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Relocation and Orientation Services

When a company sends one of its executives on an overseas assignment, they sometimes offer some form of assistance to the individual and their spouse to help them prepare for the move. Once the expat family arrives in their new posting, hopefully they are given additional assistance in settling in. The real question is just how much assistance the company is willing or able to give the expatriate family prior to and following their move overseas.

Companies should recognize that they make an enormous financial investment when they relocate their employees overseas. Transporting the family and their belongings, setting them up in a temporary home, leasing a car for the entire posting period and paying for their children's schooling costs the company a significant amount of money. Many companies recognize that it is in their best interest to ensure the success of the transition to the new posting. Staff within the company sometimes provide this assistance, or the company can enroll the newcomers in programs provided by community organizations or through the assistance of a firm specializing in relocation or orientation services.

The goal of relocation services, no matter who provides them, should be to get the family settled in as quickly and smoothly as possible in appropriate housing, to get the kids settled in school, get transportation arranged and family to join the appropriate community organization or business organization. The sooner the expatriate family is settled, the sooner the working spouse can begin to concentrate fully on his job and the task at hand.

Various forms of relocation services include:

Pre-Departure Training

If your sponsoring company has sent other families to Indonesia in the past, if possible, arrange to meet with them and learn more about your destination. These 'veterans' , especially if they are recent returnees, can greatly assist new families in giving insight into preparing for their move.

If a significant number of people from one company are coming to Indonesia together, a group training program can be arranged for the employees, their spouses and even their children to help prepare them for their move. This also allows them to become acquainted prior to departure and begin to form a new support group amongst them.

Familiarization Trip

Many companies arrange for the employee and their spouse to visit Indonesia several months before Taking a familiarzation trip their actual posting begins. During this 'familiarization' or 'look-see' trip they can view houses or apartments, visit schools, medical facilities, shopping malls, and begin to get an idea of where they might want to live in Jakarta. They can also go to a supermarket to see what products are and aren't available and get an idea of the cost of living in their new home. This will help prepare them for packing for the move and making decisions about what to include in their household shipment. The working spouse can meet people he will be working with in the firm and the trailing spouse can visit community organizations to get more information on lifestyle and conditions that may be possible for their family. For more information on what you might want to include in a Familiarization trip ... read our article on how to Hit the Ground Running.

Support Groups for Trailing Spouses

In companies where there are a number of expatriate families, there is often a trailing/dependent spouses group which meets regularly for socializing and to provide support and assistance to newly arrived families. Utilize these support groups, especially in the early weeks and months after your arrival. These 'seasoned expats' can help answer many of your questions, show you around stores, invite you to lunch and help with the transition process. You can greatly benefit from their experiences.

Networking with Organizations

One of the best services a company can offer their newly arrived staff is supplying them with information about existing expatriate business associations and community organizations. The quicker the family becomes involved in the community, the quicker they'll be making new friends and finding answers to their questions on their own and therefore be less dependent on the office staff to solve all of their problems. This allows them to meet people outside the office or school, offering additional perspectives and opinions on some of the questions they have regarding the move.

Formalities Staff

Companies with large numbers of expatriate staff usually have formalities staff who take care of the documentation requirements for expatriate families. These people are well experienced in dealing with the various needs and concerns of expatriates. Often a quick phone call to the formalities staff can get your questions answered with a minimum of frustration. Since proper documentation is a very lengthy and complicated process in Indonesia, many companies prefer to subcontract this out to companies that specialize in documentation.

In some companies the Human Resources Department also arranges housing, home repairs, transportation, guards for your home and a variety of other services for the expatriate staff members and their families. This can sometimes be a challenge as by law the HR professional must be an Indonesian national and as such does not necessarily fully understand issues from the perspective of the relocating expat. Ask your sponsoring company what kind of assistance you can expect from the HR staff, and what matters you will have to handle on your own.

