Being away from Jakarta makes me miss the city from time to time. Although, statistically speaking Jakarta is not a healthy city to live in, like its bad air pollution, low salary range, bad traffic and many more. However, I also can’t deny how lively and vibrant this city is. Here’s my take on Jakarta.

I love the chaos

Living in Singapore now, everything is super easy. MRT and buses are always on time, traffic is rare and making a plan is easy because we live next to each other. Then, after six months of living here, I got bored. 

Then realised that what makes Singapore less interesting, aside from not being able to travel is the fact that most people in Jakarta need to struggle once they step out of their houses. Simple examples, getting a gocar/ grab in the peak hour is incredibly difficult, not to mention the unpredicted traffic to the office, the Internet is pretty bad too (especially when it rains!), also making plans are overrated because it never happens! Either a friend bailed out, someone is stuck in the traffic or there’s a flood.

When you live in Jakarta, planning is key. It makes me keep looking forward to what’s on my next agenda because I can’t screw this up. 

Jakarta’s chaos makes this city incredibly dynamic and lively! I didn’t realise that these small challenges I faced every day made me a tougher person and kinda make my days more interesting. It feels like the city is pumping up my adrenaline since I wake up in the morning. So if someone is looking for a challenge, give Jakarta a try!

I love the possibilities

Another amazing thing about this city is how the chaos brings people to realise how many possibilities there are out there to explore. Seriously, people in Jakarta don’t take ‘no’ as an answer. In almost all situations, there are no rules and you can always negotiate. This no rule situation forces people to be a very creative workaround.

Jakarta sky and its limitless possibilities

Try to go down the street and ask a security guy to help you with your apartment problem. It’s not his job but he’ll take it. Not to mention, he’s most likely will able to fix it. 

Every day, I remember how many complaints I heard myself or people around me making. However, the fact is more and more people are coming from Jakarta every year! Not only migrating domestically but also more expatriates move there too. We can’t deny the fact that economically, the city is doing well. 

I hate the feeling of being trapped at home

With that many possibilities in Jakarta, one of my dreams is to explore the world. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do it if I stay in Jakarta for two reasons: My insane overthinking habit of people’s expectations and the feeling of comfort. It’s not because of the city itself but it’s due to it’s where I’m from. 

Jakarta is a very modern city that still holds its culture and tradition quite strong. There’s a general expectation on how people live their life. Wanting something different sometimes seems like a crime. If you can relate, remember when you’re a kid and if your friend says A, you’d also say the same. First because as a kid we want to belong to the group and second because it’s odd to be different and your friends will tease you. 

The mixed feeling of needing to fill in the expectation, caring too much about what my family and friends say about me and too scared to be different slowly build up my association with the city. It’s where I feel trapped. Ironically, although I’m not originally from this city, Jakarta is the closest feeling of home. So in the end I feel like I’m trapped at home. 

As much as I’m so happy to leave Jakarta and finally pursuing my dream to explore the world, I gotta say that I do miss home sometimes. Just if, the world is recovered and travel is allowed. I can sneak out and fly for a quick dinner to enjoy the vibrant and lively city Jakarta offers. 


Alifa is a marketer who ended up in tech. A newbie expat in Singapore. She tries to turn her complaints, struggles and memorable moments being a 20-something millennials into a life 'win & learn'; hoping that maybe others would benefit from it. When she’s not writing, she enjoys beaches, workout and pizza.

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