One of the most immediate tasks for newly arrived expatriates is to find a place to live. Upon your arrival in Jakarta, you will undoubtedly feel overwhelmed by being bombarded with new sights, sensations and challenges. Getting oriented to the city and learning your way around will be a big task!
Before you can choose a house or apartment to live in, take the time to drive around Jakarta and visit the various neighborhoods favored by expatriates to get a feel for what it may be like to live there, how accessible they are to the working spouse’s office, the children’s school and leisure activities for the family. Track your travels in the Falk Plan Street Atlas to help you get oriented to the various streets and routes from one place to another.
You may have heard from former residents of Jakarta that you should live in a particular area such as Pondok Indah, Kebayoran Baru or Kuningan. Be forewarned that what one person may love in a neighborhood may be what someone else can’t stand. Travel through the neighborhoods on your own and be your own judge!
Central Jakarta (Jakarta Pusat)
Starting with Central Jakarta, Menteng is one of the oldest and most prestigious neighborhoods. Set just east of the main thoroughfare of Jl. Thamrin/Sudirman, Menteng is known for its stately Dutch-colonial-era mansions, proximity to the banking and business district, as well as being the site of many embassies, ambassador’s residences, as well as the residence of the President of Indonesia and other senior Indonesian officials. Many houses in this area are considered historical landmarks.
Rents are high due to close proximity to the business district. Some pavilions (apartment over a garage/small guest house) are sometimes available for somewhat reasonable rates. The infrastructure is old, the trees tall and shady, and narrow streets and crowded thoroughfares abound. Yet the small quiet streets off those crowded thoroughfares and the old-world atmosphere of the old buildings is quite attractive. Good shopping nearby at Plaza Indonesia, Sarinah, and Grand Indonesia makes Menteng one of the premier locations to live in Jakarta.
The Golden Triangle
While it would never have been considered a neighborhood 5 years ago, apartment developments on or nearby the 3 major thoroughfares that form the Golden Triangle (Jl. Sudirman, Jl. Gatot Subroto and Jl. Rasuna Said) have turned this area into a convenient location for expatriates to live.
For those who like to be at the heart of the action, and don’t need to be located in South Jakarta to be near schools for their children, the apartment-living lifestyle of the Golden Triangle can be very attractive. Within a few kilometers of most major office buildings, commute time is minimal and in some cases within walking distance. If you yearn for green, wide open spaces you will probably not be happy for long in this area, but if you do not want to spend hours in your car commuting to the office each day so proximity to work is valued and you don’t want the hassles of caring for a large home, apartment living may be a great choice for you. Both serviced and non serviced apartments are available. Many single young executives enjoy the proximity to the nightlife of Jakarta as well as empty nest couples find that the apartment lifestyle is very convenient. So, if the drone of traffic is music to your ears consider leasing an apartment in the Golden Triangle.
Just west and east of Jl. Rasuna Said, there are substantial planned housing developments favored by expats. Patra Kuningan, built in the 70s, has been a favorite of oil and gas folks for over 20 years. The neighborhood is well-planned, with tree-lined streets and lots of space for parking. Many of the homes are owned by oil and gas companies and occupied by their current expatriate staff. Kuningan Timur, on the west side of Jl. Rasuna Said, and most of the Mega Kuningan development area behind this are still undeveloped. This area was originally planned as a diplomatic enclave and does have some stately residences for diplomats. Some of the residences are older however most of the time the landlords are willing to make repairs to accommodate an expatriate lease. There are a few small parks in this area and limited through traffic so it tends to be a favorite area for expats working in the Kuningan area.
Nearby shopping at Pacific Place, Plaza Indonesia, and Grand Indonesia is only about 15 minutes away. The closest international school is Pattimura Elementary. The middle school, junior high and senior high school at JIS are 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hour away, however there are other international schools located in the Kemang area that offer closer schooling options.
South Jakarta (Jakarta Selatan)
Moving into South Jakarta, Kebayoran Baru is an older neighborhood located just east of the southernmost end of Jl. Sudirman. Kebayoran Baru is a well planned neighborhood with large homes, wide tree-lined streets and close proximity to the Pattimura Elementary campus of the Jakarta International School. Close proximity to offices on the southern end of Jl. Sudirman, including the Jakarta Stock Exchange, the Energy Building and Bapindo Tower makes this a preferred area to live. Lots of nearby shopping in Pacific Place, Pasaraya, Blok M, Senayan City, FX Center, and Plaza Senayan makes it very convenient to many shopping locations. Major streets can be quite congested, yet most side streets are quiet. 10 to 30 minute commute to the Golden Triangle area, depending on your destination. The construction of the flyover project for Jl. Antasari has increased traffic congestion in the area and the situation is expected to remain bad until the completion of the project in 2013.
The area surrounding the Senayan complex has been home to the development of a number of high rise apartment towers in recent years. Its proximity to the night life, shopping and services contained in several large Senayan-area malls have made this area more popular with those that prefer to live in an apartment. Large mega malls in the Senayan area include Senayan City, FX Center and Plaza Senayan. Close proximity to a lot of the oil companies that have their offices in the Senayan Towers I, II and now the recently finished tower III makes apartment buildings such as Senayan Residences, Senayan Apartments, The Capital, and The Ritz Carlton Apartments all preferred apartments within the expat community.
