A Little Expat Living… Cost of Living in Bali, Indonesia (2020)

*Last updated:

cost of living in bali, indonesia

Moving to Bali is the stuff of travel dreams. The Indonesian island has a reputation for its gorgeous setting, delicious food, and fascinating Hindu culture. Popular culture has done a wonderful job selling the island’s most idyllic aspects, but there’s a bit more to Bali than simply an island paradise. While many expats have chosen Bali has their long-term homebase—mostly because of the cost of living and quality of life—others visit and then prefer to keep Bali as the stuff of vacations: sunny, warm, and fascinating, but not a good lifestyle fit. Where might your own plans fit into the mix? It really depends on what you are hoping for when you look at moving to Bali.

Generally, there is a mix of lifestyles for the expats in Bali. The costs of living in various parts of the island plays a big role in why expats choose to move to a certain city. There are touristy areas that are completely overrun with a partying backpacker vibe. But there are other areas where expats can live smack dab in the middle of a rice paddy, within a short bike ride to the center of town. The lifestyles vary hugely, but as of late 2019, it’s a fast-growing spot for expats looking for a nice quality of life for a low cost of living.

(Keen to access this information offline? Buy this as a handy and helpful downloadable PDF for $2.)

should you move to bali?

Why Bali?

On my own stint in Bali, it all played out a bit differently than I had planned, and I left Bali far sooner than I anticipated. It happened for a range of reasons. I had planned to move to Bali for six months. Once I arrived, however, a confluence of events led me to choose a different path. Many readers have emailed me wondering how I could have possibly been willing to give up living in Bali? The short answer is that I got a job with a nonprofit that wanted me to jumpstart their community initiatives in the U.S. This is reason enough to have packed up and headed back to the states. It’s not the only reason, however. The bigger question for digital nomads, expats, and those working online is this: Is Bali a good spot to run a remote business, a blog, or any sort of location independent lifestyle?

A decade ago, the answer was a resounding “no.” The internet infrastructure was just too slow and power outages during rainy season were cumbersome if you needed to make an online meeting. Now, however, that has changed and internet in Bali in 2019 is different. Ubud boasts coworking spaces and a growing digital nomad community. It still has a more basic infrastructure than places like Chiang Mai, Thailand (which is hugely popular with expats and digital nomads). We’ll get into that a bit more in the quality of life section, but suffice to say that it’s still only moderately ideal for expats hoping to run a business online.

But there are a ton of other reasons to move to Bali, and if you’re not a digital nomad or entrepreneur, you might just love calling this tiny island home. I am often asked: “Should you move to Bali?” This spot is unique to other places in Southeast Asia and there are a good number of digital nomads, entrepreneurs, yoga enthusiasts, and families who happily call Bali home.

Cost of Living in Bali: $650 to $1,700

Expect to spend $650 to $1,700 per month for a single person living in Bali—families and couples sharing rental costs will save a bit. And it’s possible to spend significantly more on a higher lifestyle.

Currency: Indonesian Rupiah; pegged roughly 1:13,000 with the US dollar (IDR rate here)

Expat Scene: Bali is the playground for Australians since the flights are so cheap. There is also a solid expat scene of both short-term expats (3-6 months) and those living full-time on the island. Ubud has a growing startup scene and as of 2016 was vying with Thailand and Vietnam for this crowd of expats. By and large, Bali is popular with Aussie spring-break backpackers and those in their 30s. The island has a very different vibe from the scene in the Thai islands, and although there is a budget new-age crowd in Ubud, much of Bali’s expat scene caters to those in on a comfortably middle class budget. Those living on the low-end of the cost of living range are generally short-term expats as you will pay for the creature comforts that most expats prefer in a homebase.

Average Local Salary: The minimum wage salary for a local in Bali is about $140 per month; those in high paying jobs bring home around $500 per month.

Visas: The most common visa for Bali is a paid tourist visa ($35), which lasts for 30 days and you can pay to extend it to 60 days. At the 60-day limit, you must leave and re-enter. This usually works for short-term expats. Long-term expats often opt for the the social-cultural (sosial-budaya) visa, which lasts for 60 days and can be extended for 30 days up to four times. Retirees will likely qualify for a residence visa, but this is very hard for non-retirees to secure.

Water: Tap water is not drinkable. When you live there, you will buy reusable jugs of water. If you’re visiting on a reconnaissance trip, consider a SteriPen or LifeStraw.

Internet: High speed internet is not widespread throughout Bali. Although you can find internet in every corner of the island, Ubud is your best-bet for a solid, reliable connection. Smaller towns and the beach communities have internet access, but it can vary wildly. Expats in rural areas often rely on satellite internet.

Safety: Relatively safe. Motorbikes are the preferred style of travel; while this is convenient, it is also dangerous. The “Bali Kiss” is the name given to the muffler burn and road-rash on the bodies of travelers who don’t understand how to properly use a motorbike. Motorcycle accidents are common; it’s advisable to carry an insurance policy that covers such accidents.

