If your life runs through a backdrop of unrequited ambition, or a pent-up dream which doesn’t seem to want to abandon you, living in Bali can be the perfect way to finally point your attention toward it.
A tropical vacation is rejuvenating, but stay in a place like Bali long enough and it just might trigger a larger sense of perspective in you. Be warned: reducing the need for income and heavy clothing under which you might have been been straining for a lifetime can have ontological ramifications.
Who are you when you’ve thrown off the daily grind? Who might you be?
Glimpsing a less-constrained you in very different circumstances, even if only for a moment, hints at a larger, fuller life you might otherwise have lived.
It suggests a life 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 living in Bali nearly continuously since mid-2008. Had I passed some arbitrary time requirement? What does ‘expat’ mean in the 2020s?
A 21st century expat moving to Bali or elsewhere in Southeast Asia can enjoy the exoticism of his chosen location at a very low cost of living without many of the attendant inconveniences, deprivations or even dangers endured by those iconic figures from another time.
OK, I guess I’m soft.
Still, chatting with friends worldwide, cheap flights to Singapore for a visa run and authentic masala dosa, or taking time to work on an online business idea are all activities I wouldn’t swap for doing it the way they did 50+ years ago.
Living in Bali as an 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 21 best things about living in Bali, according to me. In no particular order:
Living In Bali
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 over the world for everything from short visits to moving to Bali outright, people come from every corner of the Indonesian archipelago for the money-making opportunities 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) Bali mornings. What are things-to-do-in-Bali ‘must-dos’? A few are Besakih Temple, Tanah Lot, and definitely Uluwatu at sunset, but I have one for you that isn’t in any guidebook.
Get up around sunrise. Get to a natural setting, whether it’s to the beach or to a path leading through rice paddies or jungle if you’re inland in a place like Ubud. Before 9 AM or so you’ll be rewarded with cooler temperatures and far less activity on the roads.
You’ll pass people sweeping, the smell of incense wafting from small roadside temples, and hundreds of canang sari–small trays made of palm leaf and filled with offerings–put out by the Balinese as they perform their morning Sembahyang puja, the women wearing their vivid selendang sashes.
If you’re in the rice paddies you’ll see farmers starting their day or just sitting in a bale, a small raised platform with a roof and no walls. Birds as exotic splashes of color. Well, are they exotic if they’re home? Maybe it’s you who’s exotic on this morning.
On the beach it’s a quiet scene, a few joggers and dog-walkers if you’re in Seminyak or Kuta. So peaceful compared to later in the day.
Treat yourself to a few early mornings, especially if you’re in Bali for a short visit. (Pro tip: I always do this if I’m arriving jetlagged and awake early the first morning or two. No better cure for it…)
4) Balinese umbrellas and flags.
5) 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.
6) Having time to read every single book on the “must read” list.
7) 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.
8) Having time to reconnect with family and friends. It’s ironic that being so far away from home without a work schedule means you have more time to spend with people than when you are geographically closer to them. And it goes without saying that you have the technology to do this living in Bali.
Specifically, you’ll have a home connection, and there’s free Wi-Fi in most of the restaurants. Bring an unlocked phone and you’ll find 4G/LTE service in much of Seminyak and elsewhere too, via Telkomsel, XL and other carriers. About 180,000 rupiah gets you all set up with a local SIM card and a 1.5 GB data top-up every month is just 53,000 rupiah. It all means among other things that WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Skype, Facetime, WeChat, etc work as well as they do anywhere else in the world, of course. Why tell friends and family about your tropical breakfast when you can show it to them in real time?
And, when they come to Bali to visit–a surprising amount of friends and family 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.
By the way, in response to years of questions (since 2005) I wrote a book about how an ordinary person can live in Bali, detailing the cost of living in Bali and how to support yourself in Bali.
To purchase How To Live In Bali click here now to go to the fast, secure checkout.
Or, if you’d like a sample of How To Live In Bali (2017 edition), just tell me where to send your two free chapters, below:
9) 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.
10)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 moving to Bali (or having a base anywhere in this region really) 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 you’re 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.
11) “Mau ke mana?” In the tourist areas you’ll get the English version: “Where are you going? It’s the common greeting between Indonesians so naturally they’ll ask you too, as you walk by.
With a little shame now, I remember feeling the question to be a minor intrusion when I first came to Indonesia. Maybe it was a typical reaction for a westerner being asked their intentions by a stranger. I soon relaxed.
I think the greeting reflects a culture with a refreshing (to me) lack of concern over maintaining the anonymity and privacy on which we often fixate in the West. I like it because it underscores a mutual familiarity with my neighbors. I ask them myself now.
12) One-hour massages priced from US$5.
13) Seeing at every turn the amazing, usually functioning blend of Balinese tradition combined with all the modern world has to offer.
14) Good quality DVDs and CDs of recent film/music releases on every corner for US$1. Yes, 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. If streaming is more your thing, Netflix and 100 other options are available.
15) 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 which blurs the line between eating and socializing. I’ll admit I’ve 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.
16) 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 it took to get you here in the first place.
You can fall into a deserved retirement when some arbitrary timetable finally says it’s OK, a schedule invented by people who never considered any other way.
But there are other ways.
And if you’re brave enough to decide not to defer living but to live sooner, to live today, you make an (equally) arbitrary decision which is fundamentally different because it is of you.
And if you’re brave enough to decide 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, explore possibilities for making money online, and simply to breathe. Of course you can do these things anywhere–you can take action anywhere.
Living in Bali was a catalyst for me, a freedom metaphor. It was also a much cheaper place to test ideas than California.
18) 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. And, ridesharing has come to Bali. Grab and Gojek offer car and motorcycle taxi rides for as little as 4,000 rupiah (about US 29 cents), plus a clean helmet and a rain poncho in the rainy season.
19) No problem getting around with English, though if you’re a Bali expat you’ll learn at least basic Bahasa Indonesia, as it’s one of the easiest languages to learn: no verb tenses, a Roman alphabet with no difficult tonal pronunciations, etc.
20) 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. We tend to avoid the heat here in the midday, until 5 PM or so when it becomes cooler and it’s time to hit the beach for sunset.
21) 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 living 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 and to his surprise it sold very quickly; he sees this as an enormous online business opportunity–not that he particularly 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.
Moving to Bali
Being a Bali expat–for me–turned out to be an adventure in something more than living on the beach in Indonesia.
It’s shown me the experience of living for today without sabotaging tomorrow.
We are taught that there’s a natural dichotomy between enjoying oneself and doing what it takes to pay for that enjoyment. You have to ‘pay to play’.
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.
You can make use of interests and abilities you have to bring you a solid cash flow, if not a full time income, and maybe even multiples of your current salary eventually. Choose yourself and you don’t have to wait for someone to give you a great job. What dormant, half-forgotten abilities or ambitions still exist in you, waiting to be unleashed?
And what does all this have to do with living in Bali? Well, for one thing living in a warm, friendly place for a fraction of the cost of the ‘developed’ world totally skews the math in your favor.
That gives you breathing room to work on (or even discover) the means to support yourself in a way which is more integrated with who you are.
You will have to do the work of matching your skills to markets or needs you can satisfy, maybe after some self-directed training in a new vocation. But you can find these needs, and you can learn enough to get started, and network as a way to accelerate the whole process.
And yes, the Internet ties it all together–at least the way I and most of my friends do it. Maybe you find the thought of getting better at learning, earning, and reaching people online to be overwhelming or intimidating. Please remember: the same Internet also connects you to mentors and coaches (formal or otherwise) and provides every answer you’ll ever need to change your life for the better and wage your own style of freedom.
I know too many people whose lives are evidence of this not to believe it.
So 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?
Major life redirection may be too expensive for you to consider ‘back home’, but it’s cheap enough living in Bali to pursue even a vague interest, and if you work for it, it can sooner or later, directly or indirectly, become 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 work schedule which might have turned somehow from being comfortable and an acceptable price to be paid, to being a soul-killing drag, short and simple.
My two cents: Ask yourself what you’d really like to spend your time doing and look online for ways to create an income around it, rather than than just ‘how to make money in Bali‘. There are endless ways to earn money using internet marketing strategies.
A job is usually not the way to go for most foreigners living in Bali, and SE Asia, for various reasons. It might have been a problem 20 years ago. No longer.
Flex your entrepreneurial muscles and 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 living 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, which 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 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.
So wage freedom. Because life is good, and time is running out.
WageFreedom.com is re-launching. After years of answering readers’ questions as to how to make an income as an expat, I am expanding the scope of this site.
Get the full story by clicking here.
What is the one question I can answer for you regarding being an expat in Bali or Southeast Asia? What do people do all day? How to start a blog or website to pay for life in Bali? Just leave it in the comments and I’ll give you the best answer I can.
And, would you like two free chapters of my new book “How To Live In Bali” (2017 edition)? It’s almost 30,000 words of detail aimed at helping you stay longer in Bali than tourists do. Sign up to my newsletter below and you’ll receive your free chapters immediately.
327 thoughts on “The 21 Best Things About Living in Bali”
Your blog makes me feel like I’m hearing things from deep within the bunny hole I’m about to jump down into. Maybe your writing resonates because you were once here, where I am, on the lip of that plunge. Maybe you’d enjoy following my similar journey to a New Truth, but probably you’re looking forward not back.
Whatever the case, I thank you immensely for your perspective. It underlines my certainty that I’m heading to the right place, just as I begin my big sell-off and need to remind myself of what the hell I’m doing. Having determined deep down that this is the ‘right’ move for me, I am having to listen long and deep to keep remembering, as everyone here seems content to simply go about their business. The following sentence *really* struck a chord with me.
> 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.
I am just hitting that spot in the dream business I’ve jumped off the deep end to start. If you feel like following my trajectory (towards Bali), you might enjoy my blog about it… (http://homemaderules.wordpress.com). Otherwise, perhaps we’ll meet in paradise? I’d enjoy that. Thanks again for being an inspiration!
Hey thanks a lot for the kind words, and if anything I wrote helped you at all to keep your eye on the ball I’m honored to have lent a hand.
You mentioned that wherever you are “everyone here seems content to simply go about their business”. Life back “where we’re from” will rarely encourage or even accommodate an individual intent upon making something more of his life. You don’t have to be selling everything and leaving with a backpack to feel this low-intensity alienation either. I think most people who attempt to start a business in their hometown are met with skepticism, even from good friends. The price of looking toward the horizon can be feeling like a loose cannon or morally inferior on some level, if you aren’t careful. Until you go, of course.
From your blog it sounds like you might not have really hit the road seriously yet in your life (I mean with the road itself as your destination as opposed to a grocery list of places to be scratched off the inside cover of your new Lonely Planet) but the way you are selling things aggressively it’s clear that is about to happen for you. I just want to assure you that to the extent that you might be fortified by a support group, that all the loose canons and freethinkers, the dreamers, the drunks, the shysters, the geniuses, the enthusiastic, the confused and the enlightened are out here! I’m sure you suspect that; it’s true.
It’s ironic that you need a certain inner strength to take action and exercise your human desire for More, but that once you make the leap into the unknown, showing yourself that you were strong enough to take a chance on yourself, you will be met by endless affirmation in 10,000 places around the world that this sacred leap was the most enriching way to live–but you won’t need the encouragement any longer! Trust your perspective, get on the airplane. You don’t need me to tell you that of course. Keep going and we’ll have meal when you get here.
(Also, it’s been my experience that we’re all looking forward, not back, and that regardless of where we’re sitting in the world our situations don’t change as much as we thought they might. It’s no excuse not to leave though…)
And I really loved your idea of having an estate sale before you die-or was it an estate sale before you live?–anyway, that’s great!—T
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You’re an inspiration.
After recently returning from my tenth visit to Bali I just can’t wait to get back! What I’d give to live the dream like you are… However a second marriage and young kids have sort of stymied that…
But I’m full of envy.
Tony thank you so much for the kind words–that really makes my day!
Hey maybe the marriage and young kids is a better use of your freedom than the ‘Bali expat’ idea at this time anyway. And it’s nice to have ‘a Bali’ at arm’s length in our lives.
On the other hand you know how many families have moved here and set the kids up in the good schools they have here in Bali. Good luck to you, I hope trip #11 comes soon! –Tom
I am glad you are living your dream!!!
I want to change my life with you!! 🙂 Fantastic, had a lot of pleasure reading. My dream is to live in Bali! All the best, Alessandra.
HI Alessandra– glad you enjoyed this list! If you want to live in Bali you can. Believe it. We are all here waiting for you!
This information is fantastic. Love it. I just moved to Bali and all tips above are very useful. Thanks.
Hey Vlad—Selamat datang! Give me a shout when you’re coming over to Seminyak, we’ll have a meal if you’d like. think_tom (at) hotmail.com. Very nice website you have, I signed up! —T
Awesome article! I can’t describe it, but a different feeling has settled over me after reading this. It has put me at ease. Thanks!
Hey Justin, nice to hear! I look forward to hearing your impressions of this part of the world.
I’m also an expat living in Istanbul, Turkey. I was wondering how often you need to go for a visa run there? It sounds like you have a great life going on there.
Hi Mike, thanks for visiting. Istanbul, what an interesting place to be an expat! I was there in my 20 a long time ago(!), and I want to go back to show my wife the Turks’ incredible friendliness. Also because it’s not far from the best view in the world (Santorini!).
Oh yes, Bali: well with no advance planning at all you’ll get off the airplane and get a 1-month ‘visa on arrival’. As of Jan 2012 you can extend that one more month; the extension is about US$27 then you have to leave.
With a little planning beforehand you can get a social visa (‘sosial budaya’), about US$60, which lets you stay for two months and then extend each month until you’ve been here six months, then you must go. The invite letter you need is quite easy/cheap, my friend here has been helping me for years and has helped other friends of mine with it also. You get the social visa before you come to Indonesia, simply go to an Indonesian Embassy anywhere with the invite letter.
Good luck there Mike, maybe we’ll see you in Bali sometime, lots going on no matter what you’re looking for. –Tom from Seminyak
I am in the early stages of planning to move to Bali and reading your blog could not have come at a better time as I juggle with decisions about selling here and buying there or renting out my place here etc etc. I didn’t need much convincing but reading your words has given me the impetus I needed to just get going!
Thank you very much
Hi Jean– thanks for the kind words, if I helped at all then it was worth writing the post!
Sometimes specifics are helpful, before we leap. If you’d like info on getting set up as well as recent prices you can take a look at my free 19-page E-guide on saving money in Bali for expats. I’m still getting the auto-responder set up but if you leave your email in the signup box in the right sidebar I will make sure ‘Bali on the Cheap’ gets to you. If you need help with practicalities (or the psychological hurdles) of your move let me know how I can help. Good luck Jean! —Tom
Wow! My husband and I have been planning for a move to Bali for a few months now. Your blog post was extremely well-written and spoke to our hearts. We’re looking specifically at the Lovina area because we read it is one of the more secluded areas. I’ve signed up for your newsletter and anxiously await the e-delivery of Bali on the Cheap!
Thank you so very much! Maybe when we arrive, we can meet in person and enjoy one of those extra-long lunch-dinner afternoon-evenings 🙂
Hi Michele– why thanks and nice to hear you’ll be coming to Bali! Let me know if I can answer any questions and please do let me know when you will be in Seminyak/Legian and I’d love to have a fruit juice or a meal with you two.
Also let me know if there are any hiccups with the delivery of ‘Bali on the Cheap’; it should be included in your confirmation email. I hope you find it helpful. Thanks again and all the best.
