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There are approximately 2,500 expats living in Batam under KITAS (including
other family members. There are also an estimated 2,000 (exact figure
unknown) living here under business visas, bringing the total in Batam
to over 3,000. Approximately 80% of these are from other Asian countries,
with most of the westerners coming from the UK, rest of Europe, Australia
and the US.
In 1970 Batam had no cars and roads (98% forest); population was 7,000. McDermott's Batu Ampar yard was Batam's first industrial project, started in 1968. Batam today is a major logistics base for many of the world's major contractors, including Bechtel, Shlumberger, McConnel Dowell, Global Industries, Saipen, Ballast Nedham, Halliburton, Weatherford, Nippon Steel and Hyundai. Over 700 foreign companies have manufacturing or logistics operations on the island.
Batam has a large electronics sector, however the most obvious industry is perhaps one of the largest oil service/construction, and ship repair facilities in the world.
The first thing many notice about Batam is that, even though it is part of Indonesia, in many ways it is a separate entity. Whilst other places are effected by the political and economic climate, Batam remains a constant with none of the the violence or problems located elsewhere. The economic condition in Batam is more closely related to that of Singapore, not only because of the close proximity of the island, but due to the vast amount of business connections and investments between the two islands.
Singapore is the nearest hub for international travel. The city itself only separated by Malaka Strait and Singapore can be seen if you go to Batu Ampar.
There are a large number of housing estates on Batam. Favoured among expats is the Vill Panbil, (which has a pool, gym restaraunt nice landscaping and is a gated community with good security), Sukajadi and Duta Mas estates located between Muka Kuning and Batam Center. Nongsa houses are the most pleasant, although the drive to work is getting worse. Shop around as prices for the same property can vary a lot. Developer's prices can sometimes be twice as much as the real market, so ask around. Like the rest of Indonesia, house security is a real issue; it should be your number one priority in evaluating where to live. There are a limited selection of complexes that pass the vigorous security standards that are required by many oil and gas companies. Often companies will choose a serviced apartment for their short term employees as it is unusual that landlords will commit to a lease less than one year.
Property Ownership by Expats - The rules for property ownership by foreign nationals in Batam fall under Decree No 068/KPTS/KA/III/1999. This regulations states that foreign nationals or companies are permitted to 100% own residential or commercial property in the Barelang area (Batam, Rempang and Galang). The only properties excluded from this decree are low cost and very low cost housing, but includes all other types of building structures.
Sekolah Global Indo-Asia
Sekolah Global Indo-Asia (SGIA) was founded in 2000 to serve the educational needs of children of the national and international community living in and around Batam, Indonesia. SGIA is a non-sectarian, non-profit coeducational day school, enrolling students in Pre-School through the 12th Grade. It is a caring, secure environment in which students develop the skills; confidence and creativity that will help them succeed academically. SGIA is the only International Baccalaureate World School in Batam offering the Primary Years Programme. SGIA is also the only Cambridge International School in Batam. The students will take the Cambridge Checkpoint, IGCSE and AS/A level examination.
The language of instruction is English and Indonesian, with Indonesian used for the teaching of National Curriculum, Mandarin offered as an additional language. Students learn English, Math, Social Studies, Sciences and ICT in English, additionally for Indonesian students, the national curriculum is “scaffold” into all subject material and required national subjects are taught in Indonesian. During required national subjects in Indonesian, expatriate students receive an additional language, social studies, character building and life skills classes. Expatriate students receive second language instruction and support for Indonesian and Mandarin.
Students at all levels receive Art, Music, PE and Information Technology classes. SGIA prides itself in the modern, air conditioned, comfortable and educational classrooms, ensuring students are receiving the very best international and national education possible. All of the SGIA teachers receive regular international and national training to sustain professional development and are able to implement modern approaches in learning. Students learn to use all the up-to-date software in ICT class as well as Web Design basics and design actual Websites in the Web Design Club.
The small Batam International School is located in Sekupang. It was founded in September 1999 by a group of parents and members of the expatriate business community. Class size is quite small. This smaller class size offers a very personal learning environment for it’s students. Although lacking the facilities available at the Sekolah Global Indo-Asia, the teaching staff take care to offer opportunities to the students to participate in off campus activities and sporting events. Batam International School students have scored well above average for the yearly examination that is administered by the Australian National Curriculum.
Due to the close proximity of Singapore, a number of expats elect to send their children to school in one of Singapore's many international schools. The normal arrangement for this, is that the wife and children will live in Singapore and the husband will visit during the weekend (or vice versa).
There are six golf courses located throughout the island:
Palm Springs Golf Tel. (62-778) 761-222
Fitness Centers and swimming pools at resorts and hotels are available for use by the public for a small fee.
Beaches are fairly limited on Batam, located only at Batam View Beach Resort (and not at low tide, either). Most locals travel down to Melur Beach on Galang Island (linked to Batam by five bridges).
Utilities in Batam, like the rest of Indonesia, are badly run monopolies.
Here is a rundown:
Fixed Line Phones - Run by Telkom, with a similar quality to Jakarta, no major problems, but poor lines can effect the quality of internet connections. Internet transmission quality depends on how far you are from the central exchange and the quality of the physical phone lines.
