Living greener in Indonesia

Sometimes I think that the only way I can live as an environmentally-conscious member of society is to hide away under a rock and reject the advances of modern civilisation. Of course, this isn’t realistic but the issue seems so large that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it all. When I first moved into my condo in Jakarta, I was told that our building doesn’t recycle. Apparently, all of the rubbish from our condo will eventually be sorted and magically make its way into a recycling centre somewhere. As an expat it’s difficult to find answers, so I accepted this explanation and carried on with my life of non-recycling. Eventually it ate me up and so I started to make incremental changes to our household.

Trying to live greener in Jakarta takes time and effort. It involves more planning and foresight. However, with the right resources, it is possible. Here are some tips on how to live as a greener family in Indonesia. Continue reading

Why I love condo living

Having a family with three young children, I dream of living in a house with an endless backyard. I imagine my children’s feet stomping on the grass and laughter filling the air as their sunlight-kissed bodies explore their tropical surroundings, while my husband is grilling on our outdoor BBQ and I’m sunbathing on a lounge relaxing the afternoon away. Of course, the reality   is very different to this, but it’s my fantasy!

We can easily make this dream come true by moving out of our practical condo and into our own lavish Indonesian house. The houses in Jakarta are so charming and have a strong allure to them. We came very close to moving into one when we first moved to Jakarta, especially after living in our cramped condo in Singapore. However, after much thought, we decided that condo living was the best choice for our family. At this stage in our family life, when our children are still very young, we prioritise efficiency, convenience and safety.  For us, these three factors are critical for an enjoyable stay in Indonesia as an expat family.

Living in a condo satisfies all three requirements for us. Our condo building is secure. It is full of security guards working 24-7. It has a robust security procedure for allowing non-residents onto the premises. Cars are checked before they enter and no one is allowed up into our condo without authorisation. The condo also runs regular fire drills and building safety inspections.

Our condo is efficient for us because we don’t need to worry about the finer details of running a household, such as hiring our own security guard, fogging of our yard, or maintenance of our pool and garden. That alone cuts down on at least four extra staff members that I would need to manage and who would occupy my personal space daily. Power outages or air conditioning maintenance is smoothly managed and I really don’t need to give much thought to handy work or upkeep. I simply pick up my phone and help is on the way!

Condo living for me is convenient because I have access to many amenities at my doorstep. Convenience wins bonus points for our family because it’s so difficult and frustrating to go anywhere with three young children. Most family-friendly condos in Jakarta are designed around resort style living. The condo will have children’s playgrounds (both indoor and outdoor), swimming pools, a gym, a convenience shop, possibly a restaurant, dry cleaners and beauty salons as well. Having access to all of these has drastically improved my lifestyle and I will take any opportunity I can to avoid traffic.

Another reason I love condo living is that it has nurtured my emotional health. I am a social person and love to be around people. As a stay at home mum spending most of my time with my children, I crave the company of other grown-ups. This is something that I recognised about my personality early on after experiencing motherhood and I make extra effort to be around other mothers. Especially during pregnancy and immediately after birth. By surrounding myself with other families in my building, I have warded off postnatal depression and the feeling of isolation.

My children also benefit from condo living. They have countless friends to play with and I never have to organise playdates for them because it happens naturally at the playground. I’m a part of a community where we take care of each other and socialise by the pool. They are my network to lean on and they make my time here worthwhile.

Of course, there are drawbacks to condo living. Privacy and having my own space is limited. I can’t go for a late-night swim in my own pool or walk outside with my kids without passing several neighbours and security guards. There are also a million rules to the complex that frustrate me tremendously.

The final reason why I think that efficiency, convenience and safety are the most important factors as an expat in Indonesia is because it eases the process of integration into the country. When you are new to a country, it’s crucial that you quickly adjust into your new home. You need to reinforce your decision for your move and the first few months will influence your feelings. Any negative experiences early on can unfairly taint your view for the remainder of your stay. Having things run smoothly as soon as possible and feeling safe greatly help with your adjustment period. Relieving the stress of setting up your new home can allow you to focus on more important issues, such as schooling, making friends and exploring Indonesia.

This article was originally published at Indonesia Expat

Is it all worth it?

Ok I’m going to be real now. Is it all worth it? I’m sitting at home alone and thinking. I’m missing all of my friends. I’m listening to songs that remind me of my friends back at home who I continue to love but unfortunately it’s been so long, I know they’ve moved on. I want to pick up the phone and call them or send an email to say how much I still love them, but time has passed and it’s probably just going to be awkward.

I’m reminiscing of old times with my friends that I’ve met along this expat journey. I send them a note. Tell them that I miss them. Tell them how much I appreciated their time with me, even if it was so short. They too have moved on, into another country, dealing with their expat journey.

I’m texting my current friend who I adore but know that one day too, I will most likely have to say goodbye. Every time she says she has news, I catch my breath because she might be telling me she’s moving on and I will have to say goodbye too…

Then today I attended another going away lunch. We made promises to keep in touch and visit each other, should we ever happen to be in the same country again. My Facebook friends are building up but my physical friends are diminishing.

I am so blessed to have met so many wonderful people in my life. They truly stay with me forever but it’s getting to the point where it’s so difficult and I just want to keep still. I want to be bored and share those boring moments with same people who I won’t have to say goodbye to every year or so. I miss the mundane and normal life where nothing really changes. We all grow old together.

I know it’s a far cry from my expat life right now. It feels wrong to feel this way because I am so much in love with this moment. But is it worth it? Is it worth the pain of constantly staying goodbye, trying to stay strong and focusing on the positives? I’m not so sure anymore. Tonight, I’m questioning all of this and have no answers. That is my Expat Housewife dilemma.

Dear expat friend

 

Dear expat friend, what can I say? You came out of nowhere and have now left so suddenly! But before you leave, I wanted to say….

Dear expat friend, thank you for adding me to that Facebook mother’s group, before I set sail on my new expat posting. You were a friend of a friend, and we hadn’t even met. That little gesture eased my nerves and ensured that I had an immediate network of support. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, or how much I would need this group of women, but you knew.

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Bring On 2018!

Reflecting on 2017 and my whole time in Jakarta so far, this year was a great year! I feel like I’m genuinely at home and will try to make 2018 an even better one!

The first year in Jakarta was a blur because I arrived with a 20 month old and newborn baby from Singapore. It would have sucked no matter where I was, because I had two babies and quickly fell pregnant again! I hardly had a chance to sleep, let alone get to know my new home. Continue reading

How I love Jakarta!

Many people who meet me are alway surprised to hear that I love living in Jakarta so much! Every city has its challenges and I think that the ability for someone to enjoy a city is more about that person, rather than the city itself. I can go on and on about all of the fantastic things that Jakarta has to offer (follow my Instagram @the_expat_housewife_of_jakarta) however, if you’re not ready to love Jakarta and give it a chance, then you may not enjoy the city to its full potential.

So how do you learn to love Jakarta as much as I do? Continue reading

Shopping in Jakarta

Shopping in Jakarta can sometimes be a frustrating experience for me. I highly value efficiency, and since having children, my tolerance has decreased drastically. I love the shopping centers here. It’s clean, modern and has everything I need (if I know where to go.) There are also many shop attendants that will greet and eagerly help me. I know they try really hard with customer service, and I appreciate it. Continue reading