I read an article that talked about all the things expats wish they would have known before they moved to their new city. It was interesting to read all the responses. They talked about missing big kitchens where friends and family could gather, good bread and cheese, clothing and shoes that are the right size, and a slew of other things.
So as we get ready to exit Jakarta, I figured it would be good to list some of the things I wish I would have known to bring with us before we came to Jakarta. Hopefully, this will help you ask questions before your big move to your new country or even Jakarta.
I know, this may sound weird as I am Hispanic and should be able to make tortillas, and I absolutely can. While we have been here, I have made flour tortillas for our family, but the things I need to make corn tortillas are not sold here which has been a total bummer! Our family likes to eat flautas, enchiladas, make tortilla chips, tacos….you get the drift. After our first return home, we made sure to bring back a couple hundred each time and pray they last us a while.
Okay, this may be getting pretty personal, but this is a big issue for the women here in Jakarta. Seriously, they are like gold! I never thought about a country not having these available, so I didn’t bring any with me my first go round. Our first trip to Singapore for our visas I stocked up, but they were twice the price than back home. I never made that mistake again and stocked up before we would head back.
Lotion and Face Cream
This is one area that was shocking to me. I should have stocked up on both of these items as should you; I guess unless you want all your products to have skin lightening and brightening elements. In SE Asia women who are lighter skin are seen as more beautiful. So it’s not uncommon to see women wearing shorts and tanks with stockings, long sleeves, and big hats to shield their skin from the sun. Because of this, almost every lotion and skin care product has whitening.
Yes! After you have been in traffic for hours or trying to communicate with people that do not speak the same language, this is a must! But Coming from the U.S. where it is readily available and super cheap this was a hard pill to swallow. Let’s put it in perspective. A bottle of Yellow Tail costs about $7 USD at home. Here, it is about $45 USD. Don’t even get me started on a bottle of Grey Goose. So yes, be sure and bring your own. I stock up every time we do a visa run outside of Indonesia.
Clothes & Shoes
Why yes, I did bring with me loads of clothes, but there are a few things I wish I would have known ahead of time. I had read on so many expat blogs that I needed to wear pants and longer shirts to cover up since we are in a mostly Muslim country. Well, that was a lie, and if I don’t have to, I won’t as it’s pretty stinking hot here. So the first year here it was a problem as it’s also hard to find clothes unless you are five feet tall and weigh 120 pounds or less. No, I’m not a size 2, not even a size 10, I’m a size 14, and it’s near impossible to find here even though 90% of our clothes in the U.S. are made here in Indonesia. Yeah, check your tag next time. So not only me but also my husband and kids. My husband is 6 foot 6, my 13-year-old is 6 foot 2, and my 9-year-old is about the size of me! So yes, lots of challenges for sure.
Sports equipment goes in the same category as clothes; loads of sports equipment are manufactured here, so I figured since things such as soccer balls, goalie gloves, and tennis rackets would be fairly inexpensive. Yeah, think again! Soccer balls here easily go for $35+ USD, and that’s even with a cheap ball, not Adidas and Nike. At home, I can walk into Academy and get a soccer ball for my kids for $15 USD.
First of all, we like bath sheets. You know the really big towels you can wrap around you and cover your body. Yeah, you can’t find those here. The towels here are not very thick, or good quality and they cost a small fortune. You will easily pay $20 USD for a basic towel that you would pay $7 for at home. If you go to Bali, there is a great linen store that you can purchase great bath sheets and beach towels. But keep in mind, four towels take up an entire suitcase.
The first year we were here it didn’t seem to rain much, but the second year it rained more, and the third year it rained for 100 days straight! Most of those days weren’t even in the rainy season. ButwWe isn’t talking afternoon showers. They are downpours that flood the streets. So to my surprise, you can’t find one type of rain boot, in a back alley market, and most of the men here use them as work boots. So yes, rain boots are crucial here but impossible to find.
My final one is to bring all your favorite medicines. I like Advil liquid gels, but the most important ones are for my kiddos. I don’t find too many types of children’s medicine here, but I also get worried about what’s in it considering all the labels are in Bahasa Indonesia and do not translate well. If you don’t bring them with you be sure to buy them in Singapore
Well, I think that’s it for my list. I’m sure there are more items you could add of what to bring and each person has their own favorites. But these are items that I always think about. Would love to hear what you should have brought to your new home.