Falling in love with Jakarta: “It’s vibrant, full of color and community.”

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 megacity. 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 megacity and who even fell in love with Jakarta share their individual experiences and tips.

Katrice moved here from Sydney, together with her husband and their two teenage sons. They arrived in January 2020, just before the whole world changed due to the pandemic.

What was your first reaction after you found out that you will be moving to Jakarta?

“Excited! Jakarta has exceeded our expectations in so many ways.”

Did you know Jakarta and Indonesia before?

“Coming from Australia, which is so close to Indonesia, we’d had the opportunity to visit Indonesia many times before calling it our home. We hadn’t spent much time in Jakarta but quickly realized that the beautiful culture of the Indonesian people is constant throughout the country.”

What was the most difficult thing about moving here?

“Setting up local bank accounts! Once they’re set up though, they work like a charm.”

Is there something that was much easier about moving here than you would have expected?

“Given their ages and this being their first expat posting I thought it would take our children longer to settle in but it’s been the complete opposite! They are begging us to find a way to stay!”

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

“We live in Cilandak, but we’re right on a border and effectively in Pondok Indah. The big plus for us is that our boys can walk in and out of school within minutes without crossing a road. This has been a huge bonus throughout the pandemic, with school hours being irregular and campus grounds being one of the few places open for children to play sport and socialize. We also have options for coffee, dining, and a supermarket within walking distance. The large beautiful tree-lined streets close by also give us a great dog walking track each day.”

Do you mind telling us a little bit about your family?

“There’s a lot of testosterone and food consumed in our house with two teenage boys! Our fur baby stayed in Australia when we moved. It was the hardest decision we made but with Jakarta being such a huge unknown for us we felt it was the best decision at the time. In hindsight, our fur baby would’ve easily adapted to our life here, but she is being very spoiled and has been permanently adopted by a family in Australia. It didn’t take us long to realize that our family wasn’t complete without a dog, so our eldest son found one on Instagram. The rest is history – Mum, Dad, two teenage boys, and a toy poodle.”

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?

“So much! It’s a melting pot where many worlds collide. People are friendly, always smiling and laughing. It’s vibrant, full of color and community.”

Is there anything that can freak you out in Jakarta?

“A mosque at 4 am but you get used to it pretty quickly.”

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?

“Vitamins are good to stock up on. What is available here is expensive and if you do send items into the country, import tax is hefty!”

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

“Photography! The beauty of the people and the places just captivate me to capture it.”

Do you already have been traveling in Indonesia? If so, please tell us your favorites and your tips.

“We’ve done a lot of traveling around Indonesia. That’s been the silver lining of living through the pandemic here. There are so many places to explore, and there’s something for everyone. Sadly, I don’t think we’ll see all that we’d like to in our time here, but we’re giving it a red hot crack! Traveloka is a great platform (app) for booking domestic flights.”

Do you have a special tip for newcomers?

“It’s taken a while to build up our confidence to drive in Jakarta but my husband and I now ride around Jakarta on a scooter. We love it and feel we see more of ‘Jakarta life’ this way.”

What is a must-see in Jakarta for any newcomer?

“There’s so much to see! I’d recommend a more ‘must feel’. Depending on what you’ve experienced before, Jakarta can feel overwhelming and chaotic. Take it day by day and use your instincts to guide you…”

What are your favorite Cafes, Restaurants, hangout places?

“We are spoiled for choice, so I don’t have a favorite. But I do have a long list of places to try! You can find great restaurants serving good quality food from all corners of the world, and the coffee culture in Indonesia is a serious business! Rooftop bars are a great place to relax with friends and take in the bustling city skyline, especially at golden hour. You can find all the leading hotel brands in Jakarta. They are grand, and they are popular for Sunday Brunch.”

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

“There is a saying among expats in Jakarta “you might cry when you land in Jakarta but you’ll cry even more when you leave”. I didn’t cry when I landed but I know I’ll cry hard when I leave.”

Thank you very much, Katrice!

Also, read EMC’s tips on getting settled in Jakarta

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