If you are laboring in the context of unrequited ambition or some pent-up dream, Bali can be the perfect place to address The Project, however you define it.

A tropical vacation is fun and rejuvenating, but stay in a place like Bali long enough and it just might trigger a larger sense of perspective in you. Be warned: removing much of the pressing need for income and heavy clothing under which you have been been straining for a lifetime can have ontological ramifications.

Glimpsing a less-constrained you in very different circumstances, even if only for a moment, hints at a larger, fuller life that you might otherwise have lived. It suggests a life that you might–being still alive–still live.

For me years ago, the word ‘expat’ meant being Arthur C. Clarke in Sri Lanka, Graham Greene or Hemingway in Cuba, or even Bogart in a Casablanca nightclub. I have my moments but I never feel as distinguished or well-dressed as any of those guys.

But when an old friend came to visit us in Bali recently and mentioned with just a hint of fraternal sarcasm, “Hey you’re an expat now”, it got me thinking. I bought my little base here in 2005 and have been in Bali nearly continuously since mid-2008. Had I passed some arbitrary time requirement? What does ‘expat’ mean in 2013?

A 21st century expat in Bali or elsewhere in Southeast Asia can enjoy the exoticism of his chosen location without many of the attendant inconveniences, deprivations or even dangers endured by those iconic figures from another time. OK, so call me soft. Still, talking to friends via free Google video chat or flying inexpensively to Singapore for a visa run and authentic masala dosa is something I wouldn’t swap for doing it the way they did 50+ years ago.

Being a Bali expat is an exercise in having it both ways, sometimes almost embarrassingly so. Having said that, the frustrations and negative aspects built into expatriate life in Bali keep me from getting too smug. Today I’ll just tell you about the good stuff, the 19 best things about being a Bali expat, according to me. In no particular order:
1) Getting laundry done by a friendly Balinese family, three minutes’ walk away. They charge 15 or 20 US cents per piece, folded and neatly bundled for next-day pickup.

2) Enjoying the melting pot that is Bali. Not only do people come from all of the world for everything from short visits to making a long-term base, people come from every corner of the Indonesian archipelago for the opportunity that exists in Bali, or simply to vacation.It’s hard not to feel stimulated by the sheer variety of people here–everyone seems to show up eventually!–there’s nowhere better to see it than on the beach at sunset time.

3) Balinese umbrellas and flags. Balinese Women Balinese Umbrellas

4) At night in the rainy season, sitting at the computer surfing the planet with my cat on my lap, or just sitting in warm humidity on the balcony, listening to the late-night torrents.

5) Having time to read every single book on the “must read” list.

6) Having time for my sunset walk on the beach every day. Funny how I never have to force myself to get a nice hour and a half worth of low-intensity exercise here. I know it’s good for me but I do it because I love it. Bali Sunset-Seminyak

7) Having time to reconnect with family and friends. It’s ironic that being so far away from home without a work schedule means that you have more time to spend with people than when you are geographically closer to them. It goes without saying that you have the technology in Bali.

You’ll have a connection at home and there is free Wi-Fi in most of the restaurants, which means among other things that your VoIP telephone solutions work great internationally without ever having to involve a ‘service provider’.

Also, when friends and family come to Bali to visit–a surprising amount do–we get to spend hours and hours talking as we rarely seemed to back in the realm of the busy.

People are more interested and interesting without a schedule and so, most likely, are you.

8) Magnificent luscious fruit. I wouldn’t want the stellar vegetables to feel left out either, and one certainly will find both elsewhere in Southeast Asia, but I’m amazed still at the variety and freshness of mangosteen, papaya, pineapple, honeydew and watermelon, several varieties of bananas and mangoes, rambutan, snake fruit, dragon fruit, durian, etc. I always have fruit at home and indulge in a half-papaya every day. Bali Fruit  

9)Taking spur-of-the-moment flights to interesting places. I start every day in Bali knowing that if I got the urge I could wake up the following morning in any one of a hundred interesting cities, watching the world come alive in Chiang Mai, Kovalam Beach in Kerala, Ho Chi Minh City, Penang, etc. etc.

If you’re coming to Asia from Europe or the United States it would be difficult to see too many of the places you’ve “always wanted to visit” without taking a six-month sabbatical and aggressively connecting all the dots. Lots of people buy a backpack and do this at some point, but having a base in this region means spontaneous explorations won’t break the bank, nor even require much planning.