Possible Issues: Burglaries of expat villas is possible since most villas do not lock securely. You will either pay for better/secure accommodation, or opt for security guards. I also highly recommend gear insurance — I carry this for my laptop and high end camera. Many beaches have riptides and few lifeguards, you will need to use your own ocean safety knowledge to avoid problems. The weak medical infrastructure is a also concern for many retirees.

Child Friendliness: Similar to other places in Southeast Asia, Bali is very child-friendly. There is a large family expat scene, and as such there are also a number of international schools. You can expect to pay dearly for some, however, so you’ll need to do your research. Prices for school range from 3K annually to as high as 20K per year.

Pet Friendliness: Bringing pets into Bali is iffy. There is a huge stray animal problem on the island, some even from expats who thought it a grand idea to bring their pet from their rabies-free home country to Bali. Due to the prevalence of rabies, there have been times in the very recent past where it was impossible to take your pet with you when leaving. It’s a situation in flux and you should count on 14-day pet quarantining on one side or the other, and be OK with periods lasting months or years where you cannot leave the country with your pet. Rehoming your pet with family or friends could prove less traumatizing unless you are sure you’ll make Bali your permanent home.

temples and quality of life in bali for expats

What’s the Quality of Life?

Bali is a small island with a heap to offer expats and locals alike. You can live in one area, and still easily spend a weekend exploring any other part of the island. The surrounding islands are also beautiful, so there’s a lot of life that expands out from your island home.

One of the best parts of living in Bali is just how small your life becomes. It’s a tiny island and you can live in one area but easily spend a weekend exploring any other part of the island. There are also boat trips to surrounding islands, so there’s a lot of life that expands out from your island home. Within a few hours you can get between most cities, and this is particularly true if you live in Ubud, which is where a lot of expats live. Generally, expats on a tight or moderate budget choose the lifestyle and convenience of living near Ubud, while many expats also live in the more resort-like coastal towns.

For me, I had planned to live in Bali for four to six months, at least. I had this wonderfully romantic notion of living outside of Ubud, taking yoga classes regularly, and powering through some new internet projects. And I was woefully reluctant to abandon the dream even when I saw Jonathan Fields’ post about his flee from Bali for lack of good internet just weeks before I was due to leave. That post is now outdated, but it did prove true for my trip. The internet was awful. The rest of my dream, however, did play out as planned. Ubud has a huge community of new age expats, entrepreneurs, and other expats from every walk of life. It’s an odder mix than many other places that I have lived over the years.

If you’re moving to Bali, then you have options on where to live. Ubud is the most popular spot in the country; the bulk of expats live in or around the central part of Bali. That said, the beach towns are also popular and budget and lifestyle will dictate which area of Bali you prefer to live. Denpasar is busy and lacking much charm. The only expats generally living in Denpasar are working for the government or organizations based out of the city.

Ubud has a reputation as a new age, hippy, spiritual town. Coffee shops and healthy cafes fill the city. Yoga is popular and you’ll have a surprising range of options considering the city’s small size. A friend who lived in Ubud for a season did a “Don’t Knock It ‘Til You’ve Tried It” series sampling the wide range of spiritual and physical activities on offer (from cleanses to kinesiology to meditation). Ubud is also home to arguably the island’s best restaurants. I love this list of vegetarian options. It has a hippy vibe and is undeniably touristy. But it’s also popular and expats tend to love it or leave it.

Seminyak is a popular beach town that mixes pockets of the local culture with a clean beach and nice accommodation. The beaches in Seminyak are quieter without a party scene you can find in some areas. Vendors are also more low-key, and it’s an area popular with both vacationing couples and families. Seminyak is a bit more upscale and expats might enjoy finding a place nearby here. You can still access any amenities in the what was once the hub of tourism in the Kuta beach zone, but the beaches are cleaner and the vibe is much calmer.

Balinese food is wonderful, and the traditional dishes are quite healthy (and vegetarian-friendly too!). The local restaurants, warungs, have affordable meals and tasty options. Many dishes contain rice, chicken, and even tempeh. You can each on a budget here if you stick to local spots. The fresh fruit and vegetables are also gorgeous, so it’s easy to buy local produce and cook at home. As a rice-based culture, it’s fairly celiac friendly too. With the number of new-age hippy types living in Bali, the locals are familiar with the concepts of vegetarianism and gluten-free. In general, it’s a good option for those with dietary restrictions.

Notably for many expats is the cost of alcohol. Alcohol is highly taxed in Bali and it will not fit into those on an extreme budget. If you are looking to live somewhere both affordable in general, and affordable for a daily drink, consider other spots in Southeast Asia like Thailand and Vietnam.

Medical care is a concern for some expats considering moving to Bali. The main hospital, Sanglah Hospital, is located in Denpasar. If you have a major injury or illness, this is where you will need to be treated. Other areas of the island have clinics, but there is not a strong medical infrastructure and for a life-threatening injury you would be using the Denpasar hospital. Additionally, many expats report that they fly to Bangkok or Singapore for planned surgeries and procedures.

What Does it Cost to Live in Bali?

