21 Things to Know Before Moving to Bali

Moving to Bali is easy enough. Making expat life work is harder. Here’s a few things you really should know before you move to Bali.

1: “How Much Does It Cost to Live in Bali?” Well, That Depends.

The million dollar question for anyone moving to Bali is: “How much does it cost to live in Bali?”, a query roughly equivalent in value and focus to “How long is a piece of string?

A couple could rent a kos, the bedsit-type apartments the majority of Balinese live in, for 500,000 rupiah (under $50) a month, plus a motorbike for another 500,000; or they could spend millions on an ocean-view megavilla, and run multiple cars and drivers. A solo chap could spend hundreds on fine dining, imported wines and expensive women or eat from local warungs for under a dollar. Families can shop at local markets for rice and veggies and put their kids in the local Indonesian primary, or head to delis for imported charcuterie and cheese and drop tens of thousands of dollars on a top-end international school.

Bottom line? There is no fixed answer, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying, but you’re pretty much guaranteed to spend more money than you thought you would. Sorry. Have a sunrise picture.

Mountain sunrise on Batur, Bali.

2: Road Signs Run Perpendicular to Streets

Everyone gets lost in Bali, all the time. Roads change name apparently at random, often indicated only by the small print at the bottom of shop signs, then change back again; street numbers perform bizarre leaps – 5, 17, 35, 999x, 73; roads are routinely closed for ceremonies; signage is limited; Apple and Google maps are a waste of space; even the Periplus print map has its moments; and a typical Balinese direction goes, “Straight, straight, straight then left at the banyan tree.”

Where there are street signs, however, they run perpendicular to the road they are naming, rather than parallel to it as in Anglo cultures. Unless someone’s run into them, obv.

Instant Indonesian cover image.

3: Rentals are Paid Upfront

Whether you’re renting for one year, three years, 20 years, or 50 years, the money is paid upfront. All of it. You might be able to finagle X amount upfront followed by Y in three months, or, for longer leases, taper a 30-year payment over three years, but if you take a property for a year, you pay for the year upfront. If you take land for 20 years, you pay two decades cash down.

There are some monthly rentals – apart from kos, usually small tourist cottages or expat-operated villas – but you typically pay up to 50% over the yearly market price for the privilege, or more in high season. Not sure where to live? Agoda.com has good deals on guesthouses to stay in while you’re checking out areas, or you could sign up with AirBNB.

4: Booze Is Really Expensive

Bintang beer is cheap, at around IDR25,000 (US$2) for 660ml in a store. Swingeing import taxes mean that wines, spirits and liqueurs cost four to five times what they would back home: rough wine produced on Bali from Australian grape must starts at around IDR160,000 (US$13) in a shop, while imported South African, Chilean or Australian wines cost double that.

Kissing parakeets in Ubud, Bali.

5: Visas Are Fiddly

One plus side of Bali? There is currently no official limit to the number of times you can enter Bali on a tourist visa. That said, in October 2015 an advisory recommended restricting entry for people with more than one tourist visa in their passports. While this has apparently been rescinded, there is an ongoing immigration clampdown on foreigners who are illegally employed in Bali, particularly in the tourism field.

As of July 2015, many nationalities (currently excluding Australians) can now enter the country without paying for a tourist visa. One catch? You only get 30 days, can’t extend, and have to both enter and leave through specific airports – one of which is Bali. Full details here. As of November 2015, you could still choose to ask for the old tourist visa on arrival at the airport. This costs US$35, lasts 30 days, and can be extended for another 30 days for IDR355,000 (US$26) independently, or from IDR600,000 (US$37) using an agent. You need to leave the country at the end of those 60 days (the old departure tax is now included in tickets).

Other options, for which you need to apply overseas, include the longer tourist visa, which lasts for 60 days (note that the Kuala Lumpur embassy no longer issues this), and which agents on Bali can extend twice, for 30 days each, and the social-cultural (sosial-budaya) visa, which provides an initial 60-day stay plus up to four 30-day extensions (we’ve heard the Kuala Lumpur embassy will only issue 30-day sosial-budaya visas). You need a local sponsor for the social-cultural visa.

For multiple entry visas, options are the KITAS, an expensive and hard-to-obtain residence visa which requires that you are employed, retired, in education or running a business in Bali, or the business visa. Despite the name, you can’t work on a business visa – it’s designed for people researching business opportunities. You can come and go at will, but still need to leave Indonesia at regular intervals, and if you’re in Indonesia for more than 180 days, you may need to pay tax.

Please note that Indonesian visa regulations change often. If anything’s unclear, please ask.

6: Bank Machines Eat Cards

Most Balinese ATMs spit out cash before returning your card: to retrieve the card, you have to press a key to exit, which means cards are often left in machines. Many banks will hold foreign cards at a main branch for you; at least one destroys all foreign cards found in the machine.