Led by Air Asia, the availability of cheap flights has increased dramatically over the past 10 years; more competition has meant that one is no more than US $100 or $200 from destinations worthy of checking out. Most days, I do not jump on that airplane. But I can, and that has made all the difference.

10) One-hour massages priced from US$5.

11) Seeing at every turn the amazing, usually functioning blend of Balinese tradition combined with all the modern world has to offer. Balinese Ramones Fan

12) Good quality DVDs and CDs of recent film/music releases on every corner for US$1. I know that no one is getting paid but the people from whom I buy them, most of whom make less in a month than Johnny Depp slips the valet.

13) Having time for leisurely two- or three-hour meals in restaurants, depending on the conversation and who might show up. Never will there be an insinuation that you should order more or perhaps free up the table. This is not unique to Bali of course; budget travelers in the region know the Asian informality that blurs the line between eating and socializing. I’ll admit that I have sat for so long after a meal that I get hungry again and order another meal.

Well, I’m not the only one.

Since Internet access is a given at Bali restaurants, it’s easy to combine the additional dimension of working, alone or together with friends on the Project. Or not.

14) Not spending time trying to convince myself that to defer life is to live.

Get ready, here’s a heavy idea I didn’t invent: in dreams begin responsibilities.

Execute and come to a place where you are (finally) without reasons why you can’t act, today, and you will find if you are worthy of this dream of yours, and all the effort that it took to get you here in the first place.

You can fall into a deserved retirement when some arbitrary timetable finally allows you to, but if you decide that it is time to live today, making an equally arbitrary decision that’s fundamentally different because it is of you, that you deserve to pursue living as you define it, the onus will be on you to act.

I think of it as having time to pursue my projects, maybe explore possibilities for making money online, and simply to breathe. Of course you can do it anywhere; being in Bali was a catalyst for me, a freedom metaphor.

15) Losing weight with no effort. Yep, you read that right. Don’t call me if it doesn’t work for you, but the warm climate in Bali makes me less focused on food.

Portion sizes at restaurants reflect a culture not obliged or intending to feed the insatiable.

I tend to eat to live in Bali rather than the other way around. It sounds pretentious so let me elaborate: I have no fixed schedule in Bali, so I’m without the scheduled mealtimes on which I fixated back in the salt mines, for lack of other immediate satisfactions.

Engagement in activities that interest me has added up to shedding at least 40 lbs. I’m sure the walking doesn’t hurt either; out of 24 hours in the day it’s easy to make time for it.

16) Bluebird brand taxis cost no more than $1-$2 for just about everywhere I want to go. Air-conditioned, pleasant drivers who turn the meter on every single time without having to be asked.

17) No problem getting around with English, though if you’re a Bali expat you’ll pick up at least basic Bahasa Indonesia, as it’s one of the easiest languages to learn: no verb tenses, a Roman alphabet with no difficult pronunciations, etc.

18) Arriving back at my condo in the afternoon hours on a steaming hot sunny day to the pleasure of the cool air in our little place. Add the right beverage and you can go from wilted to refreshed in about 10 seconds. If I feel like getting especially decadent I can pop a DVD in and watch it during the midday heat, until 5 PM or so when it becomes much cooler and time to hit the beach for sunset.

19) Meeting interesting long-term expats, most of whom seem to have biographies worthy of a movie.

Think you’ve been around? In the market last night I run across an acquaintance in the produce section. He’s a charming fellow with a US accent in his early 60s (I guess) who has been in Bali and elsewhere in Asia for most of the last 40 years, and always looks as though he’s heading to an after party in the Hollywood hills. My understanding is that he has been a collector of Dayak art since he was a hippy, and that he’s made countless trips up rivers in Borneo in his day.

He tells me he has nearly 5,000 Facebook friends now, and very little time for anything other than keeping his active online and off-line social life organized. He allowed someone to place an ad to sell a house on his Facebook wall and to his surprise it sold very quickly; he sees this as an enormous business opportunity-not that he particularly that needs the money-and feels like the future is wide open, full of possibilities.

I’m not sure if he has ever had a “real job” back in the United States, but no mention is made of impending retirement and Social Security compensation. He is clearly not waiting for anything. I imagine he never has. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Being a Bali expat has been an adventure in living for today without sabotaging tomorrow.