All prices on the right column are adjusted to form a best-estimate on the budget for a single person in that city. The case-studies, however, include a range of couples, families, and retirees. Additionally, most landlords offer rental discounts for yearlong leases. Several single expats in the digital nomad crowd report higher expenses than the rock bottom that is possible. In general, some of the digital nomad crowd, versus the expats or families, live in the trendier areas and splurge on a few extras. Areas for splurging include which district you live in, the level of westernization on the apartment, and A/C consumption.

In short, the cost of living in Bali depends on your lifestyle and which city you choose as rent varies wildly in places like outskirts of Ubud versus Seminyak. Lowest tier rent buys you a room in a family compound, a bit more affords a lovely bungalow in the rice paddies. Higher end rents afford more Western-style apartments with full A/C and kitchens. Living costs also depend on diet as Bali has an organic health-food craze and those meals are priced much higher than local fare. Case studies below show what a range of lifestyles looks like when living in Bali.

Monthly Cost of Living in Bali, Indonesia for one person: $650 to $1,700

Monthly ExpensesCosts
Rent $300 – $1,100
Transportation (motorbike rental + fuel) $60
Food $300 – $550
 Activities (yoga, massages, diving, etc)$75 – $150

Ubud
When I landed in 2010, within a few days I knew that the party vibe on Kuta beach was too much for me. I headed inland to the cultural heart and booked a few nights at the Artini guesthouse, which are dead center in town. Once I started wandering around town, I found an enourmous expat community able to help me find long-term accommodation. Many coffee shops have notice boards. You can use a real estate agent, or you can wander through the outskirts of town asking for rentals. I had lined up a small one-bedroom private accommodation in a rice paddy for roughly $300 U.S. Friends staying in town were living in a bedroom in a family compound for $100. Even in the week I stayed in Bali, however, I knew that food would become my real expense. Although local food is quite affordable for foreigners, the number of fancy, organic restaurants are enticing. It’s easy to go into town for an afternoon and end up spending $8 for an organic lunch, $3 for single-origin coffee and another $10 on a yoga class or activity. For this reason, although Bali is budget for many, most expats will end up closer to a mid-range budget if they live in Ubud.

Darren and Shelley reports from 2017 bear out some of the older cost of living posts that exist for Ubud. They spent a total of $811 per month and $390 of that went toward a one-bedroom villa. The rest went to a mix of food, motorbike rental, and various other expenses that fall right in line with what most expats tend to spend on the budget end of the spectrum. They were not splurging, and so this is what you can expat if you are looking to enjoy your time but save money, too.

My friends Simon and Erin lived in Bali for a season in 2015. They have a similar lifestyle to my own, which is a vegetarian diet, limited partying, and the bulk of outings are cultural activities. They stayed in Junjungan village, which is a bit outside of Ubud but still accessible. You will likely need to rent a motorbike to navigate between the two, but Erin reports that it was quite easy and she navigated into the city for yoga classes. Their cost of living budget splurges on nice accommodation, and Bali is no exception. They found a beautiful, quiet spot and paid about $900 per month for their rental, and spent $40 per month for a motor bike rental.

And if you’re a family moving to Bali, the Benders report in that their family of four lived in Bali for about $2,000 per month. They only spent a month in Bali, which means they did not get a long-term rental discount, and spent about $1,400 on their 2-bedroom villa that included wifi, daily cleaning, television, and breakfast.

Cost of Living: $700 – $1,500

Seminyak
Seminyak has a lot to offer for expats with a mid-range budget. This family shared how they travel Bali with kids. Although they don’t share their costs, they report that of the beaches — Kuta, Legian, Nusa Dusa — that their family prefers Seminyak. As an expat, you’ll find the local warungs with affordably priced food, and the less touristy places that make Seminyak more like home than like a tourist haven. Another family, Stewart is the owner of the best site about traveling Southeast Asia, Travelfish. He has lived in Bali with his family for many years.

In the expat forums, the general consensus is that you can find a long-term rental in the southern beach areas for about $500 per month. You can spend a whole lot more than that too, but that’s a good baseline.

Cost of Living: $900 – $2,000

Canggu
Daneger and Stacey share their digital nomad costs of living all over the world, and in Bali they deviated a bit from their normal lifestyle. Dane lived in Canggu in a shared vila with other expats for $363 per month. His food costs came in at about $300 per month with a mix of dining out and groceries. Total costs were USD $782 for the month in Bali, but in his video he talks about how some of his choices were too budget to sustain long-term. For that reason, you’re likely looking at closer to a minimum $1,000 for a Canggu cost of living that you would maintain long-term.

Cost of Living: $900 – $1,200

Overall, living in Bali is comparable to a few other spots in Asia in terms of costs, but there are clear differences in the quality of life. While it is possible to live on $600 per month in Bali on an uber, bare-bones budget, many expats will need more than that for a comfortable lifestyle with Western amenities. The huge expat scene in Bali means that it’s very easy to spend more on luxuries like fancy restaurants, diving, and yoga. Places like Vietnam and Thailand are better for uber budget expats; you will enjoy life more by expanding your budget and allowing for extra activities and events.

