An expat guide to finding & securing a home, while keeping your sanity…

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By Therese Harper

So you think you will just see a house… think hmmm ?? Nice & pay the man?

W-R-O-N-G !

For here in Indonesia we have many tricks waiting for the next expat to arrive. It stems from  an inability to say no, not to cause friction, stay calm at all costs and tell everyone want they want to hear. It’s cultural…

Frequently here in Jakarta you will hear Yes when they mean no, No when they mean yes etc. This makes any important task such as house hunting really stressful…. so remember these pointers to fast track your way in your new city:

  • The traffic in ALL OF JAKARTA is manic ! Don’t be told this area is better (there is no better). Allow plenty of time for delays, avoid known affected areas and be prepared by taking some form of book, cd, music to help with delays. Always carry water.
  • Use a Silver Bird taxi to take you to a specific address or ask the agent to pick you up (it’s what we agents do, don’t be afraid to be a bit demanding).
  • Jakarta semaforo2The South of Jakarta is the most populated district for expatriates and consists of a few different pockets giving different things. Some are more traffic affected, closer to schools, have many restaurants or medical facilities. The choice should be yours, not the agent’s or friend’s who already knows everything “expat”, or the company’s for that matter, because we all have different priorities. Personally I have created a map of the south district, marked all the roads, school and housing options available for my clients, so that at the first meeting they can begin to understand how the south is created, where their chosen school sits in comparison with the partners office and various social activities. This gives me a basis to search on.
  • Like most cities housing options vary greatly but the typical Indonesian home for expats is large (and I mean large), so don’t sell that lounge or that table ‘cause you may need to fill many rooms. Standard would be four bedrooms, four bathrooms, formal entry +study with a garden area. Marble floors prevail so rugs, if you own them, may be beneficial to include in the shipment. Staff bedroom, bathroom and kitchen area for live in maids, driver and security are standard with every property.
  • Looking for a complex house with shared security? Stand alone home with your own pool and garden? Lock and go property for those who like to holiday or visit family regularly and don’t want security hassles? Small apartment for single status? Or castles fit for a queen? We have it all and don’t we love to show it off! There is no formal style Indonesian home as such, heritage is rare in housing exteriors in the city but some vendors manage to blend modern conveniences with the more traditional décor inside. The choice is yours and making changes is well accepted before you move in. Take a wall out? Move a garden? Repaint? All is acceptable before signing the lease. Most good housing agents will be ready to advise you on what’s a standard request and what the vendor may entertain to keep you happy.
  • Bear this in mind when viewing houses as traditionally the owner will delay most redecorating and cleaning till he has a client. Don’t be shocked by the condition of the homes inside. As most clients/companies pay years in advance and for their tenancy, the vendors traditionally leave it be and make good at the end of the period before the next client’s lease begins. Sometimes you need to use your imagination, trust me! But it all comes good in the end.
  • Single most important criteria for consideration when negotiating with the company who will be relocating you is the HOUSING BUDGET. A small budget may break your health and happiness.
  • Jakarta housingWATER supply is hugely important to your health. If incorrectly placed in the near region of a sewerage holding tank, cross contamination may (and will) occur and illness will prevail. Don’t be shy in asking the agent how the house is supplied with it’s water well? Underground tank? City water? It is my suggestion that you find yourself a new agent if that one dismisses your question…
  • AREAS: Kemang remains a solid favorite with lots of expats and boy, it’s expensive. By comparison, imagine tree-lined streets, children playing in the garden, many friendly white faces waving as they walk by. But you must pay for this lifestyle. A budget around $4.500-$6000USD will secure you a nice property here. The area is littered with eateries, shops and expat facilities.
  • There are too many other great areas to mention but feel free to drop me a line for further information anytime: therese@theharpergroup.com.au or WHATS APP +6281381258832
  • A good agent here will pre qualify your needs and budget before even making any suggestions as your time on a visit will be short with many other priorities. The last thing you need is to spend one week in the car and have to make a last minute rash decision on any house under pressure. Avoid this scenario at all costs. Make the agent work for his commission which incidentally is not paid by you or your company so go ahead, use us! The home owner pays the agent to find him a client, negotiate on his behalf and work on any problems. This is standard in all Jakarta.
  • I personally have a small questionnaire, which I have found invaluable, that gives me all I need to know to make the right suggestions.
  • I have noted that most of my clients choose between the inconvenience for the working partner or the children depending on the family dynamics
  • Close to the office for hubby= long way to school for the kids. Close to the social hub & school maybe far from the office. Work out this individual priority in advance as it is one of the big decisions in housing here. And helps us know which way to proceed.

We look forward to meeting you in our fair City of Jakarta

Good luck till then,

Therese Harper
Expat Housing Specialist
Jakarta
therese@theharpergroup.com.au