Set yourself up for success with our detailed checklist guiding you through all the essential pre-move preparations for Indonesia.
Indonesia beckons with its enchanting blend of vibrant culture, breathtaking landscapes, and promising opportunities. For expatriates considering a move to this dynamic Southeast Asian nation, proper preparation is key to a smooth transition.
Indonesia is home to 350,000 expatriates from around the world. Major areas like Jakarta, Bali, and Surabaya have well-established expat communities and support networks. With its rapidly expanding economy, this country is attracting foreign investments and experiencing significant growth in sectors such as technology, manufacturing, tourism, and infrastructure development.
This article gives you a comprehensive checklist of essential things expats should consider before making the move:
Navigating Indonesia's visa system is crucial for a smooth relocation. Be sure to familiarise yourself with the key visa options:
Visa Tinggal Terbatas (Limited Stay Visa): For stays from 60 days to 5 years. Must be obtained before entering Indonesia. Allows multiple entries.
Working visa (IMTA): This visa allows you to work in Indonesia. It must be sponsored by an Indonesian company and is valid for 12 months. Can be extended annually.
Kitap (Permanent Stay Permit): For permanent residency status which requires having temporary stay permit (KITAS) for minimum of 3-5 consecutive years.
Social Budaya (Socio-Cultural Visa): For those learning about Indonesian culture/language. Valid for 60 days but can be extended up to 1 year.
Expats should apply for their visas at least 3-4 months in advance of their planned move to ensure enough time for approval. Besides typical visas, Indonesia offers specialised pathways to attract talented and wealthy foreigners who can contribute to Indonesia's development goals.
Compared to other Asian countries like Hong Kong and Singapore, Indonesia offers a relatively affordable cost of living. Everyday expenses like housing, food, and transportation can be found at very reasonable prices. The country provides many excellent options for where to settle down, from bustling big cities to laidback beach towns. As you decide where to live, consider factors like:
Urban vs Rural: Do you want to be based in a major metro area like Jakarta or Surabaya for conveniences and career opportunities? Or would you prefer living in a more remote, peaceful area of Indonesia?
Island Life: Bali is a top choice for expats seeking a tropical island lifestyle. But there are thousands of other inhabited islands to consider too like Java, Lombok, Sumatra, and more.
Budget: Housing and cost of living can vary greatly between different regions. Make sure to research average rents, food costs, utilities, etc.
Lifestyle: What kind of amenities and activities do you want close by? Prioritise locations with the climate, culture, and community that suit your lifestyle.
If you're considering buying property in Indonesia, foreigners are generally not allowed to own land in Indonesia, but they can lease land for extended periods or purchase apartments and houses in certain areas.
Having an Indonesian bank account set up ahead of your move makes daily financial transactions much easier. Research banks in Indonesia that offer services catered to expats. Recommended banks include:
● HSBC: HSBC has a strong presence in Indonesia and offers accounts in multiple currencies. English support services are available. Minimum deposits may be high.
● Citibank: Citibank Indonesia provides English online/phone banking and integrated international transfer services.
● Standard Chartered: This UK bank operates many branches across Indonesia.
● PermataBank: Permata is one of the larger local Indonesian banks with more affordable minimum balance requirements.
One major consideration for families relocating to Indonesia is sorting out schooling for children. Many major cities have international schools that offer learning in English, advanced curriculums, and activities. Top schools include Bali Island School, Jakarta Intercultural School, Surabaya Intercultural School, and more. Tuition fees are expensive but standards are high.
Engage with expat communities and forums in Indonesia to seek recommendations and firsthand experiences from other expat parents.
Learning fundamental Bahasa Indonesia phrases and etiquette provides expats the tools to navigate daily interactions respectfully and build connections with locals. Useful language skills include greetings, directions, dining vocabulary, and basic commerce.
Another highlight of Indonesian culture is their incredible food. Be sure to try authentic local cuisine. Favorites like nasi goreng (fried rice), gado gado (vegetable salad with peanut sauce) and orsate (meat skewers) offer a tasty introduction to Indonesian flair.
Major cities in Indonesia, such as Jakarta and Surabaya, have public transportation systems that include buses, trains, and taxis. TransJakarta is a popular bus rapid transit system in Jakarta, while the Commuter Line serves the Greater Jakarta area. Online transportation services like Gojek and Grab are also widely used for ridesharing and food delivery.
Motorbikes are also a common mode of transportation in Indonesia, especially for shorter distances and navigating through traffic-congested areas. Renting a car is another option for getting around, especially if you prefer more independence and have a valid international driver's license.
International airports, such as Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta and Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, connect Indonesia to various destinations worldwide. With its archipelagic geography, Indonesia has numerous ports and ferry services for inter-island travel to reach destinations, such as such as Bali, Lombok, and the Gili Islands.
In major cities like Jakarta and Surabaya, you’ll find a broad range of hospitals and clinics, both public and private. Public hospitals tend to be very low cost but extremely overcrowded. Private hospitals and clinics offer better quality of care and less waiting times, but at higher prices. These are located mostly in affluent city neighborhoods.
Once you get outside of the major metropolitan areas, choice in healthcare facilities becomes more limited. Rural and remote areas of Indonesia often have just basic community health centers and lack specialised providers. This forces patients to travel great distances to urban hospitals for serious conditions.
Having international health insurance can be crucial in case you need emergency care or want access to more advanced facilities and treatments.
Make sure your and your family’s health is protected when you move to Indonesia. With MyHEALTH, you have a customisable coverage choice that covers you not just locally but worldwide. MyHEALTH is the most flexible health insurance plan in the market that allows you to tailor your coverage to fit your unique needs and budget, with the ability for every family member to customise their own plan.
Whether you're an Indonesian, permanent resident, or foreigner, MyHEALTH is available to all, ensuring that everyone has access to quality healthcare coverage. To learn more about our MyHEALTH Indonesia, check out the full benefits schedule or request a personalised quote today.
When they move to Indonesia, expatriates may not be aware of how the local healthcare system works or what kind of insurance plan they should look into.
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