A baseline of $1,200 a month is reasonable for a nice life in many desirable areas of the country. And while all this research gives a good baseline of vibes for each place and possible costs, I can’t tell you how much I recommend that you plan a trip to Bali so you can do your research in person. If you have the time, consider spending your tourist visa as a research trip. You could visit the island for two months and see a whole lot.

If you’re still researching various expat spots, check out our other Cost of Living Guides for a close look the what it takes to move to the world’s most popular expat spots.

Links & Resources For Moving to Bali

should you move to Bali?These resources will help you more thoroughly each aspect of moving to Bali and what it might look like in your own situation. Other expat cost of living breakdowns can only roughly approximate what your expenses might average if you move to Bali.

  • A Better Life for Half the Price: A Mexican expat breaks down all the major expat spots in the world with costs, quality of living, and resources. I learned a lot and found a couple of countries I hadn’t previously considered. It’s worth buying if you’re still searching out which country is best for the life you want to live.
  • Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America: There are a lot of these general guides. The book above, Better Life is about where is a good culture fit, whereas this is the better of the lot of “move overseas” books that covers the practicalities and very hands-on information you need as someone considering living anywhere outside the U.S. If you’re new all the researching, this can kick-start your process. And if you are laser-focused on the retirement topic, versus moving overseas at a different state in life, this retirement guide has great advice.
  • The Tax Book for U.S. Expats: This is well-priced and unique to expats and retirees filing abroad. It gives a granular look at forms, terms, and sorting out exactly how to file — good for those with complicated tax situations. More recently released, U.S. Taxes for Worldly Americans goes broader and is aimed at younger expats and digital nomads still working and handling how to earn income overseas, pay taxes, and live a nomadic life. It doesn’t explain the terms or niche situations/forms as well as the other book, but instead acts as a guide for younger travelers. Depending on your situation, pick up a copy of one of these guides before you leave so that you will have a tax system in place that maximizes the opportunities to easily file.
  • A House in Bali: The story of composer Colin McPhee’s obsession with Balinese gamelan music after listening to a rare gramophone recording and his journey to Bali to experience the music firsthand in the 1930s.
  • Bali: A Paradise Created: This book is a fascinating read which acts as a bridge between scholarly works and popular travel accounts. A mixture of the history and culture of Bali, as well as a look at the foreigners who flock to it.
  • Bali Daze: Freefall of the Tourist Trail: Written by expat Cat Wheeler, Bali Daxe explores a side to Bali that few tourists see, and offers valuable advice and tips. As someone who has lived in Southeast Asia for 25 years, Cat is a valuable resource for anyone thinking of calling Bali home.
  • Digital Nomad Guide to Bali: This is a thorough post detailing what you need to know if you plan to work from Bali, completely with coworking recommendations and advice on how to find good wifi.
  • Overview of Ubud: My friends give a great look at various areas and offer up a list of activities and class you can partake in while you’re there.
  • Ubud has several coworking spaces, all of which have strong internet connections that usually guarantee you can get online if your own internet is dicey that day. These are also a great way to get to know the other digital nomads, startups, and entrepreneurs. The coworking spaces are: Hubud, Outpost, The Onion Collective.
  • Yoga: I took classes at the Yoga Barn and thoroughly enjoyed this yoga studio. There are other yoga studios too, however, so you’ll have options.
  • How to Stay in Bali (Semi) Long-Term: A well-written post outlining the various visa options if you plan to more there as a digital nomad, student, etc.
  • Ubud has a large expat community, consider joining their Facebook Group to find answers to questions and to seek advice.

Planning a Research Trip to Bali?

I highly recommend that you take a research trip to Bali before you decide to go through the process of moving your life there.

  • Make sure you have travel insurance like World Nomads. You will likely want to rent a motorbike to explore, and you should absolutely cover your personal safety before doing so. Take note that your travel insurance usually only covers you if you are legally allowed to drive a motorbike in your home country.
  • Airbnb is growing in popularity throughout the island and it’s a good way to see how you can live like a local by renting from a local.
  • Consider staying at Gerhana Sari 2 Bungalows for a nice mid-range place from which you can research. I stayed at the Artini Cottages, and they were very nice. They have a range of rooms at every price level (they run under a few names, Artini 1, Artini 2, and Artini 3 — check out each for the range of price options).
Recommended Cultural Reading: If you’re hoping to fully immerse in the local culture, then there a few good books you should read. This Earth of Mankind is an acclaimed novel written by an Indonesian novelist about the Java colonialists. A Little Bit One O’clock: Living with a Balinese Family is a great option for those who like reading memoirs that illuminate culture. If you want a thorough accounting of the island’s history, bar none read Short History of Bali.

Cost of Living PDF: Bali
Access this information offline along with additional information detailing the questions you should ask when comparing multiple destinations.

It’s all wrapped up nicely in a shiny PDF to make your cost of living research easier.

Buy the PDF for $2


Cost of Living Comparison

Still researching the right spot to live? Our Cost of Living Guides share extensive resources or all the major expat spots around the world. These guides include thorough breakdowns of the culture, quality of life, vibe, and — importantly — budget breakdowns so you can better plan which spot in the world best meets your needs.

