description-icon

Article

5 min read

Moving to Indonesia: A Guide for Expats and Digital Nomads

Worker experience

Author

Gabriele Culot

Published

February 28, 2024

Last Update

June 27, 2024

Table of Contents

Step 1: Prepare your documents

Step 2: Manage your finances

Step 3: Arrange housing and accommodation

Step 4: Consider career opportunities and working arrangements

Step 5: Organize healthcare and education

Step 6: Ensure your safety

Step 7: Immerse yourself in Indonesian culture

Discover a warm welcome in Indonesia

Key takeaways
  1. Indonesia has emerged as a popular choice for expats and digital nomads in recent years.
  2. Applying for one of the many Indonesian visas and finding jobs calls for thorough research and careful planning.
  3. Deel’s step-by-step guide shows you how to effortlessly navigate the Indonesian visa process and settle into your new home.

A rising number of foreign residents are heading to Indonesia, drawn by its unique blend of vibrant culture, warm weather, beautiful beaches, and stunning landscapes. The growth of remote work opportunities also allows expats and digital nomads to enjoy a relaxed lifestyle in Indonesia, all while staying connected to their global tasks.

The beauty of places like Sumatra and Java, the nightlife of cities like Jakarta and Surabaya, and the strategic proximity of the country to the markets of China, Australia, and Singapore attract many expats interested in setting up businesses or working on the islands.

However, moving to Indonesia requires careful planning and preparation. This guide will outline the crucial steps for a successful move to Indonesia.

Step 1: Prepare your documents

Before you can move to Indonesia, you must ensure you're eligible to stay in the country and organize the necessary documents. Here's what to consider.

Visa types in Indonesia

The Indonesian government provides various types of visas for foreign nationals coming to the country:

  • Tourist visa: Allows you to visit Indonesia. It’s valid for a maximum of 60 days
  • Social-cultural visa: This visa allows non-touristic stays, such as for studying or visiting relatives, for up to 60 days and can be extended up to 180 days
  • Business visa: For business meetings or participation in conferences
  • Temporary stay visa: A residence permit for those planning to stay and work or study in Indonesia for an extended period
  • Permanent stay visa (KITAP): For long-term stays, after holding a temporary stay permit for at least five years (consecutively) in some cases

Understanding Indonesian temporary residence permits

To obtain a KITAS (Temporary Stay Permit Card) in Indonesia, you must first secure both a VITAS and an ITAS. Below are the differences between them:

  • VITAS is the initial permit you obtain from an Indonesian Embassy or Consulate, following approval by the Indonesian Immigration Department before you arrive in Indonesia.
  • ITAS is essentially the Temporary Stay Permit. It details your temporary resident status and is validated annually via a stamp in your passport by Indonesian Immigration Offices.
  • KITAS is the Temporary Stay Permit Card. It is issued after Indonesian Immigration grants you an ITAS. Essentially, it functions as an ID card proving your (temporary) ITAS immigration status.

Visa sponsorship

Foreigners wishing to work or establish a business in Indonesia will require sponsorship through a local company or an employer as part of their visa requirements.

Essential document checklist

Get all your paperwork ready before starting the Indonesian visa application process. The documents required may include:

✅ Passport: Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond your planned stay duration

✅ Passport-sized photos: 40mm x 60mm in dimension

✅ Visa Application Form: Complete specific forms based on the visa type

✅ Proof of outbound travel: A copy of your flight ticket showing your departure from Indonesia

✅ Financial proof: Demonstrate adequate funds for your stay's duration

✅ Accommodation details: Provide the address of your location in Indonesia

✅ Employment proof: For a work visa, furnish your work contract or offer letter

✅ Educational certificates: Some visas may require evidence of educational qualifications

✅ Marriage and birth certificates: If you're moving with your family, these documents are needed for dependent visa applications

Importance of authenticating and translating documents

Indonesian authorities require documents to be legalized if the issuing country isn't part of the Hague Convention. For this, consult the Indonesian embassy or consulate in your home country.

Documents not in Indonesian or English may need to be translated by a recognized translation service to ensure the translation's accuracy and legal acceptance by Indonesian authorities.

Step 2: Manage your finances

Indonesia is known for its relatively low cost of living, offering expats the opportunity to save money while maintaining a good quality of life. Here are some factors to consider when managing your finances in Indonesia.

Cost of living in Indonesia

  • Renting: The cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in big cities like Jakarta can range from IDR 5,000,000 ($350) to IDR 10,000,000 ($700) per month. In smaller cities and towns, the cost can be significantly lower.
  • Buying property: Real estate prices in Indonesia can vary based on location and property type. While buying property can be a viable long-term investment, there are certain regulations and restrictions for foreigners.
  • Food and drink: Groceries in Indonesia are generally affordable, and you can find a variety of local markets and street food options. A meal for two in a local restaurant can cost as little as IDR 100,000 ($7).
  • Transport: Public transportation is relatively inexpensive in Indonesia, with fares starting at IDR 3,000 ($0.20) for short distances. Gas prices are lower compared to many other countries.
  • Utilities: The cost of utilities, such as electricity and water, is relatively low in Indonesia. However, it is essential to consider the potential for higher usage in areas with extreme temperatures.

Taxation

When planning your finances, it's crucial to understand the tax system in Indonesia. Individual income tax rates vary based on income brackets, ranging from 5% to 30%. It is recommended to consult with a tax professional to ensure compliance with tax regulations.

Expats may also be eligible for certain tax benefits or incentives, such as the tax holiday program for specific industries. It's important to stay updated on any changes in tax policies that may affect your financial planning.

Banking and currency exchange

Opening an Indonesian bank account is a straightforward process. You will need to visit a local branch with proper identification documents, including your passport and a valid visa.

