Jakarta's Residential Neighborhoods
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 or GPS 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!
If you're driving or walking through a neighborhood and see a "Dikontrak: sign on gate - the house is for rent!
View housing options in Central Jakarta
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 residences of other senior Indonesian officials and prominent indonesian business owners. Many houses in this area are considered historical landmarks, therefore renovations to the façade of many of the buildings require a special permit and approval from the city prior to the work begriming.
Rents are high due to close proximity to the business district. The infrastructure is old, the trees tall and shady, 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 and most expensive 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 live in South Jakarta 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 living in the Golden Triangle. But, if you do not want to spend hours in your car commuting to the office each day and proximity to your work place 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.
Many of the high rise apartment buildings in this Central Business District are run by 5-star hotel operators and in most cases offer a luxury lifestyle. Complete facilities are normally offered so you don’t need to leave the building to go to the gym, take a relaxing swim or watch a movie in their private on-site movie studio. Often there is a outdoor common garden area that can be used for barbeques, parties or get together with friends. This type of lifestyle simplifies a lot of relocating decisions, so if this fits your lifestyle goals, you might want to 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 were owned by oil and gas companies and were occupied by their expatriate staff. This situation has changed and now occupants are from various industries. Although the area is convenient to the Central Business District, many of the houses will need repairs so a pre-lease inspection is advised prior to considering a lease with one of these older homes.
Kuningan Timur, on the west side of Jl. Rasuna Said, includes the Mega Kuningan development with new offices and apartment towers. This area was originally planned as a diplomatic enclave and does have some stately residences for diplomats as well as their embassies. 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. The relocation of the Australian embassy and the current construction of the British Embassy in the area has heightened security and therefore the residents can benefit from this additional protection as well.
Nearby shopping at Pacific Place, Plaza Indonesia, and Grand Indonesia is only about 15 minutes away. The closest international school is Jakarta Intercultural School's Pattimura Elementary campus. The middle school, junior high and senior high school at JIS are 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hour to the south, however there are other international schools located in the Kemang and Pejaten areas that offer closer schooling options.
View housing options in South Jakarta
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 Intercultural 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. The Dharmawangsa and Essence Apartments offer luxurious apartment living options. 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. Many ambassadors have residences in this area.
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 Senayan Office Towers, 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 III as well as having the Senayan Golf Course located across the street makes apartment buildings such as Senayan Residences, Senayan Apartments, the Capital, SCBD Suites, Residence 8, 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 Gandaria - only a few minutes away. Commute time to the Golden Triangle is approximately 15 to 45 minutes, depending on your destination. The Pakubowono complex with its multiple choice of towers 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, II and III. A well planned community with tree-lined streets. Pondok Indah is the closest neighborhood to the Cilandak campus of Jakarta Intercultural 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 to one hour, depending on your destination and traffic congestion. Commute time to the British International School from the Pondok Indah area is around 45 minutes, however because the commute is going against the flow of traffic into the city, typically it is a smooth commute.
Pondok Indah offers closer access to Jl. TB Simanungpang which is lined with a number of office buildings. Executives employed in those buildings will often prefer to live in the Pondok Indah area which gives the trailing spouse access to the shopping, children close proximity to the school and is fairly convenient to commute to the office.
Just south of Pondok Indah is Lebak Bulus. This area is close to the Jakarta Intercultural School's main campus as well as the Singapore International School. Some 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 the airport, all areas of Jakarta, and many of the industrial estates.
Beautiful homes tucked down alleys and narrow streets, the housing development in Kemang was not planned. Narrow streets and high traffic congestion and occasional floods don't keep expats away from Kemang neighborhoods. Beautiful homes with substantial gardens hide behind tall walls down undistinguished back roads. Kemang is 15-30 minutes from the Cilandak campus of Jakarta Intercultural School. Most grocery needs can be found in the Hero, Ranch Market and Kem Chicks that are located in the area. The opening of Kemang Village has brought a mall facility into the neighborhood. It's a 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 Independent School. The Jayakarta Montessori School is also located in Kemang. Pelita Harapan International School is also located in Kemang Village. Often challenging traffic continues to be typical throughout the day in this area and on roads leading to it.
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 Intercultural School. The French International School is located in this area. Traveling from this area will be a 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hour commute to the Golden Triangle area. 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. There is however limited housing and apartments that are suitable for expats. Easily accessible to the central business areas via 30-minute toll road ride. The Gandhi International School and North Jakarta International School (not a branch of the Jakarta Intercultural School) are located in this area; it has a primarily Indonesian student body. A very large Indian community also resides in this area of the city.
View housing options in North Jakarta
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 as well as the proximity to “expat friendly” shopping facilities. 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. 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. The commute to the city can be very challenging and the toll tends to be very congested at almost all hours of the day. Because of commercial development in the area, including Ikea, 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.
Travel from the Karawaci to the airport is about 45 minutes, now that the Jakarta Outer Ring Road (JORR) has been completed.
One caution ...
Before you sign your housing contract, be sure to check the Noise Levels from the Local Mosque!