Cost of Living in Bali, Indonesia

cost of living costa rica

mexico cost of living

thailand cost of living

Cost of Living Guide for Amsterdam & Berlin

Cost of Living in Eastern Europe

panama cost of living

cost of living Vietnam

72 thoughts on “A Little Expat Living… Cost of Living in Bali, Indonesia (2020)”

  1. My wife and I have been living in Ubud, Bali for 8 months. We live in a family compound where we have 2 rooms and a Balinese Kitchen. I think our cost estimates are similar to what you have. Local Beer, such as Bintang, is relatively cheap. However, a significant cost we are incurring is medical costs and insurance. Medications, including vitamins can be expensive – $200 to $300 per month. If you need a prescription medication that is not available in the pharmacies, you must order online and pay customs fees. Also, Medical Insurance can be quite expensive, especially for retirees. Cost estimates can range from $800 / month to $4,000 / month, depending on age, medical condition, and coverage desired.. I advise getting medical insurance quotes before you arrive in Bali.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your own experiences. I am really glad to hear that you feel the costs are representative of living on the island. For medicines and health insurance—good to know! Sounds like it might be worth going to Thailand for a week here and there for medicines and checkups given how inexpensive the flights are!

  2. Hi there,
    Some info is good (most of it). I have lived in indonesia for 10 years, including 2 years in Bali. I like that you mention that health care isn’t the best and most expat resort to Thailand or Singapore. Het insurance coverage for that! This is surprisingly not known by foreigners coming here. Also not by tourists, even visiting friends have insisted seeing doctors for minor things during their visit and went back to their hotels disappointment and frustrated having wasted time and being diagnoses wrongly. Many of the standard medication is not available either. And bring quality vitamins with you, they don’t sell quality vitamins here. Education is expensive and quality not up to international standards except for some international schools in Renon area. New Age schools started by foreigners like the Green School are not accredited, despite their famous reputation. What you write about Kuta is outdated. It has become more of a local tourist spot for the Javanese. You will see more and more Muslims going there. Covered women on the beach. Angkot taxis, and bigger tour busses. Backpacker places are being shut down and new 3star hotels are build. Not so much of a party scene, only a few bars, but you will find some lost backpackers that have used outdated lonely planets, but that’s a dying business in Kuta. Local markets are a good place to buy wet produce, just know that as a foreigner you always pay more. Regardless if you speak the language fluently or you come frequently.

    • Thank you so much Irene! I always try to keep this as up to date as possible, so I will definitely update the information about Kuta.

  3. This post is awesome! This is one of the most realistic post I’ve read about living in Bali! My husband and I run a rock-climbing travel blog (climbermonkeysabroad .com) and have spent about 4 months in Bali total (we’re here right now actually!) and the figures are spot on! And THANK YOU for clearly mentioning that travel insurance will NOT cover anyone riding a scooter here if they don’t have a motorcycle license (in the USA). I’ve always loved your blog but now I love it even more because I can clearly see you care about factual figures and information.

    • So glad you think the post was spot on! I haven’t lived there in a while, so newer information is all from reports from those on the ground!

    • Instead of being snarky, you could be helpful, please do share. Seminyak perhaps? I suppose I should have said it’s the most popular spot for those who actually want to experience in Balinese culture, versus an expat enclave on the water.

    • Hi Lucinda! There are some great expat groups on Facebook, and your best bet is to join these and talk to other expats who have done the process and can help you navigate it!

  4. Hey I am just wondering,

    How can the minimal cost be 650 while local doctors earn just 500, wouldnt that mean nobody is able to make a living in Bali.

    Is it 650 because locals, dont pay for internet, dont eat out, dont drink? also eating does not need to be included in monthly costs in my opinion, solely rent+bills+food+transport (surfing is free)

    good article tho

    • Exactly, it comes down to lifestyle. If you learn the language and live there for years and integrate into the neighborhoods versus touristy restuarants and such, then it would bring down your costs. But few foreigners start out with those low costs coming off of a western lifestyle.

  5. Hi I’m planning to live in Bali with my Husband and 2 kids. Both me and my Husband we plan on getting a job in Bali. What are the thing that we need to do? Do we still have to show to the government that we have USD20k and etc?

    • Hi Sara—good questions, unfortunately I am not sure how the visa situation works when you plan to work on the island. I would definitely recommend asking this in a Bali forum as other expats can help you fine tune the details.

  6. You couldn’t pay me enough to live in Bali. I stayed in Canngu for a month and it was the most miserable I have ever been in my life. I’ve lived in African countries, which were much easier to get around in and that were cleaner than Bali. The amount of trash is so bad that I didn’t bother getting into the ocean…dirty diapers were washing up on shore. Unless you know how to drive a motorbike, you are at the mercy of others to get around and walking is treacherous – you’re likely to get hit by a motorist or be bitten by a dog.

    • I agree with some of the underlying issues you point out, although I think there are still truly beautiful areas of the country, and if you do have a motorbike and are willing to live in the center, you avoid the water quality issues and have access to a gorgeous countryside, fascinating culture, and food that I honestly enjoyed far beyond what I tasted throughout most of my time traveling Africa.

