Living in Bali is an enchanting experience that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and a vibrant expat community. Known as the Island of the Gods, Bali captivates residents with its picturesque landscapes, stunning beaches, and lush rice terraces. From the bustling streets of Seminyak to the serene villages of Ubud, Bali offers a diverse range of living environments to suit various lifestyles. Whether you seek a peaceful retreat or a dynamic urban setting, Bali’s charm, warm climate, and welcoming locals create an inviting atmosphere for expats from around the world.
This guide aims to provide everything you need to know about living in Bali, from the practical aspects of daily life to the exploration of its vibrant culture and thriving business opportunities. So, if you’re considering making Bali your home, prepare to embark on an extraordinary journey filled with adventure, tranquility, and the chance to create a truly unique lifestyle.
Why Choose Bali As Your Home?
There are several reasons why people choose Bali as their home. Here are some key factors that make Bali an attractive destination:
Climate & Natural Beauty: Bali has a tropical climate with warm temperatures year-round. The island’s pleasant weather allows for outdoor activities and a relaxed lifestyle. Also, Bali is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty. From stunning beaches with crystal-clear waters to lush rice terraces and majestic volcanic mountains, the island offers a diverse and picturesque landscape.
Spiritual Retreat: Bali is often seen as a spiritual haven, attracting individuals seeking personal growth, mindfulness, and inner peace. The island is home to numerous yoga and meditation retreats, wellness centers, and holistic healing practices.
Affordable Cost of Living: Compared to many Western countries, Bali offers a relatively affordable cost of living. Housing, food, transportation, and entertainment expenses are generally more affordable, making it an attractive destination for expatriates.
Welcoming Expat Community: Bali has a thriving expat community, providing a supportive network for newcomers. Expats from various countries have made Bali their home, fostering a multicultural environment and opportunities for socializing and networking.
Delicious Cuisine: Balinese cuisine is known for its rich flavors and diverse offerings. From traditional dishes like Nasi Goreng (fried rice) and Babi Guling (suckling pig) to international cuisine, Bali has a thriving food scene that caters to all tastes.
Business and Entrepreneurship Opportunities: Bali has become a hub for entrepreneurs, digital nomads, and remote workers. The island’s growing infrastructure, co-working spaces, and networking opportunities make it an appealing destination for those seeking business ventures or flexible work arrangements.
Cons Of Living In Bali
While Bali offers a vibrant and idyllic lifestyle, there are some potential drawbacks and challenges to consider when living in the region. Here are some cons of living in Bali:
Infrastructure: Bali’s infrastructure can be limited and inconsistent in certain areas. Issues such as traffic congestion, occasional power outages, and inadequate waste management systems can be frustrating for residents.
Cost of Living: While Bali can be affordable compared to many Western countries, the cost of living has been increasing in popular areas. Rental prices, especially in sought-after locations, can be relatively high. Additionally, imported goods and certain services can be expensive.
Employment Opportunities and Income: Finding stable and well-paying employment in Bali can be challenging, particularly for non-Balinese speakers. The job market is often dominated by the tourism industry, which can be seasonal and competitive.
Healthcare: While Bali offers healthcare facilities and services, the quality and availability may vary. In complex medical cases, residents often prefer to seek treatment in nearby countries with more advanced medical infrastructure.
Environmental Concerns: Bali faces environmental challenges, including issues like waste management, water scarcity, and pollution. Efforts to combat these problems are ongoing, but residents may encounter inconveniences and health risks related to environmental factors.
Balancing Tourism and Local Life: The island’s popularity as a tourist destination can sometimes lead to overcrowding, especially in tourist hotspots. Balancing the needs and interests of both tourists and locals can be a challenge, particularly during peak seasons.
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Planning Your Move
Planning a move to Bali requires careful consideration and preparation. Here are some key aspects to keep in mind when planning your move:
Determine the appropriate visa for your intended stay in Bali. This could be a tourist visa, social/cultural visa, business visa, or other types depending on your circumstances. Research the visa requirements, including duration of stay and any restrictions or renewal processes.
Start researching and looking for accommodation options in Bali. Consider factors such as location, budget, and amenities. You can explore various options, including long-term rentals, guesthouses, or serviced apartments. Online platforms and local real estate agents can assist in finding suitable accommodations. Here are some of the top areas for living in Bali for expats:
Seminyak: Known for its trendy vibe, Seminyak offers a lively atmosphere with numerous dining options, fashionable boutiques, and vibrant nightlife. It’s a popular choice for expats who enjoy a cosmopolitan lifestyle and want to be close to the beach.
