Guide To Moving To Bali | Expats in Bali



Guide To Moving To Bali | Expats in Bali

by Melissa Giroux | Last updated Dec 6, 2019


Are you thinking of moving to Bali, Indonesia? Here’s my guide with everything you need to know on how to move to Bali, how much you can expect to spend and how to make yourself comfortable out here (finding the right accommodation, coworking space, visas, etc.).

Whether you’re planning on relocating in Bali for a month or long-term, here’s all I could think of to help you have a smooth transition.

Back in October 2017, I had no idea I would actually base myself in Bali for so long. The plan was to be there for one month.

Already, in December, I was back. One month became even longer and there I was, getting my own scooter and my own apartment. I was kind of living in Bali and this was a bit unexpected!

Bali has a huge expat community in places such as UbudCanggu, and Uluwatu. There’s so much to love about Bali that it’s understandable that most people want to live there or even stay longer.

For those who have freedom (hello digital nomads), living in Bali is a great idea. It’s cheap, the food is good, the locals are kind and you can live a good life out here.

Canggu is where I decided to base myself and this is also where I could see myself live for a long period of time. Being closer to the beach was important to me – I’m a sunset sucker and I want to become better at surfing! There’s just a special something about the vibes out here!


Arriving in Bali – How to Get Out of Denpasar Airport Alive


As soon as you arrive at Bali airport (Denpasar), it’s already the beginning of your adventure. You are going to need a lot of patience, a reserve of fake smiles and a lot of skills. Taxi drivers will harass you and they will ask insane rates to trick the ones who aren’t aware of the conversion yet.

The best way to avoid being ripped off is to download apps such as Go Jek or Grab. They can pick you up if you’re willing to walk around 5 to 10 minutes away from the airport. If you can’t use the wifi or if you don’t have any data you can always walk directly to find your driver outside.

You simply have to avoid the taxi drivers, walk straight forward until you cross the car park and then you’ll cross the street, head left until you’ll find a path to turn right. You should find Go Jek and Grab motorbike drivers (which works fine if you have a backpack!)



Getting a SIM Card in Bali


The quickest option would be directly at the airport. Although it’s definitely not the cheapest. As I’m based in Canggu I always get my SIM cards at Happy Cells but you can normally find many shops in Kuta, Seminyak, Uluwatu, Ubud or Canggu.

You can expect to pay between 27,000 and 70,000 depending on the data plans or companies you’re looking for.

The most popular one is Telkomcel which has the best signal in Bali but the cheapest one is XL which works okay but isn’t the fastest one. That being said, if you’re more impatient, don’t go for XL.


Getting a Scooter in Bali


If you’re planning on staying in Bali for a while you should get your own scooter. You can either buy one or rent one. You can find ones for sale in Facebook groups such as Canggu Community or Bali Expats.

If you’re planning on renting a scooter monthly, you can expect to pay around IDR 600,000-700,000 per month or IDR 800,000 for a scoopy (which is the cute old-school model).


Getting an Apartment, Villa or Private Room in Bali


Finding a room, a villa or an apartment is super easy. You can either look out for opportunities directly on Facebook or simply hop on a scooter and stop everywhere you can see rooms with monthly rates.

I personally opted for a monthly room in a homestay which includes a private bathroom,  a shared kitchen as well as a pool for a tiny IDR 4,500,000 per month.

Some of my friends found cheaper rooms (but, they don’t have a pool) and some others found very expensive ones, but they do look pretty nice!


Best Area to Stay in Bali


Depending on your personality/interests, finding the right place to live in Bali could be different.

Canggu is popular for digital nomads, surfers and backpackers and it’s not the quietest spot around Bali. If you’re into beach bumming and partying you will likely be pleased in Canggu.

If you’re into surfing, peaceful vibes and fun, Uluwatu could be a great option. Any intermediates or experts in surfing will likely prefer Uluwatu over Canggu. It’s a small town, but the vibes are also great over there.

If you’re into yoga, healthy food and natural vibes, Ubud could be a better option for you.  Ubud is known for vegan/vegetarian options so this could also influence your decision.




Do You Need a Visa for Bali? | Visa and Visa Runs


Moving to Indonesia isn’t that easy in terms of a visa. If you are wondering how to live in Bali – this should be one of the first steps.

Most people get a free 30 days in Indonesia. Of course, you should check if your passport is one of the 140 countries that doesn’t require you to get a visa. If you go for this option, you cannot extend your time. This means you would have to leave the country and come back (which we call a visa run).

