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.