7: Electricity Is Complicated

Indonesian electricity is terribly democratic. If you use less, you pay less. More specifically, if you have less capacity to use electricity, you pay less per unit. That’s why villa rentals specify the electricity wattage: 7700W will enable you to run a bazillion air-conditioners, plus pool, plus electronics, plus watt-guzzling electric kettle, washing machine, water heaters, American-style fridge, at least when they’re not broken, but you will pay many, many times more per unit used than a local Balinese family running some lights, a couple of fans and a fridge. Moving from 7700W to 4400W, for example, can save well over a thousand dollars a year, though you might need to move to a gas kettle.

8: All Those Zeroes Can Get Really Confusing

A revaluation of the rupiah is on the cards over the next few years. For the moment, there are around 100 rupiah to every US cent, with the smallest coin worth 50 rupiah (sweets are given as a substitute in change) and the largest note a princely 100,000. A trip to the ATM makes one an instant millionaire – but it’s easy to slip up with a zero: if something looks super-cheap, recount. Or otherwise you’ll end up spending $40 on imported sausages which looked an absolute bloody steal at $4.

Tampak Siring Temple, Bali.

9: Your Banjar Matters

The banjar is one of the oldest social units in Bali, essentially a type of Hindu parish council: the guys in ceremonial gear you’ll see directing traffic from time to time are representatives of the banjar. Every resident in Bali pays monthly banjar fees, and may well be asked to contribute to the cost of the biggest ceremonies; the banjar police (pecalang) also administer justice (sometimes extremely rough justice) and are the first point of call in the event of burglaries etc. Needless to say, it pays to stay on good terms with your neighbours.

10: That Stuff in the Absolut Bottles? Petrol

Arak is made and sold on Bali, but the yellow murky stuff in the Absolut bottles at the roadside stands is petrol, sold to passing bikes at a small premium on the petrol station price.

11: Foreigners Cannot Own Property In Indonesia

Under Indonesian law, foreigners cannot own land or property in Indonesia, though many can and do take long leases. A popular workaround, known as the nominis system, means that an Indonesian national buys the property in their name but with a mortgage to the foreign purchaser that is never paid off – the nominis typically takes a percentage of the profits on any sale. As these agreements are intended to circumvent the law, they have never held up in court: even where the nominis is a trusted friend, his or her heirs may not feel the same way about the deal that the departed did.

Coloured chicks at a funeral in Ubud, Bali.

12: Most Balinese Have the Same Names

Bali has a caste system, and most Balinese belong to the rice-worker caste. People from that caste are given names that match their position in the family, most of which can be used by either sex: Wayan, Putu, Gede (male) or Iluh (female) for the first-born, Made, Kadek or Nengah for the second, Nyoman or Komang for third-born, and Ketut for the fourth. Once you get to number five, the circle goes round again, so a family with eight kids is guaranteed two Ketuts. Unless they’re posh, of course.

13: Sales Tax Is Fiddly

High-end businesses will typically charge 21% – 11% tax plus 10% service – on top of their baseline prices; smaller businesses will charge less tax and no service; tiny businesses will charge no tax at all. So expect to pay at least 20% more than the headline price for any high-end meal, hotel or spa.

Kissing parakeets in Ubud, Bali.

14: Nobody Wants That Pet You Just Acquired

Most rural Balinese don’t have the money to sterilise their dogs, so female puppies tend to be abandoned, leaving a glut of cute animals for foreigners to pick from. But because of rabies, dogs can’t leave Bali legally, so a lot of cute abandoned puppies end up being less cute abandoned dogs when their owner decides they’ve had enough of paradise. If your Bali dream is not complete without a pet, pick up a grown one from a departing expat. There’s a gadzillion going around, and its cute factor won’t deteriorate while you own it.

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15: Pricing Is Random

Pricing in Bali, on everything from houses to petrol to food in the market, is driven less by Keynesian economics than by gossip and perception. If someone builds a fancy-schmancy gigantic 3-bedroom villa with an ocean view in A.N. Other village and rents it for 250 million, that becomes the rate for the myriad mini 3-bedroom villas that will pop up in its wake in A.N. Other village. If the petrol price goes up, prices of food in the market will go up, usually by the same amount. Food gets more expensive around Idul Fitri, not only because of the enormous evening feasts (iftar) but because Muslims are saving up money to return home. Oh, yeah, and neighbouring shops will sell identical items at wildly varying prices.

16: Right of Way Is Not Really a Thing

The Balinese driving style is fluid, instinctual and initially quite alarming, and the roads are way too small to fit everything in. That means you’re expected to move over when something comes towards you, regardless of whose lane it is; evasive action is a regular part of driving, rather than some special event; oh, and folk routinely pull out without looking.

17: There Are Loads of International Schools on Bali

There is a large expat community on Bali, and so there are tonnes of international schools, spanning the gamut from Asian academic to Euro-hippie. A few to get started with? Montessori, Pelangi, Green School, Dyatmika, Gandhi, CHIS, Canggu Community School, Bali Island School, the Australian Independent School… Which one you pick will depend on your (and your kids’) educational philosophy and goals, where you want to live, what you want to pay, and more. Prices range from $3000 per year for a littlie in a cheap school to over $20k per year for a 17 or 18 year old in an expensive school.