If you get the visa on arrival, you can then ask for an extension. This means you would have a total of 60 days. To get the visa on arrival, you have to find the right counter when you enter Denpasar Airport. You will pay USD 35, but your visa is still not extended yet.

You will have to go to the immigration office 3 more times, pay another USD 35 and then, you should get your visa extension. If you can’t be bothered with this process you could also consult an agency, pay a bit more and then you won’t have to worry too much as they will handle most of the things for you. You will still have to get to the immigration office once so they can get your fingerprints.

Personally, I did a lot of visa runs and I never had any problems re-entering the country (even on the same day).

There’s also another option that could possibly suit your needs: the social visa. This option requires a sponsor letter from an Indonesian who also lives in Indonesia.

Many agencies can provide letters for you, but be sure to pick the right one to avoid scams. You can read more about this delicate topic.


Coworking Spaces in Bali


Bali is becoming one of the main hubs for digital nomads in Asia. When it comes to finding the perfect Bali places to live, you should keep in mind that you might need a co-working option while you’re there.

There are coworking spaces in a few spots in Bali such as Ubud, Canggu, Kuta, Seminyak and Legian.

For those who don’t really want to spend money on coworking spaces, you should also know that there are many cafés and restaurants that provide fast and reliable WiFi.


Coworking Spaces in Canggu


In Canggu, there are currently three popular coworking spaces. The most expensive one but also the most popular one is Dojo. The only bad thing about Dojo is how popular it is. It can be hard to find a spot to sit as it’s pretty crowded.

I chose Outpost Canggu and Tropical Nomad where most people are super focused on work and it’s pretty relaxing! Another great option to consider is District, a bit cheaper than Dojo with a laid-back atmosphere.


Best Coffee Shops with Good WiFi in Canggu


My personal all-time favorite is Hungry Bird. The staff is lovely, the WiFi normally works fine and there are many people working from there too, which makes it easy to meet new friends. You could also check out Milk and Madu, Mily by Nook, Alter Ego, District (it’s also a restaurant), Two Tree Eatery or Café Cinta.


Laundry in Bali


You can find laundry shops pretty much everywhere and it’s super cheap. Some places charge per kilo and some others per piece. Most of the time, you can expect your laundry to be ready by the next day (during the afternoon for most cases).



Health, Food & Bali Belly


There are so many great options in terms of restaurants and cafés all around Bali (and a lot of Western options too!). Although, you should know that many of us will handle the famous “Bali Belly”.

The great news is you can find many natural options when it comes to health and you can also get antibiotics (without prescriptions) in many pharmacies.

Kindly note that I’m far from being a doctor. These tricks and tips are only based on my own experiences so try at your own risk!

Here are the two things you should know if you’re feeling a bit sick or weak: Kombucha & Jamu.

Happy Kombucha is a brand of drinks with different abilities to help you boost your immune system. You can order a delivery or find their products in many restaurants and cafés.

Jamu is a pretty popular drink or shot you can also find pretty much everywhere. It’s a turmeric and ginger drink (which doesn’t taste very good in my opinion) that is considered a home remedy.

I got sick many times during my time in Bali. From Bali Belly to an ear infection, to a throat infection to stomach issues, my immune system has suffered a lot!

Another good thing about Bali is Go-Jek and Go-Life; two apps that provide you with great services, such as getting a massage, meds, rides and even food delivery. Don’t hesitate to use them; everything is affordable and professional!


Food Poisoning & Bali Belly | What to Do When it Hits You


Let me share a “dirty” story with you guys. After a few months of living in Bali, I thought my stomach was finally used to the food out here.

One day, I woke up and I was really struggling with the thought of eating. I was forcing myself to eat, but I didn’t feel hungry at all. The whole day was a big “I don’t want to eat this” kind of day.

On the next day, I woke up feeling pretty dizzy and not very well. My first thought was “Wow, I could definitely throw up right now”, and there I was running for the toilet.

For the next 30 hours, I was vomiting, dealing with diarrhea and handling a fever on top of it. I couldn’t keep anything in – even a sip of coconut water.

As I’m lucky, I had great friends who went to grab some stuff for me such as rehydration powder, coconut water, a lot of water and some fruits.

Obviously, I didn’t manage to eat on the first day and had a few banana bites for the next couple of days. I spent most of my time sleeping for four days.

