Moving to Jakarta without losing your Mind Part 2

This is the second and final part of the quick guide to Moving to Jakarta. Today we will discuss what to bring and culture shock and everyday life in the Big Durian.

Moving to Jakarta without Losing your Mind

Part 2

What to Bring?

1.     Medicine and Baby Supplies

Would you recommend I stock up on Children’s Tylenol, Ibuprofen, diapers, wipes or would you say don’t bother everything is there?  Just curious if I should bring 6-month supply of things for the kids when they are sick or are running a fever.

You can find most everything here. However, you are not always able to find the same brands. So, if you are very attached to a specific brand I would say go ahead and stock up. They sell locally manufactured pampers diapers here but they are not the same as in the US. They are a bit thicker but still work fine. I use them once in a while and haven’t had any problems. They also sell 7th generation, and other brands but they are way too expensive and not worth buying in my opinion.

They don’t sell children’s Tylenol per se but they sell children’s paracetamol and other pain relievers. I usually bring Advil and Tylenol from the US but buy locally when I run out.  I would say bring 2 or 3 tylenols for each of the boys so you don’t have to figure out buying local medicine soon after you get here. Regarding diapers, bring some for the first week or two so you don’t have to run to the supermarket in an emergency. You can eventually try the different local brands and see what you like. Most of my friends use either pamers or mamipoko, a Japanese brand. Wipes are fine here, too.

2. Furniture

Most people are recommending we don’t take a lot of things to move, I feel like the more things we bring it will be more like home to us vs. buying everything new, however, all of our furniture is big and bulky and I’m afraid it won’t fit. What about washer/drye and Flat screen tv???

Our house is furnished so we don’t really have to worry about furniture. That being said, we decided to buy a few pieces that make home home. We have a living room set, bed, and the boy’s bedrooms. If you move into a house you probably won’t have any problems fitting your furniture. If you really really love your pieces and know that you will be going back home at some point I would say don’t bring all of them. Hauling them across the pacific on a boat for a few months can really damage some furniture. Sometimes you open your container and find that it’s broken, scratched or lost its color. You can have nice furniture made here but you have to be very patient. Woodworkers are very talented so if you bring a picture of something you really like they will very likely be able to replicate it in teak wood. Same for sofas.

We’ve come to think of our furniture as accessories and I try not to get too attached. We do have some gorgeous antique pieces and take special care of them. I used get so upset if something happened to it but with our lifestyle you keep the good stuff and move on when something gets ruined. The two bedrooms I always bring along are the boy’s rooms. Crib, toddler bed, dressers, etc. If you love your nursery, bring it over. Bring accent pieces that make your home yours but don’t worry about bringing everything.

You won’t be able to use the washer and dryer here. They have different voltages and will not work. Same thing for your TV. If you have a multi-system, dual-voltage TV you should bring it. The cable transmission is different here than in the US so you need to make sure you have the PAL system. You can find nice TVs here for relatively good prices. However, nothing is as cheap and good-quality as in the US. You can find all the brands here and buy the multisystem TVs which will come in handy if you keep moving and go to the Middle East, Europe or back to the US.

3. Other things.

This is a personal compilation of things I brought or wish I had brought.


  • Bring anything that will make it feel like home. If you have a few accent pieces like a chair, or side table you really like, you could go ahead and bring them.
  • Photos of your friends and family
  • Artwork for your walls
  • Any light things you like to have around like baskets, hampers, etc.
  • Birthday cards, father’s day card, mother’s day card, etc.
  • Cute wrapping papers and gift bags
  • Candles (if you are into them)
  • Cute paper napkins
  • Holiday Decor
  • If you want to throw a party, whether a birthday party or a baby shower, don’t forget to bring party supplies.


  • Rugs. Cool modern ones are either acrylic or super expensive for the nice wool ones.
  • Linens, pillows and bedding for queen size bed. They are widely available here. However I feel like the good quality ones are too expensive.
  • Towels (as many as you need for yourself and any guests you may have)
  • Shower curtains
  • Plates and placemats
  • Cups, mugs, etc
  • Cutlery
  • Kitchen Tools (french press, peelers, spatulas, etc)
  • Kitchen Appliances. Remember current here is 220 so if you bring appliances you will need to use a transformer (which I do all the time for my bigger appliances). You might want to bake some cupcakes, cookies or make a batch of cereal treats.
  • Pots and Pans


  • Nail polish remover
  • Facial Mousturizer
  • Make-Up Remover
  • Sunscreen (available, but pricier)
  • Baby shampoo and lotion.

Again, this list is not all-encompassing but this is what I remember for now.All of these things are available here, however, I feel like the quality is not always the best and the prices for well-known brands are just too inflated by import taxes and duties.


Culture Shock and Life in Jakarta

1.     Culture Shock.

What would you say will be the hardest things to get used to? Easiest? Any advise or anything I should know to ease the culture shock process? What do you love/dislike about living there?

One of the hardest things for me to get used to was the Mosques. They are everywhere and start their call to prayer at 4 am. The first weeks they woke me up every day! Now, they only wake me up if I was already up checking on Joshua.