We are taught that there is a natural dichotomy between enjoying oneself and doing what it takes to pay for or even deserve that enjoyment.

At the risk of sounding like a simpleton or making anyone uncomfortable who spends time employed in a job he or she doesn’t like, let me speak plainly. This distinction is a delusion, played out on a mass scale by good people who too often don’t even question their participation in it.

Life doesn’t have to be win lotto/nose to grindstone, holiday/work, or retired/not yet retired. If one embraces today there are other ways to live! I know too many people whose lives are evidence of this not to believe it.

What about you? Have you always wanted to be a person who writes, paints, sculpts, makes furniture, designs clothes or leather goods, designs shoes, jewelry, or toys? Are you interested in being an Internet entrepreneur, making a real difference at an orphanage, being a freelance travel consultant, a wedding planner, a documentary filmmaker, or building your own home? Do you just want some time to study something new, for all the right reasons?

Redirection may be too expensive for you to consider ‘back home’, but It’s cheap enough in Bali to pursue even a vague interest, and I will bet you that it results sooner or later, directly or indirectly, into a means of paying the bills. It won’t take much.

If you have an idea for a better purpose that won’t let you go, living in Bali (or many other places in Asia) will give you time to work on your project. This means you’ll have time to step back from your life and a schedule that has turned somehow from being a comfort and an acceptable price to be paid to being a soul-killing drag, short and simple.

You can step toward a better plan of your own devising.

If you look your dream in the face, even if it’s just a vague desire for more, and tell yourself that only people with trust funds, or those somehow ‘chosen’ can escape, you’re half right. None of my friends in Bali have trust funds as far as I know, but we were in fact all chosen for something different. But here’s the secret: it was we ourselves who did the choosing.

Hey, remember the quote about the devil finding work for idle hands to do? It was handy for people who wanted you to keep your nose to the grindstone, toward an end they’d supply, that would in turn profit them. Those devils found work for you to do in return for concepts like security, and the satisfaction of small desires. Shed this ah…arrangement.

Having time to be self-directed, possibly for the first time in one’s life, is the basis for a profound transformation for many people.

Not everyone has a hole in their life which can be filled only by taking action which might seem imprudent to others. But if you do, don’t kid yourself in an effort to placate ‘others’. Your friends will cheer you on, and the other folks don’t really care that much anyway.

By the way, you don’t become a Bali expat and ‘never go back’, unless you really don’t want to. Chances are that the same flexibility that made it possible for you to live or retire in Bali in the first place will take you back to where you’re ‘from’, though you’ll probably return without the person you are now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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What is the one question I can answer for you regarding being an expat in Bali or Southeast Asia? Just leave it in the comments and I’ll give you the best answer I can.

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244 thoughts on “The 19 Best Things About Being A Bali Expat

  1. Hi Tom,
    Love your blog. I too am thinking of moving to Bali but not a clue where or how (Ive never been to Bali). I have a partner and a 6 month baby. Is it safe there? There are so many horror stories and now even a weekly tv show about what goes on in Bali. I’m looking for inner peace and a holistic, spiritual lifestyle. We are thinking of doing this for 6 months to “try before we buy”. My partner is an electrician (also marine electrician). Is it easy for him to obtain work there? Does he need a special visa to work there? Is there easy access to western baby products? Ive been to Thailand numerous times but never Bali……..I’m excited but scared at the same time lol. Thanks Tom

  2. Dear Tom, here in Serbia people are itching to break away from the worst living conditions ever. Rat race and lack of legal and financial security make me, my husband and my young kids want to switch into a happy, relaxed and meaningful environment. Bali is in our minds. We just need to figure what are the best ways for us all to accomodate and adjust. In run a kids entertainment business, pls check out my website. Please let me know what would the possibilities in that field in Bali?
    I’ve signed up for your newsletter and anxiously await the e-delivery of Bali on the Cheap!
    All the best! Zora

  3. Hello Tom,
    Came across yr website. My wife & myself have been enjoying our visits to Bsli 4 to 5 times a year. We are in our mid 50s and considering of enjoying our lives day. Woud appreciate if you could sent us bali on the cheap to us. Rewe really enjoy reading your blogs. Thanks

  4. Hi, Tom!
    My daughter and I will be visiting Bali in less than a month for about 14 days. I sought out your web site because I have a fantasy of living in Bali for the rest of my life. I am semi-retired and my husband is close to retiring. Both our children moved to China to teach English and are happy there. Bali is approximately a $460.00 round trip flight away from them. I want to taste the ex-pat lifestyle. It is SO kind of you to offer your complimentary guide “Bali on the Cheap”, and I am very excited to read it. Thank you SO much!
    All the best, Susan

  5. Thanks so much for sharing your story Susan— I hope Bali on the Cheap helps with some early-stage research on making a life you enjoy here in Bali. Good luck!