I would love to live in Bali, i’m from Singapore. Bu finding a job in Bali is tough i guess? I just graduate from a theatre school in Singapore and it’s my dream to settle in this island. 🙂
It was great to read your comments. My husband and i both want a more relaxed lifestyle and one in which we can actively help people. We are researching the highs and lows of living in Bali at the moment.
Thank you for the well written article. I’m at the crossroads (again) and can feel the flutter of excitement each time I visualise the life you have described, as this is just as I would have it, simple, down to earth and rich in just the appreciation of life and the time to become whole again.
I just need to know if it is going to be possible (remotely possible to achieve). I plan to make an ‘investigative’ trip in Aug perhaps (disguised as a well needed time-out). Would I be able to look you up as I have so many questions?
ps it was the fruit pic that really hit the spot.
I’d be interested in reading Bali on the Cheap if you are able to send it my way. I’m currently in graduate school and have a few more years to go – but I’d like to start planning now for a possible move to Bali in the future.
Hi Tom, that was an extremely well written and informative article. I am British (63) and currently living for the past 3 years in the Philippines. I have been self-employed for the past 30 years and had my share of successes and failures! In recent years I have made my living designing complex websites and online marketing.
My Filipina wife and I want to relocate to another Asian country and up until now, have favored Nha Trang in Vietnam. Now I am intrigued by Bali as a possible alternative. I have always associated Bali with expensive resorts, but maybe living in an apartment is not so expensive. Certainly Nha Trang offers VERY low prices with a good standard of amenities – the problem is the language is so difficult, English is not widely spoken. I read widely varying reports about English being understood in Bali. I accept that learning the basics of the local language is essential, but that takes time (at my age). I think my wife will find that much easier than me, and LOTS easier than Vietnamese!
Our monthly budget for a 2 bed home, fully furnished, is US $450 plus utilities – is this acheivable in an area that is not too far from amenities like supermarkets and restaurants? It seems paying a year in advance is the norm! Having read through your excellent “Bali on the Cheap” ebook, it seems like maybe Legian/Seminyak or parts of Sanur might be places to start looking. I think that Obud is probably too far away from things (in theory) and maybe too cool at certain times of the year. I have poor circulation and my feet turn to ice when the temp drops below about 25 degrees C. My wife is an exceptional cook so we would only be eating out a couple of times a week. Our total budget is just US $1750 per month max – are we looking for the impossible in Bali? In Vietnam we could live VERY well for that kind of money.
You’re such an inspiration! We’re planing our retirement in 2 years and Bali has always been my number (hubby prefers Penang, Malaysia) one place to spend over winter. We’ve been visiting Bali for the last 12 years and enjoyed every minute of our stay. We’ve recently (Jun12) discovered Lombok and the Gili islands and love it! Our next trip would be this Nov. We’ll be spending more time in UBUD (trying out a village life) and later down to Canggu to inspect some places to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary next year.
Do keep us updated with your latest Bali activities, truly enjoyed your writing.
Hi Adrian– thank you for the comment!
I think you have to come take a look at Bali; I have a feeling you’ll find what you’re looking for. I see so much variation in the way expats live in Bali that it’s a good place for almost any budget or lifestyle.
Saigon or Chang Mai are two alternatives favored by lots of people I know, but especially if you like the beach Bali is at least worth a look. I can offer a couple of opinions regarding points from your comment:
Prices: It is possible to find a place to rent or lease for $450/month, but yes, your options will greatly increase if you can pay a year or more at a time. I know people who have 10- or even 25-year leases and their per-month cost can be very, very good value for money IF you are financially and psychologically capable of paying up-front. Having said that, if your total budget is ~US 1750/mo, it should not be a problem for you to live very well indeed in Bali esp. if you mostly cook at home. (And as I say in the guide, even in the tourist areas your favorite restaurants will be fairly inexpensive and imo excellent value for money). One caveat: alcohol is heavily taxed and can will really eat into your budget, especially drinking at bars or restaurants. I know drinking the way I did in my youth would completely change the math for me; I would’ve been heading quickly back to Thailand!
Language: English is so widely spoken that many expats live here for years with only very basic Bahasa Indonesia skills (not that I recommend not learning at least some!). The language is not at all hard to learn, but really shouldn’t be an issue.
Where to live: do take a look at Ubud. It is cheaper, and that it’s a few degrees cooler than the beach areas will probably be a relief frankly Adrian! It never feels ‘cool’ to me there. The rolling green hills are gorgeous and personally I’d have no problem living there if I didn’t need my daily sunset beach walk so much! There is a large expat community in Ubud and plenty of infrastructure & terrific restaurants too. I don’t think you’ll find it too far away, and after the hustle and bustle of Seminyak you might just prefer it. Aside from that, yes, I would look around Seminyak and Sanur.
The best strategy might be to get a place by the month at first and rent a bike to look around. Check the bulletin boards that I mention in Bali On The Cheap, and put your own notice up. Head down interesting little alleys and talk to people. I’m sure you’ve done this elsewhere. You can look at the online version of Bali Advertiser, but you’ll find better deals once you are here, as you’d expect.
Please let me know what you think when you get to Bali Adrian! Thanks again. —Tom
Thank you so much for the comment Martha! You’re really making a good time out of choosing a retirement destination; with your attitude I predict you two will be happy wherever you settle!
One thing that I’d remind you-and you know this- is that distances are such in SE Asia that regardless of your base you can get to dozens of great places in a few hours, for very little money if you plan ahead. I signed up for Air Asia’s email newsletter, they’ve got incredible deals if you don’t mind reserving a few months out.
Anyway, I hope you find your place in the sun Martha, do let me know how it goes!
Thanks for the info. You sure you aren’t working for the Bali tourist agency? Just kidding.
I’m very interested in looking for a place to live in Bali and will be going to The Conrad Hotel sometime this year. You mentioned looking on a bulletin board to find homes, where would be a good place to find out about housing using Conrad as my base? As for the numbers you gave for rent in Bali, does this include furnished apt’s?
Also, my wife found online some info about expat retirees being able to get an extended visa if they have an income over a certain amount, do you know anything about this.
My wife and I are looking sooo much into Bali as it seems a place we could retire for a couple of years.
Lovely entry — your perspective resonates well with me. Thank you so much for generously sharing so much with us. I too experienced ultimate Liberation on Bali and now, I am planning to move to Ubud next year for an indefinite amount of time.
After 6months, what can I do if I would like to stay longer? Also, would you kindly send me Bali on the Cheap?
Lila from LA
Thank you for your thoughtful post. You beautifully articulated the need for many of us to question our traditional career tracks at home, grab hold of our futures, and then slow down and enjoy the unexpected riches that show up when we do. My husband and I are ready to end long careers in San Francisco and try life in another country. We plan to start with a year and see where things go from there. Your great descriptions are strongly tipping the scales in favor of Bali, which was a front runner anyway.
I’m very eagerly awaiting your list of the top things you don’t likening Bali, to glimpse the other side!
Great to read I have not been to Bali for 15 years, last visit got off the plane in W.A & had a heart attack (just got blockage & had a stent put in )
I loved Bali the people the culture the shopping
BUT the question is at 70 yrs. of age do you think I would be safe to live there & where is cheap rent, as I have no savings & just live on an Australian old age pension, which I believe we can still get if we live in Bali
So would really appreciate your answer, I have not had trouble with my heart since I was told that if anything happened you cannot get help at Hospitals for heart trouble plus my 94 yr old dad would love to come as well he has never been sick a day in his life, but has to use a walker to get around
Will wait to see what you think
your quote: *** not spending time trying to convince myself that to defer life is to live. Get ready, here’s a heavy idea that 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, and simply to breathe. Of course you can do it anywhere; being in Bali was a catalyst for me, a freedom metaphor.
sums up exactly how i feel, and i find very few who think the same. hopefully one day i will be on the same path as you. all the best
Hi Tom, Thanks for the helpful information on Bali. I’m origionally from South Africa and uprooted at a young age to Canada. I don’t think my body/soul ever really adjusted to the northern hemisphere. You can take the boy out of Africa but you can’t take the African out of the boy. I have a longing for the ease of living in a temparate climate and maybe reconnecting me with the earth. In my business life I travelled to the far east frequently, spending most of my time in Taiwan with visits to China, Indonesia and Thailand also.
Is it possible to live full time in Bali as an expat?
Hi Lila, thanks. Rather than answer your question as to staying in Bali (or elsewhere in Indonesia) for more than six months, I made a separate blog post about it so it wouldn’t be buried in the comments. Here’s what I know about the Sosial Budaya/Social Visa for 2012 (click the link), which would enable you to do just that.
Also the easiest way (for me) to get Bali On The Cheap to you is if you’d enter your email via the box at the bottom of the post. It will be sent automatically to you, immediately!
Let me know if I can answer any other questions for you Lila.
Hi Lee– I go into some detail about prices and different accommodations options one has as an expat or upon retiring in Bali in my free E-Guide ‘Bali On The Cheap’. I do cover bulletin board locations in Seminyak/Legian too. The easiest way (for me!) to get it to you is if you’d enter your email via the box at the bottom of this post. It will be sent to you automatically & immediately! Prices for furnished apartments would vary widely, starting at probably a few hundred dollars/month US up in the hills or away from the ocean. Big discounts if you can rent/least by the month or year.
I know Indonesia offers a retiree visa, and I have several friends who have one. I’m not sure of the price nowadays, but with it you won’t have to leave periodically as you would with even a social visa (which is extendable to six months maximum). If there is an minimum income requirement I haven’t heard about it…
Thanks Lee (and btw no affiliation with any agency at all, I’m just a Bali expat who loves sharing info)
Hi Jennifer, and thanks a lot. I’d just remind you that once you’re in Bali you can very easily check other expat enclaves in SE Asia like Chiang Mai, Phuket, etc., etc. before you really commit to Bali, Air Asia all the way. Best of luck to you and your husband, Asia awaits; I love the idea that ‘unexpected riches that show up when we do‘, it’s so profoundly true.
Hi Jayne– I think your doctor in Australia is the best person to ask about living in Bali; health care is obviously so critical for us as we get older. I would say that if he OKs it the lower stress levels here can only help! My best to you and your dad.
Thank you Pierre — if that strikes you then I think you already are on the same path, just coming along at your own pace, as we all are.
One thing I found out when I let go was that places like Bali (and so many other places!) are where many of those people who ‘think the same’ as you put it, already are. Everyone is here waiting for you Pierre. It’s ironic too: having the courage to strike out on your own shows that you can live untied to the Familiar, and then you find so many kindred spirits in faraway places!
I found no encouragement to wage freedom among people who–decent as they might be–do not wage freedom, then I saw that I needed only to give myself permission. It starts with a feeling. All the best to you too Pierre.
Hey Tom im 19 years old and have so many questions about bali and how things work its crazy, ive been doing alot of research and learned so much, it seems like the more i read the more anxious i get to start my move, it just sounds so perfect and beautiful i can hardly sleep at night here in ny. i feel like everyday here is wasted, i just want to learn how to start my journey, im mostly concerned how to earn income, your blog is awsome by the way… if you could shoot me an email i would love to learn more. Thorm6@gmail.com
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Hi Tom ,
Thank You for taking the time to write your post . I thoroughly enjoyed reading with a smile constantly beaming on my face .
I am planning to spend a lot more time in Bali in the near future .
I have been travelling to Bali for 25 years now and look forward to each visit .
I am a social researcher eager to talk to Westeners who have retired to Bali!
I am visiting late November – all of December.
If you are willing to have a friendly chat about making this life change, and living in Bali, please send me an email and I’ll arrange a time to visit.
Priacy respected, of course.
I’d love to hear from you
Dr Claudia Bell
your articles gave me goose bumbs, my husband and i visted bali a few months back and we got home with a promis to self that we gonna go back to live in bali.
We are both bankers with a very settled life, we are thinking to make the move in 2014. we are also thinking to start a business in bali (probably service type or trade as we dont have much capital to invest) . but we are not sure where to start the search. can you give us some guidance. how to get information about the market, legalities, visa issuance, good lawyers…etc.
anyway you can shed some light where we can start our search? Thanks a bunch
peace and light
Great post, thank you. I’d be grateful if you could send us a copy of ‘Bali on the Cheap’.
Tricia & Dayne
Hi Lila and thanks for your comment. Glad to hear that you enjoyed Bali well enough to maybe make it a base for yourself. It has been better for me than I’d hoped. I do have a post that directly answers your question of how to stay in Bali for longer than six months, simply click this link:
I hope that Bali On The Cheap helps you plan; I’m biased but I think it’s a good place to start for longer stays. It would be easiest on my end if you’d enter your first name and email in the box on the right sidebar or at the end of the article: the guide is set to automatically come to you as an email attachment when you do that. Let me know if you have any problems with it. Let’s have coffee when you return to Bali! Thanks again.— Tom
I’m a single female and I’ve decided to move to Bali for a few months, approx 3-6. What area/neighborhood should I explore? I don’t want to be removed from society and people and of course I’ll need access to the internets. Also is work abundant in Bali? I’m a skincare professional and a writer as well as a social media marketing guide. I appreciate your time and your blog, it is incredibly well-thought, well-written and the flow is great. Thank you!
Hi Natascha- congrats on your decision to come to Bali; I looked at your site and I have a feeling you’ll meet a lot of kindred spirits!
Most Westerners start out either in the southern end of the island in places like Seminyak, Petitinget, Legian, Sanur, etc., or up in Ubud, a little bit north of Denpasar. There are still plenty of very nice living situations you could find for yourself in Ubud, and if the beach isn’t a priority for you you’ll find it much less hectic than the other places I just mentioned, and probably a slightly lower cost of living there too.
Working in Bali as a westerner is possible, certainly many people have started businesses locally or do business in export etc. Also, the internet has opened up a million ways to work as a entrepreneur from anywhere obviously, and many people maintain businesses that are not location-specific. Spending much less to live in SE Asia has a way of making online businesses that might not be viable back home worth pursuing here…
I cover lots of the details of getting started in Bali in my eGuide Bali On The Cheap, and if you don’t mind leaving your first name and an email in the box on the right sidebar, it will come to you automatically once you opt in. Good luck Natascha!
Just came across your site after reading horror stories and warnings about off shore business relationships with Bali.
Im a designer that has been entertaining the idea of manufacturing small runs of garments shoes and leather ect in Bali. I have dabbled with some manufactureres already and all though you have some wins and some loses the loses are starting to get me down, I have spent alot of time holidaying in Bali and recently visiting to set up business relationships. One thinks one is on the same page to be completely blind sided with the realization that some one has mis understood the other and now there are ill feelings. Not intended on my part at all…is this just the nature of the territory when dealing with the balinese peoples? I have had a store owner tailor my designs to then have her hanging them in her store with her label on for sale!
PLease tell me this is common place so I am not completley horrified!
You pages have given me hope where I was ready to settle for numb despair. I have invested time and money for the last 6 months and require renewed optimism to dust myself off and surge forward.
Any words of wisdom experience and practical advice will be greatly appreciated.
My intentions have been to manufacture a clothing collaboration twice a year to sell to retailers in Australia. I hand craft my own jewelry.
look forward to hearing from you.
Do you think it would be easy enough to set up with a young family? I’m recovering from illness and we could really do with some r and r for six montjs.. Backpacked a bit in my youth but the family makes this not an option now(toddler is 2
Tapping this out on my mobile with cold fingertips.
I’m moving to Bali in Feb and Iwanted to recieve a copy of living in Bali cheao (I think thats what its called!).
