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An Expat's Guide to Living in Canggu, Bali

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Bali, the "Island of the Gods," has long captivated travelers with its enchanting landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and laid-back lifestyle. In recent years, it has become a popular destination for digital nomads and expats seeking a slice of paradise to call home. 

Among the various areas to live in Bali, Canggu stands out as a vibrant and thriving community that offers a unique blend of modern amenities and things to do. It’s a favorite among digital nomads, those coming to Bali to surf, and for multi-day group tours exploring Indonesia.

Best Areas of Canggu to Live In

Canggu is divided into several neighborhoods, each with its own distinct charm. Some of the best areas to live in Canggu include:

  • Berawa: known for its upscale villas, trendy cafes, and proximity to the beach
  • Batu Bolong: known as the heart of Canggu, offering a lively atmosphere with its bustling streets, surf spots, and a wide range of nightlife and bars
  • Echo Beach (& adjoining area of Padang Linjong): known as a popular spot among surfers and provides a more relaxed and serene environment.

Keep in mind that even though these three neighborhoods are located next to each other, it might take a while to drive from one to another due to the heavy traffic in the area.

Long-term Visa Options for Bali

When it comes to long-term stays in Bali, there are several visa options available. One common approach is to enter Bali on a tourist visa (Visa on Arrival), which allows for a stay of up to 30 days. Those wishing to stay longer, you can extend this visa for 30 more days. Many expats choose to use a visa agent who can assist with the necessary paperwork and visa extensions. 

Another popular choice is the Social-Cultural Visa or the Business Visa (B211A), which allows for a longer stay of up to 60 days at a time and can be extended up to a year. It is worth noting that visa regulations can change, so it is advisable to consult with a visa expert or check the latest information from official sources.

Then there is the Investor Visa (KITAS) which I personally use. This option allows me to stay and work in Indonesia for 2 years. However, the term “work” means I can manage only and not physically work in a restaurant for example. Regulations are often complicated and strict so definitely consult an agent before making a decision.

Making Friends in Bali

Day time at Atlas Beach Club

One of the greatest aspects of living in Canggu is the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. The nomad and expat community is diverse and tends to mingle in with locals. 

There are numerous social events, co-working spaces, and sports clubs where you can connect with like-minded individuals. 

Popular spots for networking and making friends in Canggu include:

  • The Lawn
  • Old Man's
  • Deus Ex Machina

There's also the new Atlas Beach Club that goes from poolside hangouts during the day to electronic dance floor by night. It's a world-class beach club that hosts events day and night, including traditional Kecak dances, so if you're trying to make new friends, this is a great place to try.

Engaging in activities such as yoga, surfing, or attending workshops and classes can also be a great way to make new friends and build a social circle. 

It is also worth checking the website Nomeo.io where you can find regular meetups with like-minded people. Furthermore, you can find several Facebook groups, such as “Canggu Community” or “Canggu Community Bali” which are great for connecting with others.

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Accommodation in Canggu

Canggu has something for everyone, whether you're looking for a luxury villa, a cozy guesthouse, or a shared co-living space. Here are a few popular choices:

1. Villas

Bali is generally renowned for its stunning private villas that provide a luxurious and comfortable living experience. Villas often come with a private swimming pool, lush garden, and spacious living areas. Many villas in Canggu offer modern amenities such as fully equipped kitchens, air conditioning, and high-speed internet. Renting a villa can be an excellent option for families or those seeking privacy and plenty of space.

2. Guesthouses and Homestays

Guesthouses and homestays are widely available in Canggu as a more affordable accommodation option. These offer cozy rooms with shared facilities, such as kitchens and communal spaces. Guesthouses and homestays are a great choice for solo travelers or those looking to connect with fellow visitors.

3. Co-Living Spaces 

Canggu has witnessed the rise of co-living spaces tailored to digital nomads and remote workers. These spaces often combine accommodation, workspace, and community events under one roof. They provide the opportunity to live with like-minded individuals, fostering a sense of collaboration. 

Co-living spaces usually offer shared or private rooms, co-working areas, and communal facilities such as kitchens and common lounges.

When choosing accommodation in Canggu, it's important to consider your lifestyle preferences, budget, and desired proximity to amenities such as restaurants, beaches, and a coworking space. It's advisable to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, to secure your preferred choice of accommodation.

Cost of living in Canggu

Canggu offers a relatively affordable cost of living compared to many Western countries, making it an attractive destination for expatriates and digital nomads.

While the costs can vary depending on personal preferences and lifestyle choices, here is a general breakdown of monthly expenses in Canggu:

1. Accommodation 

The accommodation cost in Canggu can vary significantly depending on location, size, and amenities. On average, a one-bedroom villa or apartment can range from $700 to $2,000 per month, while shared accommodation options like guesthouses or co-living spaces can be more affordable, starting from around $300 per month.