  6. Hi Tom

    I enjoyed reading your article about Bali. I just moved to Bali and live in Sanur now.
    My mother and stepfather live in Bali since 2010. I went on a vacation to Bali a few times and really enjoyed it. I like the food, people, beaches, culture, temples, nature and other things. This year i decided to stay there. I saved enough money, but eventually ill be running out of money, so i want to learn how to start an online business or others ways to make money here. I know how to create and design websites and logos (maybe a good business idea). If you have any tips for creating an online business or other ways to make money, then please let me know. But for now i really enjoy staying in this tropical paradise and i never want to go back to Holland.

    Keep writing nice articles like this.

    With kind regards,
    Mickel

  7. Hi,

    What is the possibility of a 94 yr old lady living her last years out in Bali? She was born in Indonesia and speaks fluent Indonesian, she has lived in Australia for the past 39 yrs and is an Aust citizen.
    Is there a way to rent a house, long term rental, (with a view), a carer, house help etc and have her 5 children come and visit in turns through out the year.

    She is very unhappy and worried about maybe having to go to a nursing home in Australia. She still has family in Indonesia so she will have plenty of visitors.

    Thanks,
    Melany

  8. Hi Melaney, thanks for the comment. I do get people asking about being an expat in one’s later years in Bali. It’s a weighty question.

    Assuming she wants to come back in the first place it sounds like she’d have a much better quality of life here, certainly better than at a nursing home. I think Indonesian/Balinese caregivers generally see it as much more than a job. Knowing Bahasa Indonesia would mean she’s much less isolated than she’d otherwise be.

    I think there’s only one problem with this scenario, which is the possibility that she’ll need urgent care that might not be available in Bali. She and her relatives have to weigh that against what staying in Australia means, and will mean for her.

    For about 5 years in her early 80’s my mother spent most of her time in Bali and loved everything about her life here. She is/was healthy for a person of that age. She had a few incidents but nothing that couldn’t be adequately addressed at BIMC. I suppose we were lucky she never had something that required Western-style medical care, but I know that she was very happy here and that is important. Eventually we decided she needed more comprehensive care so she is now back in the US, but as I say having her spend time in her later years in a situation that greatly that enhanced her life–compared to what it was becoming in the US–was a good move.

    I wish you good luck, sincerely. I’d love to know what you all decide if you care to share it.

  9. Coming to Bali next month and would love to see your book! Coming with a friend to escape the insanity of NYC. Can’t wait to breathe deep and unwind.

    Cat

  10. Hi,
    I just got back from Bali (2nd trip this year) but about my 6th in total. Everytime I leave it gets harder and harder and now more than ever I want to move there. I’m from Australia but am half Balinese (dad is Balinese but lives in Australia too). The only thing holding me back is not knowing what I would do over there as a means for income. I’m 24 and currently manage spa/salon and although I love my job, i would take any chance I could get at moving there given I could find a way to live. I just wouldn’t know where to start ..

  11. Hi Tom, thank you for this wonderful post.

    My partner and I visit Bali from Australia often. We love the people, culture, food, pace, sunsets, smells etc etc. We have contemplated taking early retirement and relocating there some day soon.

    Are you able to provide any insights into the expat network and social activities ?

    Kind regards
    Kevin

  12. Hi Tom, I really love how you described (in an intimate way) whats its like to live in bali. for the past few years I too have known that this isnt the life I was meant to live. It has grown from a distant unease and is now a deep yearning to finally take that most important step, the first one. Im in my 50s and have a small retirement of $950 US dollars a month. Could this amount allow me to live in a way in Bali that I wont have to worry about making ends meet?

  13. Hi Tom,

    This is a fantastic read I really enjoyed it!

    My boyfriend and I are in our early 20s. Our plan is to save solidly for 2 years and come over for at least 6 months.