  7. Thank you so much for the informations. God Bless you.
    My husband and I want to move to Bali soon. We don’t know yet where. Still confused between Ubud or Canggu. Hehe
    I join bunch of Bali property group on facebook to find decent house to rent but I’m quite shock with the prices. 3bedroom house/vila for 200 million rupiah.
    Do you have any suggestions ? Thank you in advance

    • Hi Linda! I recommend that you arrive in the country with a place to stay booked for just a couple of weeks and then look in person. There are incredible accommodations that you can find either through word-of-mouth with other expats in these towns, or by simply exploring and asking around with locals. The more affordable places will be locally-offered and often are not listed anywhere online. If you’re not comfortable making the move without a place to stay, consider a research trip where you are still looking and booking in person. Good luck!

  8. This is worth reading for. All the information I need to know was here. I’m so excited to visit Bali. Getting ready for the finances though.

    • So glad that you found it helpful! And congrats on the pending move to Bali. It’s a big step but I hope you find all you are looking for there. :)

  9. Good info – but your bit about pets was unfortunate – I take it you don’t have any ? sure there are strays in Bali as there are orphans in the islands orphanages but would you advise parents to dump their kids before they come and just adopt a local one for the duration ? I think you totally misunderstand responsible pet ownership .Also of course you can take a dog or cat back from Bali to almost any developed country it just needs the right vaccinations/ paperwork – expensive usually but to the US/UK/Europe totally doable – Any western pet owner would have their dogs/ cats vaccinated against rabies anyway so that wouldn’t be an issue either in Bali or in terms of returning to your home country. There’s nothing “Iffy” about bringing your pets with you or taking them back it just requires research and money …

    • You are not exactly right, and spreading that information could prove challenging for pet owners. Bali is among the parts of Indonesia fighting rabies and they have at times in the very recent past (2014) forbidden the entry or exit of pets from the island. If you move there, and decide you don’t love it after six months or even a few years, there is no telling what it will take to leave with your pet. Also, the US is NOT a rabies-free country, meaning your pet is facing even more scrutiny than if it arrives from Australia or other rabies-free countries. If you are just moving over there for a bit (and my website caters to digital nomads more than retirees, so many leave after a few years), then I stand by the assertion that you should reconsider Bali, either for you, your pet, or both.

      If you have family or friends back home willing to take in your pet, that could be far better for the pet than trying to rehome it locally months later when you decide to leave Indonesia. And let’s say you get your pet in, when you enter and leave it’s potentially facing quarantine of 14 days (an absolute given if you are moving from Bali back to New Zealand, for example), which some pets will find particularly traumatizing. Yes, there are ways to do it, but nothing is a given in Indonesia—it’s less straightforward than moving to other parts of Southeast Asia that have more permanent and unchanging pet policies.

  10. Hi Good Morning! I absolutely adore this page and appreciate it. I am looking to visit and stay in Bali for approximately 3 months. Where are the best recommended places to stay as I would like my budget to stay within $1,000.00 per month. Many thanks for creating this page and I am definitely looking and excited to hear back with recommendations. I live in Barbados and want to getaway for a bit.

    • Good question! You’ll want to either stay in the interior (Ubud or around), or some of the smaller beach towns. It really depends on the ratio of housing to food. If you are content with a small bungalow, then most anywhere will suit and you can spend the rest on good eats and exploring. I encourage you to use the sample budgets I provided and links to their breakdowns to see where your own spending priorities and quality of life might best align. Then there are lots of links providing future research!

    • Good question! It comes down to calculating for the average lifestyle of expats. As you can see from some of the examples, some expats live much closer to the average local wage, but for that to happen you often have to chose the right spots (probably not the heart of Seminyak), learn the local language, and eat local food. Most expats net out somewhere on the cost and life spectrum between local and fully Western lifestyles, so the cost of living is higher. Added to that are visa costs, healthcare, and things that you don’t automatically have the right to receive since you are not a local. I live in Spain, and even here my costs are higher than locals because I don’t have the right to the Spanish healthcare system, I have to purchase annual health insurance, and navigate the visa bureaucracy on a yearly basis—it adds up! If you are thinking of moving to Bali, it’s these other costs you should look at, as well as your intended lifestyle, when you assess where your own cost of living might net out compared to other expats. Good luck!

  11. Hi, I enjoyed this article. I notice that you mention its difficult to live in Bali prior to retirement. Is this a possibility and, if so, can you tell me what the differences are as opposed to living them after you retire. Any info you can provide would be great. If you could advise me where I can read up on this (find info) I would be very grateful. Thanks, Nicole

    • Hi Nicole, the difficulty is really in the visa. Many countries do not have policies and visas yet designed for digital nomads, so the visa requirements usually account for SS checks as a primary source of vetting and income. There are many expats who have sorted it out, however, so I recommended looking in forums and asking around in Facebook groups for expats in Bali (a quick FB search and you will easily find them!). Best of luck!

  12. Hey dear….I am from India. I Have got a job in Bali. My salary would be around 1250 US Dollar. Can I live with my wife by renting a property in Bali in this salary…..????
    I am confused please suggest….