Sunrise over Mount Batur, Bali.

18: Cockerels Are a Killer

I can, personally, snooze through even the most vigorous call to prayer, and any number of all-night temple ceremonies, but cockerels are a sleep-killer – particularly on Bali, where some are farmed for the theoretically illegal cockfights that happen all around the island all the bloody time. An especially vigorous cockerel competition can set the neighbourhood dogs off in an absolutely rip-roaring dawn chorus. When leasing a property, do check for cockerels in the vicinity. You’re welcome.

19: You Need Insurance

Possessions insurance comes expensive in Bali, where the winning combination of open villas (yep, that’s right! You can’t lock some of these suckers…) and surrounding poverty makes for a level of burglaries that’s possibly as high as London – many expats opt for one or more of safe, dog and paid security staff. There are a range of expat-oriented medical plans from emergency medical and medevac only through to full dental and health care. WorldNomads allows you to set your home country as anywhere you are entitled to medical treatment, and covers adventure sports which many conventional insurers do not, so can work both as travel insurance and health insurance.

Horse riding on Seminyak Beach, Bali.

20: The Sea Deserves Respect

Bali has great surf, fantastic diving – and the strong currents, including rip currents, that go with both of those. Very few beaches have lifeguards, although surfers will assist in impromptu rescues, and folk get washed away all the time. Some rip currents in Bali are too strong to swim across – the key thing is to stay calm, visible (by raising an arm) and afloat until the rip weakens enough for you to swim across it and back towards shore, or someone comes to rescue you.

Instant Indonesian cover image.

21: That Restaurant You’re Going to Open? Don’t.

Restaurants on Bali open and close at a rate that’s frankly dizzying. Legalities are a minefield; margins at most price points are low; rents are high, particularly for foreigners who don’t know the market; competition is legion; and running a hospitality business is insanely hard work. Scores of expats with no hospitality experience open restaurants every year, pursuing their retirement dream: very few will ever make a living. See also: spas, hotels, bars, yoga joints.

And… I think that’s it, for now at least.

Looking to learn more about life in Indonesia? Click here for the nine best books about Indonesia.

Anything to add? Stuff you wished you’d known? Or stuff you’d like to know? Drop me a comment, and let me know.

254 Responses

  1. AInlay says:

    Pretty much the same as it was 30 yrs ago except more international schools now. Most expats then were Australians married to Balinese,so they knew more of the lay of the land. Wonder how many of those are still around? Think you dashed a lot of dreams with that last point!

    • Theodora says:

      Quite a few vintage expats in lasting marriages, I think – though my impression is that as expats age they sometimes move back in search of medical care. And, yes, that last point was a little harsh – but needed…

      • Roger says:

        Hi Theodora, so in a nutshell a family living in Australia wanting a cliche better life should or should not look at moving to Bali ? My situation being I would work in australia and fifo to Bali where my family would reside ????

        • Theodora says:

          Hi Roger, I’d research the fees at international schools and costs of all-family KITAS on Bali first: the cost of living is in many areas much lower but you can be looking at AU$30,000 per child per year for school fees once the kids are in their teens. Once you’ve done that, you’d need to then find which areas suited your desired lifestyle. Hope this helps! Theodora

    • Juleiga Enus says:

      hi Theodora I am planning to visit bali this month. Do I need a visa

  2. Barnacle Bill says:

    Where (which international destination) do you go to, to renew your visa? Or is it just your passport that gets the trip?

    Many years ago I came across the possibility of sending my passport from Dehli to Hongkong to get a Chinese visa valid for the Nepal to Tibet border crossing. I thought – well nothing can possibly go wrong there!

  3. Great information – seems that sooo many people want to move there these days. We need to come visit!

  4. Great post! I move to Bali in ten days, so this came at the perfect time!!

  5. I think I might like to just visit. Dang petrol in an Absolut vodka bottle…dangerous!

    • Theodora says:

      LIving somewhere and visiting are two very different things, you’re right, Penny.

    • Sasha says:

      Indonesians mostly are so lazy to buy petrol, so some people took advantage and set up shop selling petrol, those bottles is used not only for containers but to measure the petrol as well (1 bottle is about 500ml).. They used many types of bottles as long as they are 500ml – 1L, in Jakarta they usually used mineral bottles as they are cheap and easy to find.. A tip so you don’t get petrol mixed up with actual vodka, usually their booth are written “Bensin” which is bahasa for gasoline, or “Premium” or “Pertamax” which is the type of the gasoline 😉

  6. What a fascinating list!!! I was pretty surprised by some of them. Bali is a place that I’ve been wanting to go to for a while, and these quirks only make it more intriguing.

    • Theodora says:

      Most of the quirks – besides names and traffic – only become apparent when you’re living here, mercifully!