    I was wondering if you have any information on Visas, Also, I remember being in Bali and seeing signs everywhere for long term accommodation however cant find anything online, is it better to wait till you get there?

    Tessi

  14. Hi Steve — Hey thanks for your interest in the Bali guide. The easiest way for me to get you a copy would be for you to leave your first name and a working email address in the box on the right sidebar of wagefreedom.com. The auto-responder (the tech infrastructure I use for this) is pre-set to automatically send you an email with the E-guide as an attachment. Thanks again for your interest Steve, I hope you find it worthwhile!

  15. Thanks very much for your wise and very helpful information on living in Bali. I’m very drawn to doing so and am grateful for your words and perspective. Not sure how to word this question: here goes – since Bali is not particularly obscure and since many Westerners have been attracted to it, what kind of impact has there been on Bali’s preservation of nature, on development, on natural resources of all kinds; has the spirit of Bali and the Balinese and their way of caring for their home, been able to hold strong? I am aware I can find resources on this question but thought I’d pick your brain. These things matter to me personally. Of course everything changes but what is your perspective?

    Thinking seriously about Bali as an option to live out life!
    Thanks, Tamara

  16. Hi Tom…. loved your Bali Expat message and would love to learn more ,can you please sign me up for your EBook.

    Thank you

    Vicki

  17. Hi Tom, I would love to buy a long term lease in ubud or elsewhere in Bali and rent this out to holidayers through airbnb to pay this off. Also to live in myself for some parts of the year. Is this possible as a foreigner? Where are the best places to look for long term leases and what advice can you give to help my dreams manifest? Many thanks, Shereen

  18. Hi Tom, Thank you for such an insightful read in regards to living and retiring in Bali. My husband and I visted Bali about 9 years ago and I have to say I wasn’t impressed, however my husband was there on business recently and stayed in Seminyak and loved it. Which areas of Bali would you recommend for retirement thats very private and still close to amenities. I see there are companies now advertising gated communites, but I was under the impression that only Indonesians could legally own property in Bali.

  19. love the idea of rejuvenating one’s life….have visited Bali three times in three years and once a long time ago….stayed in Sanur ( love that area),Legian and Candi da Sa.
    what sort of average monthly cost would you suggest (ballpark) is suitable for a non extragavanz life style…

  20. Hi Geoff– thanks for your comment! I do get asked this a lot and I really hesitate to put a number on it, I suppose one person’s frugality might be another’s extravagance …..

    I certainly know Westerners who live for less than AU$1,0000/month, and then of course most Indonesians live quite well for much less than that. Having a car vs a motorbike would affect expenses a lot, and renting a cheap house by the year could be a small fraction of a fancy villa by the month. Distance from the beach and distance from the airport plays into it of course too..

    What I always say is that even with rising prices you can still largely pick your level of spending in Bali. Unlike the Western world where the baseline spend is often quite high just to survive, you’d have much more choice as to comfort vs saving money here. Anyway I find I ‘need’ lots less when it’s a nice sunny day, maybe you’d agree, and just that’s the start of a certain ‘personal liberation’ right there.

  21. Hi Kate — Thanks for your comment! There might be gated communities in Bali, I suppose it wouldn’t surprise me, but regarding privacy I’d imagine both locals and foreigners appreciate that most homes are constructed with a high wall around the perimeter, so that even if you are close to your neighbors it feels quite private. As to areas, I’m biased but I still prefer the area between Legian and Petitenget, you might also take a look at Sanur, it’s lots less traffic/busy. Ubud is very nice too, with more infrastructure than ever.

    As far as property ownership goes, you’re correct that foreigners can’t own property directly, but get a good Indonesian Notaris and have him/her thoroughly explain terms like Hak Pakai, Hak Milik and Hak Sewa to you, and the implications of each. Certainly many, many foreigners are based here. Good luck Kate.

  22. Hi Shereen—In 2014 you could look from Legian to Canggu and points further north, all over the Ubud area, Candidasa, etc. etc. My advise would be to come and take a couple of weeks at least looking around and talking to people. It’ll take some legwork as Bali real estate prices have gone up but it’s a big island. Good luck Shereen!

  23. Well, I’m just an outsider Tamara, but my opinion is that the Balinese do an incredibly good job keeping their culture alive despite all the changes in Bali, especially at the south end of the island.