    • Hi Rohit! Thanks for getting in touch. Your salary is definitely enough to cover you in many situations, but it all depends on your lifestyle. Some locals live on half of that salary, other expats spend more. If you have some funds to help you get set up in a place, then I think for many people USD 1250 is enough to make a nice but lowkey life there.

  13. I saw 2017 on the title, but mist of the comments are from 2010 s\so I guess out out date?
    Anyway, had far better internet in Ubub that I get most of the time in Melbourne!
    Just have to check before you rent.

    • I don’t recall Melbourne having very good (nor affordable!) internet, but yes, Ubud has some areas that are much better now. All of my cost of living guides are updated yearly, with minor updates to the links and other resources every six months, so if you read the piece it’s evident that it’s been updated many, many times since 2010! It’s a living resource that changes as new information arises, and the first iteration was back in 2010. :)

  14. I’m quite surprised about Bali’s internet, but I agree, with many internet projects there just isn’t enough time to spend trying to deal with a slow/spotty connection. Some tasks just need to be done immediately and that requires a certain degree of reliability.

    The more I travel the more I am surprised by internet connections…places I thought would have good connections sometimes don’t and places where I didn’t even expect a connection at all sometimes offer some of the fastest internet anywhere!

    • I think the internet in Bali could really change in the next year, so I may
      give it another try at some point :) But yeah, for now, gotta get some
      work done in a place w good internet! I second you though on the random
      connections – the smallest towns will have surprisingly great wifi, others –
      nada!

  15. I sometimes feel guilty when someone asks me about a place and I comment on how good or bad the internet infrastructure is. But, if you’re there to get work done and settle for a while it’s a different situation than someone just visiting for a short time on vacation. Slow on unreliable can really get super annoying when you’ve got a lot to get done in a day (we’re struggling now, so I empathize). I appreciate the honest write-up – thank you.

    • Agreed! A couple of people in the comments did’t love my assessment of Bali
      in terms of internet…but it really does matter during the “get stuff
      accomplished” stage of travel. Your question last month inspired this post
      :) I figured other people might be wondering too! Are you heading to Asia
      soon?

  16. I’m sorry to hear that you won’t be staying in Bali! This is really valuable advice for would-be digital nomads, though!

    • Thanks Kate – I get pangs of wishing I was still over there instead of the
      states…or I at least wish I was bumming around Thailand with you right
      now! :)

  17. I guess is all comes down to expectations. People travelling NZ do complain about Internet connection and residents too. Personally I find it part of what makes NZ different and I love it, but I take it might be due to the fact I had enough of high-speed Internet rush in the days I worked in the IT industry. From your description it sounds like Bali is better off then some areas in NZ… But if you rely on good-reasonably-priced Internet connection you need to be located in a place where you can find one and not be frustrated about it on a daily basis.

    • You’re right about expectations – I found that Australia had some of what it
      sounds like New Zealand has – cities and towns just completely off the
      internet grid. And since I knew it was coming in some places I could prep
      for it when I was traveling, but unfortunately I can’t stay too long in
      places without a solid connection or I run out of money. Thanks for the tips
      about NZ though, I really hope to make it there in the next year or two!

  18. I enjoyed your post a lot. I recently wrote on the topic. In my experience, the local internet service was decent enough to get most tasks done, including video Skype calls, but its really tough to get that quality at Cafes or guesthouses consistently which is odd because its freakin’ Bali!

    • I’m glad that you were able to find solid connections – the lack of it at
      the guesthouses really just baffled me since Bali is buzzing on the tourist
      scene so much right now. But it is Bali which means I’m willing to forgive
      the crappy internet since it’s so gorgeous! :)

  19. Hehe, there are a number of places I’ve crossed off my list because Internet was so unreliable. I agree about balance but I find it’s much easier to achieve if I’ve finished all my work quickly without constantly swearing about dropped connections :)

    • Right!?! I am all about going with the flow and taking life as it
      comes…once my work is done! :) What other places have you crossed off
      the list?

    • Thanks for weighing in OmDick; I think if I had stayed longer I might have
      embraced that attitude a bit more, but it really and truly was tough to get
      work done while I was there…not only would it slow down, but when I came
      back from a walk it would then be randomly turned off! That being said, no
      worries, I definitely recommend a visit and have far more positive things to
      say about Bali than negative; I loved my brief stay there and hope to make
      it back there very soon :)

  20. Nice write up, Shannon. We based ourselves & business in central Ubud for a month, and had a similar experience, but did manage to have Skype calls and upload photos with little problem. Speed would slow down occasionally, but it was still do able, and I’d go back to do it all over again.

    It’s definitely important to ask about the availability of wifi when picking a place to stay, because like Shannon mentions, some of the more popular restaurants don’t allow internet during their peak times (so their tables turn over) and a few guesthouses do shut off their wifi at night. It’s a funny system I haven’t seen often, but it seems to work for them!