Another big change is not being able to do things by myself. You cannot fix little things in the house because it’s harder to work with concrete and the tools are just not available. You have to call the landlord to do things for you. It’s sometimes annoying to not be able to drive anywhere and not have to plan your day around schedules and traffic. I cannot call my friend and tell her to meet me for coffee in the spur of the moment. The spur of the moment can mean an hour stuck in traffic.

Culture shock is different for everyone. I had already lived in a few countries before moving here but there are things that you can deal with and some that are harder to. My best advice is to get busy. Work on your house. Find classes for the boys and try to adapt to your new lifestyle quickly. Meet new people that will show you around and make sure you are very very supportive of your hubby. We are the ones who go thru the biggest changes! They go to their office and stay within the same environment. We are the ones who have to run a house in a completely different culture.

 2.     Dress Code

What is accepted? What isn’t? Living in Texas where it’s always 100F and humidity, I live in tank tops and skirts – is that acceptable?

This is a Muslim country. Not radical at all but still it is important to be respectful. You can wear tank tops and skirts as long as they are not too short and bare. I usually wear capris and dresses. I have never had issues but I’ve noticed how some people who are wearing short shorts and spaghetti tank tops are not well regarded. Just be yourself. Bring whatever you feel comfortable with as long as it’s not too short. A bit above the knee is fine, mid-thigh not so much. This is in Jakarta. When you go to Bali you can wear whatever you want! They are Hindu and it’s a big tourist city so they don’t even notice. You can go shirtless and they wouldn’t mind haha…

 3.     Every Day Life

What does your regular week look like?

My regular week is crazy! I will give you an example of this week.

Monday: Drop Evan off at school. Go grocery shopping. Pick up Evan. (Yes it takes that long) Lunch with the hubby at restaurant near office. Take Josh to early development classes. Pick up Husband from work. Playtime. Dinner. Bedtime

Tuesday: Meeting at American Women’s Association. Lunch with AWA ladies. Come home swim with the boys. Dinner. Bedtime

Wednesday: Take Evan to school. Get pictures framed. Go to Starbucks and read a book (yay!). Pick up Evan. Lunch meeting with Spanish Speaking Women Association. Pick up husband from work. Dinner. We tried going to the movies but failed (we were both too tired).

Thursday: Bible Study. Lunch with friends in Kemang. Playgroup at home. Dinner at home.

Friday. Take Evan to school. Coffee with friends in Kemang. And so far, no plans! Maybe movie or dinner with hubby and friends.

Saturday. Relax at home in the morning. Go to the mall. Get haircuts for the boys. Buy necessary groceries.

Sunday. Church. Lunch at restaurant (sometimes a nice brunch in a hotel). Meet for swimming with friends at our apartment.

I try to sneak in some exercise but I have been really bad at it lately. Since we got back from our vacation I’ve been too busy or too tired. I have to work on that!

4.     Taking a Break

What do you do for fun when you need some “me” time? 

Get massages or cream baths (head massage) for cheap! Get my nails done. Go to a coffeeshop and read a book. Go out with girlfriends and have a chocolate martini… There aren’t many outdoor places here so we sometimes try to go up the mountain a couple of hours away and take a break and relax there. You will find exactly what you need. I’ve even gone to the movies by myself. There’s a movie theater in front of my apartment so I went to see twilight cause I knew the hubby would see it but not be very happy about it. I take Evan there all the time, too.

What else should I add to this list JKT expats?

What was the most shocking part about Jakarta for you?

13 thoughts on “Moving to Jakarta without losing your Mind Part 2

  1. Talking about culture shock I just thought of something that it looked (still looks) funny to me. Nannies. They are soooo many and they’re everywhere dressed in their white or pink uniforms… I have seen families with a nanny for each and one of their kids. It’s just crazy…

    • I found it very odd, too!!! One per kid! Craziness!!! I do avoid the malls in the weekends, too since there are hundreds of families and twice as many nannies!!!

  2. Coming from someone who had a reverse culture shock when moving back in town, the hardest part was the traffic, the mosque and the non-stop honking on the road. Yikes. But I do have a love-hate relationship with this city.

  3. Pingback: A Week in Snapshots: ❊December 3-9,2012❊ | Stumble Abroad

  4. Hi Ana,

    I stumbled upon your blog,and it’s very interesting to see that we are in a reverse position. I am an Indonesian, was living in Jakarta, and now living in US. Enjoy Jakarta ! I know it could be very chaotic but surprisingly I miss it sometimes in here

  5. Hi Ana, we’re moving to Jakarta this summer with our kids- my son is 9 years old, and my daughter is 2 years. I’m really very upset and worried about the air pollution and especially the dengue fever. Could you tell me is the dengue fever i such a common desease and what do you do exactly to prevent your kids?

    • Hi Joy, congratulations on your move. I net you are super busy getting everything ready for this new adventure. Fortunately we never experienced dengue fever and the people we knew who got it contracted it while traveling and not in Jakarta. However, it is always wise to take precautions. Basically stay away from mosquito-ridden areas such as puddles or any standing water. Try to stay inside during dusk when most of the mosquitoes are flying around and always wear repellent. For the boys I used to buy citronella patches that I just stuck to their shirts and pants. They also sell bracelets and other contraptions but my boys loved to play with them so I stuck to the stickers. Pollution is bad but not too different than any major city. I am sure you will enjoy your life there thoroughly. Please let me know if you have any more questions!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s