1. Hi, Jan! Please quickly introduce yourself. Tell us who you are, where you’re from, where you moved to and when/why you moved.
I’ll be 46 in December and grew up in Teralfene, a borough of Affligem. After Rahel and I got married in Indonesia in March 2013, we returned to Belgium to build our future here, but I’d fallen in love with Indonesia, Rahel’s home country. Once we were in Belgium, we quickly decided to return to her birth country. November 28, 2013, we took the plane direction Indonesia to settle there, more specifically in South Sulawesi, Tanjung Bira. We’re now trying to build our dream here, which is our own business Beach Bungalows & Cafe BaraCoCo.
2. What did you expect from Indonesia and life there before moving? Did those expectations hold up?
I didn’t really focus on certain expectations. I knew that I’d arrive in a completely different culture and that certain things were going to be new for me. As I’m still happy here, I’d say my expectations were met.
3. What’s the biggest difference between life in Indonesia and life in Belgium?
Everything is so different that there’s too much to mention, but I should say they don’t know the word “stress”. What doesn’t get done today, we’ll do tomorrow. It’s also remarkable how the doors are always open here and how everybody’s always welcome.
4. What’s the best part about living in Indonesia?
The best part about living here might sound cliché: the daily sun, the blue sky and the white beach make every day here a bit of a Sunday to me (to us).
5. What do you like least about living in Indonesia?
If you want to go from A to B, you quickly lose a couple of hours as the roads here aren’t comparable to those in Belgium. Driving from Tanjung Bira to the capital of South Sulawesi, Makassar (200), easily takes five hours. If you want to go shopping in a city, you have to spend the night there.
6. What do you miss most about Belgium?
The weekend feeling and the food pleasures of Belgium, but those aren’t reasons to return.
7. Is there something about Belgium that you don’t miss at all?
The stress, the jealousy, the discontent and grumpiness of society. But also the fact that neighbors don’t know each other anymore I find sad. Especially when they envy each other.
8. Do you think you’ll stay in Indonesia? Or is there a chance you’ll move abroad again someday?
It’s our plan to stay in Indonesia, but there are about 17,500 islands to choose from so you never know. We might move to one of the other islands someday.
9. Do you have any tips or advice for other Belgians who consider moving to Indonesia?
Who am I to give tips. The motivation to migrate is different for everyone. Of course it’s important to be well-prepared, but maybe even more important is asking yourself: “What do I really want?” and “Why do I really want to leave?”. I think that if you can answer those questions, you’ve gotten a good start.
Are you a Belgian who moved abroad, or do you know someone who is? I’m always looking for new Belgian Expats to talk to. Check out the X-pat Files for more information on who exactly I’m looking for and drop me a line!