Conveniently located 10 minutes west of the southernmost end of Jl. Sudirman, these well planned communities have wide, tree-lined streets, good infrastructure and green surroundings. Nearby shopping in the Permata Hijau shop houses, ITC Permata Hijau, Beliza Shopping Center, Senayan City, Plaza Senayan and the recently completed Gandaria – only a few minutes away. Commute time to the Golden Triangle is approximately 15 to 45 minutes, depending on your destination. The View at Pakubowono is one of the most popular apartments located in this area however the Somerset is also home to some expats in the area. Jl Panjang connects this neighborhood to the Pondok Indah community and the JIS Cilandak/Pondok Indah campuses. This road is typically highly congested due to the busway that services the west-south route.
Stately mansions line the major thoroughfare of Jl. Metro Pondok Indah, just south of Pondok Indah Mall I and II. A well planned community with tree-lined streets. Pondok Indah is the closest neighborhood to the Cilandak campus of Jakarta International School. Although it is a newer neighborhood compared to the Kemang or Cipete areas, the houses often lack the backyards that are a much enjoyed asset in the older expat neighborhoods. The commute to the the Golden Triangle could be as long as 45 minutes, depending on your destination. The flyover project along Jl. Antarsari is expected to continue through 2013 and has only aggravated the situation. Commute time to the British International School from the Pondok Indah area is around 30 minutes, however because the commute is going against the flow of traffic into the city, typically it is a smooth commute.
Just south of Pondok Indah is Lebak Bulus. This area is close to the Jakarta International School’s main campus as well as the Singapore International School. Several very nice housing complexes can be found here. Often these houses offer large lots and abundant trees making it one of the greener communities of the city. Cilandak Town Square or �Citos� is a favorite meeting point for young people in this area as this mall offers lots of food and beverage outlets to hang out at and a movie theatre. There are attractions in the atrium almost every weekend such as dance performances, fashion shows, or mini bazaars. Good access via the Outer Ring Road to all parts of Jakarta and many of the industrial estates.
Beautiful homes tucked down alleys and narrow streets, the housing development in Kemang was not planned. Yet narrow streets and high traffic congestion don’t keep expats away from Kemang neighborhoods. Beautiful homes with substantial gardens hide behind tall walls down undistinguished back roads. Kemang is 10-15 minutes from the Cilandak campus of Jakarta International School. Although most grocery needs can be found in the Hero, Ranch Market and Kem Chicks that are located in the area more substantial shopping is available in Kebayoran Baru, Dharmawangsa Square, and Pondok Indah Mall I and II. 45 minute to 1 1/2 hour commute to the Golden Triangle. Many unique restaurants and shops that line the main streets of Kemang make it a unique neighborhood, however it is prone to traffic congestion due to the limited access streets and the one way traffic flow in the area.
In the heart of Kemang you will find the Primary School campus for the Australian International School as well as the New Zealand International School. The Jayakarta Montessori School is also located in Kemang. With the Kemang Village project nearing completion, this will add more major facilities to the Kemang area such as a large shopping mall, hotels, sports center, major apartment blocks as well as the opening of Pelita Harapan International School, however it will further aggravate the already horrendous traffic situation in the area. Kemang is perhaps one of the neighborhoods that will be most affected with the Jl. Antasari Flyover project and major jams can be expected in and out of the areas until 2013. More information on restaurants in Kemang.
Located just west and south of Kemang, the development of these areas has not been planned. Yet beautiful homes exist down small alleys and in the middle of kampung. 10-15 minutes from the main Cilandak campus of the Jakarta International School. 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hour commute to the Golden Triangle. Homes in this area typically have nice yards/gardens making the homes popular with families that have young children or pets that can appreciate great play areas.
Located in East Jakarta, this well-planned community is favored by many expats who work in the commercial/industrial estates east of Jakarta in Bekasi, Cileungsi and Cikarang. Easily accessible to the central business areas via 30-minute toll road ride. The Gandi International School is located in this area. A very large Indian community also resides in this area of the city.
This area is generally not favored by expats due to the poor air and water quality, traffic congestion and flooding. Though the northern reaches of the city and the “kota” area are centers for business, especially for the Chinese business community. The biggest factor which goes against living here is the distance to the larger international schools, which are all located in South Jakarta. If you have children, they would be in cars/buses for hours every day to get to and from school at AIS, JIS or BIS.
Metropolitan Suburbs and Satellite Cities
Bintaro, Lippo Karawaci, Bumi Serpong Damai
Located in West Java, the above are actually past the western suburbs of Jakarta and located in the province of West Java. Ten years ago it would have been rare to find expats living in these neighborhoods. But with the location of the British, German and Japanese International Schools to Bintaro, many expat families are making the choice for proximity to their children’s education and an organized living environment despite the lengthy commute for the working spouse. Commute time to the Golden Triangle can be 1 to 2 hours. Lippo Karawaci is often chosen by expatriates working in factories and industrial estates in Balaraja, Cilegon, and beyond. This is a mid-point between the commute to work out west, and the commute into Jakarta for community and recreation activities and shopping. Because of commercial development in the area, residents of these suburbs no longer need to fight the traffic to come to Jakarta to shop. Total facilities now exist in the area making the neighborhoods very self contained.