Home/Apartment Search

The search for a new home can be exhausting. There is no regulation or license for real-estate professionals in Indonesia so the standard of agent you may meet can range from a friend of a friend looking to make some extra money to highly qualified and professional consultants. One of the best services a company can provide their incoming expats is to ensure that they are put in the hands of a reputable housing broker/agent from the start. One that will thoroughly survey the requirements of the family ... and only show them homes that match their requirements.

It is very important to understand the terms of the lease that you are signing as in most cases the entire amount of the lease must be paid in advance prior to moving into the home. Once the landlord has received this lump sum, the lessee has very little leverage to force the landlord to make needed repairs should there be issues in the house that are revealed at a later date.

School Registration

Choosing a school for your children is rarely an easy choice. In Indonesia, international-quality schooling is extremely expensive. Even if the sponsoring company has agreed to pay for school tuition and fees, it is still important that the parents choose the school that is best suited for their child. In Jakarta, where traffic is extremely bad, a decision on which school to put your children in will affect where you live and how long the working spouse will spend fighting the traffic every day to get to work.

You will benefit from the assistance of someone who can help you visit the various schools and is familiar with the difference in the curriculum between them and what school best fits the learning style of your child. A large school that has wonderful facilities may be too large and overpowering for a shy child. Some grades may not have seat availability and so parents will need to consider their second or third choices for schools. A child that is struggling with a different language in the classroom may need a smaller class size and more one-on-one attention. The school of your choice often determines the neighborhoods that you may live in, due to proximity. The school placement for your children will have extenuating influences on your lifestyle during your stay in Indonesia, as well as your child's future. Most of the international schools in Indonesia encourage the parents to be as involved in the school as they want to be and often this also helps the parent to become networked and make friends as well.

Check out the listing of international schools so that you can contact them and get basic information before your arrival.

Orientation Programs

Orientation to your new life in Indonesia can include participating in a formal orientation course through a company that provides this service. During your familiarization visit, or during your first weeks in town, you can join a one, two or three day program to help you. You will be accompanied by a seasoned expat who can explain to you what to expect during your relocation, introduce you to sources of information that will be helpful, and answer the many questions that will arise during this time. Typically the tour will include visits to medical facilities, schools, shops, hobbies of interest, and services to help you get oriented quickly. Cross Cultural Training programs can also be very beneficial.

Personalized assistance in getting your home set up

Full service relocation firms can advise you regarding almost anything that you need to do in your first few weeks in your new home. From buying furniture, to renting a car, to hiring household staff, to getting repairs made on your new home - they can provide you with the needed information you will require.


Relocation services provided by companies vary widely. If you are the unlucky soul that is basically told to handle it all yourself, at least you've found this web site to help show you the way. Hopefully your company will provide more assistance than that, recognizing that you are thrust into a totally foreign environment where you have to learn how to run your lives all over again from scratch. If your company is not familiar with professional orientation and cultural training, you might consider telling them about these services and suggest that you would like to receive them.

Accept the fact that for your first few weeks and months in Indonesia you are going to be much more dependent on others than usual to help you accomplish your basic tasks. You cannot do it by yourself, since you will not know where and how to accomplish things in Indonesia. Everything is done differently here than in your home country, from how you pay the phone bill to how you park in the mall.

The worst thing a newcomer can do is stay in their house and bemoan the fact that they don't know where to find something they need, or that they don't know what to do next ... get out of the house and meet other expats. Make it a point to ask every single person you meet at least two questions. If you take a proactive stance, you'll soon be on your way to finding all the answers you need.

Get involved in community groups early on. Take advantage of the multiple Apps that are now available varying from helping you locate housing supplies, delivering your groceries from the supermarket, and helping you learn the language. While you're enjoying your favorite sport or hobby, you will be talking with other expats who can help with your settling in. Just remember, every expat you meet has been in your shoes before. Don't be shy about asking for help ... in fact you should be shouting for help in the first few weeks and months! You will find that most other expats are quick to give you pointers and to help you accomplish what may seem to be an insurmountable list of tasks to a newcomer, because they are easy for an Orientation professional.

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Last updated August 14, 2023