Ubud: Ubud is considered the cultural heart of Bali. Surrounded by lush rice fields, it offers a serene and spiritual environment. Ubud is known for its art scene, yoga and wellness retreats, organic cafes, and traditional Balinese culture. It’s an excellent choice for those seeking a tranquil and creative lifestyle.
Canggu: Canggu is a coastal area known for its laid-back surfer vibes and a growing expat community. It offers a mix of trendy cafes, yoga studios, beach clubs, and a thriving digital nomad scene. Canggu attracts those who enjoy a more relaxed and bohemian lifestyle.
Sanur: Sanur is a quieter coastal town located on the eastern side of Bali. It offers a more relaxed and family-friendly atmosphere with a long beach promenade, water sports activities, and a range of restaurants and shops. Sanur is popular among retirees and families seeking a peaceful and community-oriented lifestyle.
Jimbaran: Jimbaran is known for its beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets, and seafood restaurants. It offers a more upscale and luxurious environment, with several high-end resorts and villas. Jimbaran is ideal for those who prefer a quieter and more refined coastal living experience.
Nusa Dua: Located on the southeastern coast, Nusa Dua is known for its luxurious resorts and pristine beaches. It offers a gated and secure environment, making it popular among families and expats seeking a more exclusive lifestyle. Nusa Dua is home to a range of international hotels, golf courses, and water sports activities.
Uluwatu: Uluwatu is famous for its dramatic cliffside landscapes, world-class surf breaks, and breathtaking beaches. It attracts a bohemian and surf-centric crowd, with a range of cafes, beach clubs, and eco-friendly resorts. Uluwatu is ideal for those who prioritize a more relaxed and nature-oriented lifestyle.
Cost Of Living In Bali
Accommodation: The cost of accommodation in Bali can vary significantly depending on the location and type of property. In popular tourist areas like Seminyak or Canggu, monthly rental prices for a furnished one-bedroom apartment can range from $500 to $1,500 or more. Villas or houses with multiple bedrooms can range from $1,000 to $3,000 or higher per month. Long-term rentals may offer more favorable rates.
Utilities: The cost of utilities such as electricity, water, and internet can vary based on usage and the location of your accommodation. On average, monthly utility bills can range from $50 to $150, but this can increase significantly if you use air conditioning frequently.
Food and Dining: Bali offers a wide range of dining options to suit different budgets. Eating at local warungs (small local eateries) can cost around $2 to $5 per meal, while dining at mid-range restaurants can range from $10 to $20 per meal. Western-style restaurants and high-end establishments can be more expensive, with meals costing $20 or more. Cooking at home and buying groceries from local markets can help reduce food expenses.
Transportation: Transportation costs in Bali can vary depending on your mode of transportation. Renting a motorbike can cost around $50 to $100 per month, while hiring a car with a driver can range from $500 to $1,000 per month. Taxis and ride-hailing services are also available, with fares starting at around $2 for short distances.
Leisure and Entertainment: Bali offers a range of leisure and entertainment activities. Yoga classes, gym memberships, and wellness treatments can vary in cost, but average prices range from $30 to $100 per month. Additionally, exploring Bali’s natural beauty and visiting cultural sites may involve additional expenses, such as entrance fees and transportation.
Healthcare And Insurance
Having health insurance is important for expats living in Bali. The cost of health insurance will depend on factors such as your age, coverage, and any pre-existing conditions. On average, health insurance premiums can range from $50 to $200 per month, but this can vary significantly. One alternative you can also consider is SafetyWing’s insurance for digital nomads offering a detailed medical coverage for as low as $40 per month. For more information about this, you can check out our SafetyWing honest review.
Seeing that most expats living in Bali have a pleasant experience living on the island but you should still have a few things in mind when it comes to settling in.
Culture And Etiquette
As an expat living in Bali, understanding and respecting the local culture is essential for building meaningful connections and navigating daily life. Here are some key aspects of Balinese culture that expats should be aware of:
Religion: The majority of Balinese people practice Balinese Hinduism, which is a unique blend of Hinduism, Buddhism, and local animist beliefs. Temples, offerings, and religious ceremonies are integral parts of daily life. Respect the customs and traditions associated with religion, dress modestly when visiting temples, and observe appropriate behavior during religious events.
