Living in Jakarta. Let the Big Durian become your home, sweet home

For many people who move to Jakarta, the city wasn’t the first one on the wishlist to move to. Bad air quality, horrendous traffic chaos, a public transport system that doesn’t exist, floodings, power cuts, almost unbearable heat waves once the yearly rain has stopped and little infrastructure.

I was born in Indonesia and I am an Indonesian citizen, but I have spent big parts of my life in other countries so I kind of can relate to that mixed feelings many expats have when moving to Jakarta.

Let me tell you: Jakarta can be a wonderful place to live in. If you choose your neighborhood and your house or apartment according to your needs I promise you will love it. And that’s why I am here for: To help navigating individuals or families into their new life in Jakarta.

I came back to Indonesia in 1997 and today Jakarta is my home. I have made countless fantastic friendships over the years, I have met many inspiring people and I have discovered my passion here: Helping people to find their right spot to live in Jakarta. May I also support you?

What are you looking for?

Actually, you can get quite a lot for your money in Jakarta. Different than in many other Asian countries, prices to rent a house or an apartment are quite affordable. And most places are spacious. During the COVID-19 crisis, prices overall went down further.

If you are new to this city, you should first check your options. Do you want a house with a garden? Do you want the comfort of an apartment? Do you want the company and neighbourhood of a family friendly compound. You basically have all these options.

Whenever clients approach me to help them with their home search we first find out together what he or she and his or her family want. Once we have defined this, we can narrow down the options and start with a targeted house research.

Basic 1: Apartment or house? Stand alone house or compound? Garden or no garden? Choose your options.

There are different options available to live in Jakarta. My team and I are happy to show you examples for the different options and assist you with making your choices. Below we have put together a view information to give you an idea.


Jakarta for sure is a big city in terms of inhabitants. And it’s also huge in space with many residential areas being rather a giant accumulation of low rising houses than skyscrapers. So if you opt for an apartment in one of those rather few buildings reaching up to the sky, chances are you will have a brilliant view over the city.

Especially during the last few years the city has been adding up on modern apartment buildings equipped with all the amenities you would wish for. Apartment buildings usually offer spacious common areas such as gyms, pools, gardens. Living up in the air also means an escape from the pollution and the heat and the always present mosquitos. However, you should take into account that in Jakarta, apartment rents tend to be higher than the rent of houses. Also, many apartment buildings don’t allow pets on their premises.


In most of the expat areas you will find smaller or bigger compounds. Living in a compound can be a good option, especially for families with kids. You are living in your own house but you also can enjoy the comfort of a safe environment for kids with play streets, play grounds, green spaces as well as sports facilities and swimming pools. And, of course, if you are new to Jakarta, compound life makes it easy to connect with other people and make friends. Compound life makes it possible even for smaller kids to move freely and on their own – and this is really a luxury in a city like Jakarta. For many people, the security aspect also plays a role when deciding to move into a compound. Jakarta is not an insecure city per se, but of course there are cases of burglary. In a compound you usually have security service 24 hours a day.

Stand alone house:

Compared with other Asian cities, Jakarta is a rather spacious city. Living in a freestanding house with an own backyard with a pool – that’s possible here.

A freestanding house in a residential area is usually the option that provides you with the most for your money in Jakarta. In case you are moving here from a country or a city where living in your own house plus a garden is either not possible or just too expensive, you might be delighted by this option. Services in and around the house like gardening, security and maintenance are organized easily in Jakarta.

Find your property.

Basic 2: Decide for the right neighborhood for you and your family

After you have made a decision on how you want to live you will have to think about where in Jakarta you want to live. Don’t forget that this city is huge and the traffic can be horrendous, so finding the right location for you and your family is an important decision. My team and myself are very happy to advise you and help you make this decision. To provide you with a first impression we have put together some information about the most popular neighborhoods for expats in Jakarta.

1.: Kemang – Entertainment and convenience at your footstep

Kemang is one of the most popular neighborhoods for expats in South Jakarta. You will find many rather quiet streets in a lush and green surrounding. There is also a big variety of restaurants, cafes, bars, supermarkets available here.

In Kemang, you have many choices of compounds, apartment buildings and especially freestanding houses with lots of space in laid back neighborhoods. Kemang Dalam, the center of Kemang is an inviting place for strolls, walks with your dog and outdoor exercise.

Probably due to the high population of expats, many international schools are located in or close to Kemang, like the Australian Independent School (AIS), Academic Colleges Group (ACG) or the New Zealand Intercultural School (NZIS). Further schools, like Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS), are easily accessible from Kemang.

Lippo Mall Kemang is located at the edge of Kemang. The mall is equipped with many shops of popular brands, a gym and also a cinema. Avenue of the stars is a restaurant area with outside seating attached to Lippo Mall Kemang.

There is one backside though of Kemang: the traffic. Especially the main streets can become very congested during rush hour and during weekend nights. Kemang with it’s restaurants, cafes and bars is popular for people living in other areas of the city.

Find out more about living in Kemang.


2.: Pondok Indah – Elegant houses and wide roads

Pondok Indah is a popular option for families with kids attending Jakarta International School (JIS) as the school can be reached easily from Pondok Indah. Not a very long time ago Pondok Indah used to be a plantation area at the outskirts of the city. But the city grew and Pondok Indah was developed in an upscale residential area with clean streets and sidewalks. Most of the houses are big and spacious, but many of them have no or only a tiny garden surrounded by high walls. Pondok Indah is the home of several recreational facilities, like Houbii Urban Adventure Park which is very popular with kids and teens and Pondok Indah Golf Course.

