One of the main concerns for expats is housing. Most expats prefer to live in South Jakarta (Pondok Indah, Cilandak, Kemang) as the area is very expat-oriented (ie pubs, bars and supermarkets that sell expat food) and the international schools are located here. But choosing a house/apt in Jakarta is more complicated than that. You'll have to consider whether you want a house or apartment as well as many other factors.
First, you have to consider your commute. If your office is in Central Business District, don't pick a place where the commute is over an hour. Dear Hubby works in Cilandak, so naturally we're looking at some place in the south. A house would have to be really special for us to consider living far away from Cilandak. Trust me, you don't want to get stuck in the traffic on a daily basis. It's more than enough to drive you bonkers.
Then, you have to consider security. Compared to KL, Jakarta does have an air of recklessness about it. I can't tell how much more reckless yet as I've only been here a week. I've lived in KL for 7 years without coming to any harm and it may well be the case for my stay in Jakarta. However, most expats prefer a gated community for their families as some do travel regularly for their work, leaving their family behind. The cost of the maintenance (garden, pool, common areas) and security may or may not be included in your rent, so do check before you commit. However, many of these secure compounds are serviced by small streets and I wouldn't advise Ma'am Expat to go a-walking down the streets herself. Best to always call the driver or get a cab.
The location plays a big part too. I personally like Kemang because of the many shops along Jln Kemang Raya and it looks really lively at night. Plus our favourite restaurant, Gourmet Garage, is located there as well!
Finally, the rent. The difference between KL and Jakarta is that here, you pay the rent upfront for a minimum of 2 years. So if your monthly rent is USD$2,000, you'll be paying 24 TIMES that amount upfront before you even move in. Once you've paid up and you happen to change your mind, you can kiss that money goodbye. You could negotiate with the landlord but you won't see all of it back for sure.
I'll post tomorrow about our own experience in looking for a house.