Medan is the largest city in Sumatra and the capital city of the Indonesian Province of North Sumatra. It is a multicultural metropolis and a busy trading city. The city is also a gateway to the western part of Indonesia and the city has undergone rapid development in recent years, this development has helped the residential property prices in the city increase significantly. Although Medan isn’t a tourist destination, many people come to the city for a quick weekend gateway or as their base to a tourism destination
Medan is an important commercial and economic hub of Indonesia. The city’s economy mainly relies on tobacco, rubber, tea, palm, coffee, production, and manufacture. It is the most industrious city in Sumatra and the majority of the population work in the trade sector. Technology, telecommunications, financial, retail, and education are some of the large employers in the city. Medan’s lively vibe, food scene, and culture are very appealing for both expatriates and locals. Finding a job in Medan is not hard for expats, thanks to its proximity to Malaysia and Singapura, foreign workers are able to work in the labor market and English teaching jobs are also available.
Popular Areas in Medan
Medan has many housing options, such as townhouses and apartments. However, most expats tend to live in houses and gated communities. The majority live in Taman Setia Budi (Tasbi) or near Polonia, the old airport. The housing complexes that are popular among expats are Bumi Asri, Cemara Asri, and Setia Budi. Citra Garden and Royal Sumatra are popular with families who need easier access to good international schools.
Medan has numerous delightful street food vendors and the local food is famous. It also has a lot of restaurants and bars. One of the most favorites is The Traders, which is known to be an expat magnet, the restaurant has a wide selection of Asian and Western food. It also has an interesting ambiance and great service and there is also a live band on weekends. Another popular restaurant for expats is O’Flaherty’s Bar and Restaurant which has a great Irish atmosphere. It is a good place to have a cold beer and meet other expats. There are some nice cafes to hang out and meet up with friends such as Excelsso and Opal Café. Malls offer a one-stop entertainment such as movie theater, clothing stores, restaurants, and coffee shops. There are malls that offer health clubs, some of the most popular malls are Sun Plaza, Cambridge Mall, and Hermes Place Shopping Mall.
The nightlife scene in Medan is not as active as other major cities like Jakarta and Bali. The city is far more conservative and the police are controlling the nightlife activities. Nevertheless, there are some clubs in Medan where expats usually hang out in such as Retrospective and Tobasa Medan. Retrospective is a decent club located in Capital Building not far from the city center. It is a bar, nightclub, and live music venue. Tobasa Medan is an underground club and a part of the Danau Toba International Hotel. The music is typical funky house and the place is very dark.
Weather and Climate in Medan
Medan has a tropical wet climate, meaning it experiences warm and humid weather with only one season all year round. The temperature is generally comfortable with an average temperature of 20°C to 30°C. Climate change has caused unpredictable weather in the city and rain dominates most of the year with October as the wettest month and February as the driest month. Annual precipitation in the city is around 2,200 millimeters.
Getting Around in Medan
Kualanamu International Airport is located in Deli Serdang regency, 23 kilometers east of downtown Medan. It is the third largest airport in Indonesia after Soekarno-Hatta and Kertajati Airport. It is also the fourth busiest airport in the country. The airport serves domestic flights to almost every major city in the country and international flights to Malaysia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Hong Kong. There are several budget airlines operating flights from this airport such as Citilink, AirAsia, Lion Air, and Wings Air.
There are various transportation modes in Medan. Locals usually prefer Becak (trishaws). There are two kinds of Becak, becak dayung and bentor (becak motor). Becak Dayung is suitable for short distance trips while Bentor can reach longer distance. Bentor is regular trishaw attached to a motorcycle. It cost around Rp10.000 to Rp25.000. There’s also a Sudako (Sumatera Daihatsu Company) which is a small minivan with painted numbers to signify the routes. Even the locals do not memorize these numbers, so it is best to ask people which sudako numbers correspond to your location. The standard fare is Rp5.000.
Taxis are available throughout the city. The most reliable taxis usually wait for passengers in front of malls or the airport. Try to avoid using taxis other than Blue Bird or Express since many other taxis will resist the use of a meter and force you to bargain. Express and Blue Bird can be ordered by phone or by the Blue Bird app. Go-Jek and Grab (online hailing apps similar to Uber) are also available. They provide motorbike taxis (known as ojek) and private cars.
Work Visas in Medan
The work visa is known as VITAS or a limited stay permit. In order to obtain a VITAS, you will need sponsorship for an Indonesian company. The visa’s validity will adjust to the maximum duration of stay granted for your position. Having VITAS does not mean you can work in Medan. You will need to apply for ITAS KERJA. It is your stay permit for working in the country and is valid for as long as your employment contract for a maximum of two years.