Living In Bali

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Thinking of living in the Island of the Gods? Let’s take a closer look at some of the key elements of what to know before packing your bags and making the big move. It can be a great place to live for the long term but it’s also important to understand what island life is like here with it’s over 4 million inhabitants.

It is a tropical island that is in Eastern Indonesia and has that mix of lush rice paddies, energetic culture mixed in with ancient temples everywhere. It’s quite popular also due to the year round tropical climate with only two seasons that are the dry season from May to October usually and the rainy season from November through April.

Everything You Need To Know About Living In Bali (As An Expat)

To get you up and running, head to Bali for a month on a budget by booking a low cost apartment or villa for a few hundred dollars for the entire month! Check out these:

You may also want to hire a car for awhile. Compare rates here.

Sunset Over Sea On Bali
Enjoying a stunning sunset is one of the joys of living in Bali Indonesia.

There’s plenty of island paradises right? So what makes Bali so different?

The first thing you’re going to notice is how everything is very affordable and expats can easily live on a monthly budget of around $1,000 USD per month.

If they double that, they can easily enjoy numerous creature comforts such as serviced villas that comes with cleaners and cooks, and have plenty left over to enjoy other activities and festivities the island offers.

There’s also so much untouched nature here and that means time to explore everything from the terraced hills of Bali to the mountains and waterfalls.

There’s plenty of historic sites to see that showcases the vibrancy of the Hindu and Buddhist culture that is extremely important in the area.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of holidays and festivals, so for those that are going to relocate here, make sure you know which days these happens and plan accordingly.

There’s a huge expat community to tap into if you choose to and whether you speak with the expat community or the locals, everyone tends to be genuinely friendly and supportive. You can get an excellent quality of life here.

Visas And Residency

Water Sports, Bonding And Summer Vacation In Bali
The beach is a highlight when living in Bali.

This is where it can get a bit complicated as there are various different types of visas available.

These rules can change from time to time so it’s a good idea to always check ahead of time to see if your specific visa you’re applying for has changed in any way.

What Types Of Visas Are Available To Expats In Bali?

The most common visa is the VOA or visa on arrival, which grants you entry into Bali for up to 30 days and is a single entry visa, meaning if you leave you will have to get another one.

Current pricing has it at around $35 USD and this can change based on the foreign exchange rate. You can pay in multiple currencies.

The desk is easily when you arrive in Bali. You can do now what is known as an e-VOA which will allow you to easily extend your visa for another 30 days, totally 60 days where you are able to stay in Bali.

There’s another visa type that is known as the B211A visa and is classified as a long term social tourism visa.

It is initially for 60 days and can be extended two times. That means half a year of uninterrupted stay in Bali with no issues and completely legal.

Do keep in mind you will have to leave the country and reapply for this after the 180 days but it typically takes no more than a week to get the approval again.

How To Apply For A Visa Or Residency

Ocean Coast At Bali
Want to know everything about living in Bali?

For the VOA its best again to go with the e-VOA online and do it before you land.

If not, they will direct you to the VOA when you enter passport control.

For the B211A visa, there are agencies that can handle the paperwork for you and they typically can run you around $200 or more per visa application and per renewal.

Don’t worry though as this is the most legitimate route to take and well worth it for those that could eventually be planning to go through the residency route.

Requirements For Those Thinking Residency

For longer term visas this is called a KITAS and is available for those who have hit retirement (age 55 years or older) or are there for business purposes (requires sponsorship.

For those who have locally married an Indonesian or who have held a KITAS for four or more years (in a row), they are eligible to apply for a KITAP which is a permanent Stay Visa.

These visas need to be applied for when you are inland, meaning you will need to either get a VOA or B211A visa first.

Keep in mind they can take up to 12 weeks to get approval so plan accordingly.

They are well worth it if you’re thinking long term as they are valid for 5 years and can be constantly renewed.

Cost Of Living In Bali

Luxury Tropical Villa Bedroom, Bali, Indonesia
If you have a bit more cash, a luxury tropical villa is a great choice as the cost of living in Bali is fairly low.

This is one of the biggest selling points of why people come to Bali in the first place.

Estimated Breakdown Of Monthly Expenses

Expect to budget the following, and do keep in mind there are ranges based on how big of a space you want to live it.

Rent: This will be your biggest expense but expect to pay around $500 (for an apartment) all the way up to $1500 per month if you want that villa lifestyle.

Food: Food can be cheap, especially if you make your own food. There is an international food scene though so you can easily spend up to $300 per month on food alone.

Transportation: You can either opt in for renting your own motorbike which is several dollars per day, or you can use apps such as Gojek or Grab and expect to pay around $100 per month, depending on how much you need to travel around.