Great reading all your stuff, but even nicer to see how you take the time to reply to everyone! Must be almost a full time gig!
Anyway after having been an expat in Rome for 8 years, then returned to Melbourne for 7 years, I will arrive in Bali on 15 Jan to stay.
I already have my 60 day visa and will apply for a Retiree Visa when I get there. I run an online business so it’s great as I can work anywhere in the world.
I am young at heart even though a touch older and am so looking forward to the challenge and enjoyment of life in Bali.
I look forward to receiving “Bali on the Cheap” updates and perhaps meeting up for a coffe/juice and a chat.
Keep us the fantastic work.
Thank you Fai– I emailed you but it came back as undeliverable.
For my Bali on the Cheap ebook, if you wouldn’t mind the easiest way for me to get the guide to you is for you to go to WageFreedom.com and sign up in the box either on the right sidebar, or at the end of the article, simply leaving your first name and a working email address.
The guide will come to you automatically when you do that, please check your spam folder, and don’t worry I will never spam you. Please let me know if this doesn’t work for you so I can fix it.
Thanks again for your interest Fai, and if I left any of your questions on getting started as an expat in Bali unanswered, please do let me know. I will be releasing a updated edition of the guide in 2013.
Hi Velvet Sparrow — I have some anecdotal experience with getting clothes and leather goods made in Bali, though I’ve never done any exporting myself. My wife did quality control for an Aussie clothing label years ago, and one of her main hobbies in Bali is getting clothes/bags/shoes/jewelry made by local craftsmen. I’ve heard horror stories, but I know of many business relationships and transactions ongoing for years, and obviously there is a huge volume of merchandise getting produced in Bali.
A couple of things: I think people underestimate the amount of time it might take to find a manufacturer who does good work in a timely manner, for a reasonable price. Also I think that larger orders often will take precedence, regardless of deadlines. Look at it from the perspective of the locals: they’ve probably heard of promises of recurring business many times from people who don’t show up again after an initial order. I think the loyalty that you naturally hope for from a manufacturer takes a back seat to a ‘bird in the hand’ approach sometimes. Might also explain your designs hanging in a shop with someone else’s label on them… I know I’d be upset.
Maybe starting with small runs from several different manufacturers is one way forward; expect little and give everyone time to prove themselves. I think in time you’ll find good relationships, and I understand it’s taken awhile for you already, but there are skillful honest manufacturers out there and I hope you find them. Good luck and please let me know how it goes.
Hi there Rusty and thanks for visiting. I’m biased I know, but think that Bali is a terrific place for a break for whatever reason. Having a toddler wouldn’t dissuade me at all, I certainly know many Westerners raising kids of all ages here, and the Balinese certainly are too! In fact, you will have help caring for your toddler from your pembantu/maid or a dedicated minder for your child, and Indonesians really dote on little kids, it’s great to see.
Even if money’s a bit tight, and even with rising prices in Bali you can definitely find a place for yourself that’s comfortable. Obviously the further you are from the beach areas in the south part of the island the less you’ll pay for rent and everything else. I’ve often thought that if I was coming to get set up nowadays I’d look harder at Ubud, because while it isn’t too close to the ocean it is very nice, with it’s rice terraces on rolling hills, and good restaurants and most other amenities.
Good luck with your recovery Rusty, take a look at my Bali on the Cheap ebook–it is free–and please hit me up if you have additional questions about particular areas of the island or anything else.
Hi Marianna– Thanks for the kind words. It does take me a little while to respond sometimes but I do try to!
Great to hear that you’ll be getting the retiree visa and putting down some new roots, departing tomorrow! Bali is a stellar place for the young at heart of all ages IMO. You’ll find many, many people who make their living online too. Please let me know how it goes. I’m in the US at the moment but should be back in a couple of months.
If you have time I’d love any feedback you can give me regarding Bali on the Cheap, I’m planning on putting an updated version out in 2013. Good luck Marianna! –Tom
Tom, enjoyed your site and had a couple of questions I thought you may help me with. I live down the road in Perth WA and have no purpose to my plans as yet other than to more fully experience the Balinese culture and look after myself a bit (I have been unwell and have come to the conclusion that it may be a case of, Physician, heal thyself).
I’ve been to bali a few times both in kuta etc and ubud. I am looking to lease a villa for a yr initially but would love the serenity of Ubud and theabouts with access to Seminyak and its delights. Do you have any ideas of anywhere suitable or must I choose one or the other.
Also I am planning a trip in a month or so to try organise accommodation etc. Do you know of any individuals or agencies trustworthy and to the point who could assist me in my search? Would a week be enough time?
Lastly the visa question is a social visa difficult to arrange. I do not have anything organised as yet but am a registered nurse and not averse to helping out preferably with newborns as that is where my skill set lies?
Sorry to bombard you but any help given would be much appreciated.
So many friends and family members admonish my “foolish decision” to come to Bali–I know that I am right on track!! Thanks for your added inspiration and for your Bali on the Cheap.
Relaxing into freedom,
we have been going to Bali for many years now and have imported for our business from there and many other asian countries….we are now retired,not young but not too old,we will be staying in ubud for two months in july and august this year,now heres the question,do you know of any charities that may need a hand a few days a week?
Hi Alandra– too bad if some of your friends and family aren’t on board with your decision to come to/live in Bali, but I’ve found that regular bombardments of Skype video chats from idyllic beachside restaurants and cafes bring them around eventually! I mean that literally too, I can’t count the number of people who have come to visit over the years, many of them for longer than they’d intended… Well anyway, I hope it’s working out for you.
I’m glad you found Bali on the Cheap helpful Alandra! Stay tuned, I’m planning on doing an update for 2013!
Hi K– well there are no shortages of charities, orphanages, animal welfare organizations you could help, depending on you interests.
A word about orphanages though; there are scams on the island. This article from Bali Advertiser explains it well, and it has a list of places that are reputable at the bottom, you could contact them even before you leave Australia: http://www.baliadvertiser.biz/articles/greenspeak/2010/orphanage.html
In Ubud you’ll have no problem finding opportunities to help as it’s so full of expats as you know; you’ll find up-to-date leads very quickly talking with Western restaurant/bar owners. I’d head over to my friend Mark’s restaurant Delicious Onion in Ubud, he’ll have suggestions I’m sure.
Hi Mish– since Ubud is 90 minutes or less depending on traffic from Seminyak you’re not far. I’ve always thought that if I wasn’t so addicted to my sunset beach walks I’d be very happy in Ubud, it’s much quieter and generally cheaper too. I think even though it’s smaller I find restaurants that are every bit as good as Seminyak/Keroboken, just my opinion. Again, since quiet is a probably easier to find in Ubud, living there and visiting Seminyak etc. might be better than the reverse. Odd thing for me to say maybe, since I live in Seminyak!
I suppose you could find a local agent help you, but in my opinion spending a couple of days exploring Ubud or Seminyak for opportunities is the best way to go, along with talking to expats you’ll meet quite easily. You also could start even before you leave by looking at the Bali Advertiser online for current properties available. And yes, I do think a week would be enough to at least narrow down your search.
Social visas: I covered the process pretty thoroughly in this article at the following link; if you haven’t looked at this post please do, and let me know if I haven’t answered all of you questions: Social visa/Sosial Budaya process.
Good luck to you Mish– let me know how it goes for you.
First of all thank for an amazing article. It resonated with me in so many ways and my Indonesian wife and I are planning to move to Bali in the next 12-18 months where I can comfortably trade stocks for a living.
I would appreciate a copy of your book and would like to thank you for your efforts on this website.
(the email address obviously doesn’t have the xxx in it).
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I really enjoyed your inspiring article. I just visited Bali for the first time a couple of weeks ago after wanting to visit for over 15 years. I fell in love with it and felt so at peace wen I was there. I am thinking of retiring there. Thank you again.
Wonderful blog. We can’t wait to come check out Bali. It’s high on our list as a possible place to live as expats in the near future.
Thank you so much Karen, and I hope you are able to retire in Bali as you hope.
My e-book Bali on the Cheap has plenty of timely, ‘boots on the ground’ (flip-flops on the ground?) advice on how to get started as a long-term visitor in Bali– the easiest way for me to get it to you is if you’d leave your name and a working email in the box on the sidebar; it will be emailed to you immediately, automatically. Let me know if you have questions after reading it please, I’m planning an update for 2013 and I’ll incorporate readers’ comments and questions into it. Thanks again!
Hi Andy and thank you for the kind words. Day-trading (night trading if you’re trading the North American markets) is certainly a way to make the relatively low amount of money you’ll need to live in Bali, and I wish you luck in executing your plans.
I have an autoresponder set up for automated delivery of Bali on the Cheap; please leave your first name and a working email in the box in the sidebar and it will be mailed to you immediately. I promise not to spam you. Please let me know if I’ve left any of your questions unanswered; I’m planning an update in 2013 and I’m incorporating reader comments into it. Thanks again Andy.
Sounds great Riz, there are lots of places in Asia one might choose for retirement but you could do much worse than Bali in my opinion! I’d suggest getting my free ebook Bali on the Cheap as a starting point; just leave your first name and a working email in the sidebar of Wage Freedom , and the ebook will come to you automatically. Thanks again Riz!
Long time part time resident of Bali, and Sumba. Love your blog.
Now, where can I get that authentic masala dosa, you mentioned in the opening paragraphs, I usually have to fly to Singapore or K.L. for the indulgence.
Help a brother, out, Kasi Tau.
As far as I know there is nothing like an authentic masala dosa to be found in Bali– and if someone would tell where I can find one I’d be grateful!
I think I wrote that I had to go to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore to find one unfortunately, but at least Air Asia makes it pretty inexpensive to get there!
I am a expat living in Bali more then 2 years. I am on a visa run in Bangkok and came across your blog when searching for details on my social visa.
I read your 19 best reasons, everything you said was true.
One Friday night in Oct. 2012, I had a blackout at my house in Seminyak, no big deal, I ran out for Padang in my favorite place on Jl. Legian. While sitting and eating I realized that I had nothing keeping me in Bali, so why not travel and see if there might be a better place to live.
I thought that I would go to Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand as it was dry season there and rainy in Bali.
After more then 4 months, I find myself in Bangkok, of course I have been here before. I come to Bangkok annually for health care and check-ups.
I have truly enjoyed this time, traveling alone, meeting people and seeing some beautiful place. What I have discovered is that there are wonderful place to visit and if one hasn’t seen So. East Asia he should, but I must say I can’t wait to get back to Bali. Bali really has it all. There is no better place for me.
I don’t know if this is the right forum but I have a quick question.
As you know health care in Indonesia is at best poor. I am insured but it is very expensive, and I have a very high deductible, so it is for catastrophic illness or accident. I pay for my own doctor appointments and drugs, still with the cost of insurance included it is still less then I would pay back in NY.
I was wondering do you have any leads for reasonably priced health insurance?
I will be back in Bali in 9 days, I am counting the minutes until I am home.
Thank you for all the work you put into you blog, I look forward to being a devoted follower.
Hi Eddie– thanks for sharing your story! It sounds like we think similarly about quite a few things. One of the things that drew me to Bali as a base was that it’s so close to so many interesting places, and with a little flexibility and planning Air Asia will get you to them extremely cheaply. Bali rainy season is a great time to do a SE Asia tour, definitely, and we’ve turned a few of my visa runs into longer trips over the years.
As to your question about health insurance: we also have gone the high-deductible route via a US insurer, and that means that we’ve had several visits to doctors in Bali (for minor things), and Singapore and Bangkok the couple of times I’ve wanted to visit better hospitals, the cost for all of which came out of my pocket.
I was told by my insurance company when I asked at one point that I should save all receipts for health care for which I paid abroad, that these expenses could probably be applied toward my deductible, but since my medical expense so far haven’t approached my deductible, I’m still paying full price. I inagine this is the boat you’re in also Eddie.
When I talk to people about the Bali expat lifestyle I’m always careful to include a disclaimer about health care in Indonesia. If one needs to see doctors frequently and expects Western-style medical attention, it might not make sense. (Mind you, I have met VERY COMPETENT, CARING DOCTORS IN INDONESIA as well, who unfortunately are often without the most up-to-date equipment/facilities. I’m sure this will change over time.)
I do have an older friend who has a policy that will pay for evacuation to Singapore in the event of an emergency; I don’t know the name of the company but it was one of the companies that advertise in the Bali Advertiser. If memory serves the cost was around ~$300/year. This would at least save thousands of dollars (I’d imagine) if you used it.
The real goal though is long-term coverage that doesn’t break the bank, and ‘travel insurance’, is simply not affordable for open-ended stays of more than a few months, I.E. for expats in Bali.
One place to start Eddie, is BIMC’s ‘membership’ program, which you can read about here: http://www.bimcbali.com/memberships
The price for a single person is just IDR 1.935.000 at the time of writing, but digging into it here http://www.bimcbali.com/uncategorized/bimcare-benefits.html , you can see that it gives you discounted prices at BIMC of between 10% and 30%, which is not as comprehensive as we’d like. Also, I wonder if you need a KITAS to be considered an ‘expat’ for coverage.
In any case, it’s a start. I’ve thought about doing some real research into the insurance issue, as I get a lot of question about it, and turning it into a large blog post. Not sure how much I’ve helped you with this but stay tuned Eddie, and if you find a solution that works for you please let me know.
Hi there, what a wonderful site you have put together. I love your passion for Bali and how helpful you are to those interested in living there. Do you have any insight on what a young person could do to get by in Bali. My family is not wealthy, so I can’t just live off some allowance or trust fund and I don’t have much savings considering I’m only 28. I would have to work, which I hear is hard for foreigners in Bali.
Any advice would be most helpful.
I just stumbled onto your website this afternoon and am so happy I did! I was born in Indonesian (Surabaya), but have lived in the U.S. for over 45yrs. I have visited Bali a few times and every time, I’ve fallen in love w/the place more and more. I think a deep seeded longing in my heart to move back to my birthplace has helped me make the decision to eventually retire there. This won’t happen for another 12 years but your blog has given me a new inspiration to make this dream come true. I look forward to reading more of your stories in the meantime. Thank you so much!
I like many other people that have replied are about to embark the journey of a life in Bali, I am looking into hair and make up for weddings, I did it for ten years in Australia but for the last 3 have been a flight attendant with many Bali trips.. And each time never wanting to go home.
Currently researching and googling everything-legalitys, visas, rentals etc its overwhelming to say the least, but refreshing to come along something like this to reiterate.. It can and will happen!
I’m so looking forward to it.
So thank you!
Thank you so much, comments like yours make my day! I certainly hope that you’re able to make Bali your dream retirement spot–I think it’s hard to do much better than Bali for retirement for Australians, Americans, Europeans, and people born in Indonesia too! Thanks so much again.
It can certainly can happen Heidi, I’m always amazed at the range of working situations that expats in Bali have created for themselves. I’m pretty sure that no two are identical actually.
Anyway, wedding-related businesses are huge now in Bali as you know, and especially if you are catering to the Aussie market you’ll have success I’m sure. I’d suggest polishing up your online presence, as most people will want to make arrangements before they leave home. It’s also the best way to market oneself nowadays, low-cost, etc. For visas, you could start with a VOA but if you’re sure you want to stay I’d suggest looking into a social visa, which you must get before you come and which lets you stay for a total of six months without having to leave.
Anyway, all my best to you. Good luck!
I’ll be visiting Bali this summer to determine if I’d like to retire there in a year. I’m specifically interested in the Australian retiree community, even though I’m American (lived in Sydney once and Aussies are super fun).
