I’ve decided to begin writing travel guides of Asian cities, destinations and places guys might want to travel out here, sharing my almost decade of experience living in South East Asia with anyone who cares to know more about it. I’ll also be looking at them from the perspective of livability, since I know lots of men want to relocate to Asia but don’t know how to start.
First on the list is Jakarta, my home for the past seven years and one of the most exciting, interesting and fastest growing cities on earth.
The lowdown on Jakarta
Jakarta is what’s commonly termed as a mega-city. It’s the fourth biggest city on the planet with 10 million people living in the city itself and 20 million more in the surrounding areas.
It’s jam-packed full of everything – hot girls, trendy night clubs, restaurants serving cuisine from around the world, massage parlours, golf courses, every consumer good imaginable and a lot more to boot. Overall, it’s an awesome place to be if you’re a young guy looking for an exciting life, or an old guy looking for a place to enjoy life before you kick the bucket.
Cost of living in Jakarta.
The local currency in Indonesia is called the Rupiah and at the time of writing (Feb 2015) is trading at about 12,000 to the USD.
Living in Jakarta is still relatively cheap, but getting more expensive since the country is booming and inflation is kicking in. The city is broken down into four main districts, with all the action happening in South Jakarta, around areas like Kemang and Pondok Indah.
I am able to rent a small studio apartment with a pool and gym for $300usd per month. It’s normal to pay 6 months rent up front in Indonesia, so if you’re coming, be prepared for that. If you need or want more space you can rent full on 3 bedroom apartments in the city with skyline views for about $3000 a month. It all depends how you want to live.
As for food, you can eat out at a nice Italian restaurant (eg Toscana) and have three courses for you and the lady friend for about $30usd all in. Keep in mind this is one of the top restaurants in the city and has been voted best restaurant in Indonesia several years running. If you want to eat at a more humble setting, expect to pay anywhere between $2-$10 bucks a meal. Taxis are cheap costing around 50 cents a kilometer and you can also take motorcycle taxis to beat the traffic. These will cost you whatever you agree with the driver.
Meeting women in Jakarta.
Meeting beautiful women in Jakarta is insanely easy. I am talking about an average looking Western guy of 6ft tall and decent looks having a lineup of women waiting to meet him which we can simply pick from. I’m not bullshitting you when I say that as a Western guy here, you will be at the top of the dating pool immediately.
To meet Jakarta girls all you have to do is go out to any bar or club and unless you’re a social retard you will have success. You can also get on apps like Tinder or sites like Date in Asia for hookups, but you have to be careful as lots of these girls are either married or prostitutes looking for a rich Westerner to be their sugar daddy.
If you’re looking for a serious girl to settle with, that’s no problem either. Indonesian girls make some of the best wives and partners in the world, gender roles are still very much intact and expected to be followed, and the place is full of educated, professional, single young women looking for a boyfriend.
Whatever you’re looking for in terms of dating from one night hookups to thirty minutes with a massage girl to a good wife to settle with, you can find it here. For dating, Jakarta is paradise. Indonesian girls are very traditional and feminine. If you’re dating, you pay the bill and she looks pretty. If you meet the parents, its serious shit. If you are a strong, decent guy who can provide, she’ll be interested.
Opportunity in Jakarta.
Indonesia is an immensely wealthy nation just now tapping into its potential. For years it’s been run by corrupt dictators and nut jobs, but it’s beginning to come good and the economy is booming, meaning there’s a huge demand for all kinds of professionals.
If you are an entrepreneur seeking business opportunities Indonesia can be sticky. You still need an Indonesian partner to own 51% of the business and it can be hard to find someone you trust. There’s something in the culture here whereby if you leave yourself open to be screwed, you will be. It’s just a fact. As well as that, permits, government bureaucracy and a generally hostile attitude towards foreign business will make it difficult.
If, however, you’re a professional of some sort or consultant this could be the place you’ve been looking for. Indonesia’s’ big sectors are oil and gas, mining, raw materials, telecommunications and property to name a few. If you have skills in these areas you could end up highly paid and living like a king.
