Expat Living in Batam
There are approximately 2,500 expats living in Batam under ITAS (including
other family members. There are also an estimated 2,000 (exact figure
unknown) living here under business visas, bringing the total in Batam
to over 3,000. Approximately 80% of these are from other Asian countries,
with most of the westerners coming from the UK, rest of Europe, Australia
and the US.
In 1970 Batam had no cars and roads (98% forest); population was 7,000. McDermott's Batu Ampar yard was Batam's first industrial project, started in 1968. Batam today is a major logistics base for many of the world's major contractors, including Bechtel, Shlumberger, McConnel Dowell, Global Industries, Saipen, Ballast Nedham, Halliburton, Weatherford, Nippon Steel and Hyundai. Over 700 foreign companies have manufacturing or logistics operations on the island.
Batam has a large electronics sector, however the most obvious industry is perhaps one of the largest oil service/construction, and ship repair facilities in the world.
The first thing many notice about Batam is that, even though it is part of Indonesia, in many ways it is a separate entity. Whilst other places are effected by the political and economic climate, Batam remains a constant with none of the violence or problems located elsewhere. The economic condition in Batam is more closely related to that of Singapore, not only because of the close proximity of the island, but due to the vast amount of business connections and investments between the two islands.
Singapore is the nearest hub for international travel. The city itself only separated by Malaka Strait and Singapore can be seen if you go to Batu Ampar.
There are a large number of housing estates on Batam. Favoured among expats is the Villa Panbil, (which has a pool, gym restaraunt nice landscaping and is a gated community with good security), Sukajadi and Duta Mas estates located between Muka Kuning and Batam Center. Nongsa houses are the most pleasant, although the drive to work is getting worse. Shop around as prices for the same property can vary a lot. Developer's prices can sometimes be twice as much as the real market, so ask around. Like the rest of Indonesia, house security is a real issue; it should be your number one priority in evaluating where to live. There are a limited selection of complexes that pass the vigorous security standards that are required by many oil and gas companies. Often companies will choose a serviced apartment for their short term employees as it is unusual that landlords will commit to a lease less than one year.
3 Bedroom Expat House for Rent - in Panbil, near Best Western Hotel
Property Ownership by Expats - The rules for property ownership by foreign nationals in Batam fall under Decree No 068/KPTS/KA/III/1999. This regulations states that foreign nationals or companies are permitted to 100% own residential or commercial property in the Barelang area (Batam, Rempang and Galang). The only properties excluded from this decree are low cost and very low cost housing, but includes all other types of building structures. Before purchasing property in Indonesia ALWAYS get legal advice as the rules are ever-changing.
A new "elite" housing development that is being built is Pollux Habibie.
SEKOLAH GLOBAL INDO-ASIA - Batam, Kepulauan Riau
Jalan Ahmad Yani Kavling SGIA
Kelurahan Teluk Tering, Kecamatan Batam Kota, Batam 29461
Telp +62 (778) 467-333
Fax +62 (778) 467-979
WhatsApp +62 819 99 467 333
Sekolah Global Indo-Asia (SGIA) was founded in 1998 and a co-educational day school located in the centre of Batam City in Riau province. The school caters to the needs of children of the national and international community living in and around Batam, Indonesia. SGIA offers international qualifications from International Baccalaureate (IB) offering the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and IB Diploma Programme, as well as Cambridge Assessment International Education offering Checkpoint, IGCSE, AS and A levels.
SGIA enroll students from Pre-School to Grade 12 of diverse nationalities (Indonesian, Singaporean, Malaysian, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Chinese, Indian, Tunisian, French, Turkish, Swedish, South African, British, American, Italian, New Zealand).
The school is equipped with up-to-date facilities to foster the love for learning. It is a caring, secure environment in which students develop the relevant skills, confidence, foster positive attitudes and creativity that will help them succeed academically.
The main language of instruction is English but Bahasa Indonesia is used to teach supplementary subjects required by the National Curriculum, specifically for Indonesian students. Mandarin is offered as an additional language for all students. While Indonesian students learn mandated Indonesian subjects, expatriate students will learn basic Bahasa Indonesia, Indonesian studies and character-building.
The school provides all teachers with regular professional development, nationally and internationally, to build capacity and develop skills in implementing modern, research-based teaching methodologies. A university counselor team provides guidance and support on subject/major selection, university procedures, scholarship, applications, interview techniques, to name a few. SGIA graduates are accepted worldwide.