What can you tell me and where do I find them?
p.s. That’s not to say I’m not interested in the Balinese culture as well.
Could you please send me “living on the cheap in Bali please.
Copy of Bali on the cheap please. Thank you. Geoff
Interesting article but no broad view perspective. You fail to mention the lack of infrastructure in this place, the dishonesty of many of the ‘locals’, the commonly accepted unhygienic practices in nearly all the eating places (including the up-market and trendy ones), the increasing pollution, the filthy beaches, the lack of amenities, (ever tried to find a clean public toilet), the lack of road rules. Astaga, I’m getting writers cramp, maybe its time I moved on, after 53 years, I think I’ve seen it all in Bali. Don’t lose your rose tinted specs….(or get them stolen).
I am planning on moving to Bali hopefully Ubud but my mom is coming as well. I have info on visa’s and such but cannot find anything on health insurance that can be purchased there can you give me some advice?
Your blog is quite inspirational, exciting and timely. I have been dreaming of living in Bali for years ( been there already about 14 times) and am about to retire there! Woohoo 🙂 I will come to stay ( Sanur, Ubud & Canggu) for a couple of weeks in July to check out where I want to live. Do you know if the retirement visa requires you to rent a villa, or can you just stay in a (family run) hotel for the long term? Cheers and thanks again
Could you reccomend places for expats to look for work? are there any websites?
How do i also get a copy of your book?
I just want to say that you truly are an inspiration. I’ve just gotten back from Bali and I loved every single minute of it. The food, the people, the smells and the experiences!I wish i could go back in time and a longer vacation. I am really full of envy that you can visit all these exotic locations.
Cld you please send n the e news letter…living cheap in Bali that yo have put together
Would really appreciate it
Fantastic entries, would love a copy of On the Cheap, and
think insurance info would be really useful.
G’day Tom and thanx for your blog. I just stumbled across it today and felt the urge to write to you. In 18 hours I’ll be leaving Melbourne, Aus’ for my first extended stay in Bali in nearly 30 years. Over the intervening years I have travelled Indonesia, from Medan in the north and Nias to the west. South through the Mentawii Isles. Sumbawa, Timor. I guess you could say that I love Indonesia. But Bali has always remained a special place for me, in fact I proposed to my wife on Nusa Lembongan with a ring that I brought over from Australia. Back then there was only a handfull of losmen and warungs with the headland being completely bare of developement. Alas, I no longer live with my wife but enjoy and maintain a close relationship, however, I too am now looking at a life in Bali. This trip will be my first trip in a series of trips I am planning over the next 12 months. Two weeks this time, to explore the variety of locations that I think may be, well…me. From the North coast, the N’th east and N’th west coastal area’s as well as the more central area’s that surround Ubud. In Jan/Feb’, I plan to return for 4-6 weeks to re-visit some places during the wet season and then, (maybe June/July ’14) I plan to take 12 months ‘leave without pay’ from my job and spend that time in Bali and surrounds. As you can see, I have a more cautious approach to moving my life to Bali. After working in the work that I have always loved for 40 years (20 of those for myself) and been lucky enough to have work that’s paid me to travel the world. I’ve always managed that time to have a life with my family rather than possessing the latest car or a “McMansion”. The reason for posting this is, I’m really just convincing myself that this is the path for me at this point in my life. I know that the Bukit and surrounds now swarm with people and development but I’m okay with all that and accept that things like a busy road now runs along the fore shore of Kuta (and has for some years now). After all, anyone that visit’s Bali is bound to carry an urge to re-visit for the rest of their lives. As have I. I’m blessed, I have options and I suspect that when I step through that airplanes door on arrival at Denpasar International Airport and I feel and smell Bali once more (avgas and all), my long term plan might be replaced with a much shorter one. My apologies for being so long winded with my message but I hope it adds another perspective for the folks that might be hesitant to make the leap of faith.
Thank you so much for sharing your story Steve. I think with your attitude you would find happiness anywhere, but it sounds like you’ve thought through your move to Bali very well and I’m betting that it suits you fine.
It certainly has changed over the years but in some ways for the better in my opinion, and it’s still quite easy for an expat to create a comfortable and enriched life for themselves.
Please look me up, via this site or Twitter (@wagefreedom) when you come, it would be great to swap a few stories! All my best Steve.-Tom
Hi Sarah, and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I hope you can create a way to travel more if that’s what you want, and even to make a base for yourself for part of the year in a place that suits you, again if that’s what you want.
I know so many people in Bali and around SE Asia who have done this, and it’s less about being wealthy than it is about making a specific plan to do so. Certainly it’s easier to do that than it’s ever been before.
Hey remember too–for many people Australia is a dream, exotic location! All my best and good luck to Sarah.-Tom
Hi Gini and thanks for leaving a comment. I don’t think the retirement visa requires any longer-term commitment to a specific residence at all. I’m sure an address will be required, but if you are staying with a family or even long-term at a guesthouse I’m sure you could use their address. All my best and good luck to you Gini.-Tom
Nice articles you’re writing down here..!
Happy I found this website.
Hopefully you will reply me at my mail, unfortunately I lost yours..
Kind regards, also to D.
Wonderful post- touched my heart and yearning for a similar way of life- I would love a copy of Bali on the Cheap if you would be kind enough to share
Wow!!!! Thank you do much for this amazing resource! Your writing style is amazing and so inspiring! I am at a turning point in my life and reading this is so encouraging thank you I will likely have Few questions in the furture bu for now I just wanted to say thanks 😉
Thank you very much for this great information! I really appreciate the insight. I am a hotel sales professional looking to make the move to Bali with a friend (I’m from California and she’s from Spain). Do you happen to have any insight on getting a work permit / hotel job in Bali? I’m basically wondering if they will ever hire an American over a local..i do have several years of experience though. Any advice/tips would be awesome! Thank you Tom 🙂
Hey, Tom……why the cat? And, who cares for the wonderful, furry, companion when u r away?
Hi Tom, thanks for your inspiring post. I am at a cross-roads in my life right now and have been dreaming of living in Ubud and sending my daughter to the Green School while I take time to figure out my new direction. Your positive words make me feel the this might actually be achievable . All the best Mahalya
After swaying back and forth about making the move to Bali, you have helped me make my mind up to GO!!
Would you be so kind as to send me your e-Book? I would be so very grateful.
Great article, thanks for that
Have you written a similar one on the drawbacks of Bali living…? Be good to get a picture of both sides of the coin
I am considering a move to bali with my wife and young son.
I will commute to Singapore each week for work. Nobody will work in Bali.
I have been recommended by a immigration consultancy a 12 month multiple re entry business visa which is renewable.
Does this sound ok?
I was born in Indonesia and been living here in US for the past 25 years. I stumbled to your blog this morning and can’t stop reading ….and wiped my tears. (I was in the cross roads to make a bold move /decision). You see, me and my husband who is a native Californian has been dreaming to live in Bali ,to live a simpler life or simply living a life that matters to us ,away from hustle n bustle of a rat race here in LA.
Every words that I read just nailed it ,not just an inspiration well received ,but an encouragement as well. We went to visit Bali this march, and my heart was aching when we were about to leave, especially being an Indonesian, I always hold a sentimental feeling whenever it’s time to depart motherland.
Thank you so much for your deep appreciation about living in Bali , Indonesia and Gracefully told.
We will be returning to Bali this coming January to stay for 5 months and also to prepare living there by 2015. I hope we could meet with you in Seminyak for Kopi and Pisang goreng. Terima kasih!!
Bali on the cheap…would really help my decision ….can I live as a single d female at around 700. Per month? Room share? And can pets come to Ubud? Small dog under 7 pounds? Thanks so much!
Hi Tom. My wife and myself ask ourselves every day if we should experience
More in life. We have two children together and I have a son whom I see regularly too.
We question the importance of schools here compared to life elsewhere and the experience we will get. Can you put me in touch with people there if similar situation?
What advice do you have? Life is too short to miss.
Thank you for sharing the beauty of Bali. I’m at that place in life where I know its time for a change and that theres more to life then (the proverbial) “this”. I want a simpler life but don’t feel that I’ll find it here in Columbus, Ohio. I was in Bali on business this past June and fell in love with the people. Ever since then I’ve thought a lot about what it would be like to live there and have the peace and happiness that my soul is craving. The biggest thing I’m stuck on is how I would make a living while I’m there. If you could provide any information on what I might do to be able to live as an expat in Bali I would be eternally grateful. With gratitude…..Lori
Please email me your new blogs?
I enjoyed this article SO much… My husband and I are around 50 (Im just under, he is just over) and we have raised our 7 children but as man makes plans and the gods laugh, we now have another 2, coutesy of family, 5 and 3, who we adore but sometimes find a challenge. I have been travelling to Bali for medication for the past few years and before the blessing of the girls, was considering the move. Lately, I question why our plans should change? I cant think of single reason! I met up with some expats during my last visit but they were unwilling to talk to us as they were not happy and thought they would give us a poor impression….I wanted to talk to them badly, as many visits has shown me the wonder of Bali, perhaps some negative feedback would help me make a better decision. Did you ever write the flipside of this blog? Nothing could stop my love affair with the cukture and the people of Bali, but as I am travelling with chidren now, I thnk I need to be more realstic…. can you point me on the right direction please?
Thankyou for your writing, I enjoyed every syllable
Please could you send us your eguide ?
I have fallen in love with Bali and would like to relocate. I also know the area where I would like to live. I wonder how much money you would suggest one SAVE prior to going to Bali. Do you think that if one had about $350,000 in retirement, that one could safely check out of the west at the early age of 50? ? I am ready to BAIL on the west and go BALI.
great pleasure to read your reflections. I am originally from Germany and live since 17 years in Brazil. Astonishingly once again I feel I have to move on. I never have been to Bali, not even to Asia, but something is calling me. I do know that we all are Co-Creators of a New Earth. I want to help creating more beauty through music and dance inspiring and helping to transform. I am selling basically everything, my apartment, my furniture, most of my cloth, electronics … etc. I won’t lie it is quite scary sometimes, but we all are invited to manifest our life-purpose. So I feel I don’t have the permission to hesitate anymore. I will enjoy very much getting your E-Guide since I am looking for a beautiful place where I can settle as long as it feels right. Also there are some things, besides my music equipment, I want to bring along (mainly books and some objects which have an idealistic worth for myself), so it would be important having already the place rented, before I take the trip from São Paulo to Ubud. As you suggest I will apply for the Social Visa. I think I will get in touch with your friend denny to assist me with that. Since I do Yoga for many years, I decided to do first a Teacher Certification Training. Also there is the Music Spirit Festival coming up, where I hope to get in touch with the sacred and healing music and dance community and find like minded artists. If you have any advise on that, like people I should get to know, I am grateful. Your input is very precious.
Thanks for your generosity and the sharing of your experience with such a welcoming and light-hearted spirit.
Blessings and Love from Brazil
Thanks for writing and sharing…:)
I travelled 3times (10weeks) to Indonesia, including Bali, fall in love with this country ans I am about to take one year off to get closer to my dream life, beginning with some trainings in India and Thailand and planning a first 6months stay in Indo in 2014, in order to organize maybe a permanent life there for the future…
I am wondering what Visa I should use if I want to stay 3/4 months in Bali and travel around Indo 2/3 months without restrictions…. (Sulawesi, flores, sumbawa, sumatra, mentawai, java, nias). What if I then want to settle down and open a wellness “business” there and be open like 6/8 months a year and in Europe the rest of the years/ is that possible to do? Whith what kind of visa and do I need help from a local indonesian to open something? What do you think?
Thanks for sharing your experience!
Thanks for your advice!!!
My wife and I are already retired and at age 73 seem to be “stuck” here in Florida.
I’ve found that I need more information! Like what is a reasonable amount of money per month to live on there where you are? What kind of a home is available to rent and at what cost. You say that most restaurants have Wi-Fi but is high speed internet available in most homes? How much? What kind of health care is available (National?) at what cost. Our USA Medicare and supplement policies don’t work there. Is satellite TV available? Phone service other than cell? Crime rate?
Car Insurance? I guess what it comes down to is how much is it to live a nice relaxed life and not have much stress about money.
Well written and very informative. I visit Bali (Seminyak) about 3-4 times a year but have never considered living there as I fear getting bored without some sort of business to keep me occupied, but who knows one day !!! Perhaps the only disappointment I have when I go to Bali is the lack of social activities for 40+ singles and couples. Maybe there is a business opportunity staring me in the face 🙂
Thanks again for taking the considerable time to reply to all those who have responded to your article. Keep living the dream.
Thank you very much for your comment Bendigo. I like your idea about creating social activities for people in their 40’s and up. The club and bar scene in Bali is busy but rather one-dimensional maybe, especially for people who don’t drink (like me). Drop me a line if you like when you’re in Bali and we can brainstorm it!
Hi Catherine–It sounds to me like the social visa is what you need, as it allows you to stay for up to six months without leaving Indonesia.
If you do start a business then you’ll need a Kitas, or Indonesian residence and work permit. I’d suggest calling a couple of agents when you’re in Bali to get a good idea of the process as well as how much they will charge to help you. Certainly many, many foreigners open businesses in Bali, and staying for only part of the year is quite common as well. You’ll find no shortage of Indonesians who would love to help you run your business, and in my experience many of them are very well-educated and have good English. Good luck to you Catherine.
Hi Lem— I’d guess that would be much more than you ‘need’ to gets established, but I’d suggest taking an extended vacation in Bali and see for yourself just how much you spend.
One thing to consider is that after some months (depending on the person) sitting poolside, at the beach or at the pub might feel a little bit monotonous. Having achieved the goal of “living the dream”, the question of what to do with the rest of your life becomes very real. Most people I know have some sort of a business in Bali or else are back in their home countries from time to time. Not only does this give you something to do, but it will most likely provide an income as well.
As you know, you don’t need too much when the sun is shining and the food is cheap. Good luck and let me know how it goes.
Hi Lisa– Thanks for your comment. I haven’t written the article about the downsides of Bali, thank you for reminding me! For what it’s worth, in my opinion the positive aspects far outweigh the negative, and of course we ourselves largely determine our experience of a place, beyond the objective facts. Bali, like anywhere is probably mostly what you make of it, but for me, despite the traffic, the rising prices and minor inconveniences, one could still do a whole lot worse than Bali. I know I have!
Good luck and please let me know how it goes if you do decide to spend more time here.
Hi there Lori— Well this is a huge question because it’s really about more than the practicalities of making money in Bali, it touches on what you would want to do with your life if you seized overt control and redirected yourself. The good news is that as large and imposing as the question is, its very scope implies that the answers might be just about limitless too. That’s an exciting prospect, If you look at it the right way.
Years ago, I rationalized it like this: pursuing interests you have and creating businesses or cash flows around them, whether as ‘brick and mortar’ enterprises or online endeavors, won’t have to necessarily make anywhere near as much money in Bali as they would in the Western world, because of the lower cost of living here. Assuming you come with a certain amount of money saved, you’re essentially buying yourself time to simultaneously decide what it is you’d really like to be doing with your life, as well as what sort of business might suit you. There will be overlap between the two after all and in my experience just addressing these questions feels exhilarating and liberating enough to come up with some initial ideas, at least.
I know I’m not being specific, but really I can’t be without knowing you. I can tell you that thousands of foreigners have come and created restaurants, bars, yoga studios, worked at hotels, in orphanages and other charitable organizations, taught at international schools… Well you get the idea. Another fairly large segment of ex-pats has been able to translate expertise in their current professional fields to viable internet-enabled freelance businesses doing the same type of work. Developing entirely new skills and turning them into businesses can also be an interesting new beginning, especially if you’re not particularly excited about what you currently do for work.