Pondok Indah Malls I & II belong to the biggest malls in Jakarta with a big selection of department stores, boutiques, brand stores, supermarkets and restaurants.

Find out more about living in Pondok Indah.


3.: Kebayoran Baru – Impressive family homes in an exclusive vicinity

In case your office is in the Sudirman Central Business District (SCBD), Kebayoran Baru might be a good option for you to live.

SCBD is the economic centre of Jakarta. Many national and international companies have their offices here. Driving through SCBD and passing all those modern office buildings and malls you feel as if you are in a different city than Kemang or Pondok Indah. One popular mall is Pacific Place, a top notch shopping mall with many exclusive brands and restaurants and a well equipped supermarket in the basement. The Jakarta Ritz-Carlton Hotel is located on top of Pacific Place and Jakarta’s famous Hard Rock Cafe in the basement. The area also offers countless restaurants, bars, cafes.

Driving south of Kebayoran Baru the bustling area turns into a green suburban area with parks and gardens. Due to its location in the city center, this living quarter tends to be more expensive compared to other areas.

Kebayoran Baru offers two different styles of houses: There are new exclusive houses comparable to those in Pondok Indah and there are older houses, still equipped with a big backyard. There are also a number of upscale apartment buildings located in Kebayoran Baru, equipped with lavish common spaces and facilities.

Well-known living quarters in Kebayoran Baru are: Senopati, Wijaya, Dharmawangsa and Pakubuwono. Politicians, business owners and ambassadors have their home in these upscale areas. Senopati is also known for its restaurants and nightlife.

Find out more about living in Kebayoran Baru.


4.: Cipete – Spacious houses with big gardens

Over the last decades, Cipete and also Cilandak have been established as expat neighborhoods. Both of these areas have one big plus: They are located with good access to the toll roads. Living in Cipete, you can reach the central business area via a flyover avoiding the typical traffic in Kemang. Whereas, you are still close to all the cafes and restaurants in Kemang. On top of that, Cipete has its own MRT station. The opening of the MRT line in 2019 has changed Cipete’s accessibility tremendously. Within minutes you can reach the business areas or get to the north of Jakarta.

The new transport link also supported the development of restaurants and cafes in the area. Cipete is also well known for its street food with vendors selling Indonesian delights from all over the archipelago. It’s really worth trying (consider bringing your own plates and cutlery though as some places might not keep up to western hygienical standards).

Houses in Cipete are very often tailored to the needs and taste of expats and you will find many options with a spacious garden and pool. There is also a small selection of compounds and housing complexes available.

Some of the streets in Cipete are narrow and difficult to navigate, something you should keep in mind if you are considering driving yourself. The French community is quite big in Cipete as the French International School is located there, in fact in walking distances to quite a number of residential areas. You will also find French influence in cafes, shops, restaurants in Cipete. Also, some of the best spas are located in this area.

Find out more about living in Cipete.


5.: Cilandak – Good value for money

Cilandak, like Cipete, is located in the vicinity of the toll. So basically, you can easily reach any place in Jakarta from there and avoid the worst traffic. Cipete is situated north of the toll road while Cilandak is actually a very spread out suburb with half of the area located north of the toll road and the other half is located south of the toll road.  Areas like Lebak Bulus, Fatmawati and also Kemang are easily reachable.

In case you are on a smaller budget but don’t want to compromise on size and quality, Cilandak really is a good option. You will mainly find stand alone houses with big gardens and pools in this area. Even if the area is up and coming, it still doesn’t give the village-like feeling of Kemang where you will bump into friends or acquaintances when running your errands.

There is one mall in Cilandak which is popular with expats and Indonesians: Cilandak Town Square or CITOS. CITOS is mainly known for the big variety of restaurants (some of them with outside seating). There is also a supermarket, a gym and a cinema located in CITOS.

To sum it up: Cilandak is a rather low key area, but very convenient for those who want to get around the city.

Find out more about living in Cilandak.


6.: Menteng – Shady tropical streets, colonial style houses and villas in an upscale area

Menteng is home to the political elite of Indonesia. Embassies, museums and cultural facilities are located in this neighborhood. Menteng provides a very colonial tropical feeling. This due to its history: Menteng was established as a residential area for the Dutch as well as for high officials in the 19th century. Over the time, most old buildings have been replaced, but the area is still full of history and you can feel that. The green and shady streets of Menteng are next to the business districts which means that you can combine both worlds. As most of the international schools have moved south, Menteng has lost a bit of its fame for expat living but it’s still an option for those who don’t have to commute every day to big distances.

Living in Menteng might be a bit more expensive than living in the south of Jakarta but it will also give you a bit of a colonial feeling and probably a spacious house with an even more spacious garden. 

Find out more about living in Menteng


7.: Kuningan – Living where it happens

Have you heard about Jakarta’s Golden Triangle before? It’s an area between Jalan Rasuna Said, Jalan Jendral Sudirman and Jalan Jendral Gatot Subroto and it’s where life, mainly business life, happens. Kuningan is located in the Golden Triangle. Business, lifestyle, shopping amusement, entertainment, nightlife: You will find it all there. Whereas Kuningan might not be the perfect place for families with smaller kids, it might be just perfect for those who want to enjoy the city life. Kuningan offers mainly modern, well equipped apartment buildings. 

Find out more about living in Kuningan


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