Expats moving to Jakarta: how to plan and what to pack

As expats, moving to a new place is daunting. Don’t worry, Jakarta is a big city and you’ll find almost anything you need. Here I share what you should pack as well and share some ideas on how to manage while your container arrives.

expat family moving jakarta

Plan your move wisely

Obtaining your resident permit may take a long time, which in turn will delay the arrival of your container. The whole process can take anywhere between 2 to 6 months so be prepared to live without most of your belongings for a few months.

Some companies offer furniture rental, Arbor and Troy is one of them.

Expats leaving Jakarta often sell things on this Facebook group as well as through the newsletter of Uppercrust.

For babies and small kids, check out Babyloania which allows families to rent a range of baby equipment and toys.

What you need to pack

Anything specific

Medicine, supplements, infant formula, and toiletries…

You will find almost anything you need in Jakarta, but perhaps not a specific brand. Just bear in mind that anything imported can either be harder to find or significantly pricier.


Depending on where you come from, it may not be worth bringing your appliances due to the different voltage.

For Kids

Popular fast fashion brands such as HM, or Zara have kids clothes (with winter collections half of the year…) but are slightly more expensive than back home.

English books are also very expensive (although some cheap English books can be found here) and French books impossible to find.

Kids toys are also more expensive (especially Legos!) with a limited selection.

If you have small children, you are likely to spend quite some time at the pool and the beach so packing swimming gear is a good idea (some can be found in Decathlon but they often run out of stock): goggles, reusable swimming diapers, floats, water toys, rashguards, snorkeling gear, sunglasses, beach shoes, sunhats, good quality sunscreen…

A few warm clothes

Jakarta is hot and humid but don’t forget to pack some warm clothes, but you’ll need some warmer clothes to hike or go camping.

First aid kit

Pack a good quality first aid kit for minor and common injuries just in case, including tick remover, venom suction pump. You can also purchase ready-made kits here at SOS clinics (very pricey though, Rp2,5 million for the vehicle first aid kit)

Living in a city prone to earthquakes, we also have an “emergency bag” ready to go at all times which contains copies of important documents, a bit of cash, and the bare minimum to survive for a few days. There are a few “technical” items we brought back from France such as a water filtering straw, swiss knife, sun powered charger…

Home furnishing

Ikea has a store in Jakarta, which makes settling down easier but I found it much more expensive than France and China at the time.

There are also plenty of other great furniture options, you can read previous posts about shopping for furniture online, Cayenne, ordering custom furniture in Jakarta, and Elements Concept.

Things I generally bring back from France

A few food items and couple of good bottles of wine (way overpriced here).

Contact lens (ours are much more expensive here), medecine (only very specific ones, otherwise I rely on Halodoc), a lot of supplements (only big American and Australian brands are available here and are very expensive). If I run out, I usually order from www.iherb.com, limit orders to USD100, pay transport and import taxes to make sure it isnt blocked. It usually takes a few weeks to arrive.

DEET mosquito spray (which I alternate with this local spray), essential oils, good quality sunscreen (I love these sticks and these applicators), especially reef-safe sunscreens and cosmetics (all big brands are available here and somewhat more expensive, but others are hard to find). If I run out, I usually order from Sephora.

All of our clothes and shoes (not much available outside of fast fashion brands): lots of tshirts and shorts, a few light pants for mosquitos, sunhats and swimwear.

Loads of books (I usually buy my kids favorite magazines from the previous year on second hand platforms). Periplus and Books & Beyond have a limited selection of English books, if I cant find what I am after, then I usually place an order at The Book Depository (takes about 2 months to arrive).

Are you moving to Jakarta soon? Read more tips for expat families moving to Jakarta here.

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