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A Beginner's Guide to Living in Bali, Indonesia

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Jamie Jones
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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.

What do I love about living in Bali the most?

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 good vibes! This is something that is hard to put into words but it is by far the most important thing that means Bali can be a place that could be my long term home.

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

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.

Along side 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 ecolodges, 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.

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

I live in Canggu which 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.

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).

How to make a living in Bali?

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.

Check out all of A Way Abroad's resources to finding a variety of remote jobs here.

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.

A woman in Bali working online in the rice fields
Working online is easy with these views!

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 which you can check out at @lostgirlsofficial.

If you're ready to start your own brand but need a little push, A Way Abroad highly recommends The Creatives Platform. Check out our review of their brand building course and get $100 off when you sign up!

What's the visa situation?

Like I mentioned before, getting a work permit here is not easy.  There are a few different options though when it comes to getting a visa.

What most expats do in the beginning is to start with a tourist visa.

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.

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 Visa, which allows you to stay up to 6 months but doesn't allow you to work in Indonesia.

Another option is to get a KITAS, this type of visa also allows you to do certain types of jobs in Indonesia.

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

Especially now with COVID, some of this information has changed and continues to change on a regular basis.  It's always better to be over prepared and up to date even before arriving in country when dealing with foreign visas. Get more in depth info on how to get an Indonesia visa here.
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Cost of living in Bali

Besides the good vibes and the nice weather, another reason why expats 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 these amazing Bali vegan restaurants I frequent.

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

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.

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. To follow my journey check out my Instagram on @jamiegoesnomad.

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