Another way in is to teach English. This is how I started and you can earn a decent living if you want to live a humble life. You won’t make a fortune but the work is easy enough to obtain, quite enjoyable and stress free, and schools will help you along the way. You’ll need a university degree and possibly a TEFL certificate if English is the subject you want to teach. Expect $1000-$2000 a month and housing paid for.
There are some jobs in fields like advertising, marketing, sales and law, but they are few and far between. The truth is to get a job in Jakarta you need to bring a skill to the table a local doesn’t have.
Partying in Jakarta.
Despite being the worlds largest Muslim nation, Indonesians will show you how to party properly!
Jakarta is full of night clubs, pubs, bars and nightlife, so having a good time if this is your thing is never hard. You’ll find clubs catering to all kinds of music styles and price ranges, from live music bands and a few beers right up to trance and dance clubs that go on all night.
Alcohol is quite expensive compared to the cost of living here in general, but you can still get a decent local beer for anywhere between $2-$4.
Drugs are an absolute no-no unless you have a death wish. While they are widely available in certain clubs, I just have this to say about drugs in Indonesia: Do them at your peril!
Partying in Jakarta is easy, fun and there’s something for everyone. I don’t party lots, but when I do I’m never short of choices.
Visas & Legal stuff.
Anyone who wants to visit Jakarta and check it out can get a quick and easy visa on arrival valid for thirty days at the airport. It costs $30usd and thirty days will be more than enough to decide if this is the city for you. It tends to have the effect that you either love it or hate it. Or a little bit of both.
If you get addicted to it like I did, you’ll have to find employment to stay. The one year visa is called a KITAS and will cost you zero, since the employer fronts all the costs. It takes a little while to organize and get (about 30 days) so expect to have enough money to see yourself through and possibly leave the country to stay somewhere nearby like Singapore until the process is done.
The other way to stay long-term is to marry a local girl. I do NOT recommend this until you get to know her extremely well. You could end up in a whole world of hurt and if you do this, you deserve whatever comes your way.
Other factors to consider.
The vibe in Jakarta is hectic, busy and non stop. You’ll either love this fact or hate it. If you thrive on energy and chaos and movement you will adore the place. If you can’t stand stress and crumble under pressure, forget it. I’ve seen hardcore backpackers reduced to a blubbering mess by the intensity of the city, yet others, like myself, thrive in it.
The local people in Jakarta are friendly in the extreme. People will literally just come up to you and start talking to you. This takes a little getting used to and if you’re from a big western city you might be suspicious. Some people are looking for a few bucks or trying to sell something, but most just want to chat and are interested in you.
The local language, Bahasa Indonesia, is very easy to learn and you should be able to find a teacher for about $10 an hour. A few months should be enough to get to the level where you can survive comfortably.
Indonesia has very different cultural attitudes to anywhere in the Western world. Time does not matter and it’s common for people to show up half an hour to an hour after they arranged to meet you. People will lie through their teeth rather than say something negative or hurt your feelings, and there is a general attitude of “Why bother? Life is too much fun to stress, have a coffee and a cigarette and stop complaining!” These things can annoy newbies, but after a while become charming and are part of the appeal of the place.
Living in Jakarta is a roller coaster of emotions. One minute you’re sitting in bumper to bumper traffic cursing the world, the next you’re in a world-class club surrounded by some of the most beautiful women on the earth, then you’re eating out at a delicious outlet for fifteen bucks, followed by getting a few beers and meeting interesting expats from all over the world doing something different with their lives.
You have a great choice for weekend getaways, with Bali being just a 1 hour flight away (around $100usd) and the Palau Seribu (thousand islands) being about an hour by boat which will cost about $20usd to get to. Palau Seribu is a literal paradise with thousands of islands dotted trough out the ocean which you can either decide to stay on for a few days or go island hopping, snorkeling and fishing.
Overall, Jakarta is a phenomenal city and I will be sad when I leave next year. If you’re a guy looking for stimulation, excitement, hot girls, opportunity to make it in the world and a feast for the senses, I can’t think of anywhere better, as long as you can deal with the traffic, the pollution and the unpredictability!