Utilities and Internet: Indonesia in general has one of the lowest costs of electricity in the world, so you shouldn’t be paying more than $50 per month and that is for a significant amount of electrical usage. Internet itself can run you around $30 per month, but do keep in mind that cell phone plans are fast and usually come with unlimited data.

Entertainment: This varies, as it depends on what type of lifestyle you lead. Are you going clubbing every weekend in Canggu or Seminyak, or do you plan on focusing on yoga every day? There are many affordable options but do make sure to set a budget.

Insurance: this all depends on your current needs and how much coverage you want, but it can range at around $50 to $100 USD per month.

Tips For Saving Money In Bali

Young Girl On A Motor Scooter
Riding around on scooters is a great way to save money when living in Bali for a month or more.

The prices above can easily be reduced, for example, after staying a while and learning more about the island, you can find a less popular area to live in and even see your rent go down to around $300 per month in some cases.

Also opt in to live like a local so using the rideshare apps is a big plus.

So is cooking your own meals and food isn’t too expensive if you make it yourself.

There’s also a big negotiation culture here so you can always try to get a lower price from everything such as activities and excursions.

Finding Accommodation In Bali

Harbor At Padangbai On Bali Indonesia At Sunset
Look for smaller places to find accomodation and keep cost low when living in Bali.

Now that all the paperwork is handled, it’s time to find a place to live, whether you’re going to stay only for a month or nearly half a year.

There are different options to consider and all of them come with their own set of benefits.

Different Types Of Accommodation Available In Bali

Here is where it can get interesting, and really quite lavish. You can have numerous options here from finding a hostel, and staying there long term, as they typically have plenty of amenities from free fast Wi-Fi and even some meals included or snacks and coffee.

Hostels aren’t just shared accommodations anymore, and there are plenty of options with private rooms inclusive of a private bathroom as well, which is perfect for long term stays.

You can also consider staying at a guesthouses, which is another excellent budget friendly option.

Typically the owner will live onsite or nearby so if there’s any issues you will be able to have them resolved quickly.

A guesthouse tends to be fully serviced, which means you can negotiate to get regular cleaning and laundry done, which can be a nice perk.

For those who have a bit bigger of a budget for their stay and expat lifestyle, then they can consider a villa.

This is the optimal choice for those who are looking for a large space, and complete privacy.

Villas are all around the island in central locations and tend to be walled off compounds.

They come usually with multiple bedrooms so it can be an ideal situation to consider this option if you’re going with more than just yourself.

Where To Find Accommodation

If this is your first time, you’ll want to set up your accommodation through a typical online booking service like this one.

Even if you’re staying for a long time, try to book the first month or so in advance to get better pricing and a steep discount for the longer stay.

You’ll be surprised at how cheap accommodation is in Bali. For a few hundred dollars, you can rent an apartment, a cottage by the beach or even a villa for an entire month!

Once you find yourself on the island, and you start to explore, it will be easier to compare your accommodation and see other accommodations that may be more budget friendly or more in line with what you’re looking for.

Word of mouth goes a long way in Bali, so you’ll want to be outwards and friendly and you’ll quickly be able to get some amazing options.

Tips For Negotiating Rent And Finding A Good Deal

Besides booking long term and getting those travel sites to offer discounts, once you’re on the ground you can actually continue to negotiate further.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate with your landlord, whether it’s a guesthouse, or a hostel, and make sure to get it in writing.

Many will gladly appreciate the consistent income streams, and wont try to switch up the pricing once it’s decided upon.

Also think about staying outside of popular touristic areas, such as Canggu, Seminyak, and Ubud to name a few.

Nusa Dua can also be quite expensive as it’s a location for chain resorts and hotels.

If you’re willing to live off the beaten path you can find some true gems and still be a short scooter ride away to the action.

Finding Work In Bali

Surfer Walking Along The Beach
If you’re into surfing, you’ll love living in Bali as an expat.

Here is where it can get a bit difficult as to be able to work legally in Bali, and Indonesia in general, it typically needs to be a specialised type of position.

With that said, there are still some options.

You may also consider starting a business in Bali, but that requires an upfront cost and possibly a specialised visa.

English teacher is by far one of the more popular jobs available in Bali and this job can be a great way to get the necessary longer term paperwork as well, that can help get you towards residency.

Make sure you have the right credentials though as it can be competitive.

Another option is freelance work, such as copywriter or web designer, or other types of jobs such as social media managers that can be done remotely.

Do keep in mind though that most of your visas are technically for non work related activities so make sure you have the right type of compliant visa.

Other options that are increasingly popular are yoga instructor, diving instructor and surfing coach. And if you’ve never been diving, check out this beginner’s diving experience in Padangbai.

There’s a lot of spirituality in the region, especially when you go more inland, and there’s always a need for yoga instructors, chefs to run cooking classes or jewellers to run silver jewellery making classes.

