Batam-city is an industrial boomtown with limited space of 715-km2 (276-mi2). Batam-city keep on growing as an emerging transport hub, and part of a free trade zone the Indonesia–Malaysia–Singapore Growth Triangle, located 20 km (12 mi) off Singapore’s south coast. The Batam-city island is 2/3 of Singapore reclamated land.
Many foreigners moving to Batam-city will find themselves in a colourful and exotic country, as Indonesia is home to the world’s fourth largest population consisting of a vast archipelago stretching over more than 17,000 islands and 5,000km of ocean in Southeast Asia. Due to piling works for tourism activity, sand mining, and logging for charcoal business, only 4.2% of Batam-city island is covered in mangrove forest, a great decrease from 24% in 1970. Originally, Batam Island had 41,500 hectares of mangrove forests.
Batam is the actual doormat towards Indonesia, you can visit the country’s amazing landscapes of volcanic mountains, tropical beaches and jungles, which can offer anyone a relaxed and outdoor lifestyle, and many attractions for a weekend break from working life. Batam-city has a tropical climate with average temperatures between 26 and 32 °C. Humidity on the Batam-city island ranges from 73% to 96%. The wet season in Batam-city spans from November to April, while the dry season is from May to October. a hot and tropical climate, it may take a while for expats coming from cooler climates to get used to the humidity, which is present all year round.
Batam-city thrives from doing the subcontracted work which many neighbouring countries were not capable of doing it at better quality and price bargain. The precision industry, electronics, auto part, palm oil refinery, mining and shipbuilding work are the main backbone of Batam-city industry which in turn stimulate the development of Batam-city night life, hospitality industry and real estate as well.
However as with many foreigner living in Indonesia, particularly Westerners, may take time to adjust to the conservative way of life, largely influenced by Islam, which is the dominant religion in the country. Like many parts of Indonesia, women expats in Batam-city will find themselves having to make just enough adjustments by conservative dress as the concept of personal space for most Indonesians are not too familiar with.
Obtaining a visa or work permit in Batam-city can be a frustrating process and one riddled with bureaucracy. Even more frustrating for expats planning a move to or already living in Indonesia, is the fact that the requirements and processes for obtaining a visa change constantly depend on the officer in charge.
Compared to major Indonesian cities such as Jakarta which have grand modern offices and tower blocks marking their skylines overlooking an overpopulated slum, Batam-city has fewer look on poverty. Batam-city approximately have under 10% unemployment (as of 2013) while the cost of living in Batam can be quite similar to Jakarta, with schooling for expat children very costly. After accommodation, education will likely be an expat parent’s biggest expense when you consider to live in Batam-city. There are several schooling options, with international schools in Batam mostly focused on Anglo-American system with Australian, British and New Zealand nationals with some of them cater Sino-Sngaporean system with mandarin and HSK test.
Healthcare in Batam-city itself can also be considered quite poor compared to Western standards, particularly outside of Batam island. Any serious medical conditions will likely see expats having to seek medical attention in Singapore. However, air pollution in Batam is not as futile as Jakarta and other major Indonesian cities.
There are several ports which connect Batam island with neighbouring island. Each island in the region can be reached by regular pancoong boat, a classic weaved ashwood with tar and gasoline motor attached and steered behind. For international connectivity, Batam ferry terminal ports connect to nearby Singapore and Bintan, and provides routes to Johor Bahru (Malaysia). Five ferry terminals are on the island: Harbourbay, Nongsapura Ferry Terminal, Sekupang, Waterfront City, and Batam Centre International Ferry Terminal with one airport for both logistic and transport. The most recent incident happened on 29 November 2015 when a ferry ‘Sea Prince’ hit floating object(s) while en route to Singapore from Batam and began leaking. A total of 97 passengers were rescued on life rafts.
Batam is an exciting destination and the most attractive city for investment in SEA region, but it’s certainly a country that is not without its challenges. The most prominent of which is the ongoing threat of terrorism; attacks have taken place in the past and these have specifically targeted Westerners. Nevertheless, Indonesian authorities have made a concerted effort to address the problem, and regarded as one of the best country in the world for handling both terrorist incidents and natural disaster as well.