The following information and pictures are provided to help employees who are considering an assignment see what it is like to work and live in Indonesia.
Balikpapan is the second largest city on the eastern coast of the island of Borneo in the East Kalimantan province. It is considered an important center for the petroleum, mining and timber industries.
The weather is hot and humid, averaging 78°F - 90°F.
The Sepinggan International Airport is one of the busiest airports in Indonesia with many daily flights to Jakarta and Singapore. The compound is approximately twelve kilometers or eight miles from the airport. Upon arrival, a company representative greets new expats and their families and escorts them to the Pasir Ridge Compound.
The Chevron compound in Balikpapan is called Pasir Ridge. The access road to the compound winds uphill through residential and shopping areas. There are views of the sea and the city of Balikpapan from the compound.

The Pasir Ridge compound is situated in the middle of the city giving employees access to shopping and recreational activities such as tennis and bowling. Because of the variety of businesses in Balikpapan, there are many opportunities to socialize both inside and out of the compound. There are houses, guest houses or temporary accommodations for short-term work assignments or business visitors. Services inside the compound include ATMs and a fire station. The clean air makes Balikpapan an ideal location for jogging, mountain biking and golfing. Recreational facilities include a swimming pool, gym, four tennis courts and basketball courts.

The compound has reliable power and water. A variety of good telephone services are available locally, and the company also provides a reasonable service.

The modern office building, located inside the Pasir Ridge compound, is a short walk or drive from compound housing. Chevron employees come from around the world to work here, including from Australia, Indonesia, Latin America and the United States.


Inside the compound, there are accommodations for employees and families. There are various types of housing on the compound, including apartments, duplexes and detached houses. These include three- and four-bedroom units. A housing committee assigns housing based on a point system that takes into account PSG and years of service. Employees are assigned a home before the mandatory pre-assignment trip so they can see the house and decide what furniture they would like to ship and what to buy locally.

Very few compound homes are carpeted. Most floors are either hardwood or tile.

At their own expense, employees paint walls and decorate their homes to fit their personal styles and make their children feel comfortable. Kitchens and bathrooms are wired for 110 volt and the rest of the house is 220.

support services

Automatic teller machines (ATMs) are located within the compound at the club house. There are modern banks and ATMs throughout the city and it is easy to find a bank in the downtown area. In addition, ATMs are readily available inside malls and stores.
The compound has a fire station on site.
The compound is open to employees, contractors and invited guests. The company security personnel check cars entering and leaving the compound.
The compound has reliable power and water from local utility companies.
The compound has an excellent library with books in English for adults and children. The library is open daily, except Sunday.
There is a medical clinic on the compound for employees and dependents. The medical clinic is available for emergency treatment, outpatient consultation, medical check ups, vaccinations and public health programs. An expatriate doctor resides in the compound. Malaria prophylaxis is not required at this time for residents of Balikpapan, but is made available for local travel in the region where prophylaxis may be advised. Because disease patterns can change, always check with local Health and Medical Services concerning malaria when planning travel in the tropics. 

There are seasons when the smoke in the entire region, originating from forest clearing, becomes quite thick limiting outdoor activities or affecting children with asthma or allergies. Conditions are less problematic each year as government action is being taken The medical staff is well equipped to take care of these health issues. 

The clinic arranges for maids' physical examinations and fitness for duty, in addition to food handling safety training. For extreme emergency cases, employees may be flown to Singapore or Jakarta. 

A company ambulance is on standby for emergencies.


There are a variety of school options, both on and off the compound, depending on the children's ages and parents' preferences.

The Pasir Ridge International School, located within the compound, is based on an American curriculum. Pre-school through eighth grade classes are conducted in English. Class sizes are very small, which may require an adjustment for students coming from large schools. The school provides print materials and a CD for parents looking for more information.