One thing I can guarantee you: if you want to make it happen, you really can. I know too many people who have, of all ages and backgrounds, to doubt this.
I’m thinking of creating a workshop to help people address these issues, since so many people have approached me on this subject, and because I also grappled with these big questions years ago. When I do, I’ll be sending out invites to the email addresses left by people who have ordered the Bali on the Cheap e-guide.
Best of luck to you Lori.
How do we finance living in your beautiful country?
Hello Tom, last year I was in Thailand for 3 month, sitting in a bar a British ex-pat asked if I have been to Bali, I replied NO, isnt that an expesive place to go. He replied, go to the back of the island away from the tourist parts, its where the ex Aussie service people retire, you can get a hotel for £5.00 a night and a beer for 25 pence. Unfortunatly, I did not write down this info. I am now destined to be in Bali early Feb for 3 month and kicking myself for not writing down that info. Can you throw any light upon this – please. I have also just finnished reading the book Bali Raw, I think if I read the book before booking my flight I would have been giving this trip a second thought.
Many thanks for any info, James.
Could you please send me a copie of your Bali on the cheap’
Quite interesting the article that gave me a clear idea of life in island since I’m planning to move to Bali. I’m currently living in France to see if it is worth the move from Greece but started suddenly dreaming of a life in Bali (have considered it before but never did it). I am a freelance and hope to move in the next two months.
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Hey there Tom1
Thank you so much for your blog, it’s been really enlightening! I’m a very big fan of changes and pursuing life’s dreams. That’s one of the main reasons why I’m studying Life Coaching and why I moved to Miami about 4 years ago. I was born in Ecuador. I really like Miami and I’ve been extremely blessed and happy over here but I’m always open to new experiences and challenges. That’s what life is all about, right? Besides, I’m single and in my mid 30’s.
I spoke this weekend with a friend who recently moved to Bali and it kinda sparked my attention. Then I read your blog and things suddenly got more interesting… I could consider going a year or so somewhere like Bali and do an online masters / post graduate course in Life Coaching and / or Biblical studies. I am a very active Christian and I know the island is very spiritual but with a vast majority of about 84% Balinese Hinduism and just 1.7% Christianity. Could you please help me understand the reality of this matter a little better? Do you have any Christian friends living there and do you know if there are any active Christian churches around with weekly English services?
I had other questions about health insurance and extended visas but your previous posts already gave me a good idea about them! I read as well your comments about the cost of living but I noticed they were for couples and / or different kind of priorities. Could you please be so kind to guide me with the estimate monthly expense for a nice 2 bedroom villa or condo in a nice and safe community / neighborhood close to major touristic attractions and services? Remember I would be moving from Miami, single and mid 30’s so I rather stay close to the entertainment instead of retiring in a secluded pacific part of the island, haha. Beach could be a plus; I’ll finally be able to take surfing classes!
God bless and thank you very much in advance dear Tom
Awesome write up answered a lot of question and create a sense a bliss to living as you so truthful told it that living was never ment to be 9-5 work to live slave away so you can taste whats living feels like.
I am I builder/carpenter in Australia and have done some travelling to Bali myself also my partner has been going there since she was very young, and with her uncle owning a susscess resort in Bali ( voiceroy) , very much sparked and idea change to why I get up in the morning.
We are in the process of finding a place to live a work Bali
If you could help It would be muchly appreciated , thanks justin/annie
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My partner and I have been looking at making the move to Bali, I’m wanting to know what sort of finances are needed to completely set up home, staff and then if there are groups you can join for expat workers? Is there an email address I could grab off you?
Your blog about Bali is terrific. However, with all of the exact blogs and such that I’ve read, rarely does anyone break down the method to the madness of moving overseas. How much money did/does it take? How do you make a living over there? Are laws friendly for driving, owning your own business, buying a house? Yes, the mentality part I get. The language I can learn. But what are the rules for survival without winding up broke and going back to your home country because you need to make a living? I guess how do I plan some kind of move like this? That’s what I’d really like to know from a blog. I realize I have a huge hole inside of me, a yearning for more than the “American dream” can provide, but I don’t know anything else… It’s all an intangible dream at this point. Any advice would be much appreciated.
Please could you email me a copy of your Bali on the cheap guide, Thanks 🙂
Hi Tara — I haven’t forgotten about you. Your question is one I get several times a week. It is clearly the ‘pain point’ for many people and I want to address it. I have some time to devote to Wage Freedom and I’m going to address the practicalities with a series of interviews with people who have made the jump to supporting themselves as digital nomads or expats. The first interview is tomorrow. If this interests you then please stay tuned; you might drop a working email into the box on the sidebar of WageFreedom.com.
Brilliant article thank you.
I’m 32 years old and have never been to Bali, but will probably make my first trip there next year. I have a big feeling/dream that I will want to stay and work long term, would you say its easy for me to network and find a good job whilst just on holiday there – by good job I mean corporate type? I have a degree in business/marketing with a wealth of experience in Sales and am living in NZ, I’m just never content wherever I go and want to live the dream. Is it easy getting a working holiday visa? Financially how flush would I need to be to come over and job search over say the course of 1-2 months? I am from the UK and dropped everything there to come to NZ and am now applying for residency – even though I crave to be elsewhere. I know you are not a career advisor or life coach but I just need some guidance…any advice would be much appreciated.
My Name is Girts.
Recently from two week holiday in Bali-Kuta. Very impressed with people, culture and weather. I am Really Considering to jump it to Asia. But I may need some assistance and help with advice. Would you be in position to help me a little? I am Latvian, been living in Ireland – Dublin for last 12 years. looking for adventure and change of lifestyle. Please send me email, or other social network contact so we can make a contact.
Many Thanks in advance.
hi there, Thankyou for your inspiration. Would love any further info on living in Bali!
I too believe there are better ways to live…in the now…and felt incredibly supported creatively and spiritually in Bali. have visited several times and recently for 5 weeks. Am missing it very much. would be so grateful for any advice etc, I am a solo mother with 2 young children that also love Bali. Would need a job that fits in with a homeschooling lifestyle….? Best regards,
Hi Catherine–It sounds to me like the social visa is what you need, as it allows you to stay for up to six months without leaving Indonesia.
If you do start a business then you’ll need a Kitas, or Indonesian residence and work permit. I’d suggest calling a couple of agents when you’re in Bali to get a good idea of the process as well as how much they will charge to help you. Certainly many, many foreigners open businesses in Bali, and staying for only part of the year is quite common as well. You’ll find no shortage of Indonesians who would love to help you run your business, and in my experience many of them are very well-educated and have good English. Good luck to you Catherine.
hi really enjoyed your blogs and my wife and I are pensioners in Perth Australia and would love to rent somewhere in Bali and hope to fund our selves just on the Aussie pension for longish periods of time. Is that possible?
Cheers Malcolm and jan
Hi I’m relocating to bali for 3 months to design & make bags etc for my online business with 2 children. I’m wondering about visa’s I was under the impression I could I could organise a sponsor and visa once I was in Bali . I would appreciate your feed back . I’m an Australian citizen
Love your article, well written and in a easy to read style. I’ve started planning on a move to Bali and will follow your writing with interest. Perhaps a Move to Bali Guide should be on your list… 🙂
Oh and happy 2014!
Love your blog. I have come to a crossroads in my life and am seriously considering a move to Bali. Are you able to send me your book please?
Hi Tom, I found your advice and descriptions refreshing and encouraging. I know it’s not all “good stuff” over there, but it was nice to read such a positive perspective.
I have a wonderful wife and kids, but I am lacking personal passion, drive, definitely lacking any urge to play golf. My longest time in Bali has been just over a month in a “less touristy” mode. The taste of that simpler, relaxed lifestyle hinted at the possibilities that could be built on – both as an individual, and as a husband/father. After being dutiful all my life, I now don’t know what I want or how I want to live, but feel that Bali could throw me a lifeline and give me a different slate to work from. Thanks for some inspiration, including “It suggests a life that you might–being still alive–still live”.
Hi Steve, thanks so much for your comment, glad if you found some inspiration here.
I think we can attend to duties with which we find ourselves, as well as other ambitions we might have, but it does take effort to make it all work. Bali has been ‘a different slate’ as you put it for lots of expats here, and sometimes relocation is also a means to a psychological reset that can help us change things.
It does still take a plan, and work, but I know too many people here for whom Bali has been a part of positive change not to believe that it’s possible to make it happen.
Hi Monica, thanks for the kind words, good luck with your next step whatever it turns out to be. Let me know if you had any trouble with the Bali on the Cheap download.
Interested in moving in the middle of feb . Am pretty well traveled working as a flight attendant for 6 years. Would love to work in an orphanage. what do you recommend on living and do I need a visa for that type of work?
Just found your site.. and just felt like I needed to jot something down. As I write I am sitting at my desk at work and pondering life.
I retire in two weeks after 30 years in the Police, I am still young, 52!. I’m a liver of life, musician, thinker and conversationalist. I’v been thinking of coming to Ubud and living for a time, I’m attracted by the weather, people and culture. I want to walk, run and share a meal and a beer with likeminded locals and expats. I just thought I’d tell you!. Very excited by the prospect of maybe coming to Bali and thank you for the site. You obviously recommend Bali very highly, do you recommend Ubud?
Hi Bob, thanks for sharing your story! I’m biased but I do think Bali is a worthwhile place to try something new or to entirely redefine your life. I think you’ll find plenty of kindred spirits here, Ubud is a beautiful place with a surprising amount of infrastructure and comforts (great restaurants etc). Be sure to drop me a line when you’re coming and we’ll have a coffee. Good luck to you Bob.-Tom
Hi Nicole, actually I’m not sure if you need a visa to do volunteer work or not, I would ask around when you get here, talk to an agent. I have talked to many ex-pats over the years to have done all sorts of volunteering, including working at orphanages, so I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding a place that needs your help. Come to think of that they will probably help you with any special visa you need, my guess. Good luck Nicole.-Tom
Tom…Really enjoying your site! I’m, at 75, considering retiring in Bali, and I’d love a copy of your ebook. Also, since I’m retiring on about $20,000 USD/year, what sort of accommodations can I get for, say $400 to $500 USD? I’m healthy and fit, so I wonder if there’s any part time work available. I did a Ph.D. program in English and worked as a psychotherapist for 37 years. Thanks in advance….B.
Very very good blog you got here Tom.
We-re going to get to Bali by the half/end of march and be there throughout april, but if things go well and we get attached to the lifestyle, we could be thinking about something more long lasting.
Life in Europe is damn stressful and not as easy these times, i think this month in Bali will recharge my batteries.
I think that your e-book will come in specially useful to get the maximum experience within reasonable expenses. Especially for what regards the place to stay at.
So please, if you could spare a copy…
After having read your posts, I think that we’ll move to one of the ocean closer. Which one would you recommend?
The one you live into, the one starting with S that I keep failing to remember (silly me) would seem the best suited for our needs and probably one of the best serviced.
Of course suggestions are more than well accepted.
Great job anyway, we wanted to come there out of curiosity, now that curiosity has been spun’d over tenfold.
Very interesting article. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
I look forward to reading your guide’s.
Hi tom and thank you for your excellent post. I am seriously considering a move to Bali. I have been an ‘expat’ for the last 18 years and have been lucky to be living in Venezuela, Bahrain, Istanbul. Bolivia, Indonesia (Balikpapan) and now China. I have been an art teacher most of my career and am ready for a change. I am done teaching in a school however still want to be involved with art and coaching or who knows, do something totally different and reinvent myself! I have an 11 year old son and was wondering if you know much about the schools and which ones are the best. I have narrowed my choices down to AIS, BIS and the Green school.mwhat do you know? A big reason for leaving China is it’s horrid air quality. What is it like in Bali? People there tend to burn their rubbish along with plastics etc.. Thanks for your help! Alejandra
Your writing is inspiring. This is one of my favorite Bali blogs.
I have a small fashion company, which I plan to operate from Bali instead of the US. I’m preparing and organizing a move to Ubud in a few months. I’ll be visiting this summer to look into renting a place, etc.
I plan to return the US every few months for my business, but would like to spend most of the time in Bali. I was wondering if you, or anyone, has an idea of the amount of money needed for a small move of about 15 boxes and a sewing machine from the East Coast to Ubud?
I’ve been told that $1,000 USD per month is enough to cover rent and living expenses. Does this seem correct? I’d love to work from home, and hope to hire a local seamstress to assist me.
Any information or suggestions would be welcome.
Thank you for creating this blog, the guide, and for all your advice.
Excellent weblog thanks.
My wife and I are planning to spend 3 months in Bali from June, with our 1yr old baby. I was there as a backpacker 25 yrs ago, and Lee and I had a week in Seminyak a couple of yrs ago – v different but we loved everything about it.
We’d like to find a place near a beach, not far from cafes and restaurants. Lee’s a writer and will sit in cafe’s while the baby and I hang out.
Your advice on a good area and how to find accommodation would be really appreciated.
Daryl and Lee
Hi Tom, great site, very disillusioned with life in Sydney and would love a change of pace in Bali maybe Sanur? Would mean breaking my 40 year marriage as my wife is not interested in retiring early and moving overseas! All your reasons really resonated with me at the moment especially the travel opportunities once you are in Bali! The Balinese are great people. “Your time is limited, so dont live somebody elses life” is a famous saying of the late, great Steve Jobs. Another one that motivates me is “Dont collect Stuff, collect Experiences!” I love my wife and family dearly but I have this overwhelming desire of “Wanderlust”. Any suggestions Tom?
From UK, currently living in Tokyo but saving for my next port of call. I visited Bali last year and fell in love with the place. I’m determined to live there for a stint, not working apart from on my own projects. IT. WILL. HAPPEN! Thanks for the encouragement.
Thanks for sharing your story Justin— I’m sure you will make it happen, and good luck to you !
Great article. My sister and I just love Bali. I have been there five times and always stayed in Nusa Dua. I always wanted to have my own place in Bali but also to be able to generate some rental income. I love the idea of being close to the surf spots of Bukit but I also love being close to restaurants and bars etc. What would your advice be to buying a freehold villa in terms of location?
Hi Tom, really enjoyed reading your article. You are so generous with your time in answering questions! I fell in love with Bali 20 years ago whe I first came there. I live in England now but am originally from India. I also lived in Malaysia and speak some Malay. I have a five year plan to move to Bali after my sons goes to university.
I am a physical therapist doing massage, reflexology and acupuncture. I would like to mainly concentrate on doing acupuncture when I move there. Is it a therapy that is accepted in Bali? Can you make a living with it? Thank you in advance for your help. Preethi
I am filled with jealousy while reading your blog Tom!
I was born in Bali to an Indonesian mother and British father , I spent a great part of my childhood growing up on the beaches of such a glorious island! Truly miss paradise so much! From the sunsets to the night food markets, to the permanent smiles on the faces of the “locals” and to the smell of the rain on the hot ground. All of these memories imprinted in my head from such a young age. Now in the UK and as miserable as ever I am truly considering a move back to Bali. I’m studying a nursing degree here at the moment and hoping to qualify before I make any major decisions but I’m coming to Bali this summer to finally visit after being away from my motherland for 12 years! Even more special as I shall be taking my 3 year old son to visit this magical place. I would give an arm to give him the childhood I had in Bali and your blog has made me feel even more strongly about it.