  7. I found myself both intrigued and shaking my head at the same time! Like many expats, I’ve had my fair share of frustrations, too! My boss spent a few months in Bali last year and had simile stories – I’d still love to give it a try!

  8. Turkey Tour Packages says:

    This pictures are great and glad that you shared it with us..and i hope this tips will be useful to tourist traveling to Bali..

  9. Aleah says:

    I understand why alcohol is expensive. It’s a Muslim country after all. But why does the ATM do that? LOL Thanks for the tip. I wouldn’t want to lose my card when I visit there!

    • Theodora says:

      Well, Indonesia isn’t a Muslim country: it IS Muslim-majority, but the Pancasila enshrines freedom of religion provided you believe in one true god (which for Hindus is Krishna). All imports to Indonesia are expensive – books cost a bloody fortune – so I suspect it’s more protectionist than religion in its origins. God only knows why the ATMs do that, but hopefully it’s going to stop soon…

    • Wen says:

      Bali is NOT a muslim country. It has its own language and its Balinese language so i suggest you find the truth before saying its is muslim country. Thanks a million

    • Sasha says:

      Alcohol is not the only expensive thing in Indonesia, all imported products is, because Indonesia has a very high import tax..

  10. Mary @ GGT says:

    Thanks for sharing these useful insider tips for anyone thinking of moving to Bali. It’s little things like street signs, names, and bank machines that can cause much confusion (and frustration) whether you’re moving to a new place or just visiting.

    • Theodora says:

      Beginning to wish I’d included the finer points of phones and internet now. Oh well!

      • Laurie-Lyn says:

        Not, “Oh well”, please please do share, I was in Bali in 2001 only for 3 weeks, this time I want to come for 3 months, so knowing about the phones and internet would be very very helpful.

        • Theodora says:

          Phones are easy: you can get cheap 3G and 4G just by buying and topping up credit at phone stores (1.5Gb for 30 days costs 50,000). Landlines are cheap, provided you don’t need to get a line put in, in which case you’ll need to pay bribes for it to happen in any timely fashion whatsoever.

          Internet very much depends on where you are. If you can get Indihome, the fibre optic from the national provider Telkomsel, that’s cheapest and fastest; if not, you can either try their cable internet, Speedy, which isn’t that reliable, or go for one of the various satellite providers (some people have been known to brave dongle internet as well, but it’s usually pretty slow). It will very much depend what you want to spend: you can spend as much as 6 million a month for fast satellite internet if you’re somewhere remote. Whatever you get will break from time to time but the more expensive ones typically break much less often and have better customer service.

          • Whit says:

            Ha, should have read the rest of the replies first… thanks for adding it in!

          • Sasha says:

            For internet I would rather suggest that you buy one those mobile wifi modem and buy the SIM card Flash provided by Telkomsel. Telkomsel is one of the best phone and internet provider in Indonesia.. Getting internet cable or fibre optic can be an annoying experience with the bureaucracy, and they aren’t usually that reliable either. And for Indihome, I wouldn’t recommend it, most of the time the connection is not stable, they literally goes up and down, complaining to the provider would get you nothing but a headache.. Besides getting Indihome means you’ll also need to subscribe to their tv cable and set up landline, you can’t take one without the other, sorry…

            • Theodora says:

              I think it depends on your expectations of speed! If you’re from mainland Europe, you’ll likely want the speed of fibre optic or satellite over the wireless modems – Indihome is a Telkomsel service, by the way! All things are relative, but I’ve been in Bulgaria and the UK recently and got used to download speeds of 30-70mbps. I never found the wireless modems very reliable and they worked out quite expensive if you use the internet a lot.

      • Whit says:

        yes, would love to know about wifi & phones… you should add it in as an update! <3

  11. Janise says:

    Greetings from Canada Theodora. I am considering a move to Bali, its been over a decade since I’ve lived in a tropical location (Cayman Islands,4yrs). I am an Esthetician with 25 yrs experience and there appears to be a fair amount of spa jobs.Thoughts? Have you been to Bali Spirit or the Yoga Barn in Ubud? thank you.I really enjoy your blog your writing,as well as your chutzpah… Janise

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Janise, I’ve actually only wandered into the Yoga Barn – but have been to the Bali Spirit Festival. Bali is a great place to live but if you wanted to work you’d need to be hired first so that they could arrange a work permit, which are hard to come by, and for that you’d likely want to be in one of the big Western-owned Botox joints in South Bali, rather than Balinese-style spas where Balinese therapists are highly prized. There IS a lot of demand for spa therapists in Bali, because businesses the world over want Balinese masseuses – but if you’re working at local rates you’d be earning under $400 per month, and I suspect most tourists expect Balinese staff in a spa. It’s perfectly possible to live quite well on that as a single person, if your job covers healthcare, insurance etc, and if you’re happy riding a scooter, but it won’t afford you the expat lifestyle. I’m not an expert on the Bali beauty scene, but I’d look into places like Cocoon, and try and get a job set up before you move – a lot of foreigners move to Bali wanting to work in spas and find it very difficult. Hope this helps. Do shout if you’ve got more Qs and I’ll try and advise. Theodora

  12. I am just writing to enquire how easy is it for English to get employment or are there laws or preference for the locals which hinder employment opportunity’s? We would like an harshly truthful answer to our chances of having a 4 month summer over in the country.

