July 18 2006
-Where were you born?
Auckland, New Zealand
-Are you living alone or with your family?
With my wife, my daughter and two very naughty dogs, one of which is a local, kampong dog. The other is a dachshund.
-In which country and city are you living now?
-How long have you been living in Indonesia?
Just over one year
-What is your age?
-When did you come up with the idea of living in Indonesia?
We decided that we needed a change of lifestyle. My wife and I had worked sill hours for years running our own businesses and felt like we needed a change of pace. It wasn't a difficult decision. We woke up one morning on our fourth visit to Bali and looked at each other and decided that this was where we wanted to live. And we decided to make it happen. Each return visit to NZ has only confirmed our decision was the right one. We don't miss the aggression we see in the Western world. Something seems to have been forgotten in the rush to succeed.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
No, particularly once we found the right people we wanted to work with. The hardest part is understanding Indonesian bureaucracy and the different "ways" that things are done here.
-How do you make your living in Indonesia? Do you have any type of income generated?
We work locally and make money internationally. We also have income generated by earlier businesses which helps smooth the way. We've also been independently-minded, self-motivated people who believe we can do anything we set our minds to. We have been fortunate that we are able to provide new business for opportunities for Indonesian companies, too.
-Do you speak the local language and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
We want to live in Indonesia, not as the so many arrogant expats we see here in Bali do, above the local community, but in it. It’s important for us to speak the local language and we're proactive in learning it. Nothing in Indonesia is as we knew it in NZ, so we have to learn a new set of rules. It can be totally perplexing at times and some things, like the attitude to the application of rules on the road and elsewhere, and the unfortunate prevalence of "palm greasing" are alien to us.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
We miss family and a few friends. The one thing I miss personally is sitting in coffee shops talking nonsense to my friends. And sometimes I wish it was a little easier to do things, like registering a car, as it is in the West. The technological gap frustrates too.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
My wife has long wanted to design her own range of homeware and furniture…in Indonesia we now have the time to do this. We want to explore Asia and beyond. From this part of the world it’s easy, unlike in NZ.
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
We rent but plan to build...we can realize our dream home -- as designed by my wife, Brigid -- here so much more easily than we could in NZ.
-What is the cost of living in Indonesia?
Its less than in NZ but you tend to fool yourself into thinking it’s less than it is. You can still go through money at a phenomenal rate. They call Bali the land of broken dreams…so many have found out the hard way that the paradise they thought they were buying into has a dark side. Still, the cost of living in NZ still shocks us on returning.
-What do you think about the Indonesian people?
The locals are like any people, there are good and bad and I don't want to generalize. That said we will always be foreigners here, even if I spent twenty years. That's a funny feeling at times.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Indonesia?
I've covered most of those earlier I think but other negatives include the price of education, the price of a car, the police, sadly (who see both tourists and expats) as an easy touch, the difficulty of getting really simple things done at times.
But these are more than countered by the positives: just to be able to wake in the morning and look out at our wonderful garden and pool. To be able to dine in exquisite restaurants here and in Jakarta at a fraction of the price. To see the smiles that dominate Bali and the beauty and tranquility of the island and its architecture. To be so close to the rest of Asia and to mix with such a global cross-section every day.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Indonesia?
Indonesia is not for everyone. It is VERY different from the Western experience...we forget how much at times, and it takes patience and smiles. That said, if you can roll with it, it really is a wonderful country, and is so much more than Jakarta and Bali.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Indonesia?
Living in Indonesia http://www.expat.or.id)
This expat site is good. It helps fill in the blanks.