I started to feel better on day 4. I had a bit more energy, I felt hungry again and I found out about charcoal tablets which help with poisoning as it absorbs everything.

Of course, if it was to get worst I would have gone and seen a doctor, but I did manage to get better on my own; drinking loads of water, coconut water and Pocari Sweat (ion supplement drink) while trying to eat bananas and plain rice.



Leisure & Fitness in Bali



If you’re looking for entertainment there are gyms, yoga classes and CrossFit gyms around Bali.  Of course, surfing should also be on your list. You can join a surf camp or get surfing lessons while you’re there.

Dojo organizes a lot of events such as workshops and barbecues which are great to meet new people. You could also join Facebook groups for expats in Bali or Canggu Community to know what’s going on and look out for signs for great parties or festivals.


Is Bali Expensive? | Cost of Living in Bali



Bali is the kind of place where you can live well without spending too much, but it can also be quite expensive if you’re tempted by expensive restaurants or bars.

Many expats living in Bali love it because you can live here on a tight budget (been there, done the living cheap in Bali thingy) or forget about the money factor and simply enjoy your life without overthinking too much.

You can find cheap monthly rent or stay in a hostel, it’s entirely up to you! Same regarding the food, you could either cook your own food or eat local food to save money – or you could also appreciate great meals in one of those Western restaurants.

I did manage to live for USD 10 a day for quite a long time and I can also surprise myself and spend USD 30 a day on days where I have more money to spend.


Real-Life Examples –  What it’s like to live in Bali budget-wise:


A cheap meal starts as cheap as IDR 5,000 and an expensive one would be above IDR 100,000 (which is still quite cheap by the way!).

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The cheapest room in Bali starts at IDR 50,000 (can be cheaper during rain season) and you can also easily spend above IDR 150,000 per night.

Renting a scooter costs IDR 50,000 per day but can be cheaper with a weekly and monthly rate as mentioned previously in this article.


Bali on a Budget


If you’re planning on staying in Bali on a budget you could also share a room or opt for cheap dorms until your financial situation gets better. You could also volunteer in a hostel or a guesthouse in exchange for accommodation. Also, you should eat a lot of local food to save money!


Is Bali Safe? | Safety in Bali



The situation in Bali changes quickly. It’s not always super safe and I heard a lot of stories and met a lot of people who had to handle dodgy situations.

Here are my top tips:

·         Make sure you get money from a safe ATM. In some places, such as Gili T, or Nusa Penida where the ATM’s are limited I heard a lot of stories of people who got their card skimmed.  Even in places like Canggu where there are many ATM’s, it happens! I personally always use the ATM’s next to the Savage Kitchen (the Maybank one) and the Commonwealth one located next to Fish Bone Local Restaurant on Batu Bolong road.


·         While you’re at the ATM, do not forget your card. Many people take their money and forget their cards as the order is different from their country. If it does happen to you, block your card and transfer your money straight away!


·         If you’re driving at night time ladies, put your purse inside your scooter. People could try to grab it while you’re driving. This also applies to your phone, people could try to take it off you.

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·         Use apps such as Go-Jek and Grab as drivers have reviews which means it’s safer than finding a random driver on the side of the road.


·         Ladies, try to avoid walking on your own at night time! There are many women who get groped in Bali. I do not say that to scare you away, but it can happen. That being said, nothing happened to me so far and when I see ladies walking on their own in the dark, I always offer them a ride. Better be safe than sorry!


When You Should Visit Bali & Rain Season



The rain season starts around the end of October and lasts until March-ish. I’ve been here during the rainy season so here’s what you can expect.

It doesn’t rain all day long, but it does rain most days for a couple of hours. It can be either in the morning, afternoon or evening, but you will still enjoy a lot of sunshine during the rest of the day.

The rain can start very quickly, so you might get stuck in a restaurant longer than you were expecting!

I always brought my poncho with me in my scooter to avoid surprises on the road!

The great news is that most accommodation is cheaper during the rainy season!

That being said, the best time to visit Bali would be between April-May and September which would be quite promising in terms of sunshine! Here’s what to pack for Bali for the dry and rainy season.


FAQ about Bali

How much money do I need to move to Bali?

You need enough money to cover your rent, your visa and your daily/monthly expenses. A month in Bali on the very cheap can cost as cheap as $500. Usually, people tend to get a bit fancy, so it would be more realistic to give yourself a budget of $1000 per month.

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