    Daniel (21) Employment currently: Experienced Barman.

    : I am soon to be a 3rd Sports development and coaching student at Staffordshire University.
    Main areas of interest are:
    Sports for crime prevention , social control , Rehabilitation, Drug/alcohol abuse prevention.

    Whitney (18): Employment currently: McDonald’s Team member.

    Health and social care student.
    Main areas of interest include:
    infection control and anatomy and physiology consecrating around psychology.

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Danny (and Whitney!),

      Thanks for reaching out to me. I’m afraid Indonesian employment law is very protective of locals, which means it’s extremely hard for non-Indonesians to get work permits, especially not for jobs like bartending and hospitality jobs which would naturally go to locals, and especially not for short-term holiday placements. Bali routinely deports foreigners caught working in bars.

      As young Brits, I’d suggest you consider a working holiday in Australia, instead: lots of jobs there, good money, and you’re both legal to work. Hope this helps!



  13. Tai says:

    I would add to that that the internet (at least when I was there in 2014) was quite shifty, expensive, slow and unreliable. That’s for me the biggest drawback of Bali. I didn’t find riding a bike difficult there, I learnt riding it in Bali so it felt easy and natural. The Balinese mostly ride slowly and carefully, maybe some youngsters race but rarely.
    one can live very cheaply in rumah kos in Denpasar, although not every landlord would allow a Westerner in there. My rent was 80 bucks a month for a little flat without a kitchen but with a nice view, and a bike for 50 bucks a month as well. I guess there is an expat society of long timers there but I guess most expats who are in the diving business or catering are quite segregated and isolated from the locals, most Westerners I met couldn’t speak any Indonesian.

    Another point to consider is corruption. There is an invisible to most but sizable criminal undercurrent in Bali. Drugs, prostitution, motorcycle gangs, development scams and etc. All this is linked to the Balinese police. So if you’re in legal trouble in Bali, it can turn out ugly very fast.

    • Theodora says:

      Hello! Nice to see you back here again. My neighbour’s paying 500,000 for a rumah kos in Canggu; I pay 500,000 for my bike rental; so it is very cheap. Surprised that some landlords won’t take Westerners – is that because registering them with police, as required, might lead to an unwanted tax burden?

      I find the internet’s not that bad, to be honest with you. I think if you wanted to live out in the countryside and did a business that relied on a lot of Skype video-calling / streaming, it would be a major factor. We have Speedy internet and it’s generally pretty fast: not streaming fast, but works enough for my needs. But it does cost a chunk of change if you’re on a budget: over 600,000 per month for 2mb internet, which is more than the rent on a kos…

      And, yes, corruption – and laskar Bali and the like – is an issue, although I wouldn’t say especially more so than in other LDCs….


      • John says:

        Just some input on internet. I live in the small agricultural village of Tegallinggah in North Bali (up the hill between Singaraja and Lovina). Telcom ran a fiber optic line up here late last year. Phone, 10 MB internet and TV adaptor is 400.000 per month.

        • Theodora says:

          Thank you! I need to update this piece to reflect the onward march of Indihome: we’re apparently going to get it this year.

  14. Meira says:

    Thanks for this! Sounds wonderful and super helpful! Is there anything you’d reccomend that would be different for someone wanting to move for a month to Bali? I’ve never been to that side of the world and am considering taking 2 months off to travel and want to spend 1 month of that in Bali relaxing and refreshing!

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Meira,

      Many people who take a break in Bali choose to do so in Ubud, because it’s got great culture, wellness, spas and food, it’s easy to navigate on foot and it’s cooler than much of Bali – although no beach! Without knowing about your tastes and budget, it’s difficult to recommend which part of Bali would be right for you – but Ubud (and a few parts of Seminyak) are, pretty much, the only parts of Bali that are manageable without a bike or a driver. North coast is great for rural tranquility, Canggu is hipsters and surfers, Nusa Dua posh hotels and surfers, Seminyak shops and spas and luxury, Kuta best avoided (full of Australians on cheap package tours), Sanur popular with older retirees and has the best swimming/paddling beaches (surf beaches aren’t good for swimming at), Balian great for yoga. Hope this helps!

      • HI This is really helpful! I’m thinking of moving to Bali for 2 months with my 2 year old and was thinking of staying in Ubud. What do you do with regards to carseat? Would it be best to hire a driver and put a carseat in there or to rent a car?

        I also need high speed internet for my business. I need to use skype and do video conference.

        Would Ubud be a good place for a single woman with a 2.5 year old who needs internet Access?