With Bali being an island, it also makes perfect sense for those who are certified dive instructions.

Again those with proper licensing and experience will have a better chance of running this kind of tour.

How To Find Work In Bali

While there are plenty of online job boards and expat websites that can help out for jobs such as English teachers.

Other jobs you’ll want to start refining your networking skills and being on site.

You can explore the island, but you’ll also want to explore locally and see what’s available You’ll be pleasantly surprised how this traditional method can help land your next gig.

Tips For Working In Bali

Make sure you understand the Balinese lifestyle. There are a plethora of holidays and they take a much more laid back approach.

Their work culture is extremely different and even showing up not on time to a job is common.

Another thing is be patient with your search.

Go back to the first point made, and the lifestyle they have. Finally, make sure you have all the necessary work permits and tax setup so you can avoid stiff penalties that could possibly occur. 

Looking for more places to live? Read:

Healthcare And Education In Bali

Balinese Hindus Religion Procession
Lots of people choose to retire in Bali as the cost of living is low and the island has an interesting culture.

Many have a fear of what happens if they need any type of healthcare, whether it’s an accident or long term options. Bali has quite an excellent option of private healthcare providers and hospitals. Here are some of the top private hospitals to get your care:

• BaliMed Hospital
• Siloam Hospital Bali
• BIMC Hospital Nusa Dua
• RS Bali Mandara Hospital

These hospitals provide a premium level of care, but for regular situations you can head to the public hospitals and they should be more than sufficient for your needs.

Balimed Hospital is at Jl. Mahendradatta No.57 X, Padangsambian, Kec. Denpasar Bar., Kota Denpasar, Bali 80119

Siloam Hospital is at Jl. Sunset Road No.818, Kuta, Kec. Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361

BIMC Hospital Nusa Dua is at Kawasan ITDC Blok D, Jl. Nusa Dua, Benoa, Kec. Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80363

RS Bali Mandara Hospital is at Jl. Bypass Ngurah Rai No.548, Sanur Kauh, Denpasar Selatan, Kota Denpasar, Bali

Cost Of Healthcare In Bali

It’s a good idea to get travel insurance or overseas insurance to cover those unexpected emergencies, but don’t worry about paying out of pocket either.

A typical consultation can come out to around $20 and at most up to $50 USD.

A hospital stay, depending on how high quality you want it to be can range between $100 USD a night to a few hundred USD per night.

Keep in mind most international insurances will cover this.

Educational Options In Bali

Balinese Cabriolet
Denpasar is a popular spot to hang around when living in Bali.

For those that are coming with their children, there are plenty of independent private schools that follow an international curriculum and are taught in English.

Do keep in mind that they may end up being the highest expense as they are quite prestigious. The good part about it is your children’s education will continue on track.

Getting Around In Bali

There are two major options you have when it comes to getting around in Bali that make sense – by scooter or by renting a car.

If you find yourself extending your travels, a scooter makes more sense whether you ride it yourself or use a ridesharing app. 

A car can be nice from time to time, but there’s a lot of backroads that aren’t always the best option for when it comes to the SUVs that are commonplace on the island.

There is some public transportation, but again due to how the roads can be set up, you’re usually better off with a scooter as your mode of transport.

It’s also going to be quite a cheap option and ridesharing apps have insurance you can get with each ride.

Final Thoughts About Living In Bali

Buddhist Temple On The Island Of Bali
The cost of living in Bali for a year is fairly low, making it a great place for a change of lifestyle.

It’s important to reiterate yet again the Balinese culture and lifestyle.

Get used to seeing major roads shut down during holy days, and you should always be extremely respectful of the local culture.

Many Balinese still also don’t fully speak English, so learning the local language, Bahasa, can come in handy, especially when looking to live a more budget friendly lifestyle.

It’s important to be respectful of all temples and holy places too and follow all the rules officers of the law may give you if you’re on the open road with your scooter as well.

This is common sense when it comes to living long term in any foreign country not our own.

In the end once you understand these points, and get the right type of visas and paperwork, it all becomes routine and you can finally start enjoying all the wonders of living in Bali, through its vibrancy and international community. 

Read more about Indonesia here:

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Roger Szlatiner
Born and raised in New York City, Roger has always had the desire to see what the world had to offer. After building out his career in the corporate world and obtaining his Master of Science in Technology, Roger felt that his true passion came from writing and sharing his experiences with others. He is currently working on publishing his first book which is a mixture of his travels and working within different industries and cultures, and the crazy that comes with that. He’s spent the past couple of years writing content and poetry as well. When asked where his favourite travel locations are, he’ll immediately reply ‘anywhere in Southeast Asia’. Everything from the controlled chaos to the variety of places to see and food to eat kept him in the region often. When he’s not on his next trip, you can find him living between Indonesia and Vietnam.