    • It is a little peculiar the way the internet is randomly shut off…and I
      think if I had stayed there longer I would have developed a system for
      getting things uploaded, seeking out the good wifi and the such. I was on a
      really tight deadline for an SEO client that week so I had a hard time
      relaxing when it would slow down and shut off! :(

      Glad you guys managed to make it work, if I head back that way I’ll have to
      grill you for some tips ;-) …I really do love Ubud and truly hope I can
      go back there in a year or so and cross my fingers that the internet is
      better…my two weeks there was just TOO brief!

    • Not cold turkey! Internet is definitely there, you would just want to have
      some blog posts lined up since it’s hard to upload a lot of information
      sometimes. Thanks for stopping in Natalie :)

    • Thanks Chris; I’m hoping that if we give it a year or so it will come more
      on par with Thailand, because it really is gorgeous! :)

  21. Sorry to hear about your experience, but as someone who has run an internet -based business out of Bali for the last two years, the above does strike me as a little off the money. I can’t remember a single occasion where a cafe I’ve been working in turned the WiFi off at peak meal hours — that is just weird! Sure WiFi will vary depending on the place you stay at, but again, in most areas of Bali it isn’t too hard to find a decent connection + 3G modems are widely available, relatively inexpensive and offer better connectivity in more remote areas. As for residents, the need for satellite access passed a year or so back, most now get it either down the phoneline (ADSL) or via a wireless provider like Blueline. Either way it isn’t expensive.

    • Thanks for weighing in Stuart! Jodi (Legal Nomads) had mentioned you live
      nearby and I was days away from contacting you when I was there to see if I
      could glean some expat tips :) In the week I spent looking I just couldn’t
      find a 3-4 month rental, on a budget…offering wifi…guesthouses right
      outside of ubud simply aren’t widely offering this yet :( The situation was
      compounded because I was on a project deadline that week and moved
      guesthouses three times trying to find one that had anything resembling 3g
      speeds…that they kept on throughout the day and night.

      But! I do recognize that you have far more experience in this arena, for me,
      as a budget traveler landing there and looking for a reasonably priced
      rental with wifi it was hard! Next time I’ll make sure to shoot you an email
      first :) Again, thanks for the thoughts, I’ll add a sentence in the post
      noting that there are expats living there and managing quite well!

  22. Our guesthouse in Ubud would shut down the internet randomly throughout the day and night as well. It was frustrating when you’re in the middle of a skype call to find out that it’s off. I agree that internet is definitely accessible everywhere but not always convenient.

    • It caused me so much anxiety when it would go off like that in the middle of
      conversations! Sorry that you had the same troubles as well, and still
      eternally sad I left before you got there! :)

  23. Nice review Shannon, it’s good when people mention the bad with the good. I personally would have thought Bali would be better connected as it’s firmly on the tourist trail. Never been myself though.

    • They definitely have internet everywhere, it just wasn’t the fastest
      connection speeds! But don’t let the review make me sound too harsh on
      Bali…it’s a beautiful country and worth a visit, esp since it’s so close
      to Oz! :)

  24. Thanks for this Shannon! I’ve just booked tickets and will only be there for a week – surely I’ll be able to survive with limited WiFi.

    How about a sim card for an unlocked iPhone? Any chance at getting data for the week from my phone?

    • You will be totally fine for that week, just go with some posts pre-written
      with the photos uploaded, internet is easy to find, but not really to upload
      a lot of data. :) Are you going to Ubud? I have the name of a lovely
      guesthouse that had great breakfasts and wifi! and when are you heading
      there?

  25. Good information to have. It’s nice to have a cheap and beautiful place to live, but some contact with the outside world is still necessary. Take heart; I’m sure at some point, Bali will enter the 21st Century with better internet connections.

    • Thanks Gray – I am definitely going to give Bali another shot at some point,
      when I can get back there and it may just need a year or so for the internet
      situation to mature!

    • I do love Bali – I tried to make sure that came through in the post, it’s a
      wonderful country…but internet was pretty hard…for now…I have no doubt
      it would be a gorgeous place to live :)

  26. Bali sounds like a compromise of location independence and isolation. But like you said, give it 6-12 months and hopefully infrastructure and costs will lighten up.

    • I really do think that it’s just a matter of the internet situation maturing
      for another year…then it will be the little slice of heaven on earth
      everyone raves about! :)

  27. I had a look into Bali as well for using it as a working base and I agree that the wifi is not as good as other parts of SE Asia.

  28. The scoop revealed!

    So, I’m looking for the “Best SE Asia place to base your business” post please. Then let me know when we’re booking tickets =)

      • Yiikes… here I was already to head to Bali after Shanghai to finish work on a catalogue.. which means internet. I have been readying the LP guides and figured if I stayed around Legion or Kuta for the first part of the journey I would be okay. I will need to download 3MB-6MB files.. is this going to be workable? Is there a place anyoen would recommend around there that does have WIFI in the not-too-pricey range of $35 per night approx???
        January arrival… so off season apparently…

        • If you plan on sticking to Kuta and the other more touristed areas and have
          a budget of $35 a night I think you will be fine! It’s in the center of Bali
          that it gets less *consistently *reliable…resorts and slightly more
          upscale hotels have decent internet. In the center, if you head into Ubud
          for a visit, you’ll def still have internet, but just not at the precise
          time of day you might want it :)

Leave a Comment