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Jakarta Post

Indonesia 'fulfilling' and 'welcoming' for expats, but doesn't offer much: HSBC survey

  • Devina Heriyanto and Prima Wirayani

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, November 15, 2019   /   02:17 pm
Indonesia 'fulfilling' and 'welcoming' for expats, but doesn't offer much: HSBC survey A pedestrian bridge across Jl. Sudirman in Central Jakarta is bathed in pink light in this file photo. (The Jakarta Post/Iqbal Yuwansyah )

Indonesia's rank has fallen in the 2019 Expat Explorer to 31st out of 33 countries, whereas it ranked 13th out of 31 countries last year.

Now in its 12th edition, the annual HSBC survey ranks countries in three main categories: Living, Aspiring and Little Expats. Indonesia ranks 30th in Living, 27th in Aspiring and 30th in Little Expats. Each category has subcategories with specific criteria. 

Among all criteria, Indonesia ranks highest in fulfillment (3rd) and welcoming communities (4th) under Living, and reaching potential (4th) under Aspiring. On the other hand, Indonesia has not fared well in quality of life and political stability under Living or schooling under Little Expats, ranking 32nd in all three criteria.

YouGov conducted the survey online in March-April this year – during the highly contentious presidential election in Indonesia – and involved 18,059 expats around the world. The survey required each country to have a minimum of 100 respondents, including 30 parents.

According to the related country guide, Indonesia ranks second from the bottom as a place for doing business, which covered criteria like wage growth, economic confidence, entrepreneurship, work-life balance and job security. Indonesia ranks 10th in the career progression criteria.

The survey also found that three in four expatriates saw an increase in their salaries after moving abroad. Salary was a priority concern, since 60 percent of all expatriate respondents said they were saving for retirement and 43 percent were seeking financial security for their families.

Switzerland tops the list as "the complete expat package" with its high quality of life and higher disposable incomes for expats. The survey also found that respondents consider the country "remarkable" in political and economic stability.

Sharing the bottom five with Indonesia are Saudi Arabia (29th), South Africa (30th), Japan (32nd) and Brazil (33rd).

The survey also revealed the top three experiences Jakarta offered its expat residents: an excellent base for exploring and traveling, great restaurants and great leisure activities.

"I've been to Thailand when I was a kid, I've been to Hong Kong when I was a kid, but it’s a long long way from Europe," HSBC Indonesia retail banking and wealth management director Blake D. Hellam said during his visit to The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

"So when you live here, then all of a sudden, all these places become easy for you to access," he added.

Around 54 percent of the expats who live in Indonesia said they learned new skills since they relocated here, while 48 percent said they were promoted more quickly and 45 percent said they changed industries.

Around half of the respondents said they could afford nicer things, like a better car and house, after they relocated to Indonesia.

Despite these comforts, most expats (52 percent) expressed concern about changes in Indonesia's laws, policies and regulations.

"Those expats also think for themselves. They feel that it's not that easy to get a permit, to go to [immigration] to get your Kitas [work permit]," Hellam said, adding that regulatory changes often affected expats and their families in Indonesia.

"The laws, policy regulations affect the business that you're in, but also impact you personally [...] How you get your permit, how you get your kids to school," he said.