        I was picturing renting a simple/quiet/safe little 1 bedroom, being able to walk to shops and restaurants, and then hire a driver to take us to a beach, attraction, or a resort for the day. I was also wondering about how much a nanny would be per month that would cook and clean as well, approx.?

        • Theodora says:


          If a car seat is important to you, I’d recommend bringing one, then you can add it to the rental car or car and driver as you wish: that’s going to depend very much on how you feel about driving in Bali when you get here. High speed internet is expensive in Bali – Gecko can install satellite internet quickly – although there’s co-working places such as Hubud as a backup.

          It’s difficult to find staff for short periods as most want permanent jobs. Unless the place you rent has staff looking for placements, you’ll need to use an agency like http://www.balikrisnaservice.com/ – you can check prices there.

          Bali in general is a bad place for people who need fast internet, but with a home satellite fast internet plus Hubud as a backup, you should be alright. And if walking is important to you, Ubud is definitely the place to be. You could also look at kindergartens – Pelangi has a pre-school – rather than nanny.

          I’m not sure how easy it would be for you to work and have a toddler and a nanny in a quiet/simple 1-bedroom. I think you should look at 2 or 3 bedrooms so there’s a room for baby and nanny, a room for an office, and ideally a bedroom for you as well.



      • Alasdair says:

        Hi Theodora,

        I wondered if you could help me with some advice too! I live in Singapore and my mother and I are planning on visiting Ubud next may 2017 for 2 weeks. Not just for a holiday though as my mother wants to sell up in the UK and move out closer to me in one of the surrounding countries, possibly Bali. She turns 60 this year and I know there can be complications when foreigners try to buy property there so wondered what you take is on that? Also, the Visa situation looks a little daunting with the long term ones / retirement Visa’s having to be renewed every year for 5 years and then can apply for a permanent one I think. It would be great to know your thoughts and advice on whether it’s realistic for my mother to consider a move to Bali and any advice you could give on the best options for living, Visa’s etc as this is all quite confusing so far..

        Many thanks,


  15. TM says:

    I just discovered your blog and really enjoy it! I am looking to move to Bali (ubud) with my home/un schooled 11 1/2 year old alone as a single mom. I am looking into Pelangi if there is space. Rent prices seem to be very high these days from what I have seen from afar. My budget is around $1500 for the two of us…. Will this buy me the “expat” lifestyle?

    • Theodora says:

      Hi! Although Pelangi is very affordable, they only go up to age 11, so you’ll need a secondary option, which begins to become extremely expensive around Ubud – the reasonably priced international schools are all down in south Bali. $1500 can buy the expat lifestyle for two people – I’m not au fait with prices in and around Ubud, but I’m fairly sure you can pick up 2-bedroom villas with pools for $600-$700 even paid monthly if you look in the right places (Ubud Community is good for overcontracts) – but school fees will take up a massive chunk of your income. A friend has her son in a home school set-up, for which she pays, down here, and there may well be something similar happening in Ubud: I’d ask around within the community to find whether there’s anyone doing that, or whether it’s going to be something you need to do yourself. Schools become very significantly more expensive the older a child gets, so that’s the bit you’re going to need to figure out, not so much rental properties. Hope this helps!

    • TeeGee says:

      Hi TM

      I too am a sole-parent looking to homeschool / un-school my two boys in Bali also.

      Am interested to hear how you’re travelling and doing?

  16. TM says:

    also one more thing! I have an iphone 5! How to use this in Bali!!

    • Theodora says:

      Loads of people here with iPhones. Data is very cheap – just buy a SIM, put credit on it, and buy some flash packets of data.

  17. I have such a great time reading your post! It looks like that moving to Bali in not so easy! I laughed a lot when read “Straight, straight, straight then left at the banyan tree.”

  18. Rosita says:

    Have so many burocracy, no? What I have to do if I want to leave an adult white male KBD (Kintamani Bali Dog) from Brazil to USA during five days? The dog is vaccinated against rabies, but he ISN’T castrated. I can have any problem with it?

  19. Abi says:

    Hi Theodora,
    I’ve really enjoyed reading your post! I’m currently living in the UK and am a UK citizen. My boyfriend and I are looking at moving to Bali next year. I am currently working in London for a designer womenswear/accessories label Design. I’ve heard there are a lot of design studios and Australian labels who are based in Bali.. My boyfriend is a qualified electrician and has 5 years experience. Are you aware of any electric companies in Bali who will hire expats? My partner is also very interested in training local indonesians as electricians. Would you recommend getting a job before moving to Bali?
    Our original plan was to go out there and live in a guesthouse on tourist visas until we both find jobs..
    Looking forward to your reply! Thanks

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Abi,

      It’s very tough to get a job as an expat in Bali – the overwhelming majority of people who are here are independent/freelance/business owners or engineers/consultants in mining.