Other schools that cater to the expatriate community are Sekolah Kallista, Djuwita and Mondial. Yos Sudarso and Maitreyawira are two of the better schools catering to the local community.
There are six golf courses located throughout the island:
Palm Springs Golf
Indah Puri Golf
South Links Golf
Paradise Bay Golf
Tering Bay Golf
- There is a gym at Baloi.
- There are squash courts at the Harris Resort on the waterfront.
- Drive the Barelang Highway to Bridge-6 (5 hrs)
- Seaports facilities (at high tide) at Batam View Beach Resort. Tel (62-778) 761-740
- Take a ferry from Telaga Punggur to Tanjung Pinang, town on Bintan Island.
- Spend an afternoon visiting the old palace and fort on historic Penyengat Island. You can visit there from a small port near Pelantar and Bintan Mall.
- Fishing with Ahee
- Batam has some great Mountain Biking in the trails around Duriankang
- Reservoir along the Nongsa coast
- Take a small boat to old fashioned Bee Pee Island. Tour by becak (bicycle rickshaw).
- Marcel can guide you - his mobile number is +62813-6468 9261.
- Great jogging, in Sekupang, near Otorita Batam hospital, hillside overlooking the ocean, a really nice view especially during early morning when it's pretty deserted - not much traffic.
- Max's Dive Centre offers diver certifications, diving trips, snorkeling trips and first aid training classes.
- Movies can be viewed at Cinema 21/XXI (more imported films) or Blitz (cheaper tickets).
- Fitness Centers and swimming pools at resorts and hotels are often available for use by the public for a small fee.
- Beaches are fairly limited on Batam, located only at Batam View Beach Resort (and not at low tide, either). Most locals travel down to Melur Beach on Galang Island (linked to Batam by five bridges).
Utilities in Batam, like the rest of Indonesia, are badly run monopolies.
Here is a rundown:
Fixed Line Phones - Run by Telkom, with a similar quality to Jakarta, no major problems, but poor lines can effect the quality of internet connections. Internet transmission quality depends on how far you are from the central exchange and the quality of the physical phone lines.
Internet - Indosat and Telkomnet are both available and perform poorly. Both provide "broadband" at high prices and low reliability (e.g. VOIP doesn't work). Look into Telekom which offers ADSL options at various speeds.
Internet Cafes: Many to choose from, e.g., the scruffy but fast Barelang Internet Cafe charges Rp10k /hr.- located behind Steps Music Lounge.
Electricity: like Jakarta, regular blackouts. Batam PLN is struggling to keep up with demand that grows steadily each month. Many private homes and offices have a standby generator.
Water: good supply but low or no pressure during peak times. Water quality coming out of the treatment plants is WHO standard.
The quality of medical care in Batam has improved and you can get international standards at Awal Bros Hospital. However, most expats will go to Singapore for checkups or other medical conditions. Local doctors and nurses do their best to look after expats, however the quality of their medical services is not always very reassuring.
For medical emergencies most large companies have their own medics on site. Because of the close proximity to Singapore a helicopter evacuation is impossible as it has been declared a “no fly” zone, therefore patients have to be evacuated to Singapore via speed boat.
ATM Machines: Bank Danamon, opposite Hotel Goodway. Bank Lippo's ATM. At ATMs you can withdraw varying amounts and denominations, depending on your account status. Mandiri, BCA, HSBC, Commonwealth are just a few that allow this.
Prescription Drugs: Look for shops with the sign Apotik or Farma.
Batam has plenty of fresh produce, including imported meats, fruits and vegetables. Some Western grocery items are available, e.g., cheese. With Singapore so close (1 hour by ferry), you can find anything else that you need there. There are several largish supermarkets in Nagoya Hill Mall and Batam Center, such as Carefour, Geleal and Hypemart. Price wise the best grocery shopping is in Nagoya at the smaller grocery stores, however they tend to focus on the Chinese foods and don't have as wide a range as the larger shops (also very cramped). Visit also Diamond grocery at DC Mall.
Traditional markets (pasar) offer great selections of fresh produce - bigger selections as Pasar Bhuja Bahari or Pasar Penuin.
For hard-to-find items, some expats choose to go to Singapore for a day and search for the items required. They just plan this trip regularly, as needed.
