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Living in Jakarta, Indonesia

Always Cheap, Now It's Even Cheaper

Living in Jakarta, the capital city and the melting pot for Indonesia's 300-plus ethnic groups has always been cheap compared to the West. Now it's even cheaper. The rupiah depreciated from 2,500 to around 9,000 to the dollar today as a result of the Asian economic crisis a few years ago. Foreigners on a fixed income can live comfortably in Jakarta for around $600-$700 per month and never have to do housework or cook. A small 2-bedroom house rents for as little as $1,700 a year.

Getting around in Jakarta is easy, too-just jump on a dilapidated city bus or travel in more style in taxis that only charge around 15 cents per kilometer.

Being the capital city, Jakarta offers plenty of entertainment-ranging from the seductive (discothèques, bars, and the like) to the sedate (films and cultural performances). That is reason enough for foreigners to want a stay in the city for a lengthy period of time. Many are also drawn to the dynamics of a rapidly developing Third World city which offers business opportunities to risk-seekers. Others come simply to experience and learn more about the city's cultural richness and diversity.

One of the main obstacles to a long-term stay in Jakarta is the red tape. Visitors from most Western countries get a non-extendable 60-day tourist pass on arrival. If you want to stay longer, you can fly to Singapore when your pass has nearly expired, stay there for a day or two, then fly back to Jakarta where you will be issued a new 60-day pass. Social visas and business visas allow for longer stays (up to six months through extensions) and are worth looking into even if the bureaucracy involved initially might seem overwhelming.

Although the city can be stiflingly hot and humid when the seasons change from dry to wet, there are many pleasant resort destinations not far from Jakarta to escape to. The garden city of Bandung, which the Dutch colonialists referred to as the "Paris of the East," is only a beautiful 4-hour train journey from Jakarta. More adventurous locations include Pelabuhan Ratu on the south coast, with surfing beaches, and the Mount Halimun nature reserve, well-known for its whitewater rafting.

For More Information

www.expat.or.id provides practical information for those living in Indonesia/Jakarta or thinking of moving there

Check out www.thejakartapost.com for the online version of Indonesia's best English language newspaper.