2. Utilities

Basic utilities, including electricity, water, and gas, are relatively affordable in Canggu. On average, you can expect to spend around $50 to $100 monthly for these utilities. These costs are usually included in the rent price of a guesthouse. However, additional costs for pool maintenance may apply if you're renting a villa with a private pool.

3. Internet

High-speed internet is widely available in Canggu, and the monthly cost typically ranges from $20 to $50, depending on the provider and package you choose. A local sim card can be purchased for around $5-10, providing you with around 10GB of data for the month. 

4. Food

Canggu offers a wide range of dining options to suit different budgets. Eating out at local warungs (small local restaurants) or street food stalls can cost as little as $1 to $4 per meal, while mid-range restaurants may range from $5 to $10 per meal. If you prefer cooking at home, groceries for a basic diet can cost approximately $150 to $200 per month.

5. Transportation

Getting around in Canggu is relatively affordable. Renting a scooter, a popular mode of transport, can cost around $50 to $100 per month, depending on the rental duration and condition of the scooter. Fuel costs are minimal, with a full tank typically costing less than $5. Taxis and ride-sharing services (Grab or Gojek) are also available, with short trips within Canggu costing around $1 to $3. Some residents also choose to rent a car in Bali for longer trips, which is very affordable.

6. Leisure and Entertainment

Canggu offers a vibrant social scene with various leisure and entertainment options. Gym memberships can range from $30 to $170 monthly, while yoga or fitness classes may cost around $10 to $20 per session. Surf lessons can be found for approximately $15 to $30 per lesson. Additionally, numerous free or low-cost community events and activities allow you to enjoy the local culture without breaking the bank.

It's important to note that these figures are average costs and can vary based on personal preferences, lifestyle choices, and individual circumstances. It's advisable to create a budget based on your specific needs and conduct thorough research to make sure you have a better understanding of the costs associated with your desired lifestyle in Canggu.

It's also worth noting that your cost of living will most likely be lower if you stay for an extended period rather than just a few days or a few weeks. You'll be able to invest more in groceries and the monthly rental deals tend to be more affordable. It'll also help you save money if adapt to a more local way of living and drop some of the amenities that you might be used to from your home country.

The Quality of Life in Canggu

The quality of life in Canggu, Bali is truly exceptional, attracting a diverse community of expats, digital nomads, and locals who have chosen to call this tropical paradise their home. Some of the key features include:

1. Natural Beauty

Canggu has endless beautiful beaches, lush rice paddies, and picturesque sunsets. The natural beauty surrounding the area creates a serene and peaceful atmosphere, allowing residents to enjoy a relaxed and balanced lifestyle.

2. Healthy Living

Canggu promotes a healthy and active lifestyle. With an abundance of yoga studios, fitness centers, and healthy food options, residents can easily embrace wellness practices and make conscious choices for their physical and mental well-being.

3. Vibrant Community

Canggu has a vibrant and welcoming community that fosters connections and friendships. The area has numerous co-working spaces, social events, and networking opportunities, creating an environment where like-minded individuals can collaborate, inspire, and support each other.

4. Cultural Immersion

Balinese culture is deeply rooted in spirituality, tradition, and art. Living in Canggu provides plenty of opportunities to immerse oneself in the local customs, participate in religious ceremonies, learn traditional crafts, and witness captivating cultural performances.

5. Dining and Entertainment

Canggu boasts a diverse culinary scene with a wide range of international and local cuisines. From trendy cafes to beachfront restaurants, residents can indulge in delicious meals and enjoy a vibrant nightlife with live music, beach parties, and social gatherings.

Things I Wish I Knew about Bali Before Moving There

Moving to Bali, or any new place can be exciting and challenging. Here are a few things you might wish you knew before making the move:

  • Traffic: Bali's traffic can be notoriously congested, especially during peak hours. It's advisable to consider proximity to your workplace or preferred hangout spots when choosing a place to live in Canggu.
  • Internet Reliability: While Bali has made significant advancements in internet infrastructure, occasional power outages or slow connections can still occur. A backup plan, such as plenty of mobile data, can be helpful.
  • Waste Management: Bali faces challenges with waste management, and it is essential to be conscious of your environmental impact. Embracing sustainable practices, such as reducing plastic usage and participating in beach clean-ups, can make a positive difference.
  • Seasonal Changes: Bali has distinct wet and dry seasons. The wet season, typically from November to March, brings heavy rainfall. It's important to consider weather patterns and plan activities accordingly.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Balinese culture is deeply rooted in Hindu traditions. It's important to respect local customs and traditions, such as wearing appropriate clothes and respecting sacred locations when visiting.

Ready to Move to Canggu?

It's no wonder Bali has become the shining star of the expat and digital nomad world with people from all over flocking here to soak up some of it's magic. While the influx of foreigners has certainly changed Bali, and Canggu specifically, over the years, I still think it's a wonderful place to live comfortably.

With an affordable cost of living, lovely warm weather, stunning nature, and a welcoming expat community, there's a lot to love about living in Canggu.

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