Balinese Hierarchy: Balinese society has a hierarchical structure, and respecting social status and age is crucial. The concept of “Tri Hita Karana” emphasizes harmony between humans, nature, and the divine. Show respect to elders, religious leaders, and community members.
Politeness and Etiquette: Balinese people value politeness and courteous behavior. Greet others with a smile and a polite “Selamat” (meaning hello or greetings). Use the right hand for giving and receiving, as the left hand is considered impure.
Dress Code: While Bali has a relaxed dress code, it’s important to be mindful of appropriate attire, especially when visiting temples or attending religious ceremonies. Cover your shoulders and legs, and avoid wearing revealing clothing in religious or conservative areas.
Community and Harmony: Balinese culture places great importance on community and cooperation. Participate in community activities, engage with locals, and show interest in their traditions and customs. Building relationships with the local community can enhance your experience and help you integrate into the culture.
Offering and Ceremony Etiquette: Offerings, known as “canang sari,” are an integral part of Balinese Hindu rituals. Respectfully avoid stepping on or disrupting offerings placed on the ground. If you encounter a procession or ceremony, give way and observe from a respectful distance.
Learning the Local Language
While English is widely spoken in tourist areas, learning basic Indonesian phrases can greatly enhance your experience in Bali. Consider enrolling in language classes or using language-learning resources to familiarize yourself with the local language. This will also make the process of understanding the local culture much simpler.
Opening A Bank Account
Opening a bank account in Bali will be necessary for managing finances, setting up automatic payments, and receiving payments if you plan to work or run a business in Bali. Here are a few tips in regards to opening your bank account in Bali as an expat.
Choose the Right Bank: Research the different banks in Bali and consider their services, fees, and accessibility. Some popular banks in Bali include Bank Central Asia (BCA), Bank Mandiri, and CIMB Niaga. Look for a bank that has English-speaking staff and convenient branch and ATM locations for your needs.
Required Documents: To open a bank account in Bali, you will typically need to provide certain documents, which may vary from bank to bank. Generally, you will need your passport (with valid visa or residency permit), a proof of address (such as a rental agreement or utility bill), and a Tax Identification Number (NPWP) if you plan to conduct business transactions.
Initial Deposit: Most banks in Bali require an initial deposit to open an account. The amount can vary depending on the type of account you choose, so inquire about the specific requirements beforehand.
Account Types: Banks in Bali offer various types of accounts, including savings accounts, checking accounts, and foreign currency accounts. Consider your banking needs and choose the type of account that suits you best.
Fees and Charges: Inquire about the fees and charges associated with the bank account, such as monthly maintenance fees, ATM withdrawal fees, and transfer fees. Be aware of any minimum balance requirements to avoid additional charges.
Getting a SIM Card and Internet Access
Upon arrival in Bali, you may need a local SIM card to have access to affordable and reliable communication services. Research local telecom providers and understand the options for prepaid plans or data packages that suit your needs. Bali has several major service providers offering SIM cards and internet packages. Some popular providers include Telkomsel, Indosat Ooredoo, XL Axiata, and Three (Tri). Research their coverage, data plans, and rates to find the one that suits your needs.
SIM cards are widely available in convenience stores, mobile phone shops, and official service provider outlets across Bali. Look for authorized retailers or service provider kiosks. You will need to present your passport for identification when purchasing a SIM card. Indonesian regulations require SIM cards to be registered. The retailer will assist you with the registration process, which typically involves providing your personal information and a photocopy of your passport. Some retailers may activate the SIM card for you immediately, while others may require a few hours for activation.
If you require internet connectivity for your laptop or multiple devices, you can consider purchasing a portable Wi-Fi dongle or router. These devices use a SIM card and provide Wi-Fi access to multiple devices simultaneously. They are available for purchase from service provider outlets or electronics stores.
Daily Life In Bali
As dreamy as living in Bali may sound, there are a few things you should be aware of before moving. Here are a a few important aspects of daily life in Bali.
Climate And Weather
Bali enjoys a tropical climate with warm temperatures throughout the year. Daily life often revolves around the weather, with people embracing outdoor activities in the mornings and evenings to avoid the heat of the midday sun.