Ahh I’ll be unable to sleep tonight thinking of potential plans and reminiscing!
I was wondering what happens to your overseas pension if you retire in Bali. From my understanding I would be required to file a tax return with my pension and it would be taxed, regardless of the fact that the money comes from outside Indonesia. Any tips on this?
WOW!!! This made me smile a lot! Such an inspiration. I’ve just spent a month in Bali and can’t get the place out of my head. Planning to move within the next couple of months. You are definitely a person I could see myself having a bintang with, whilst watching the sun go down and having conversations that would be sure to inspire and last a life time 🙂
Thanks Alex, glad you found some inspiration here! Drop me a line when you get back, I’d be happy to meet up.
Thank you for sharing your experiences. I visited Bali a few summers ago to volunteer to teach English in Keramas. I have never felt so enlightened and so much more of myself. After returning to the US, a day does not go by where I long to return to Bali either to volunteer another summer or return as an expat. I am not by any means monetarily rich, I am a teacher by trade, but I feel living in Bali would be beyond riches ~ just the self-awareness, appreciation for what is around you, and those moments where you find the perfect time to do everything you would want to do and as you said, to “deserve to pursue living as you define it.”
I would appreciate a copy of your guide to living in Bali. If you have any other guides to employment (especially for teaching) I would greatly appreciate that as well. My husband is a nurse, do you know if it would be difficult for him to transition to a nursing job in Bali?
Thank you again and many blessings to you ~
very inspiring article. my gilrfriend and me are planning to visit bali for those great reasons your talking about, as much french peoples we’re leaving to find an other way of life. i’ve been in sumatra coupele years ago but will try bali wich is maybe more easy to find job or opportunities.. looks pretty difficult to find something stable without network ?
i’d be interesting about your article “the means to move to Bali” that you’re talking about. maybe you will not respond to my post but thanks in advance for your information.
did you start surfing there ? an other way to taste bali differently.
have a good day
cheers from france
Hi Stan, thanks so much for the kind words.
On one hand I get so many emails and blog comments about how to support oneself as an expat in Bali, and on the other hand I know so many people here who have found ways to do so.
Among friends/acquaintances here it seems like no two solutions have been exactly the same–all expats seem to take different routes to financial viability….. I wish I could get everyone together to share info, maybe a Google Hangout every few weeks is the answer. I hate to leave questions like yours hanging, but there’s so much to tell.
(As to your question, I’ve been surfing since I was a kid in Hawaii, less nowadays as I’ve gotten very picky when it comes to waves for some reason!)
Hi Dawn– if you enter a working email in the box on the sidebar you’ll automatically receive a copy of ‘Bali on the Cheap’.
As a start, your husband might check BIMC and the new-ish Siloam Hospital here for nursing jobs: http://www.siloamhospitals.com/career. Good luck and let me know how it goes!
How to become a Bali expat?
Hi Tom, I would love a copy of your book, I am 25 year old fifo worker looking to setup in Bali!
Hi Rob — please leave your name and a working email in the box on the side bar and the book comes to you automatically– I wrote it exactly for people like you, any feedback you have would be much appreciated!
Thanks Tom for putting the reality of living here on paper. I jive with what you explained about having the ability to challenge your dreams. I tell visitors to be cautious of what they, say and do here because of the ability of ot manifesting right before you. Tossing dreams and watching them unfold has been a big part of my time here over the last decade. So very exciting…and, well perhaps could be addictive. Rationalizing the fundamental negative aspects we humans have to deal with such as greed, is worrisome as Bali quickly becomes an expat heaven. Looking forward to reading more from your point of view as I feel you are experiencing clearly the way it is.
Lost in the Sawah,
Thanks Tom for putting the reality of living here on paper. I jive with what you explained about having the ability to challenge your dreams. I tell visitors to be cautious of what they think, say and do here because of the ability of it manifesting right before you. Tossing dreams and watching them unfold has been a big part of my time here over the last decade. So very exciting…and, well perhaps could be addictive. Rationalizing the fundamental negative aspects we humans have to deal with such as greed, is worrisome as Bali quickly becomes an expat heaven. Looking forward to reading more from your point of view as I feel you are experiencing clearly the way it is.
Lost in the Sawah,
PURE ENVY is all I have to say!!!
I’m only young and have visited Bali more times that I can even count! Living in Bali would be my absolute dream but I wouldn’t even know where to start?! I have absolutely no ideas on how I would earn an income!! A lot of my friends live over there but being with them everyday would be to die for! Any ideas on where I can get information on earning an income, jobs ect?
What a great blog and thank you so much for writing it. I have just been back at home in Oz and then a week in Thailand where I have just returned back to London. Since I was away I realised that I want a better life for myself. I have so many little projects that I want to do and London is just too pricey to step away from corporate lifestyle to do it properly. I am very close to getting my right to remain and as a triathlete as well I have a couple more races. Currently unemployed in London and surviving on what i left in the bank is giving me the time to seek out alternative routes. After being in Thailand I am very inspired to move and work on my projects.
Any more information you can share in relation to moving to Bali and getting set up would be amazing.
Dear Tom, it is amaizing how you describe the thought in my head. I have just arrived to Spain from my second trip to Bali and there is something that calls me back to the island.
You describe so much the essence of the island, now the important thing is to find a job there and a living, which i am finding a bit difficult from Spain.
Thanks a lot
I enjoyed the post Tom and meeting you in the DC. I look forward to connecting with you in Ubud or Sanur in June.
Likewise Cam, let me know if I can answer any miscellaneous questions you might have before you arrive.
We had a chance meeting of a British couple giving up their Balinese home after 4 years. We were invited to look at the house and thought we could live for a year in Bali! The house is 10 minutes walk to Sanur beach. You make it sound so wonderful. We have been to Bali 4 times and feel an affinity for the place, people and culture.
Your thoughts on Teaching English or doing volunteer work? I am a teacher and husband an engineer.
thanks for the wonderful blog.
My family and I might be moving down to bali and i have a few questions..
how is the sewage there?
I read online that there are alot of natural disasters. Which areas do they affect and do not affect?
Is it true that only bottled water can be used for cooking?
I am very concerned about these points.
please email me back, that would be very helpful
Can i please have your book: Leaving on the cheap in Bali.
I am plaining to come to Bali for one year and after i can have my australian age pension. Do i have to pay tax on my pension?
Thank you Tom
Hi Tom, great blog. I have been to Bali loads of times with the family and we all love it. Having a much longer stay there sounds very appealing. I look forward to reading your book.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your journey. I would love to retire in Bali at a later stage but to actually decide when is quite frightening to me (scared of the unknown)! I have visited Bali many times and have seen the real beauty of it but a holiday is very different from living in a place. I immigrated to Australia (Perth) 10 years ago but miss the lush greenery and beautiful gardens from my home town. Bali gives me the feeling of peace and a wonderful spiritual experience and this motivates me to move there but actually taking the step is incredibly daunting thus reading your blog is exceptionally helpful. I would really appreciate it if you could please send me a copy of your book. Thanking you
After having been to Bali twice I fell in love with the place. Not sure which type of visa would be appropriate as I would love to stay for long periods. So as not to lose contact with family and friends I would return to Australia at least annually. My only concern at this point is health care. How costly is health insurance? Please send me a copy of your E book as it will most likely answer all my questions. Kind regards
I am a teacher in the UK who has acquired a teaching job in Bali starting in July. I am incredibly excited and a bit nervous too!). I am leaping into the unkown having never been to Bali. But i am sure i won’t regret it! Could i have a copy of your eBook “Bali on the Cheap” please? many thanks!
Your article is very inspiring and interesting. I have always wanted to work in Bali. I would like to know more ideas to work there. I kinda applied for jobs there but am not getting any positive feedback. I would like to know what more options I got. I am a recent graduate.
Hi tom thinking very seriously about the big move we have been to Bali 17 times now and ready to retire. Can’t think of any where better you have made the decision easy.
Thanks for great blog just what we needed.
Regards Carole and Malcolm
Sounds a great life style.
I am in the situation that I am able to take time out of living the dream in Spain and would like to visit Bali. Please can you advise if it is safe for a women on her own to be travelling and any recommendations of where to go?
Hope to here from you soon.
Many thanks Amanda
Appreciate if you can send me your book Bali on the Cheap
Hi Dahlia– it should have been attached to the email you received after you confirmed your email address. Please let me know if this was not the case. —Tom
Hi Amanda, I think with the usual precautions — not walking alone late at night, etc.– Bali is as safe or safer than a lot of other places in SE Asia.
For a longer stay I’d take a look at Ubud especially if you’re into yoga, and Petitenget if you’d like to be closer to the beach but not right in the middle of the tourism just north of the airport.
Thanks so much for the kinds words Carole and Malcolm! I hope your Bali dream comes true.
Hi Kevin and thanks for your interest in a copy of Bali on the Cheap. 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 is set up to automatically send you an email with the E-guide attached. If this does not work for you please let me know. Thanks again for your interest, I hope you find it worthwhile Kevin, and good luck on your upcoming job here!-Tom
Hi Diana, thanks for sharing your story. I’d suggest spending some months here to make sure it suits you. You’ll meet so many expats that you’ll feel both encouraged and more educated on the practicalities of living here. Remember that lots of people have a foot in Bali and another somewhere ‘back home’ too!
Please leave a working email address in the box on the sidebar, the autoresponder is set up to automatically get a copy of Bali on the Cheap to you after you confirm your email. Good luck to you Diana.
Hi Kerry– A social visa is probably right for you, possibly a retiree visa depending on your age.
Regarding health care, it’s getting better but if you have chronic or serious problems you might want to maintain ties with your Aussie health care provider.
Also thanks for your interest in a copy of Bali on the Cheap. 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 is set up to automatically send you an email with the E-guide attached. If this does not work for you please let me know. Good luck there Kerry.–Tom
Hey there Tom.
Thanks for sharing such great insights, and all the good info
and inspiration about Bali.
I’m thinking about spending several months there toward the end of this year.
What is the range of rents for a nice space? Either in Ubud, or better yet
where I can walk to a beautiful beach each day? This would be just for 1 person, but I would like something more than minimal. For instance, a nice 1BR, 1 bath place with a little extra space and a patio. Is it in the $300/mo range? Or closer to $500? Or much higher?
Also, where can I find a copy of “Bali on the Cheap”? Would love to read your work.
Hi there Jim — with a bit of legwork you probably could get something nice in the Ubud area for about US$500 a month. If you’d like to be closer to the beach at that price maybe consider looking up Bali’s West Coast a little ways or somewhere maybe over towards Candidasa in the eastern part of the island.
If more seclusion is what you’re after you’re likely to find nicer beaches at cheaper price away from the tourist/expat areas, naturally enough. You never know though. You’ll be rewarded by talking to people and looking around once you get here. BTW for some people the crowded beach scene between Kuta and Seminyak might be a bit too intense.
The easiest way for me to get you a copy of Bali on the cheap would be entering your name and a functional e-mail address into the box on the sidebar of Wagefreedom.com, I have an autoresponder set up to automatically E-mail you a copy, attached to an e-mail. Let me know if you have any problems.
My opinion has been for a long time but whatever you’re looking for in the way of a tropical lifestyle you could find/make it here in Bali, and I still think that.
Good luck with your stay here Jim!
I am looking for a nice place to retire, set up my online business and start enjoying a new and exciting life! I am in my mid fiftees and want to make new friends, have adventures and make a living without the regulated rat race Western Society dictates I must participate in to “make it”. I would love a copy of your book for guidance and to know what my next step might be. Cheers
Im in the middle of selling my home & heading over to Bali. Sold everything. What are the conditions of bringing pets into the country? Ive tried immigration & they say to ring the Balinese office of which no one is ever there. Any suggestions?
The 10 not so good things about being a Bali expat:
1. Being overcharged for everything.
2. No matter how long you live there, no matter how many people you know or how good your language is, you’ll always be looked upon as a tourist.
3. Overpriced fake drugs.
4. Insomnia due to the ubiquitous noise in Denpasar area.
5. The notion that living in a caste society prohibits one from interacting with the most legitimate Balinese people (i.e., Brahmans).
6. Drunk and obnoxious Australians/Americans.
7. Carousing along on a motorbike, and having to learn to snake your way through traffic at peak hours.
8. The fact that according to the 210-day Balinese calendar, you’re really, really old.
9. That the predictable “Hello Mister!” from Java and Sumatra translates here into “Hashish? Marijuana?”
10. Tropical diseases.
Would love to receive your newsletter. I’ve been an expat living in Bali since 2008. I have mixed feelings about you putting out the word to others as Bali feels already overrun with foreigners. But I’d love to read your thoughts nonetheless…By the way, be sure to tell them about healthcare (or lack of), the constant treating of expats as walking ATM’s, their subjective take on the word “Truth”, and the recent spate of crime. Just to give a balanced view. Thanks!
Could you please send me a e copy of your book Bali on the cheap, love your blog and would like to find out all the pro and cons of living in Bali, thanks again and keep up the good work cheers cheryl
Hi Cheryl–Please leave a working email address in the box on the sidebar, the autoresponder is set up to automatically get a copy of Bali on the Cheap to you after you confirm your email. Good luck to you Cheryl, I hope you find it useful. — Tom
Hi there , thank you for your help living in bali . I have been to bali 32 times in the past 10 years , I should be living there already but the hubby wants to wait a few more years , I don’t know why. He is a bit worried about selling up and going so we are thinking of down sizing here and still having somewhere to come back too every now an then for at least the first few years to see weather we really want to be there. I would love a copy of your book , thank you from cheryl
Hi there Cheryl– I see that the autoresponder emailed you a copy of Bali on the Cheap, it would have come to you as an attachment to an email– please let me know if that didn’t happen. Thanks for your interest and I hope you find it useful Cheryl.
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
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
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
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
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!
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,
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.
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.
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.
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 ..
Hi, would like to get a copy of your book and move to Bali ASAP. Please email.
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 ?
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?
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?
Havent received a copy of your E book yet Tom?
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!
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!
Hi Tom…. loved your Bali Expat message and would love to learn more ,can you please sign me up for your EBook.
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
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.
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…
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
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.
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 email@example.com. Good luck Bob, lots of retired Aussies here, as you know.
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?
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!
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.
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 ….
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.
I am 53, and considering spending 12mths in Bali in 2015. I have visited many times, and my Daughter’s partner is Sumatran, and she has done 3 to 4 month stints in Bali. I mainly wanted to find out how you meet other people who live, or spend months at a time in Bali. I am quite comfortable on my own, but it would be nice to meet up with others who live there for friendship.
A beautiful summary of your life in and love for Bali. I have a practical question – moving to Bali with the family in January. Looking for long term rentals – what is the best way as the prices on the internet seem a little random? Also, I want to have our own stuff in the house – do you know if the landlords are typically flexible in removing the furniture in the houses they are renting out? Sorry for such “dull” questions. Many thanks. Sanja
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.
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.
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!
Please send me your information on living in Bali cheaply
Hi Sanja — I’d say that unfortunately the Internet just isn’t going to be a good indicator of what you can find when you get here, and that it can’t unfortunately replace looking around yourself. I will take some legwork. I suggest to people that they plan on being at a hotel or other accommodations for some time until they find a place. Having said all that, you could try my friend Sinta here (she an old friend, handles my Social visas): baiqsinta123 (at) gmail.com, she has found villas for people before and I can vouch for her trustworthiness. She could take photos for you and have a list of places for you when you get here but again it will still involve you driving around. I’d imagine you could bring your own things, shouldn’t too hard to negotiate. Good luck to you Sanja.
