Friday, November 1, 2013

Indie Guide Indonesia: Where to Live in Jakarta

The (Brief) Jakarta Apartment Guide for Young Groovy Expats

Who needs Bali when you live in a place like this?! Jakarta Residence..my home. 

As you read through this, you may be sensing a slight psychotic obsession with all things green and TENNIS and health oh my. I am Canadian and these are aspects of life I took for granted up until the point I moved to Jakarta and it was violently ripped from beneath my feet. Things you did with the ease of breathing, like walking to the store or taking the subway, don't exist here. And if you can walk to the store, it is usually accompanied with blackened lungs and clothing from pollution or the risk of being honked at because you're always always always in someone's goddamn way! Why? Because there aren't many sidewalks and you are walking on the street. Ah okay. Calming. Down.

Photoshoot in the middle of the Jakarta streets with badass artist Kendra Ahimsa

 As a result you have the potential (especially ladies!!) to get super fat. I did anyway, even though I went to the gym and had a bicycle..there was just an irreplaceable amount of activity in daily walking that my body missed desperately. Your geography in Jakarta means everything to your happiness. I've never seen a city where it matters so much where you live and that's because the traffic is truly devastating.

With this guide on where to live in Jakarta I hope to help you make good decisions! Please choose wisely. Ask your colleagues where they live and try to live in some of the places or areas I've recommend below.

Btw..you will also sense that partying, young people and cool culture are priorities for my ideal hoods and have biased what I have recommended. If that doesn't describe you then this is not relevant.

Good luck!

Before You Choose

You should base where you live on where your friends and social life will be more than your work. Trust me on this one. I lived 5 km (at Lavande Residence in Tebet) from all my friends for the sole purpose of living next to my office and beating traffic daily. It worked (beating traffic to work) but I rarely saw my friends. They mustered the strength to come ONCE in a month. If you breath social life, dinner with friends, watching shows on your couch with your homies, seriously don't make the mistake I did. Traffic is a biatch, but isolation is worse.


Pasta. Beer. Italians. at my place in Jakarta Residence. Hosting friends and being hosted was an essential part of my being. 

1. Jakarta Residence (Central Jakarta)

Located behind the major shopping centres of Plaza Indonesia and Grand Indonesia, this was my favourite place to live. Everything happens in malls here and I would rather have spiders die in my ears than sit in traffic. I had my gym in Plaza Indonesia and all my friends lived in the same building or in the guesthouses right outside. Only on weekends did I need to venture away from my hood. It's great because it has an enormous pool, pool-side restaurant, neighbourhood where you can go jogging, lots of foreigners and most important for me.. TENNIS COURTS! A lot of people from the UN work there or Lion Air Pilots in training. IMO best bang for your buck.

1 BR: about 5 million IDR
2 BR: 7 million IDR
*not including electricity and internet

Why choose Jakarta Residence? You work at the UN or Menara Thamrin and want great facilities without dishing out all of your paycheque for it.


Weirdest thing about this place was that they built a neighbourhood on the roof of the mall! 

2. Thamrin Residence (Central Jakarta)

Located just next to the Jakarta Residence, this basically is the same vibe and access as what I wrote above. The difference being that the rooms are slightly more expensive and a bit smaller. The plus side is that the pool is better and they have 2 tennis courts rather than one. However it does not have a cool neighbourhood on the roof that you can go jogging on and ignore that you live in a pedestrian-hating city.

Why choose Thamrin Residence? You want something slightly nicer than what Jakarta Residence could offer.

3. Taman Rasuna (South Jakarta)

As an intern I apartment-sat a place for 2 months in Taman Rasuna (tower 6) and I must say I loved the place. It is filled with journalists from the Jakarta Globe and all sorts of expats because it is super affordable yet spacious and with decent facilities. There is a pool on the roof, pool-side restaurant, a tennis court and best of all is that it is built away from the Jakarta chaos with clean, smooth roads. You can walk and jog around there without feeling that death is imminent. Also it is right next to a shopping centre with lots of cafes and bars and a good local mall known as Pasar Senen (that has an Arab shop where you can fresh pitas for the hummous you make!).

The location is between the centre and further south (Kemang) so it's a good middle point to live for everyone.

Why choose Taman Rasuna? You work near or around Gatot Subroto or need to go south but don't want to imprison yourelf too far in traffic hell. Also, you want to be around other young people.

4. Other spots to check out

Bellagio: Swanky but crap tennis court. 
2 BR : 10 million IDR min

Sudirman Park: Cheap, giant pool, lots of Indian people. My intern friends lived there and it was not bad at all when on a budget but want an apartment. 

The Peak: If you're ballin' outta control, live here. Private elevators, giant flats, lots of diplomats living here.

Suites @7: This is a serviced apartment with a shared kitchen and private bath. Lots of young Germans and ecommerce bros live here. It's very transient and not a place to live for a long time. But you will have an amazing social life!
1 BR: 5 million IDR/month

Suburbs and Neighbourhoods to Live in

Kemang (South)

 This is a southern suburb that is filled with cool bars, restos, cafes, the Jakarta art scene and more. The expats who live here tend to be here for the long haul. You can find a room in a house to rent usually or rent your own house with people. The bitch of it is that you are in a prison of traffic. If your whole life jives in the south then whateva but if not..you better be prepared to track traffic flows more closely than your own blood pressure. I stayed in Evergreen Townhouses for a while and it was great! But my gym was in Plaza Indonesia so I rode my bicycle every other day for 1 hour to the centre. The pollution was treacherous and ultimately I don't advise it. With most of my friends living in the centre, I was finally compelled to move out of Kemang.

Senopati (South, SCBD)

Located between the Kemang and the centre. Jalan Senopati is one of my fav neighbourhoods. There are lots of good outdoor restaurants (recall that most things exist in a mall..well not here). It is close to all the hot spots (Lucy in the Sky, Potato Head, not far from Kemang), and the neighbourhood is kind of green looking. The infrastructure isn't great for walking but it's centrality to party spots and good dining is huge. I had a billion French friends live in the apartments in this neighbourhood.


Blurry picture of a French party in Senopati apartments. Spot the naked guy? 

Panglima Polim (South, Blok M) 

If you want to be in the heart of Indonesian hipsterdom, Panglima Polim (around Blok M) is the place to be. You're surrounded by cool cafes (Coffee Beerian), hipster restaurants (Taco Loco), lots of street art, a skip away form Little Tokyo and beautiful houses and wide streets that have lots of trees. The streets are lined with swanky mansions but it's a great neighbourhood if you're looking for a house. If you want to get even swankier go to Dharmawangsa hood. Not far away and even more green! It feels like a Jakarta escape


Menteng (Centre) 

Beautiful, walkable and a classic expat hood. The expats here are not your young party animals though. They are seriously mature either in age or career wise. Menteng is filled with beautiful mansions and when it rains the air is fresh and pleasant. For this reason alone I'd live there. If you can find an affordable room to rent go for it!!

Conclusion

 When I move to a new city I always hope to have the stereotypes laid out in front of me so I can understand what's what. It helps me from getting duped into a place that's not my flava flaves (old people who complain, far away from fun zones) but in the end anywhere that you are able to cut your work commute time while balancing your social life is the promise land. Cherish it.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and recommendations with others. Sorry for typos, I did this in a rush! My last couple days in Toronto on my long overdue visit to see my family!


Peace from Toronto, Trinity College

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