There is a certain charm in living and doing business in Indonesia. It is not only the warm weather and smiling faces but the number of hidden opportunities that foreigners find intriguing. Many settle down with families while others look for business opportunities.
However, there are still plenty of aspects that come as a surprise to people. Thus, to make it simpler for future expats in Indonesia, we decided to approach those who already have thorough experience with the country.
Here is what they thought would be useful advice to share with fellow travelers planning their relocation.
Table of contents
What is your one advice for living and doing business in Indonesia?
#1 Research About Local Regulations
“It may take some time to adjust to the way people do business here, but at the end of the day, you will find it rewarding and worth your while. Indonesians can be rather laid back, but that does not mean they are not professional.
Living in Indonesia has its ups and downs, but there is not quite as much bureaucracy here as in other countries and it is relatively easy to adapt to local life. Just do as much research as you can about local law and get yourself prepared before moving here.”
– Nellie Huang of Adventure Travel Blog Wild Junket
#2 Foreigners Have Plenty of Opportunities in Indonesia
“When looking to set up in Indonesia, and in other jurisdictions, it is critical to get good advice or legal counsel from multiple sources. Incorporation processes are not as straightforward as they are in some other countries so it is important to get clear guidance before embarking on the registration processes.
In terms of living here, one bit of advice would be to enjoy it! Indonesia is one of the most dynamic and interesting places to live so focus on the opportunities rather than the things that are different from your home country.”
– Steve Munroe of Hubud
#3 Choose Location Based on Internet Availability
“Research the availability of internet in your area before you choose where to live.”
– Theodora of EscapeArtistes
#4 Enjoy the Diverse Culture of the Archipelago
“Keep your mind open and get out and enjoy variety of restaurants and their cuisines, hip cafes, modern exhibits, shops filled with treasures, and more in the city. You will be amazed by the edgy and stylish designs and talents of the people.
If I may one more thing, once in awhile, escape from the city and take advantage of fabulous travel destinations in Indonesia.”
– Kaho of Chuzai Living
Being in the country for longer, consider applying for Multiple-entry Business Visa. This allows re-entering to Indonesia multiple times during one year. This is a convenient way to see and experience all the wonderful things Kaho from Chuzai Living described.
#5 Access Your Digital Marketing Potential
“Since I live and work in digital environment, my advice is to use all the digital tools that you have free access to, and do it wisely. Promote your business digitally, understand how consumer behaves in this digital era.
Maybe work with the right influencers (not necessarily influencers with massive followers, but rather those who have the knowledge and are suitable with your business models).
Indonesia is one of the largest digital users. You need to adapt with it and reach the digital market too. From all segment, A B C, middle class to affluent society.”
– Herdiana Surachman of Deluxshionist
#6 Moving to Indonesia With Family
“Moving to Bali is an exciting opportunity but also a great challenge. Please give yourself at least 6 months to feel like you are starting to settle in.
Just to understand how some of the day-to-day things work you need to research, get on social media, join groups and network, go on forums and speak to strangers and ask loads of questions.
Respect their culture. Embrace their culture. We have loved doing this with our children – from participating in street parades to learning the local language and trying new food. Accept you will be behind an amazing procession that will make the traffic horrendous and you will be very late.
Put yourself out there and try new things. By living here you just end up doing things differently.
I have loved creating our own special family insights into living in Bali through www.ouryearinbali.com and now I especially love meeting and interviewing other expat families hearing what motivated them and what they have learnt while living here.”
– Simone Collins of OurYearInBali
Moving the entire family can be overwhelming as it requires a thorough research and preparation. Our Year in Bali does provide many insights, support and great stories from life for those looking for that additional assurance before starting their journey.
As for families the backlash from undone paperwork can be heavier, we advise to keep an eye on correct and timely documentation from the beginning. A bit of helpful information here: How to Live in Bali as an Expat With Family.