    Let’s face it, tourism brings in so much money and naturally people want to do well by their families so many men and women work away from home, in a tourist industry that is quite different from the work their parents and grandparents did. Having said that, one only has to see a Balinese person performing puja or Jalan Legian completely closed to traffic for a few hours for a ceremony to understand that some corners will not be cut, that the most important thing for Balinese still even in 2014 is being Balinese, and observing the culture that defines them as such.

    I hope you make the chance to come and take a look for yourself Tamara. Many people from all over Indonesia and elsewhere in the world have found their place in the sun here.

  24. Hi Tom, my boyfriend and I are interested in moving to Bali to live and work. We are both teachers in Northern MB Canada, and have been looking at some private schools in Bali. I am wondering if you could direct me to any more information on the need for teachers. Our main concern is also about securing a job. Are there any sites you could direct us to. Thank you for all of your information and encouragement!

  25. Hello Tom,
    I am at a crossroads in my life and would love to go to Bali to ‘find’ myself. Is it safe for a woman alone? I live in Florida, USA and love the beach lifestyle. But need a change and would love to explore and work on my book there.
    Thanks for your input.

  26. Hello Tom! My family and I are heading to Bali July 30th till August 27th. My husband was an Indonesian citizen till we had to leave for NZ for safety in 1998. I have never been to Bali but my husband was a singer who has been almost everywhere. he is 59 and I am 48. I have always wanted to paint and create and he would love to return to singing. I am an artist exhibiting in LA and London but my mortgage in NZ prevents me from painting full time.
    I wonder if I can actually live in Bali if I have a mortgage at home . As a foreigner will I be able to make an income enough to cover both lives?
    I am thinking of maybe getting my art printed onto clothing to be sold in Indonesia and overseas…. So many possibilities.. What do you think?
    My son graduated from Uni with Bachelor of Arts… Maybe we will relocate to Bali God willing. All three of us can speak indonesian.

  27. And Thank you Tom for sharing your viewpoints! Will we be able to meet and have a cup of drink or a meal together while we are there? :) Harap bisa bertemu.
    Amanda

  28. My friend just moved to Bali to take a teaching english course and may decide to stay or go to singapore depending on job placement. You book would be helpful to her. Please send. Thanks.

  29. Hi Tom. Would love to read your book as we’re in the early phase of deciding how we can spend way more of our time in Bali, rather than the 2 week holidays we’ve had to date.

  30. Hi Tom,my wife and i have been coming to Bali for many years,more often,4 weeks at a time,3 times a year in the last 3 years since retirement.We wish to move to Bali for 2 or 3 years,are we likely to find a small house or villa,between Melasti st and Kunti st(Just past bintang supermarket).Down a gang,or in a compound is fine.Thank you.

  31. Dear Tom,
    I am in awe of your writing. This post is exactly what I needed to cement my decision to come to Bali in early September, as soon as I can obtain a social visa. I’m thinking of a monthly rental advertised as 10 minutes from Canggu beaches, in a quiet expat area surrounded by rice fields ($3,000,000 per month). Does this sound reasonable, safe etc. for a single woman? Can I ask where are you located?

  32. Hi Carol, thank you so much for the kind words, I mean that.

    It’s good that you have a particular area in mind to stay when you get here; Canggu is a beautiful area with lots of nice villas and more infrastructure than it used to have.

    If I read you correctly and you’re thinking of maybe committing to a place before you get here, I would suggest you wait until you arrive, for two reasons. The first is price. I’m not sure if you meant 3 million rupiah/mo. or US$3,000/mo. but either way you’ll definitely get a better deal when you’re here to inspect a place. (As to security: You should be able to find a safe place even for that lower price.) Also, I don’t think I’d commit before you see how different areas feel to you, as well as the properties themselves.

    You could set yourself up in a hotel for a few days, get a driver and look at some places you’ve found online. The price will be roughly 400k rupiah/per day for the car with driver. If you’re planning to stay for months imo it’s worth a little legwork, especially with a thousand drivers waiting to take you around!

    I should mention that my friend Sinta has helped people find villas in the past, if you’d like to have a shortlist of places to look at when you get here. (I get nothing for recommending her btw, she’s an old friend) Her email is baiqsinta123@gmail.com .

    I’m in the Legian/Seminyak area. I see you signed up for my Bali on the Cheap e-guide, hopefully that answers some questions for you, though the prices will be a bit higher than listed in Bali on the Cheap, as it’s a few years old now.