      There are a lot of designers based on Bali, although I’m not sure how many of them employ expats: most have a fairly small core team and employ Indonesians to manage production and to do production. But, if you’re a designer, that’s definitely a route you could explore, for example by taking a look at the job ads on the Bali Advertiser, and researching studios who are based here and emailing directly to ask about vacancies – or, as you say, coming in on tourist visas. You should note that the tourist visa situation on Bali is probably about to change for UK citizens – http://thejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/indonesia-waives-visa-requirements-for-45-countries/ – which means you’ll get a 30 day visa, free, but it will be non-extendable, so for the longer tourist visa you’ll need to apply in advance. If you’re a designer, also, you might be able to find a niche in (eg) weddings or interior design companies: some wedding specialists hire expat salespeople.

      I’m afraid I’m 99% certain there are no companies on Bali that will hire expat electricians, particularly since Indonesia is actively cutting back on expat workers. I don’t see training being much of an offer either unless he speaks fluent Indonesian. Wages are low in Indonesia – also, I’m not sure what an employed electrician earns but the minimum wage on Bali is £90 a month, and a teacher can earn as little as £250 a month.

      I don’t want to put you off. But I’d really suggest you do a bit more reading around the job market and thinking about what jobs you could do — you might also want to take a look in the Facebook group Bali Expats (don’t post a new thread, but search and read old threads) to see what’s going down in the job market.



  20. Rosita says:

    Hi, Theodora
    I imagine that’s soooo burocracy to an expat live in Bali. But I’m with a problem: I have an adult male KBD (Kintamani Bali Dog). His name’s Joko, and we’re living on Brazil. My dearest Joko is one year old, and we’re going spend six days on USA and eight months on Porto Rico. Joko’s vaccinated against rabies, but he isn’t castrated. Have any burocracy if I want leave a dog from Brazil to another country? I need to leave him to a veterinary doktor before our trip? Sorry if I’m writing any error, it’s because I’m learning English.


    • Theodora says:

      Hi Rosita, I did reply to your last comment 😉 It looks as though you can bring him into the US safely, provided you have certificates showing he’s vaccinated – http://www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/dogs.html – and as though Puerto Rico may also need a veterinary certificate declaring him healthy. So – some bureaucracy, but not too much. Hope this helps! Theodora

  21. Rosita says:

    Oh, thanks for the info! We’re going tomorrow. I’m so sad to leave my hometown 🙁 but it’s too violent, so, I don’t will miss it so much. I prefer peace to violence. 🙂 we’re initiating a new life in Puerto Rico! This’s my life now. And Joko’s new life. We’re going to be happy. Bye for today!

    Your Brazilian-Balinese-Puerto Rican buddy,


  22. Karen says:

    Hi there, thanks for this site, lots of good tips. I’m a lifelong expat who’s spent most of her childhood and working life in SE Asia, and am thinking of relocating to Bali….I work for myself as a consultant doing child protection policy development and training, and work all over the place…but the problem is finding a place to LIVE legally. I’ve been in Bangkok for 1.5 years, 1 year of that on a ‘business visa’ as I fly in and out all the time and just use Bangkok as my ‘base’. Do you think it would be possible to do the same in Bali? Big cities are really starting to stress me out and I absolutely love the quiet and peaceful feeling of Bali. Two other colleagues and I are planning to register a business in Singapore; don’t know if it would make sense to open a ‘branch office’ in Bali or just forget it and do the business visa? Thanks for any tips, much appreciated!

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Karen,

      The visa situation in Bali is changing a lot at the moment, but it is extremely hard to legally form a company in Indonesia: you need a high cash down payment (around US$250,000), generally a local partner too, and your maximum foreign to local staff ratio just moved (from memory) from 1:5 to 1:10. Bureaucracy is insane. If that hasn’t put you off, this site has a lot of useful detail: http://www.indosight.com/blog/2015-new-work-permit-regulations-indonesia/

      Bali is a good base to work for yourself if you’re working and earning outside of Indonesia — ie, not taking jobs away from Indonesians – and there’s a business research visa that could fit your needs, very similar to the one you’re on in BKK. So – I’d register in Singapore and do the business research visa – assuming you’ll fly out at least every 60 days, which it sounds like you will, that would be perfect, as it’s unlimited multiple entries. When it comes to picking where you live, keep an eye on internet.

      Do shout if you have more Qs, but hope this helped! Theodora



  23. Chris says:

    Just visited on a US passport, and paid no visa charge on arrival. Wish I had read this before going – lost two cards in ATM’s. Do you like any particular area as far as a place to live? We stayed in Kuta, and I liked having the beach and restaurants close by, but I could see that it might get a bit much after a while. And, do you know if you can finance a long term villa lease? Prices still look pretty good compared to Aus. thanks.

