Ramadan… it’s not about you

Ramadan starts tomorrow and there has been a few confused posting on expat forums about general working hours and normal routines of their household staff members during this period (ie. nannies and maids). Questions of what to expect from household staff during the fasting month and if it’s reasonable to offer special time off or shorter working hours to accommodate. I think these are very reasonable questions and topics to be discussed.

What I don’t appreciate are the string of negative responses from certain people. The comments are disrespectful, dehumanizing and mostly, not related to the issue at hand. Continue reading

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

A Guide To Emergency Planning For Expat Families

As an expat parent living in Indonesia I need to be prepared for the unexpected and take sensible steps to protect my family. If an emergency arises, I need to have the right procedures in place because as a foreigner to this country, I don’t have the immediate access to, or the protection of, my home country’s support system. Here are some things you can do to help protect your family: 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

Making Friends in Expat Land


One of the best things for me as a mother with young children is being an expat at the same time. I think that if I were to have my children back in Australia, I would have struggled to make other mummy friends. My best friends had their children a lot younger than than I did, so there would be no playdates with them. I also think its more difficult making friends as an adult outside of work or university. Most women already have their core group of friends from childhood and they are not in the market for new friends. Yes, as a new mother I would have been set up with a local community playgroup but the demographics of that group may not be compatible for me. Also, I think that mothers are simply too busy to make new friends in Australia. They are washing, cleaning, cooking, juggling school runs, and making a living to pay the bills.

As an expat however, its the complete opposite. Especially in Jakarta. The market is saturated with other expat woman who are looking for new friendships! Continue reading

The Advantages of Condo Living in Jakarta

A few days ago I embarked on a life changing event that occurred within the walls of my condo complex. I stepped foot into my gym for the second time since living here (I’ve been here for three years) and joined a “Body Combat” exercise class. I was absolutely blown away by this class! It was challenging, professional, very popular, and so much fun!

This realization has revolutionized my life! I can now exercise without leaving my condo and avoid sitting through the infamous Jakarta traffic!

This little find has once again solidified my decision to live in a condo rather than a stand alone house.  Continue reading