Expats moving to Jakarta: adjusting as a trailing housewife and more


On finally feeling comfortable

I had never been a trailing housewife before and adjusting to my new role was challenging for a million reasons, but it also took me almost a year to feel ready to get back to work.

This is obviously very personal but I felt adapting to this city was a long process: getting to a point where I was feeling confident about leaving the kids to our nanny, learning to navigate the city, helping the kids settle at their school (we changed school after one term), making friends…

That may sound very naïve but we were not first time expats, had visited Jakarta in the past and even have some relatives living here so we assumed settling would be easier.

I wish I had known it would take this long and adjusted my expectations accordingly (both financial and psychological).

Adjusting to household staff

When living in Shanghai, our kids attended daycare while my husband and I worked. We hired a part-time nanny to pick up our kids and prepare their dinner but hardly spent time with her as she would leave almost as soon as we got home.

In Jakarta, things are very different. Without daycare, we relied on a full time nanny to help care for our kids and also decided to hire a part time housekeeper.

I know this sounds extreme, especially if you are coming from a country where people don’t rely on any help. Everything is less efficient here, even a small errand can take hours due to traffic and the system is built on the assumption that each child has an accompanying adult.

It’s not unusual for expats who live in houses to have 5 household staff members, some of them live-in (a housekeeper, a nanny, a gardener, a driver, and a rotation of security guards) who all hang around the house.

Being able to hire help an immense privilege, but sharing the intimate space of our home with strangers also took some adjustment.

This Jakarta Blogger talks in greater detail about her experience as a trailing housewife and dealing with household staff.

Traveling in the region

With low cost airlines operating from Jakarta and many nice destinations within 1h30-3h flights, we thought we’d be able to organize regular weekend getaways but the reality is different.

Jakarta’s notorious traffic jams and systematic flight delays always turn an 1h30 flight into a 6-7 hour journey, so leaving on a Friday to come back on Sunday isn’t really an option.

This is why finding a home that you really love is all the more important.

On getting out of the expat world

The “expat bubble” is very real in Jakarta as we tend to spend most of our time at home, inside expat compounds, while our kids attend international schools.

There is so much out there and getting out of the expat circle is easy: going to a fun workshop with MauBelajarApa or at Indoestri, explore Jakarta with Jakarta Good Guide, attending a meditation class at the Golden Space, or joining  the Jakarta International Choir… 

Are you preparing a move to Jakarta? More tips for expat families moving to Jakarta here.

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