#7 Local Languages in Indonesia
“Study the culture first. Different area has different culture, also study Bahasa Indonesia and local language. Every area has different local language.”
– Victorina Augusklamasia of Work In Nature Id
#8 Finding Trustful Indonesian Friends
“If you want to enjoy easier life in Indonesia and start your own business – one of the most important thing – to find and have trustful Indonesian friends.
Without a local sponsor (trustful friend) you will not be able to extend your Indonesian visa, open bank account, start a business and many other things.”
– Ria of lifeinbigtent.com
#9 Building Relationships and Being Patient is Key
“I’ve found one of the keys to living and doing business in Indonesia is patience. In work and in life things often take a little bit more time.
We put a lot of importance in socializing and building relationships. I’m sure this can feel a bit frustrating coming from Europe or the US where there’s a direct approach to business.”
– Firsta of Discover Your Indonesia
#10 Focus on the Geographical Potential
“I would like to say as Indonesia is a country comprising wide and various geography and demography, it’s the fact that living and doing business entities are mostly centralized in Java Island and its surrounding neighbourhood.
However, it is very important to spread the range to all over regions in the country to make a fair welfare disbursement commensurate with the potentials on each region.”
– Edwin Prasetio of Regular Daddy
#11 Accommodation in Bali
“I don’t have experience with the rest of Indonesia but in Bali you’ll want to avoid looking for accommodation rentals online as they tend to be luxury rentals that are incredibly overpriced.
It’s best to ask locals when you arrive or drive around the area you’d like to live and look for houses with rental signs outside. There are noticeboards you can look at too in many of the cafes and restaurants, so keep your eyes peeled.”
– Victoria of Pommie Travels
#12 One of the fastest Growing Economies in Southeast Asia
“Indonesia market has a big potential to grow faster compare to other Southeast Asian countries. Indonesia is a land truly rife with business opportunities.
The Indonesian market is one of the fastest growing in the South East Asia region and is incredibly viable for businesses to be established in.
Akin to the vast and fertile paddy fields Indonesia is known for, the business landscape in this country is perfectly positioned to offer exciting and remunerative opportunities for expanding businesses and canny startup owners alike.”
– Bea Alana of www.beasolotraveler.com
#13 Digital Era on the Rising
“It is quite hard if you are new as foreigner doing business in Indonesia because of regulations, but if you have local partner it will be easier to process it. The effective business on Indonesia is still on food, natural resource and textile, but right now because all country are moving to digital era. Indonesian government is pushing startup environment to help more opportunities in grow in digital, also they are emerge with more infrastructure development to help more businesses grow.
Well, before coming. I would say be careful to trust Indonesia businessman or people who get your intention to have business with. The culture that they have too, learn also. Indonesian people are so laid back for doing business, so do not hope for fast phase, but remember markets are so consumptive, so if you want fast phase business choose consuming business.
Hiring fresh graduate can be benefit for new brainwashing of work culture.
Living as foreigners are pretty overwhelmed in some ways but you can be famous easily. Be ready for being stared or people wanting to take photo with you, sometimes if you live in big city. But the good things are – people are friendly to talk if you when you are a foreigner, but only for people that already can talk english and have been interested to study it. Next is prepare of spicy food. Note that drinking here is not common outside the bar or club or pub, except Bali. We love eating fish and drinking tea. Also, there is no using tissue and just water on mostly public toilets – so prepare your own tissue.
In succeeding while on Indonesia, which are better to get mingle with local people and know them better, because you can get on business easier and know secret things we never know before.
One tip for a happy journey is prepare that Indonesian people are more into relationship, so keep the relationship on longer, and you will get more happy tip on that”
– Kriswanto of www.measkris.tumblr.com
In conclusion, do your research in order to enjoy the journey in Indonesia to the fullest. Once already arrived, value your contacts to become a part of the community. Having patience and appreciation either when conducting business or living in the area will help you move closer to the personal goals set. If you have experience in Indonesia that future expats would appreciate, make sure to leave us a comment below.