Internet - Indosat and Telkomnet are both available and perform poorly. Both provide "broadband" at high prices and low reliability (e.g. VOIP doesn't work). Look into Telekom Speedy which offers ADSL options at various speeds.
Internet from a Laptop: Go to My Computer > Dialup Networking >
Internet Cafes: Many to choose from, e.g. the scruffy but fast Barelang Internet Cafe charges Rp10k /hr.- located behind Steps Music Lounge.
Electricity: like Jakarta, regular blackouts. Batam PLN is struggling to keep up with demand that grows at 3 megawatts per month. Private homes and offices must have a standby genset.
Water: good supply but low or no pressure during peak times. Water quality coming out of the treatment plants is WHO standard.
The quality of medical care in Batam is not of international standards. As a result most expats will go to Singapore for checkups or other medical conditions. From personal experience I can say the local doctors and nurses do their best to look after expats, however the quality of their medical services is not always very reassuring. For medical emergencies most large companies have their own medics on site. Because of the close proximity to Singapore a helicopter evacuation is impossible as it has been declared a “no fly” zone, therefore patients have to be evacuated to Singapore via speed boat.
ATM Machines: Bank Danamon, opposite Hotel Goodway: up to Rp 600,000. Bank Lippo's ATM - to Rp1 million.
Prescription Drugs: Look for shops with the sign Apotik or Farma.
Batam has plenty of fresh produce, including imported meats, fruits and vegetables. Some Western grocery items are available, e.g cheese. With Singapore so close (1 hour by ferry), you can find anything else that you need there. There are several largish supermarkets in Nagoya Hill Mall and Batam Center, such as Carefour, Galeal and Hypemart. Price wise the best grocery shopping is in Nagoya at the smaller grocery stores, however they tend to focus on the Chinese foods and don't have as wide a range as the larger shops (also very cramped). Visit also Diamond grocery at DC Mall.
Traditional markets (pasar) offer great selections of fresh produce - bigger selections as Pasar Bhuja Bahari or Pasar Penuin.
For hard-to-find items, some expats choose to go to Singapore for a day and search for the items required. I do this every couple of months for books in English, because you just can't buy them in Batam.Shoes and clothes are cheap but only in Asian sizes. For clothing check out Ramayana in Nagoya or Barata in Batam Centre, both have similar prices but Barata is cleaner and friendlier. Sporting equipment is dominated by golf equipment, which can be found in a large sporting store in Nagoya, or Matahari in Batam Centre which has a wider range.
The expat social life is enjoying a renewed spirit in Batam through the Batam Ladies Expat Society which caters to both the families and partners by offering regular activities and other special planned events. While originally starting as a way for the wives and partners of those expats who have moved to Batam to connect, the society caters to the whole family and as such offers an opportunity for the male expats (both single and those with partners) to meet other expats in Batam, in addition to catching up at the many expat pubs in Batam.
Social life is well catered for in Nagoya's many expat pubs, if you are male. The expat wives' social scene slowed down in the second half of 2004 and has yet to pick back up.
If you are Singaporean, get in touch with the Batam-Singapore Club in Nagoya. Batam Spore Club: President: HP 0811-701321, Ricky Lim, Secretary, Tel. 422357, Co-President is Ong Seng Chai Hp 0812-7004622.
Typical hangouts for the expat (adult) include Lucy's Oarhouse, The Red Cock, Napoli Pizza, Ice Pub, Sugar Pub and Wallaby's (all pubs) where you will find a number of expats hanging out any night of the week.
On the weekend there are a number of water sporting options available at the resorts around the island including go-karts, water skiing, jet skis, bungee jumping, etc. As well as the above mentioned beaches (a great place to make friends with the locals) and day trips to Singapore.
Nagoya has many outdoor food courts (open only at night). Biggest is the 400 seat Nagoya Food Court, opposite the Hotel Sahid Rashinta. Try 888 Seafood's Tofu Claypot, Pork Knuckle, Tom Yum soup. For good seafood on the waterfront, try Rezeki Seafood at Batu Besar, 5km past the airport (US$10-15) Excellent pub grub at Lucy's Oarhouse. Try their home-made sausages and mash. Also very good fish and chips; steak sandwich; all day breakfast and healthy stir fry vegetables.
The Goodway Grill Room has real Angus steaks. Batam has any any number of foreign cuisines including Chinese, Korean, Indian, Thai, Western, etc. There are four KFC outlets, three Mc Donalds and others.
Upmarket Hotels: Batam's six best hotels are the Melia Panorama, Goodway (ex Mandarin), Novotel and Planet Holiday in Nagoya. Plus the Holiday Inn & Harris Resort at Waterfront City
Mid-range Hotels : At Sin$45, the Island View is best value for money. Make sure the room AC works. There are plenty of other mid range hotels e.g. Puri Garden, but most are far from the NED entertainment district.
Smiling Hill - great site with lots of information on living in Batam!
And some fun postings from the Expat Forum on the "10 Best Things about Living in Batam"
Our thanks to Renee Cailes, Geoff Page and several others for contributing this article!
Last updated October 12, 2013
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