Hi Sharon, thanks for the comment, sorry about the delay answering, I’ve just gone back to see if I missed answering any comments, and I did..
Here are 2 Bali Forums, lots of activity from frequent Bali travelers and expats on both:
Good luck to you Sharon.
My self and husband and 3 young boys, 8/6/2 years are thinking of moving to Bali mid next year 2015. We are from NZ, but been in Australia for 3years. My husband may have a Job in Bali, we will find out in Jan for sure. We have two pets, Boxer Dog and a Cat and would be bringing them with us. I have been looking into transporting them and the regulations etc. What you do you think about briniging pets in, you hear some horror stories about pets been stolen etc, but that can happen anywere I guess. Do you know much about this? and moving with Kids? we have visited the Green School and really liked it. Thanks Katie
thanks for your lovely article. I am planing to go to Bali for the first time, I want to travel and look for small ateliers I can work with to create a new product for my label I would like to start very soon. Do you have any advice? Thank you a lot.
So much love
Hi Dan, and thanks for your comment. I think there’s no substitute for legwork as far as locations and opportunities go; it will take a few days on a motorbike or in a taxi no doubt but if you’d like to circumvent agents it’s the only way. Definitely take a look around in Ubud and surrounding areas– you’ll find plenty of kindred spirits there!
Hi Katie and thanks for your comment– yeah I’ve heard the horror stories too. Here’s what I’d suggest: Google for Bali forums online and ask around because in this case it’s imperative to have up to date info. The last time I heard it was sill not possible to bring dogs or cats into Bali at all, but it’s possible the rules have changed.
As far as schools go, from what I hear there are certainly great schools in Bali. The Green school is one, and I’ve also heard good things about the Australian School and the Montessori Academy here. My friend in Ubud sends his son to the Gandhi School outside of Ubud and he loves it.
I hope that helps Katie, good luck, and if you have a minute I’d love to know what you find out about the pet question.
Hi I enjoyed your thoughts and philosophy about living in Bali. I work in a stressful job in a cold Northern town in England and dream of upping sticks and moving out to Bali. I am a qualified nurse which I guess would give me an income. Anyone out there got any hints or tips for my potential future?
Hi Joy, thanks for the kind words.
You could start by contacting Bali International Medical Center (BIMC) and Siloam Hospital here in Bali to get an idea how they bring foreign staff on. If you do that please drop me a line, I’d love to know how that works.
What I have seen here is that it’s possible to come with some savings and basically buy some time to discover/create the next phase of you life. It may sound laughably, horribly impractical to some but it costs very little to live well here, and if you’ve had a desire to test a new direction and you bring some motivation, several months is probably enough time to get going.
As a nurse you’re starting with far more marketable skills than many people I have seen come and make new lives for themselves in Bali.
You might also take a look at a couple of articles I’ve written on the topic of making money online: Good ways to make money online in 2015 and Making Money Online with few tech skills. Legions of ‘digital nomads’ wandering Asia (and the rest of the world frankly) prove that it is a viable lifestyle for many, and not just the young and irresponsible either!
Good luck and let me know how it goes Joy.
Hey There Tom,
Coming to just outside Ubud on 01/08/15. Staying for a month and looking to enjoy all that Bali has to offer. I’ll be coming to regain my creative muse. Where are the places to go for that? Where do the other expats hang out?
Hi there Kevin– well honestly if you’re going to Ubud and looking for other creative expats, don’t worry because you’ll have a hard time avoiding them! There’s plenty of tourism in Ubud but so many visitors who stay for a longer time too.
One of my favorites places in Ubud is Delicious Onion, run by my old buddy Mark. Lots of travelers, digital nomads, expats and artists. Terrific food and lots of events at night too. Right near Monkey Forest Rd. and a great place to start. Mark knows everyone and can point you in lots more directions in Ubud than I can. Don’t miss it.
You’ll find a huge concentration of digital expats/creative types at Hubud, right up from the monkeys on Monkey Forest Rd. Also for example Yoga Barn is a place to start.
Very easy to meet people in Bali Kevin, it’s a social scene and you’ll love it. Good luck Kevin.
Hello Tom, I have just finished reading the 19 reasons to live in Bali, beautiful reading , it made my heart soar. I have been constantly searching all websites and information regarding retiring to Ubud with my husband, always some what if? fears. We are in Australia and have viisted so many times, thinking of maybe staying 6-12 mths first? We have a 7 year old dog, from what I can understand she would get in but not out again without months & months of quarantine. Any thoughts on this? Also where are the best sites for long term leases or properties for sale. Someone mentioned Sanur was very good value ?
Hey Tom , I have recently finished massage school in Merritt Island Fl. I am excited about learning how to transition to becoming a expat. I would like some info on who to talk to or send a resume and how to set up a small place to live. Or to room with someone I can trust until I get my own place. I feel my heart and soul says Bali is the place I need to be to grow spiritually. Please tell me this is very much possible.
Thanks so much, Jeannette
Aka Jenny Hope
My husband and I are planning to enjoy the ex pat experience from December 2015. Only concern is I am in my late 60s, my husband early 70s. What is it like for people in their senior years. We are in relative good health but need to know about medical services.
Very interesting read! I am hopefully moving to Bali for at least 6month for an internship. Do you have any recommendation for budget accommodation and potential ways of making money in Bali? I am 23, a student so will be having to support myself and the internship is unpaid.
This was really reassuring for me to read. I am in a transition-place after being in Manhattan for 7 years. I at least have partial location independence for a few months and then looking to take ‘the plunge’ and focus on entrepreneurial endeavors and base myself out of Asia somewhere. Bali seems like a really good option… and I was concerned about connectivity (wifi) but seems ok? How easy is it to meet people out there for a 30-something woman?
Hi Abby and thanks for your comment.
Anyone who’s been to both places would probably agree it’s much easier to meet people in Bali than Manhattan! : ) Seriously though, it couldn’t be easier to meet people of all ages, and long-term westerners are here not in the hundreds but the thousands. All age groups well-represented.
More importantly maybe, you’ll find like-minded people with similar interests and priorities, especially if you’re reassessing.
Device-wise, I have a 1.5 GB data plan for US$4 a month; you’re as connected as you want to be. Virtually all restaurants have free wifi that’s certainly fast enough to use for your digital nomad/digital expat activities.
One more thing: I see some people ‘plunging’ but few if any who have ‘moved’ in the way expats did decades ago. It’s easy to keep a foothold in two (or more) parts of the world and most people do that. Flying is so easy and cheap today that paying for a base–esp. in a time of personal transition–isn’t necessarily the way to go.
Good luck Abby. —Tom
Hello Tom, I have just finished reading the 19 reasons to live in Bali, beautiful reading , it made my heart soar. I have been constantly searching all websites and information regarding retiring to Ubud with my husband, always some what if? fears. We are in Australia and have viisted so many times, thinking of maybe staying 6-12 mths first? We have a 7 year old dog, from what I can understand she would get in but not out again without months & months of quarantine. Any thoughts on this? Also where are the best sites for long term leases or properties for sale. Someone mentioned Sanur was very good value ?
I’m thinking of applying for a long term visa to go live in Bali. I have an old classic car, do you know if it’s possible to bring my car along with me?
it is so reassuring to read this. I am planning to move to Bali (Ubud) in the near future. I lost my 25 year old daughter suddenly last year and ran to Bali about 6 weeks later and received the comfort I seriously needed. All I can think of is going back to stay. My concerns with leaving Melbourne is that I will be leaving my 29 year old son and ? my 13 year old cat. You did mention that you have a cat…..and I would like to know the difficulties involved with bringing a cat to Bali?
Thanks so much for this list. I’m an entertainment and media exec in NYC and want a radical life change, burned out by the city and the corporate rat race. Bali seemed like a great place to figure out next steps, despite my never having visited there. Your piece, particularly #14, tipped the scales. I quit my career, am packing my bags, and hope to be on the ground by May 1 2015 for a year stay! Thanks for this piece, can honestly say it really influenced and informed a major life decision for me.
Hi Lynne– thanks for sharing your story and I’m sorry about your daughter….glad to hear Bali can provide you some of what you need. I’m afraid I can’t give you good news regarding bringing animals to Bali Lynne. As I understand it, no cats or dogs are allowed in. Do dig around online, it won’t be easy but if you can find someone in a position of authority to speak with I’m afraid they’ll tell you it’s not possible, but you never know.
Another place to check is pets shops in Bali or maybe Jakarta. I suspect pet stores bring animals into Bali one way or another and maybe you can find someone to give you advice. Please let me know if you find a method; I’d be very curious to know.
Our cat was born on the side of the road here in Bali–must have really stellar karma this guy, the way he’s pampered now–otherwise we’d be without a pet. It’s really too bad, I certainly know how animals become family.
Good luck to you there Lynne.
Hi Chuck– I know people bring cars in but I think the customs fee could be substantial. I would look for an agent in Bali (or Jakarta, may be cheaper?) who handles this, and I’d also check with people who have actually done it. I’d be afraid of unplanned-for charges in customs, after the car is offloaded, but with some planning it might not be prohibitively expensive. Good luck there Chuck.
It’s possible Jeanette, for proof you need look no further than the thousands of people who have done it, with no two stories being alike.
Come and bring you and your story to Bali, there’s room.
Bali is an excellent place for retirees–imo the sweet spot for low prices and amenities/infrastructure in all of SE Asia, especially if you want to be near a beach–but you’ll want to do some planning as to insurance to make sure you’re covered.
If not, you can get expat insurance, which often includes provisions for evacuation to hospitals in Singapore or elsewhere. It won’t be cheap. For minor problems places like BIMC, Siloam, Kasih Ibu are good options in Bali.
My opinion is that it’s easier to build a healthier lifestyle in Bali than many places in the West, that should be factored in too. Good luck Kerry.
Hi Leona, and thanks for the kind words.
I just answered another reader’s comment about bringing pets in, unfortunately it’s actually difficult and maybe impossible to bring in dogs and cats into Bali. I’d suggest calling pet shops in Bali and maybe Jakarta to see what the latest rules are, and if they have any suggestions….
As far as areas to live it’s really about your own preference. Expats are all over the south end of the island and Ubud, as you know. Sanur is very popular, less busy than the west side of the island. Seminyak is pretty crowded nowadays but it has amenities/infrastructure on par with lots of cities in the West. It’s worth taking your time and driving around, from Legian all the way up to Canggu and beyond if you want to be near the beach. Ubud is good because you can choose just how far you’d like to be from (semi-)civilization, and prices are probably lower, being further from the beach. I’ve always though I could easily live outside of Ubud, it’s nice!
Best of luck to you Leona!
Hi Eric– it’s comments like yours that make it hard to stop writing for this site. Thanks very much, I’m flattered.
When the forces of inertia get overwhelmed by our dissatisfaction we know what to do. I guess it’s easier to resist the dissatisfaction than it is to fight the inertia.
Wage freedom Eric. In the end there’s really little to lose. But at least for a while we can live, man.
Done! Got social visa today and booked my one way ticket to Bali from NYC! Nerve-wracking and exhilarating at the same time. Will arrive May 2, will look to rent a villa upon arrival and set up shop for a full 12 months. Maybe we can connect for a beer and swap notes sometime. Thanks again for such an influential piece.
I have been really enjoying reading all you have to say about Bali but I have a few questions?
I am currently living the wage freedom life in the UK due to some good investments in my early 20s, so my reasons for wanting to move to Bali are not financial ones, but social ones as I find it very hard to make any connections here (friendships and relationships), I was wondering if you could tell me what the social scene is like out there as I have previously lived in the Middle East and found that most of the expats there kept to themselves.
I am also confused about the quality of internet as I have read multiple articles online saying that internet in Bali is either terribly slow or terribly expensive, as I would hope to carry on working online as a web developer, this is quite an important factor?
Thanks for providing such a great source of information!
Thanks Tom for this piece. I have a one-way flight booked to Bali, and am equal parts excited and nervous.
I’m a freelance journo/blogger so there’s no reason I can’t work from elsewhere, but it’s funny the reactions I’ve received so far after telling all and sundry that I’m ‘moving to Bali for winter’. Even I have to laugh as I say it as it sounds quite decadent!
My favourite reaction so far: ‘What, are you 70?’
No I’m not, but even if I was, why the hell not I say? Is there an age restriction on having fun at certain times of your life?
Your piece was great – really made me think I’m doing the right thing by taking a chance. Can’t wait to get out of the city and soak up the relaxed atmosphere again.
Hi Tom, my husband and I arrived yesterday in Ubud for our third visit to Bali from California. We decided to leave the rat-race in the U.S. and we sold our house in Santa Barbara two months ago, retired and set off to S.E.Asia to look for a new home.
Just spent only two weeks in Vietnam and crossed that off the list and arrived in Ubud last night. It felt like coming home to us!
We’s like to rent a small house for about three months to see how we feel about being here on a semi- permanent basis but it seems like the visa issue is a problem.
Do you suggest paying someone to help us or can we do it alone?
Also where would you suggest looking for house rentals in Ubud?
Thanks for your help Tom.
‘What, are you 70?’
Good for you Larissa. The only ‘age restriction’ is our own mortality.
These innocuous questions are little viral memes that keep people who might otherwise consider change large or small from doing so, even for a moment.
Making a move isn’t always the right move for everyone but sometimes for some people, it’s the only move.
Also, and it’s been said before, we take a far larger risk by never ‘taking a chance’. Be sure and let the world know how it works for you. I like your site by the way!
Hi Jim– You’ll be happy the Internet speeds/coverage, vastly improved just in the last 2 years or so. It’s as little as US$20-$30/mo for 2-3 Mbps, resonably low latency, depending on where you are, also good and improving carrier coverage—US$4 gets me a 2 GB top up on my phone.
As far as social life goes, you have people of every background under the sun here in Bali, from all over the world. A very cosmopolitan scene for a place which isn’t a big city. I’m sure some expats keep to themselves but there are huge, varied social scenes in Bali. You’ll find your people.
Good luck Jim.
Hi tom, I am finally able to return to Bali, after 30 years. Am so excited, inspite of major growth. I am considering changing my expat location from San Miguel to ubud. Bali is my favorite place in the world. I’m so happy you are still doing your blog. Thank you, nini
Thank you Nini. With your attitude I think you’ll find good things.
I was born in Indo but brought up in the US. Upon graduation, lived and didn’t like Jakarta nor Singapore, now moved to beautiful Victoria BC Canada. I just visited family again in JKT and am reminded how cheap things are. I can actually get off the rat race and live, plus be closer to family! Why didn’t I think of this sooner?
Hi tom. Just wondering if you are still as happy living in Bali now as you were when you first arrived there. I’ve just turned. 60 (still feel 30!!!) am a single woman and feel as though I’m alive and breathing but not really living!! Bali is the perfect solution for me as it is accessible and close for me to still see my kids and grandchild often. But as a single (mature aged ) woman would meeting other people be easy? Is there an expat meeting group? Thanks for your interesting post.
I found your article extremely informative.
I am planning on moving to Bali in May 2016. After recently qualifying as a chartered accountant in South Africa, I would be interested in a more highly skilled job if possible. Do you know if these kind of jobs are available to expats in Bali. And if so, is it quite simple to get a 6 month visa?
You have truly inspired me to follow my dream of living and working in bali. I have been there twice before for a total period of a month. Cleary as we know there are not many places that make you feel this way as such as bali. I’m as 25 year old mechanical engineer. Never really been happy with this field or lifestyle as many of us have gotten so used to and accepted as no other choice left. I crave a life free from mainstream schedules and an Unhealthy need for materialistic possessions.