The official currency in Indonesia is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). You can easily exchange foreign currency at authorized money changers and banks throughout the country.

Step 3: Arrange housing and accommodation

Finding suitable housing is an important step when moving to Indonesia. Consider the following options and steps to secure your accommodation.

Renting vs. buying

While buying property in Indonesia is possible for foreigners in certain circumstances, most expats choose to rent. Renting provides flexibility and avoids the complexities of property ownership regulations.

Finding suitable housing

Indonesia offers various housing options, from modern apartment complexes to traditional houses. Using local property listing websites such as Rumah123UrbanIndo, and Rumah.com is recommended to search for available properties based on your budget and preferred location.

When selecting a property, inspecting the condition thoroughly and clarifying any terms and conditions with the landlord or real estate agent is essential.

Lease agreement

Once you've chosen a property, carefully review the lease agreement. The contract should include details such as:

  • Description of the accommodation
  • Rental amount
  • Security deposit requirements (usually equivalent to one or two months' rent)
  • Lease duration (typically one year)
  • Tenant responsibilities
  • The landlord's pet policy

Make sure you understand and agree to all terms before you sign the lease agreement.

Step 4: Consider career opportunities and working arrangements

A career in Indonesia can be filled with opportunities, particularly for technology, education, manufacturing, and tourism professionals. The nation's growing economy, combined with its strategic position in Southeast Asia, attracts many multinational companies. 

While Indonesian cities such as Jakarta boast a vibrant job market, expatriates might find the bureaucracy challenging. However, the prospect of living in this culturally rich country can be highly rewarding.

Job market overview

Online platforms like JobStreet Indonesia are excellent starting points for job seekers, offering many opportunities. The burgeoning start-up scene, especially in tech and digital services, is becoming a significant source of employment in urban centers. Furthermore, there is an ongoing demand for English teachers and professionals in the hospitality industry, given the country's robust tourism sector.

Professional networking sites like LinkedIn are invaluable in Indonesia, where personal connections and relationships (known as "koneksitas") can significantly influence job opportunities. Proficiency in Bahasa Indonesia is not always required but can give candidates a competitive edge and facilitate deeper integration into the local community and culture.

Understanding work culture in Indonesia

Work culture in Indonesia places a strong emphasis on hierarchy and group harmony. Decisions are often made through consensus, and respect for seniority is paramount. The business environment may seem formal to outsiders, with great importance placed on politeness and indirect communication to avoid conflict.

Typical working hours are from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday, with some businesses also operating half-days on Saturdays. Adapting to the practice of "jam karet" (rubber time) is essential, where schedules and timeliness can be flexible, reflecting a more relaxed approach to time compared to Western standards.

Step 5: Organize healthcare and education

Relocating to Indonesia means adjusting to its healthcare system and exploring educational options if moving with family.

Healthcare system in Indonesia

Indonesia is developing its healthcare infrastructure, with varying qualities of medical care across the archipelago. Urban areas like Jakarta and Bali have international-standard hospitals and clinics, while remote regions may lack facilities. Many expatriates and well-off Indonesians opt for private healthcare providers to ensure higher service standards. It's highly advisable to have comprehensive health insurance that covers medical evacuation, given the geographical spread of the country.

Education options in Indonesia

For expatriate families, Indonesia offers a range of educational institutions, including public, private, and international schools. Public schools primarily teach in Bahasa Indonesia, making international schools a popular choice for English-speaking families. These schools offer various curricula, including British, American, and the International Baccalaureate, providing high-quality education but often with significant tuition fees.

Step 6: Ensure your safety

While Indonesia is generally a safe country with hospitable locals, expatriates should remain vigilant to avoid petty theft, especially in crowded tourist destinations. Natural disasters, including tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, should also be considered, given Indonesia's position on the "Ring of Fire."

For emergencies, the national emergency number is 112. Building a local support network and staying informed about regional safety updates can enhance security and preparedness.

Step 7: Immerse yourself in Indonesian culture

Adapting to life in Indonesia involves engaging with its diverse cultural traditions and societal norms.

Cultural integration: Indonesia’s rich tapestry of ethnicities and traditions means there's always something new to learn and experience. Participating in local festivals, understanding religious practices, and respecting local customs can facilitate a smoother cultural integration.

Language: Bahasa Indonesia is the national language, and learning it can significantly enhance day-to-day interactions and deepen connections with locals. English is commonly spoken in major cities and tourist areas but less so in rural regions.

Social norms: Indonesians value community, harmony, and respectfulness in social interactions. Building personal relationships is crucial in both personal and professional settings, with a focus on kindness and courtesy.

Religion: Islam is Indonesia’s most practiced religion, and the population is predominantly Muslim, but you'll find significant populations of Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, and others, reflecting a remarkable religious diversity. Respecting religious customs and dressing modestly, especially during religious celebrations or when visiting places of worship, can help blend in respectfully with the local communities.

Climate: Indonesia, straddling the equator, boasts a tropical climate with two main seasons: the dry season (May to September) and the rainy season (October to April). Temperatures remain relatively constant year-round, averaging 25-30°C. High humidity levels are common, especially during the rainy season.

Discover a warm welcome in Indonesia

From the lively city of Jakarta to the beaches of Bali, Indonesia is an excellent destination for digital nomads, with a thriving expat community. You can enjoy an affordable cost of living, a supportive community, diverse job opportunities, rich cultural experiences, and stunning natural beauty.

Careful research and planning are essential for a smooth relocation if you're considering a move to Indonesia. For extra support, Deel can assist organizations and their employees through the visa application process and help them find suitable insurance plans.

Discover how Deel can help you obtain the necessary visa, or read the Deel blog for more information on relocating abroad.

Related resources

deel logo
twitterlinkedin (1)facebookinstagram

How it works

© Copyright 2024. All Rights Reserved.