Everyday life guide for Jakarta expats

expat jakarta guide everyday

(Views of Monas from Masjid Istiqlal)

For those who have recently arrived and are trying to figure their way around the city, here are some tips for everyday life in Jakarta.

Grocery shopping

  • Vegetables and fruits

We buy from the local wet market and stores such as All Fresh and Total Buah (outlets all over the city)

  • Meat and fish

We mostly buy from Papaya supermarkets (which I think are Japanese owned?). They look the cleanest and have the freshest suchi-grade fish. For hard to find fish and seafood, we use Fins and Claws.

Occasionally, we buy meat from Indoguna, which also has a store in Senopati area.

  • For dry goods

We order nuts, seeds, flours, beans, from ClubSehat., it is considerably cheaper than average supermarkets.

  • For everything else

Grand Lucky is a very large supermarket in South Jakarta. It is more reasonably priced than other “expat” supermarkets (Ranch Market…) and carries a large selection of imported goods.

Perhaps because of supply chain challenges, and/or last minute regulatory changes,  random items sometimes go out of stock. For particular imported items that you canot live without, it is safe to keep a few extras at home (ex: dishwashing tablets, your favorite imported cereals…).

Also, if you see something you like, buy it on the spot because it might not be available on your next visit.

  • For special food (specialty cheese, imported meat…),

For sausages, we order from different places:

Paris Sorbet for the best dairy free sorbets in Jakarta

Mazaraat Artisan Cheese – for locally made, properly aged cheeses. It’s a bit hit and miss, but still way better than any pasteurized supermarket cheeses.

Oma Elly – If you’re like me and hate lukewarm cardboard pizza, Oma Elly’s frozen pizzas are a great alternative. Our kids also like their fresh raviolis.

Gyanti Coffee – for the best locally sourced coffee beans

Luxofood references a lot of speciality food, although we’ve rarely ordered anything from them.

Shopping online

For anything very specific or hard to find, try the main e-commerce platforms such as Tokopedia.


If I need to take a taxi, I prefer Bluebird over other options (Gocar, Grab). The service is always great, drivers know the roads well and are not constrained by the odd-even rule.

The essential App – Gojek

GoJek will become a big part of your life in Jakarta: it isn’t just the Uber for motorcycles (GoRide), but you can also use the same App to order food (GoFood), movie tickets (GoTix), pay anything with Gopay…

Learning Bahasa Indonesia

Few months after I arrived, I signed up for a group course with the IALF and highly recommend it. Not only did that give me the basic language skills for everyday life, it was a great way to meet people and make friends.

For private courses, I have heard good feedback on Wisma Bahasa .

For a haircut

A lot of expats with coloring needs go to:

Roberto Lorini at Alfons salon
Jl. Panglima Polim Raya,
Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta Selatan, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 12160, Indonesia
+62 21 7220416

If your family is like mine and needs to be dragged to the hair dresser then I have a solution for you, Essy is a great hair dresser who speaks fluent English and does home visits – 0818601229.

Waxing and brows

Browhaus for eyebrows and Strip for waxing (they share the same location).


I highly recommend Spalosophy for massage and mani/pedis at home.

Jamu is also a popular option among South Jakarta expats.

Expat Classified- Upper Crust

The caterer Upper Crust often send out a newsletter for expats with classified (house staff for hire, second hand furniture/appliances…). You can send them an email to be added to the list


Receiving anything through mail is tricky because custom duties will apply to any package valued over USD3 (!!!) and the calculation method is unpredictable.

If you plan to receive a package, make sure the content is itemized carefully so customs can calculate duties accordingly.

Men’s shirts

For shirts, my husband goes to Riza Tailor in Kemang (Rp400,000 per shirts)

Curtains and reupholstery

I’ve used the service of Pak Suratman on several occasions: to make cushion covers (see details here) and a sofa cover (in Elliott’s room here, I’ll admit this is not a great picture of his work!). He (or his staff) can come to your place with fabric samples, take measurements and delivers everything back less than a week. He speaks reasonable English but his staff do not and he doesn’t have a lot of fabric to choose from.

Pak Suratman – 0818 0877 1020

Making friends

Making friends is a slow process, especially for those living outside the usual expat neighborhoods. If you have the time, I highly recommend looking into this:

A very active non-profit organization that aims to promote Indonesia’s culture.

It is run by volunteers, most of them expats living in Jakarta and organizes all sorts of interesting activities (walks and visit in the city, conferences, guiding courses for Museum Nacional…). It is a very friendly international community of people, and an excellent way to discover Jakarta and learn more about Indonesia.

There are also several subsections (French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean) that organize activities in their own language.

  • Joining playgroups

This Facebook group is a good place to ask if one already exist in your neighborhood, or to start one (just send an email to the admin to be added).

  • Registering at your local Embassy

Some Embassies are very good at bringing their local community together

  • Joining international clubs/associations (mostly in South Jakarta) – Full listing here.

The most popular ones are the American Club, the Australia and New Zealand Association and the British Women Association.

For French people: Jakarta acceuil and Union des Francais de l’Etranger

Have I forgotten anything? Click here to read my previous post on what you need to know to plan your move.

3 thoughts

  1. Hello, good morning, my name is Silvana. I’m from Argentina. Now we are living in Singapore but in December we moved to Jakarta !!! I am writing you just to thank you for all the information, hours ago I have been reading thank you very much for your clarity and time. We are an Argentine family and I do not handle English or Bahasa very well so I am complicated hahaha that’s why all your experience and what you wrote are very important to me. thankssss

    1. Hi Silvana, sorry for my late reply! I havent updated the blog in a really long time and only saw this now. Thank you so much for your comment, it means a lot to me that my blog can help others settle into this city. I hope you are enjoying Jakarta!

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