So my question is if I was to decide to uproot my life to bali and start completely fresh. What job or money making aspects are possible?
Dreaming of Bali….
We are internet marketers looking to move to Bali for a year… Can this be done without having to leave the country every 2-4 months? Any recommendations? Thanks!
I am a single 60 plus lady moving to Bali in June. I would appreciate your ebook Bali on the Cheap. I have been asked what I would do with my time. I plan to study more yoga,learn to surf properly and mix with the locals. I am very excited and your blog has been fantastic and definitely made me realise that this is for me.
Thank you for your blog. Am moving to Bali by myself in June but coming over in a couple of weeks with my son to find a place to live. I Cant wait.
Hi Leonie– the easiest way (for me anyway!) would be if you’d join my mailing list; the confirmation email comes with Bali On the Cheap attached. Don’t worry, I’ll never spam you or share your email, and I only email you infrequently when I have something really good!
With the Social Visa you can stay for up to six months: https://wagefreedom.com/a-visa-for-long-stays-in-bali-indonesia-what-you-need-to-know/
Great Information. Thank you.
My wife and I are just starting our retirement planning journey. As we are Australian, Bali is a serious option due to its proximity to ‘home’. Thailand and Malaysia top our list, but your musings have given food for thought.
We want to be active, and not just sit around. What would you say Bali offers in that sense over and above the other two locations?
Thanks for your blog of information .. So inspiring..
I already have business in bali with designing clothes and leather goods . I am just looking at how to run it from Bali( I have a little shop in Australia ).
You have given me lots of food for thought. I have been coming to Bali for most of my adult life and have always been drawn back .
I will be there in 2 weeks. I can’t wait to smell the smell, hear the sounds and live the lifestyle again
Hi Ian and thanks for connecting. So many options in Thailand, and Malaysia too, right? And Malaysia really wants retirees to come, you’re probably aware of the ‘Malaysia My Second Home’ program.
As to your question specifically about being active in Bali, there’s plenty to do! My guess: your life in Bali will look more like your schedule in Australia than you think. Socializing, exercise, volunteer work, there are so many western expats with time on their hands that that you’ll certainly have activities and people to accompany you. Also, there are the things you wouldn’t be doing in Australia because you’re in Bali: volunteering at a yayasan, excursions around the island, side trips to other parts of Indonesia and SE Asia (amazing destinations an hour or two away), etc.
In practice it seems like expats spend a lot of time meeting friends for lunch or dinner, having people over!… as I say it’s as you’d do anywhere, you just don’t know with whom yet. But the Bali expat community is enormous.
I hope this helps Ian. Good luck to you and your wife.
Am so happy I have stumbled across your blog . You inspire me. I have been to Bali many times and feel so at home there. But even better I feel at home within myself. I was so happy when I was there earlier this year that I got inspired to make on line courses to sell in hope to find me staying in Bali longer . I have not had the success yet enough to get me back there but feel it won’t be long . My partner is also very ready to retire and think she would love to run a small villa accommodation. You are living my dream so I have even more determination now to bring mine to a reality .
Hi Dawn, and thanks for sharing your story and the kind words too. It sounds like you have a great plan: living in a place that fits you and a constructive activity also in line with who you are. Keep going!
What a fab inspiring site you have written, any advice for mid 50 year olds thinking of acting irresponsibly? i have a teacher of ICT offer in Bali they have offered me head of ICT at a good school. But i am 57 so can only teach until i am 60, my problem is i am living in NZ as a permanent resident on a UK passport, i have little to no pension to look forward to. If i take the job i give up a permanent secure job here with the possibility of never getting a job again anywhere because i will be to old. So i could be out of work, homeless and broke in three years if i come to Bali. But i will never have this opportunity in life again, what the hell to do is driving me mad, take the risk and live for the moment or stay secure because i fear the future!!!
Has anyone in there mid fifties taken a risk and done a mad thing like this, curious to know.
Hi Jamie– and thank you for connecting.
Best for me to couch my answer to you as ‘Here are the things I’d consider’ rather than hard advice, because without talking to you more I can’t judge your prospects for being able to create income online (which frankly changes everything for many expats, from 18 to 80..).
From your comment I’ll assume:
–You have basically no pension. You say ‘little to no pension’. If you have any pension at all this would make a difference, see below.
–In NZ you say you have a permanent job, so I assume you won’t be forced to retire at 60.
–For the Bali job, you will be forced to retire at 60.
–I’ll assume no significant savings.
If I have any of these wrong then my comments won’t be valid, but here goes.
If you wake up on your 60th birthday in NZ looking forward to indefinite employment–I assume with no retirement ever?–this is a good scenario for 60 and beyond, and not to be refused lightly, as you aren’t.
If you will be forced to retire in NZ at some point with no pension you’re just deferring a question. You will have more years of security before you retire–extremely valuable–but here’s my point: it sounds like you need a plan for a pension-less retirement, sooner or later, no matter what you decide now. Again I’ll assume any pension you do get, assuming you will retire, will need to be supplemented with other income, if you stay in NZ.
If you come to Bali, here’s why my pension amount question is critical. If you have any base amount at all it will make a difference here. Even say NZ$500/month would go far towards a cheap apartment or decent kost (studio apartment) here. At least in 2017. (There is inflation in Indonesia; your pension would lose purchasing power over time if it doesn’t keep pace) Another assumption I’ll make: you can take a NZ pension in Bali if you are a long-term visitor here, on a social visa or retirement visa. I’d check that out; for Aussies I’ve heard there’s some question as to whether one can do this.
It sounds like it would be a great three years at the job here, but we have to look at beyond 60. (Again, must you retire at 60 from the Bali job if you take it? Critical question.)
Whether you have a base pension amount or not, being forced to retire at 60 if you come here means you’ll need an income supplement.
If this is true then I’d start making a plan and executing it far before retirement. I’d start today.
Obviously the amount you’ll need in Bali will be far lower than what you’ll need to live in NZ if you’re eventually forced to retire there.
Is three years enough time to create an online income that will support you in Bali?
THREE MONTHS is enough time to do it if you’re motivated. Really. I have seen it.
I don’t know your situation or what your plan is if you’re forced to retire in NZ. It sounds like an income supplement would make a big difference there too.
Whether the plan is moving to SE Asia or simply to have more money in retirement in the developed world, many people supplement their income (or completely replace jobs they don’t like) with Internet-based businesses today.
I’ve written extensively on this site and in my book on living in Bali about using internet-based enterprises for income.
I’ve seen so many people have success with it that I point people to it. It can change your life, no matter your age, and you do not need to be tech savvy.
You can start with these two articles here Jamie. Nothing to sell, the first explains how you can find ‘your thing’ around which you can build an income. The second points you to 22 of the best people to learn how to make money online.
I hope this helps you Jamie! Let me know how it goes.
Thanks so much for this wonderfully written post. It was just what I needed to convince myself that this is what I need to do. What I would alike to do is to open up a business in Bali and not work for someone else and of course at the same time document my experience in a blog.
My wife, two kids and I just came back from a holiday in Bali. Both my kids suffer badly from hayfever and asthma. Whilst we were away they had absolutely no symptoms but as soon as we came back the sneezing, watery eyes and coughing started. For a parent, this is very hard to watch especially knowing that the only relief is to medicate which I hate doing.
It was our 4th trip to Bali and every time we go we fall more and more in love with the place but I just have so many unanswered questions that I don’t know where to start.
The thing is that we can see ourselves living there and raising our children there however our children are still at primary school age so schooling is of course high on our priority list – but what better place to raise children right?!
Is there any books or blogs you would recommend to read for starting a business in Bali or so you have experience with that?
The next time we come to Bali – which is hopefully not too long – we would love to meet you.
Thanks again for the wonderful article and I’ll definitely continue to read through your blog!
Regards Denis (from Australia)
Hi Denis, thanks a lot for your comment, and for the kind words.
Sorry to hear about your kids’ hayfever and asthma returning, but it sounds like you might have a good alternate plan now. : )
It’s funny. I have a friend in California whose diet is very restricted because he gets all sorts of pretty severe reactions to many different foods there–even when he buys organic, etc. When he came to visit us in Bali he feared not being able to eat anything: long story short he started slow here, had no problems and by the time he left was eating the spiciest sambal and literally trying and enjoying everything! No problems at all. All in his head? Maybe. But with industrial farming and the way they add hormones and antibiotics to so much food today, who knows what the unintended consequences are?
And yes, in my opinion raising kids here is a every good idea. I see no downside in 2017 here; they are in a best of both worlds situation (just like their parents!), and I think lack for nothing nowadays.
Check your email please Denis, I sent you a note.
It’s so true and your story of meeting the art dealer really sums it up, you can’t wait for life to happen, forget about 401k’s and “in the future I’ll do what I’d like to…”. The time to do what you’d like to and live the life you want is now, get out of your comfort zone and find a way of bringing your future into the now. Great post, reminds me why I love Bali so much
I’m biased but I agree all the way Sophie! Thank you for the comment and good luck with your site too!
My wife and I are holidaying in Bali in 3 weeks. We have visited Bali a few times and loved it. We are considering retiring there. Would you be available for coffee in the first week of February? We have loads of questions for you about living in Bali.
Sure Lyndon– you can email me at tom (at) wagefreedom.com and we’ll set something up.
I stumbled upon this article while writing a post for our blog about how to stay in Bali (semi) long term (which can be seen here http://www.gratefulgypsies.com/how-to-stay-in-bali-semi-long-term/). I got your book before we spent the better part of a year living in Bali while I was enrolled in the Darmasiswa program at Udayana University, and I can say from experience that there was lots of useful stuff in there for anyone considering picking it up. Reading this post made me a bit nostalgic for Bali already. We could have stayed longer, but the world is big and while my wife and I are still in our early 30s, we’re taking advantage of our still (somewhat) youthful energy and exploring Central and South America this year. We’ll always love Bali and just might come back to live before too long. Now if only they would make it easier on people who aren’t of retirement age to stay more than a month without visa runs or three visits to immigration…
Oh what a lovely article. Thank you! I’m on my way right now, I’ve been to Bali before for several months and I just can’t wait I’m so excited. This time it’s a “sell everything and leave no trace in the US” kind of move.
You’re helping me lay more self doubts to rest, and I certainly can’t get enough of that!
I just woke up last week and realized I don’t have to be here, I’m not really stuck, it’s all in the mind, and I’m taking the power back from the machine. I just couldn’t face another meaningless job to make money for a life I don’t even want here. I have skills and talents and education and drive and love and ambition to fulfill my true purpose, and I can do that living the lifestyle I want in Bali. Heck, my best friend already lives there, and we met last time I was there. I agree you can meet amazing and fascinating people from across the globe.
And somehow I’ve managed to sell everything I own in a week, just as soon as I decided (might apply for Craigslist world record).
I look forward to reading your book! Thanks again.
Wow Janelle — congratulations for taking action!
Who knows what we can do if we dare to step back far enough to get some perspective.
What a great attitude, thanks for sharing your story. Let me know when you’re in Seminyak and we’ll have coffee!
Hi Sasha and thanks for sharing your story. The Bali Gypsies site is great btw! But hey I thinks it’s a great idea to keep moving if you’re not done seeing the world yet. There are too many places to see to stop traveling if you’re ambivalent. Bali will be here when you get back!
And by the way, there are ways to avoid making three trips to Immigration every time you need to extend your Social Visa. I’m including instructions in the updated 2017 version of “How To Live In Bali” which you and everyone else who buys it will be getting at no extra charge. Take care there Sasha!
My 9yo son died suddenly in January 2017, our only child.
My husband and I are searching for a new life purpose.
Bali, particularly Ubud wY of life is appealing.
What suggestions can you offer in regards to how to secure a home and income in Ubud?
Thank you for your time. Kind regards.
I sent you an email Penelope.
Loved reading this and am now so motivated to seriously investigate how as an Australian I can live in Bali. Thank you. Janine
Thank you so much Janine– let me know if you have any questions!
Ahhh… I just love your wonderful balanced take on life as you see it and perspective on Bali. Think it would be so intersting to meet you. Thank you for tour clear honest delightful thoughts.
Why thank you so much Fiona— that really makes my day.
Tom! Such a fantastic read man. So inspiring! Good for you! This kind of stuff makes me happy and hopeful.
My wife and I just finished a month in Bali and are both very in love with the people, the culture, crazy sidewalks (or lack there of)… all of it! How do 2 Canadians make the move is the question we keep asking each other???
Many thanks for your inspiring words. I am heavily researching a move to Bali and would greatly appreciate a copy of living in Bali and access to Bali on the cheap.
Hi Kim — thanks for your comment and here is the link to the purchase page for “How To Live In Bali”. https://wagefreedom.com/cost-of-living-in-bali-guide/
Also, if you leave your name and email address in any of the email collector forms you see at the bottom of most pages on this site you’ll get 2 free chapters of the book. Just a small slice to see if the book has the kind detail you need (I hope it does!) Good luck with your move to Bali Kim! —-Tom
Can i please have your book ?
Sure Chris– I try not to push it at people too much, but I think I have to make it simpler to buy.
Anyway thank you for you interest Chris, here is the secure Gumroad link: https://gum.co/vYDXB
Let me know if it doesn’t answer every question about living in Bali that you have and I’ll try to help you.
Sent you an email on 27th Jan, concerning a documentary shoot in Bali. Wonder if you received my email. Hear from you soon. Thanks!
I’m looking to move to Indonesia to teach English, which one of these areas do you suggest for an expat?
Jakarta Greater Area
Also, what is your opinion on Indonesia being one of the most seismic places in the world? Is it something expats should be “afraid” of? Are there safer areas to live or that aren’t so affected?
I have to choose my top 3 cities for my application and your input would help me decide!
hi Valerie– hmm I looked in spam for both my accounts and don’t see your email, which worries me a little. Please resend to tom (@) wagefreedom.com
Hi Anna-Maria — It’s Tom actually! Thanks for your question but the only place in Indonesia I’ve lived is Bali and that’s not on your list!
There are really nice places in each of these islands/areas, though Jakarta might be best only if you really prefer a city, and as anyone will tell you it can be rather difficult getting around in Jakarta.
I’m a little nervous when the ground starts shaking as we’re in large building, but if you’re living on ground level potential danger is reduced because you can run outside. If you’re near the ocean there might be some danger from a tsunami, all you can do is have an evacuation plan.
As far as areas to avoid earthquakes, the ground probably almost everywhere here shakes from time to time. It’s the ‘ring of fire’.
Hope that helps Anna-Maria.
considering retiring to bali
Good for you Sue— let me know if you have any questions.
Could you please address the burning of plastic in Bali? I have read that there is a burning season. Some have reported health problems such as asthma.
Hi Cheryl, thanks for your question. There is burning in Bali, as an outgrowth of farming practices here. This normally happens on a small scale though, from field to field, and there’s more burning in the dry season. As to whether or not it’s enough to bother a person, I guess it would depend on one’s level of sensitivity. No doubt there will be some plastic mixed into a lot of fires, it’s about clearing land and the awareness of the dangers of fumes from burning plastics would be rather low, unfortunately.
I can say that it is never so bad as what you hear about in Singapore or parts of Sumatra or Borneo at certain times of year, or Chiang Mai Thailand during ‘burning season’ there for that matter.
Also, if you’d like to avoid this there’s less burning in the rainy season (roughly October to March) and the strong onshore winds coming from off the ocean keep the air very clean.
I hope that helps Cheryl.