A Way Abroad Logo
The ultimate resource for women dreaming of a life abroad

An Expat's Guide to Living in Bali, Indonesia

write for us!

I've been traveling and living abroad for about 4 years now.

Before I moved to Bali I have lived in the Netherlands (where I grew up), Canada, and most recently in Vietnam. After teaching English in Vietnam for two years I felt like it was time for the next adventure. I loved living in Vietnam and I am so grateful for the things I got to experience here, but from the beginning I knew, this wasn't going to be my long term home.

I always dreamed of living on the beach and when the contract with my school was ending I decided it was time to move somewhere new and exciting.

I had never been to Indonesia before but my friends who had been were always saying to me that Bali would be the perfect place for me. I'm into yoga, meditation and I'm a vegetarian so I guess that does make me your typical Bali girl.

After my first week in Bali, all I could say was; boy were my friends right! I absolutely love it here and I can see myself living here long term.

If this magical island is on your list too, here's all you need to know about living in Bali before you make the move.

Short on time? Here’s the cheat sheet:

💭Everyone that moves to Bali usually says it’s because of the same thing: the vibes, the energy, and the immediate sense of community. 

🏠The best neighborhoods for expats are Canggu, Ubud, and Seminyak. 

🛏️Start off by booking somewhere centrally located and easy to get around, like the Paripadi Studio in Canggu.

🛂Most foreigners who move here as digital nomads and are either on a tourist visa, a social-cultural visa, business visa, or KITAS. 

☂️Although Bali is full of foreigners living here and far from being off the beaten path,

☀️It can offer a high quality of life at a low cost of living, while still offering some incredible nature and glimpses into Indonesian culture.

The Perks of Living in Bali

A group of women in colorful dresses happily posing in the middle of the street in Bali
My friends and me posing in pieces from my clothing line

The Vibes

‍The best part about living in Bali? The good vibes!

This is something that's hard to put into words but it's by far the most important thing. The energy here has shown me that Bali could be my long-term home abroad.

If you've ever been you probably know what I'm talking about. It's something almost magical and hard to explain.

The Friendly Locals, Expats, & Digital Nomads

The people that live here are extremely friendly and it's by far the place where I found it the easiest to make friends. Not just superficial friendships, but real meaningful connections that I'm pretty sure will last a lifetime.

Both locals and expats have such a positive attitude that works contagiously.

Everybody is on the same path in one way or another, focusing on personal growth and creating the life of their dreams.

The Outstanding Nature

Alongside the incredible feels you'll get here, you'll also be surrounded by some of the best nature on the planet. Indonesia is a stunning country with so much to offer from Bali and beyond.

You'll find great hiking, relaxing eco-lodges, world-class scuba diving, and of course, stunning beaches.

You'll definitely want try to see more of this island and this country while you're here and one of the best ways to do it is on a small ship Indonesia cruise. In just a week you'll get to see all of the best parts of Bali and Indonesia wrapped up into one incredible itinerary. Plus, on a small ship, you'll only have to share the experience with a handful of others.

Serious about
browse all articles

Where to Live in Bali

The Canggu Beach is seriously dreamy

There area few areas that are super popular for foreigners to live in Bali:

  • Canggu
  • Ubud
  • Seminyak

Of course there is more to Bali than just these 3 neighborhoods but these tend to be the most popular areas to live.


I live in Canggu and really love it here. This area facilitates everything you need to live your best life and become the best version of yourself.

There are tons of co-working spaces, healthy restaurants, gyms, and multiple events going on daily.

Whether it's a free yoga class, a creative writing workshop or just a chance to let your hair down at the weekly karaoke. There's something for everyone, for every mood. And then there's the beach, which is never far when you live in Bali.

📍Before you decide to move to this neighborhood, I suggest you book a hotel or vacation rental for at least a night or two to get a real feel for it at all hours. This will give you the best chance to see if living in Canggu is a good choice for you.

  • Budget Stay: Palm&Ocean Canggu: Staying here you'll get a private bedroom and bathroom with a shared kitchen.
  • Mid-Tier Stay: Paripadi Studio Canggu: The tranquil views alone here are incredible. Although called studios, these are more high-end hotel rooms with a shared kitchen and workspace.
  • Luxury Stay: Theanna Villa and Spa Canggu: Enjoy your own villa with a private pool here. These villas are equipped with everything you could need, including a kitchen and work space.


Living in Ubud offers a much calmer daily life. Here you'll be surrounded with Indonesian culture, although plenty of foreigners, too.

Since this area isn't located on the beach, it tends to offer a cheaper cost of living. If you dream of jungle views or rice terraces outside of your window, you'll love the serenity that Ubud can bring into your life.

📍Before you decide to move to this neighborhood, I suggest you book a hotel or vacation rental for at least a night or two to get a real feel for it at all hours. This will give you the best chance to see if living in Ubud is a good choice for you.

  • Budget Stay: Pondok Prapen Guest House: The double rooms here are suitable for 2 and come with a work place for digital nomads.
  • Mid-Tier Stay: Merak Village by Prasi: Like the budget option, you will forego having a kitchen but here the on-site restaurant serves local cuisine.
  • Luxury Stay: Tejaprana Bisma: Staying here is the epitome of being on vacation so if you're moving to Bali for that, you'll love starting off your adventure here.


I know you've seen videos of incredible villas on social media. Most of those are located in Seminyak. If you're looking for luxury living and a full home to yourself, more so than just a room or small apartment, this area will be best.

Because of the high standards you can expect here, know that the area comes with the highest cost of living. Up to you if the trade off is worth it!

