Also, Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand and Kuala Lumpur. Jakarta is very central for amazing travel opportunities but this has stopped since the pandemic. Hopefully one day soon we can travel freely again.

Is there anything that can freak you out in Jakarta?

Actually, nothing really freaks me out here. The traffic is busy, yes. But you have to accept that it is part of the city’s charm.

Imagine you would pack again to move here: What should any newcomer bring from home because it’s not available or hard to get here?

If you have blonde hair and are used to retouching your own roots, bring plenty of blonde hair dye – it’s non existent in shops here, you can only get it done in a salon.

Is there any new hobby or activity that you have picked up after moving to Jakarta?

Golf! Very strange that I didn’t play in Scotland as that is where the game originated! Also going to Women’s Associations for friendshipBWA and ANZA.

What is a must see in Jakarta for any newcomer?

Options are reduced at the moment but definitely plan to see Indonsian monuments and museums. Batavia is very interesting, as is Jogyakarta.

What are your favorite Cafes, Restaurants, hangout places?

So many! 1/15 Kemang for breakfast, Txoko in Senapati for Spanish tapas, Three Buns (also in Senopati) for burgers, Raffles for Sunday brunch and the list goes on!

Do you have a special tip you would like to share with our readers?

Be flexible, be open minded and keep relaxed. There is no point in stressing, life is much more laid back here than in the UK. Time has a different measurement – no need to rush, you’ll just end up hot and bothered! Maybe try and learn basic Bahasa as soon as you arrive, Three years on and I only have a little understanding and I guess I’m not going to learn now!

Thank you very much, Karen!

Also read EMC’s tips on getting settled  in Jakarta

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