Gramedia Bookstore, located at BCS Mall, has a good selection of Indonesian published books and some imported books in English as well as office supplies.Shoes and clothes are cheap but only in Asian sizes. For clothing check out Ramayana in Nagoya or Barata in Batam Centre, both have similar prices but Barata is cleaner and friendlier. Sporting equipment is dominated by golf equipment, which can be found in a large sporting store in Nagoya, or Matahari in Batam Centre which has a wider range.
The expat social life is enjoying a renewed spirit in Batam through the Batam Ladies Expat Society which caters to both the families and partners by offering regular activities and other special planned events. While originally starting as a way for the wives and partners of those expats who have moved to Batam to connect, the society caters to the whole family and as such offers an opportunity for the male expats (both single and those with partners) to meet other expats in Batam, in addition to catching up at the many expat pubs in Batam.
Social life is well catered for in Nagoya's many expat pubs, if you are male.
If you are Singaporean, get in touch with the Batam-Singapore Club in Nagoya. Batam Spore Club: President: HP 0811-701321, Ricky Lim, Secretary, Tel. 422357, Co-President is Ong Seng Chai Hp 0812-7004622.
On the weekend there are a number of water sporting options available at the resorts around the island including scuba diving, water skiing, jet skis, etc.The above mentioned beaches are a great place to make friends with the locals and day trips to Singapore are always popular.
Nagoya has many outdoor food courts (open only at night). Biggest is the 400 seat Nagoya Food Court, opposite the Hotel Sahid Rashinta. Try 888 Seafood's Tofu Claypot, Pork Knuckle, Tom Yum soup. For good seafood on the waterfront, try Rezeki Seafood at Batu Besar, 5km past the airport (US$10-15) Excellent pub grub at Lucy's Oarhouse. Try their home-made sausages and mash. Also very good fish and chips; steak sandwich; all day breakfast and healthy stir fry vegetables. Western Grill in Nagoya has a good selection of imported steaks and meats and serves some pretty good food also. Many import items from USA (Doritos, Salsa, Olives and much more.
The Goodway Grill Room has real Angus steaks. Batam has any any number of foreign cuisines including Chinese, Korean, Indian, Thai, Western, etc. There are four KFC outlets, three Mc Donalds and others.
Upmarket Hotels: Batam's better hotels are the Goodway (ex Mandarin), Novotel and Planet Holiday in Nagoya. Plus the Holiday Inn & Harris Resort at Waterfront City, Harris in Batam Centre, Nagoya one Hotel, Gideon Hotel, and I Hotel. The 3 newer large hotels are Best Western at Panbil, Radison at Sukajadi & Amaris at Nagoya. They’re all very large and 5 star hotels.
Mid-range Hotels : At Sin$45, the Island View is best value for money. Make sure the room AC works. There are plenty of other mid range hotels e.g. Puri Garden, but most are far from the NED entertainment district.
And some fun postings from the Expat Forum on the "10 Best Things about Living in Batam"
- Telling your mate you'll meet him in the pub in ten minutes and actually meeting him in ten minutes!
- You don't have to sell your firstborn to send your second child to an international school.
- The weekly shopping trip does not require a logistics manager and a three-week look ahead schedule.
- Jason's Deli delivers from Singapore.
- Ramadan last three hours.
- Christmas starts in October.
- Expats can buy land and own property in Batam.
- Lucy's Oar House. ( Banana Splits a house specialty )
- Seafood that has recently been in the sea.
- Watching gleefully as Singapore missing links lose their shirts at the casinos which don't exist.
- People are friendly, everybody seems to be smiling
- The weather is soooo nice!
- This month it's rainy there.. (guess..)
- You can find food you want from all over the world, easily..)
- Everything is bloody cheap for expats, from socks 'till your home theater!
- People park their car, properly (sure, coz they're use their brain :-))
- You can find hundreds of varieties of traditional food and thousands of handicrafts
- Clubs are everywhere, restaurants and malls are everywhere
- People are not hypocrites and respect each other, coz even a girl using a mini skirt to work in doesn't mean she's a prostitute and vice versa
- You just need less than 2 hours' travel to spend your weekend in a hilly place
- No need for sunglasses, coz the sun is so friendly in Batam
- The water is not salty!
Our thanks to Bella, Max Dean, Renee Cailes, Geoff Page and several others for contributing this article!
Last updated October 11, 2020