The auditorium gives students the opportunity to participate in performances. Students eat lunch in the PRCC outdoor patio. After finishing eighth grade, many students transfer to boarding schools.
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on the compound

Because the compound is located near shopping malls and supermarkets, there is no commissary in the compound. Shops are easy to find and downtown streets are well maintained and clean.

in town

Malls house a variety of shops where you can find pet supplies, food, clothes, restaurants and electronics. Just about anything an expatriate may need can be found in one of these malls. Prices are set in the shops. Some expatriates enjoy shopping for grocery items while others prefer to send their maids. Preferred products are not always available, so many expats buy more than they immediately need and store for eventual use. Balikpapan shopping choices continue to grow. The Balikpapan Super Block (e-walk) mall recently opened where shoppers can find Starbucks Coffee, Dunkin' Donuts and Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. Two new malls have recently opened and are still under development: Balcony City at Pasar Baru Square and the "B" square at the airport. Both will bring more shopping choices to Balikpapan.
Balikpapan continues to add to its growing list of quality national and international hotels. Recently opened hotels include the Novotel, Aston, Jatra and Swiss-Belhotel. Most hotels offer a bakery department, wine and cheese, fitness and pool facilities and spa services for public use. The Novotel, Blue Sky, Le Grandeur and Grand Senyiur hotels have good restaurants frequented by expatriates.
The Klandasan Traditional Market is an open air market selling fish, fresh fruits and vegetables . Shopkeepers will generally write numbers or use a calculator so shoppers can bargain. A generous amount of fresh fish is caught daily and brought directly from the boats to sell at the Market. Fish is beautifully displayed by friendly vendors who are more than willing to show what they have to sell. A variety of other fresh seafood (prawns, fish, crab, clams, squid and more) are sold in the market as well as in restaurants. Sellers are friendly yet not overbearing when showing you what they have to offer. 

Both chicken and beef are widely available. Pork is sold, but isn't as abundant and may be sold in a different part of the market than you might expect. Lamb is generally unavailable in Balikpapan. Also, meat cuts may differ from what expatriates are used to eating. Live chickens are often slaughtered and washed in the Klandasan Market and open air markets, so they are very fresh. If preferred, shoppers can purchase prepackaged poultry at the grocery stores. 

Indonesia offers a wealth of tropical fruits and vegetables, and most markets offer both tropical and imported produce. For example, apples, potatoes, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, limes, ginger and leeks are all available at the Klandasan Market. Durian is a very popular locally grown fruit that is known for its pungent odor.
The Matahari Department Store, located in the Balikpapan Plaza sells housewares such as dishes, glassware, silverware, towels and other necessities for the home. Cat and dog food can be found in markets as well as in pet stores.
A Makro store, a club store, similar to Costco, which sells items in large quantities at discounted prices recently opened in Balikpapan.
There are many furniture stores in Balikpapan. Some buyers prefer to purchase furniture made from the locally grown teak and other exotic wood. Furniture can be bought pre-built or built to suit individual tastes. Simply take a drawing or photo to the shop to order your custom-built furniture.

High-end furniture is also available at stores such as in Balikpapan. Upscale furniture stores, such as Index Furnishing, sells bedroom and dining room sets as well as vases, sculptures and artwork. The same pre-manufactured furniture that is available around the world can be bought in Indonesia. There is a three-story ACE Hardware store in Balikpapan which carries a large variety of hardware items.
Nurseries line some of the main boulevards. Many vendors come together to provide buyers the opportunity to buy unique and native plants from many shops in a single stop.
As in many countries, you'll find familiar brands and products at supermarkets. Packaging may be a little different, but you'll find plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs and dairy products, including high-end French cheeses. Prawns are plentiful and at bargain prices, and many local markets offer both fresh and frozen seafood. Local and imported sauces line the shelves. Quality paper products are also plentiful at most markets as are familiar brands of pet food, dishes, lotion, detergent and cleaning products. It is important to understand how some of these products work with locally-made appliances. Consider the locally available products when deciding what items to bring from home. 

Framing in Balikpapan is generally high quality and reasonably priced. Local diamonds and stones such as topaz or sapphires can be purchased at very reasonable prices. Jewelers do not charge a lot for elaborate settings. 

There are plenty of places for men to get a haircut. Women's hair is a bit trickier and some women prefer to bring their own hair color products with them to local salons. Salons offer manicures, pedicures, cream baths and massages.

Local TV systems are PAL, which may not be the same as what you would find in your home or current country. Employees tend to buy multi-frequency multi-systems. 

Expatriates have commented that often the items they pick up when they are out of the country aren't really items they need, but simply things they can't find here in Indonesia, such as holiday candy, crackers and a favorite brand of cereal.