Food And Dining
Balinese cuisine is diverse and flavorful, with a wide range of dishes to explore. Daily meals often include traditional Balinese dishes like Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Satay, Lawar (mixed vegetables with minced meat), and Babi Guling (roast suckling pig). Balinese cuisine also incorporates influences from Indonesian and international cuisines, providing a variety of options for dining.
Shopping And Markets
Bali boasts vibrant markets and shopping experiences. From traditional art markets in Ubud to upscale boutiques in Seminyak, you can find a wide range of clothing, artwork, handicrafts, and souvenirs. Local markets are great for purchasing fresh produce, spices, and local snacks.
Entertainment And Nightlife
Bali has a vibrant nightlife scene, especially in areas like Seminyak and Kuta. There are numerous bars, clubs, live music venues, and beach clubs where you can enjoy entertainment and socialize with locals and fellow expats.
Engaging with the local community can enrich your experience in Bali. Joining social clubs, participating in community events, and volunteering opportunities can help you connect with both locals and fellow expatriates.
Working And Doing Business in Bali
Working and doing business in Bali can be a rewarding experience due to the island’s unique environment and growing opportunities. Here are some key aspects to consider:
Job Opportunities And Remote Work
Bali offers job opportunities in various industries, particularly in tourism, hospitality, digital marketing, graphic design, programming, wellness, and education. Many expats and digital nomads choose to work remotely or find employment in Bali’s thriving tourism industry.
Bali has also become a popular destination for remote workers and digital nomads. The island provides an ideal setting with co-working spaces, reliable internet connectivity, and a supportive community of like-minded professionals. Numerous co-working spaces are available in popular areas like Ubud, Canggu, and Seminyak.
Starting A Business
Bali offers opportunities for entrepreneurs and those looking to start their own business. The island’s tourism industry, vibrant expat community, and growing local market create a conducive environment for various ventures.
Start by determining the most suitable business structure for your venture. Common options for foreigners living in Bali include a Foreign-Owned Limited Liability Company (PT PMA) or a Local Nominee Company. Each structure has its own requirements and restrictions, so consult with a legal professional to determine the best fit for your business.
Another important thing is to engage the services of a reputable local lawyer or legal consultant who specializes in assisting foreigners with business setup. They can guide you through the legal processes, help with necessary documentation, and ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.
Last but not least, make sure you understand the tax obligations for your business in Bali. This includes registering for a Tax Identification Number (NPWP), filing regular tax reports, and paying applicable taxes. Consult with a tax consultant or accountant to ensure compliance with Indonesian tax laws.
Taxes And Legal Considerations
Expats who live in Bali for more than 183 days in a calendar year are considered tax residents and are subject to local tax regulations. But if you’re a non-resident, don’t worry, you’d be only taxed on your Indonesian-sourced income. Also, it’s mandatory for expats earning income in Indonesia to obtain a Tax Identification Number (NPWP). You can apply for an NPWP through the local tax office or engage the services of a tax consultant to assist you with the process.
Expats are subject to personal income tax on their worldwide income only if they are tax residents. The tax rates range from 5% to 30%, depending on the income bracket. Deductions and exemptions may be available, so consult with a tax consultant to understand your specific tax obligations.
Networking and Professional Organizations
Joining professional networks and organizations can help expand your business connections and opportunities in Bali. There are various networking events, workshops, and industry-specific groups where you can meet like-minded professionals and entrepreneurs.
Exploring Bali is a captivating journey that immerses you in the island’s natural beauty, rich culture, and unique experiences. From its stunning beaches like Kuta and Nusa Dua to the iconic temples of Tanah Lot and Uluwatu, Bali offers a diverse range of attractions.
The lush green rice terraces of Jatiluwih and Tegalalang showcase traditional farming practices and breathtaking landscapes. Adventurers can embark on hikes up the majestic Mount Batur or Mount Agung, while the enchanting waterfalls like Tegenungan and Gitgit offer tranquil retreats.
In Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali, you can explore art galleries, indulge in traditional Balinese cuisine, and witness captivating traditional dance performances. Bali’s wellness and yoga scene in Ubud and other centers provide opportunities for rejuvenation and self-care.
Don’t miss the chance to visit traditional villages like Penglipuran, where you can witness local customs and craftsmanship. Respectful exploration of Bali allows you to embrace its natural wonders, cultural heritage, and spiritual essence.