📍Before you decide to move to this neighborhood, I suggest you book a hotel or vacation rental for at least a night or two to get a real feel for it at all hours. This will give you the best chance to see if living in Seminyak is a good choice for you.

  • Budget Stay: Mysa Boutique Hotel: The design here is super cute and welcoming, you'll just have to sacrifice having your own kitchen.
  • Mid-Tier Stay: Calm Villa: Seeking serenity? The Calm Villa offers a one-bedroom villa with clean white interior, an outdoor kitchen, and private pool.
  • Luxury Stay: The BK Village: Be surrounded by lush green scenery in total privacy here. The luxury villas here are the epitome of a high-end stay that people tend to associate with this area.

Working Remotely in Bali

Working online is easy when you're surrounded by these views

Compared to other countries in Asia, Indonesia is a little different when it comes to getting a work permit. Long story short, it's not easy. Before I moved here I was teaching English in Vietnam where finding a job is easier than getting a cab.

To protect the locals they only hire people for jobs that can not be done by an Indonesian. This in combination with Bali being a very popular expat destination, the competition to get a job is extremely high.

So how can you make a living to support your lifestyle? Work online!

I would say 95% of the foreigners that live here work online, either they have a business are work for an employer remotely. Once I got to Bali my mind was blown by how many different ways there actually are to work online.

A cool thing about working online from Bali is that you'll meet so many other people doing the same! The best way to get some work done and connect with other remote workers, is by working from one of the amazing co-working spaces in Bali.

How to Find an Online Job

When I just moved here teaching online was my main source of income. After meeting new friends and networking I gradually expanded my work to copywriting and social media management. Because everybody works online it's easy to get inspired and find the resources you need to start your remote career.

After a few months in Bali, I even got so inspired that I even decided to follow my dream of starting my own fashion brand, and I can proudly say that I just launched my first collection.

Many expats here are working as content creators, in digital marketing, as web designers, and so much more.

Nowadays so many jobs can be done remotely so it's just about finding your perfect fit!

Getting a Long-Term Visa in Bali

An expat woman posing with her motorbike in Bali
Learning to drive a scooter is a big step to gaining your independence in Bali

Like I mentioned before, getting a work permit here is not easy.

Although Bali is swarming with digital nomads, working remotely is not a legal way to live here. Although it's been in the talks for years, there's no digital nomad visa for Indonesia so you'll need to find a different way to live in Bali.

There are a few different options though when it comes to getting a visa.

Tourist Visa

What most expats do in the beginning is to start with a tourist visa (visa on arrival).

You can get a free visa on arrival for 30 days but the better option is to pay $35 for your visa which can be extended for 30 more days after the first month is up.

Extending your visa is quite easy since there are lots of visa agents here which will happily do it for you for about $50.

After your 60 days are up you will have to leave the country, the so-called visa run and start the process again. This sounds complicated but it's actually not that bad since it allows you to take a little trip every two months and discover a new place.

Social-Cultural Visa or Business Visa (B211A)

If, or should I say when, you decide that you want to stay in Bali for the long run you have a few other options. You can get a Social-Cultural Visa or Business Visa (B211A), which allows you to stay up to 6 months (with renewals) but doesn't allow you to work in Indonesia.

Investor Visa (KITAS)

Another option is to get a KITAS, this type of visa also allows you to do certain types of jobs in Indonesia. This visa allows you to stay and work in Bali for 2 years but know that the type of work you can do is limited.

Finding Reliable Visa Information

There are tons of reliable visa agencies around the island who can inform you and help you get the visa that suits you best.

Visas aren't fixed, they're fluid. That means regulations can change so it's best to reach out to a visa agency who can consult you with the most up-to-date information.

Cost of Living in Bali

Besides the good vibes and the nice weather, another reason why expats and digital nomads love Bali is because of the low cost of living.

When you work online and earn a salary that meets Western standards, Bali will allow you to live a very comfortable lifestyle.To give you an idea of my costs of living here in Bali I will give you a breakdown of my monthly costs below, all listed in USD:

  • Basic room in a guesthouse, air-conditioned and with a pool - $280
  • Monthly scooter rental - $50
  • SIM card with 5GB internet - $10
  • Meals - anywhere between $1 and $8 depending on if you eat local or Western. Trust me, you won't mind treating yourself to these amazing Bali vegan restaurants I frequent.

*Do note that these prices are based on my lifestyle and the cost of living upon publication. Take it with a grain of salt when applying to your life!

These are the basic costs of living and of course you will be spending money on going out, a gym membership, massages or whatever else your interests are.  

Besides the costs of living though, you do need to keep in mind that you will need to renew your visa regularly, how often depending on the visa you are on.  This includes flight tickets, accommodation and of course the costs of your new visa. This can add greatly to your cost of living if every 2 months you're planning a big international trip.

Will You Move to Bali?

I hope this post gave you a bit of an idea of what it's like to live the island life on my beloved Bali. Personally, I've loved living in Bali but just like anywhere else in the world, it's not for everyone.

I recommend you come here on a tourist visa and see if you feel the good vibes, too. Then, you can transition to a longer visa and begin to build the life of your dreams here in Indonesia!

As you can probably tell there's a real love affair going on between me and this beautiful island. I could go on and on about why living here is so amazing but if I do this article would become a book instead.

I guess the best way to find out is to hop on a plane and find out for yourself (or watch Eat, Pray, Love, that will give you a bit of an idea).

keep a way abroad fueled!
Consider making a donation

A lot of effort went into making this amazing piece of journalistic genius. If it helped you out, send us a quick thanks by buying us a coffee. All the money donated through Ko-Fi goes towards keeping A Way Abroad awesome. Big thanks!

Pick an image to pin it!
Go back up arrow