There is a bus service for transportation around the compound.

Chevron expatriates and dependents are provided a driver. Company policy prohibits employees driving the company car in the city. Traffic can be hectic but few accidents occur.

recreational and entertainment

Although maps may indicate there is a lot of beach area, the waterfront near the city is not available for swimming, fishing or water sports.
The Pasir Ridge Community Center (PRCC) includes a meeting room, restaurant, snack shop, pool and gym. The restaurant at the PRCC serves lunch daily and dinner on Friday and Sunday evenings. The restaurant is known for the best hamburgers in the area.
The air-conditioned gym offers modern equipment, showers and lockers. The swimming pool is located at the PRCC. 

Sepinggan Country Club is an 18-hole golf course about 15-20 minutes from the compound by car. Amenities include a club house, pro shop, restaurant and bar. Chevron hosts a monthly golf tournament at the club. 

A second course, the Karang Joang Resort and Golf Club (KJ), is approximately 45 minutes away. There is a modern bowling alley in a downtown mall near the Matahari department store.
Hotels provide many services for expats, in addition to lodging. Some of the best restaurants and spas are located in the hotels.
There are many seafood restaurants in Balikpapan. The Restaurant Bondy is an open-air facility where diners select fresh fish from the display case and have it cooked to order. Dishes may be on the spicy side, but you can request a less spicy version at most restaurants. A typical dish is nasi padang (rice with meat and vegetables). 

Several restaurants, such as Oceans, Batakan Beach Café, and the Beach Restaurant at Le Grandeur Hotel, are situated on the water and offer employees and their families an enjoyable coastal dining atmosphere. There are good restaurants that are well-priced. There are numerous seafood, Indonesian, Japanese, Indian, and Chinese restaurants, but few other cuisines such as Italian or Greek. 

For fast food, there are several KFCs, two Pizza Huts and an A&W. Pizza Hut and KFC deliver to the Pasir Ridge compound.
There are photography, canasta and bridge groups. Dart and music clubs are forming and mountain biking rides are held each week. 

The city hosts more than 1,000 expatriates from oil, mining and supporting service companies. This variety of industries provides a wide social network for expats. The Balikpapan International Women’s Association familiarizes new families with local resources and sponsors activities for expats. The club provides a good network for seeking out others with similar needs such as play dates for the kids and shopping. The club is very active in supporting local charities and it publishes the “Living in Balikpapan Guide,” a comprehensive guide to the city.
Though the compound is located in the city of Balikpapan, entertainment is limited. There are movie theaters with low entrance fees, but films are in Bahasa Indonesia only. There are no museums, plays or ballet as are typical for a town the size of Balikpapan. However, you will find a few places for family karaoke night as well as some night clubs.

summary of expatriate living

During the mandatory pre-assignment trip, resident expatriate spouses take the newly assigned spouse shopping so they can see what is available here and can plan shipments accordingly. They send other spouses emails to share what it is like to live in Balikpapan. It allows families to connect and gather information specific to their needs.
Expatriates routinely ship pets to Indonesia.
When relocating to Balikpapan, shipment time tends to take two-and-a-half to three months. To help employees arrive with what they initially need, the company provides a list of what to bring and what may be difficult to get through customs. Although most items can be purchased locally, expatriates ship food items that travel well, in addition to children's items such as baseball bats, sports shoes, tap shoes, bike parts, clothes, toothpaste and vitamins.
Indonesia officially recognizes five major religions. Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Catholic services are available.
Employees typically employ one or two maids. Each family decides on how many maids and the maids' responsibilities, which can include cooking, cleaning, watching children and shopping. Having a maid and driver may be an adjustment for expatriates not used to household help.

Expats with children have found it simpler to go out in the evenings because it is easy to bring in hired help or arrange for the live-in help to watch the children.
Balikpapan has an international airport with flights to Jakarta or Singapore which are good starting points for travel within Asia.
A volunteer welcome committee helps new employees and families settle in both on and off the compound. The committee does some preliminary grocery shopping and prepares a few meals to smooth out the families' move. 

Balikpapan is a diverse city and people come from all over Indonesia and the world to find work here. Different ethnic groups mix well and there is a real sense of community.