Safety And Security
Safety and security are important considerations when traveling to Bali. While Bali is generally considered a safe destination, it’s still necessary to take certain precautions to ensure a secure and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips for safety and security in Bali.
Even though Blai is relatively safe, there are some neighborhoods that are safer than others and ideally, you’d want to choose a safe and reputable neighborhood to reside in. Here are some neighborhoods in Bali that are known for their safety and expat-friendly environments:
- Seminyak: Seminyak is a popular area for expats and tourists, known for its vibrant dining and nightlife scene. It has a relatively low crime rate and offers a range of accommodation options.
- Canggu: Canggu is a coastal village that has become increasingly popular among expats. It offers a laid-back atmosphere, a thriving digital nomad community, and a range of amenities. It is generally considered safe, especially in the popular residential areas.
- Sanur: Sanur is a tranquil coastal town with a more relaxed and family-friendly atmosphere. It has a reputation for being safe, with well-maintained streets and a low crime rate. Sanur offers a good selection of restaurants, shops, and services.
- Nusa Dua: Nusa Dua is a gated community and resort area known for its luxurious hotels and pristine beaches. It is considered safe and well-maintained, with a focus on providing a secure environment for residents and tourists.
- Jimbaran: Jimbaran is a coastal town known for its beautiful beaches and seafood restaurants. It has a relatively low crime rate and is popular among expats who prefer a quieter lifestyle.
- Ubud: Ubud is located in the lush inland area of Bali and is known for its art, culture, and wellness scene. It is generally considered safe, with a strong sense of community and a focus on sustainable living.
Select a secure accommodation option, such as gated communities, apartments with security features, or houses with proper locks and security systems. Ensure that doors and windows are secure, and consider additional security measures such as installing surveillance cameras or using a safe for valuable belongings. Alternatively, if you’re staying for longer, you can also get some great deals (mostly in the best neighborhoods in Bali) on Vrbo and by using our link, you get up to 10% off on your rental for the entire duration of your stay.
Personal safety is an important consideration for expats living in Bali. Overall, Bali is a relatively safe destination with a low crime rate. However, it’s essential to take standard precautions to ensure personal safety. Expats should be mindful of their surroundings, particularly in crowded tourist areas where pickpocketing can occur. It’s advisable to secure personal belongings, avoid displaying expensive items, and use reliable transportation options. Additionally, it’s recommended to stay informed about any potential risks or safety advisories and to follow local laws and customs.
Cultural sensitivity is crucial for expats living in Bali to foster positive relationships and integrate into the local community. Balinese culture is deeply rooted in traditions, customs, and spirituality, and showing respect and understanding is key. Expats should be aware of and adhere to local customs, such as dressing modestly when visiting temples or attending ceremonies.
Balinese people appreciate when foreigners make an effort to learn basic Indonesian phrases and greetings, as it demonstrates respect for the local language. It’s important to be mindful of cultural differences, such as avoiding pointing with the index finger, which is considered impolite. Engaging in community events, festivals, and traditional ceremonies can help expats gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the local culture.
Tips For Fitting In
Last but not least, we round up this guide to living in Bali with a few useful tips that will help you fit in right away.
Embracing Local Culture
Immerse yourself in the rich Balinese culture. Learn the language, participate in local customs and traditions, and build relationships with the local community. Respect and appreciation for the local culture will enhance your experience and help you integrate into the community.
Building A Support Network
Connect with other expatriates, entrepreneurs, and like-minded individuals living in Bali. Attend networking events, join professional groups, and engage with the local community to build a supportive network. Surrounding yourself with positive influences can provide valuable support and opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Balancing Work And Leisure
Bali offers a laid-back lifestyle, but it’s important to find a balance between work and leisure. Prioritize self-care, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and take advantage of the island’s natural beauty and wellness offerings.
Respecting The Environment And Local Community
Bali places increasing emphasis on sustainability and eco-conscious living. Incorporate sustainable practices into your lifestyle, such as reducing plastic consumption, supporting local and eco-friendly businesses, and participating in community initiatives that promote environmental conservation.
Contribute to the local community by volunteering, supporting local businesses, or getting involved in community projects. Engaging in meaningful ways can foster a sense of belonging and fulfillment.
Are you thinking about living in Bali? How did you like our guide to life in Bali? Was it helpful? Do you think there are some other important aspects about life in Bali we didn’t address in this article? Feel free to share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.
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