    Good luck to you Carol, let me know how it goes.

  33. Hi Bob– I’m sure you can find places in that area, I think the best way is to get a motorbike or driver, or my friend Sinta is quite good at finding villas for people. You can email her at baiqsinta123@gmail.com. Good luck Bob, lots of retired Aussies here, as you know.

  34. Hi Tom

    I’d love to move to Ubud – I’m currently on a Centrelink allowance in Australia. What are the visa requirements and how long can I stay? Also, can I purchase an apartment in Ubud or would you recommend long-term rental?

  35. Hi Tom! I completely agree with what you wrote, and I am currently pursuing my dream of becoming an artist in another part of Indonesia. My question to you is, do you know anyone who is selling online and doing the visa runs? Apologies if this was already discussed somewhere. I’m just trying to figure out how to live here and make some money without doing anything illegal. Thanks!

  36. Hi Tom. Very well written blog sir. One can close their eyes after reading this post from 5/11/14 and envision all the beauty you describe. I have been to Bali once in 2007 and did not want to leave at all after seeing it firsthand. My mother is from Jakarta originally and we have been visiting our whole lives from the states, but Bali was love at first sight for me in 2007. While I do plan on relocating there permanently, it will be a few years until I can do so. My question is this…I know many expats have come there and started import/export businesses with all the amazing products Bali has to offer. How would I determine who to do business with as far as local wholesalers? Are there any reviews or regulatory agency lists available? I would appreciate any contacts regarding setting up an account with one or several product wholesalers in Bali. I will be there from 10/21/14 – 11/4/14 and plan on doing a lot of legwork, but any insight would be appreciated as I know there are 100s of businesses there offering similar products, but no way to determine online who to trust with my business. I have read the horror stories of quality of products not being what was promised as well as buying agencies ripping US buyers off. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Feel free to email me with the address provided. Thanks again.

    – Ro

  37. Just reading your info. We are wanting to live in Bali after numerous visits. we have so many questions about removal from Aus and long term rentals we have pets to take over if possible .. wanting to settle in January but visiting in December for a couple of weeks. We see the options are aplenty but doing it from here .. Perth WA seems daunting. Still reading your info ….

  38. Hi Ro– well the people I know who are exporting items from Bali all had to do considerable legwork to find reputable sources. You don’t mention the sort of products you’re interested in but either way I’m not sure there’s a fast way to really vet potential wholesalers, outside of meeting them and seeing their operations. I know you’re looking for more than that. I suppose the good news is that this is a barrier to entry for potential competition. (Also I’m not sure that having agencies between you and is the most cost-effective way to do it either) Good luck Ro, sorry I can’t be of more assistance.

  39. Hello Tom,
    I just returned from Bali. My younger sister and I enjoyed 2 weeks on the Island of the Gods. We read everything we could get our hands on for about 10 months before we arrived. Every detail of the trip was handled by my sister. She did all the work; I was just her travel companion. Of course, we cannot get Bali out of our heads. We went to a few different cities but the place we loved the most was Sideman. I am 62 and my sister is 58. We both want to go back and try living there for a year. I am just starting the necessary research to figure out if we could really do this thing. Thanks for your blog. It was very helpful. I typed “Job Opportunities for Americans in Bali” and Google took me here. I am glad I took the time to read “The Best 19 Things About Being a Bali Expat.” I fell in love with Bali, its culture and the people. I hope I can return — sooner rather than later.

  40. Hi Deborah, thanks a lot for your comment. I’ve been getting this question so much that I’ve recently broadened the scope of this site to suggest ways to support oneself while in Bali. I have several thousand words already, please do check back. I’ll tell you that my focus is mostly making money online, since it’s my expertise and because the variety of opportunities is so great. I think no matter what a person’s interests, background or level of tech proficiency is there are ways to create an online income, and make enough to live in Bali (and other places in Southeast Asia for that matter) if you’re motivated.

    Again please do check back Deborah or you can sign up for my mailing list, and thanks again.

  41. Thanks so much for this post, Tom. I will come to Bali shortly, after a 20-year absence, for a lengthy vacation/getting the lie of the land with the intention of moving there. I think your Bali on the Cheap guide would be a great place to start background research and would love a copy – thanks! Now, to explore the rest of your site!

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