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Chris, Thanks for the reminder: I need to update this post to include the new visa info. As to where to live, the question is how long is a piece of string. North coast for quiet tranquility, Ubud for spirituality, Sanur for retirees and young families, Seminyak for partying and high style, Canggu for surfing Bohemia, Bukit for uber-luxury (and epic surf): I’d take a short-term lease to suck it and see before committing to longterm. Indonesians do get mortgages for buying property, but I don’t think lease financing is available to foreigners in Indonesia unless it’s through a legal company, which is in itself expensive to set up (and becoming progressively more difficult): you’d need to have a business that was about property and employed multiple Indonesians. Lots of Aussies who quite like Kuta but want something a bit less hectic land up in Kerobokan – maybe check out the Plumbers Arms pub next time you’re over? I’ll look into financing and add that to the post when I update. Thanks. Theodora

  24. Bali Lover says:

    Hi I am in Bali have been here for a year next month you need to correct number 5 – you ACTUALLY CAN extend your visa! I am here on a tourist visa which is 30 days on arrival and by using a “visa agent” just one week before expiration we extend for another 30 days – in total we get 60 days PER ENTRY.

    You CAN do this yourself at the immigration office in Ranon – but a visa agent is much easier and it costs 750,000 or 800,000 (about $55/£35) and is no trouble at all the agent will pick up your passport and it will be kept at the immigration office for about 2 weeks! Then you go to immigration to so the photo and fingerprint and finally a few days later you will have it with the stamp.

    I would recommend keeping a digital copy of your passport encrypted in the cloud or with a relative back home, also take a COLOUR copy of your passport and front cover get it laminated cheaply at one of the scanning shops (be sure they delete it after they scan it!!!) and keep that in your wallet – it is as acceptable as the real thing and makes it less likely you will lose your passport when out and about.

    If you don’t want to use your passport for ID on everything then I suggest you keep a drivers license handy

    • Theodora says:

      I too am in Bali, and have been for some time, while Stuart, who I link to on the visa stuff, has been here since the late Stone Age, and I thought point 5 was pretty clear (I also checked details at the airport on Sunday). Just to clarify: there are TWO 30-day tourist visas. If you want to extend, you need to request the paid-for (sticker) one, not the free (stamp) one, even if you are entitled to the free one – then you get 30 days + 30 days as per usual.

      Some nationalities still have to buy the paid-for one at the airport and others can choose to buy it – although it’s not clear that that’s what government regulations state, that’s how they’re operating at Denpasar. They are VERY clear that you can’t legally extend the free one (though there are dodgy agents who’ll take your passport out to the airport and pretend you just flew in for a large fee, you can get into a tonne of trouble doing it that way) – given you’re only paying 750 or 800, I assume you’re using the legit paid-for visa.

      FYI, there are several immigration offices on Bali. Most bule will use either the one in Renon, Denpasar (if you’re in Ubud, or thereabouts) or the one out near the airport (for people in South Bali). Typically, agents charge less for extensions if you hand in the passport more than a week before its due to expire: if you hand it in a fortnight ahead of time, you should end up paying closer to 600-700 than 750-800.

      Keeping a digital copy of your passport is good advice. For most ID purposes, though – traffic stops, banking – you’ll need the original.

  25. Lynne Chelin says:

    Hi Theodora,
    So glad I stumbled upon your site!!
    I lived in Ubud for 3 years,and just been back in April.
    When I lived there I was able to renew my Visa each month,and the after 6 months used to do a day run to Singapore,and then the process would start again,has this all changed now?

    • Theodora says:

      Hey Lynette,

      If you were on the social (sosial-budaya) visa, nothing has changed there. You go to Sg, bring the sponsor’s letter etc, and you get 60 days to start off with, after which you can renew four times for 30 days each time, for a total of 180 days – then you head to Sg and reset the clock. It’s just the tourist visa which has changed – there’s a new 30 day free visa for various nationalities (most of Europe, most of Asia, North Americans, but not Australians), and IF you get that one, you can’t extend it.



  26. Chris T says:

    Hi Theodora

    I’m so glad I found your blog – I’m hoping you can clarify some confusion I have, especially with regard to visas. I currently live and work for a UK company but travel a lot – particularly to Australia, Korea, Japan and now have been asked to look after clients in Indonesia too. I would like to relocate to Bali for around a year, get a long term rental apartment or villa, and use it as a base for my work, whilst still being “officially” employed in the UK. My company don’t want the hassle of getting a work visa (and from what I’ve read the process can be long and difficult). Instead the idea would be for me to exist on tourist visas.
    My work would involve me leaving Bali probably 2 times per month for a few days at a time to visit clients in the above mentioned countries.
    From what I’ve read elsewhere I understand it would be necessary for me to obtain a visa every time I come back in to Bali, giving details of where I will be staying and also giving evidence of an exit flight out of Bali within the visa time limit. I’m wondering if this understanding is correct or, alternatively, could you advise on what would be the best way to work the visa system to enable me to stay for a year with the minimum of hassle.
    I would appreciate your thoughts as I would ideally like to get over to Bali by the end of October if at all possible.
    Best regards

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Chris, What nationality are you? If you are doing business with businesses in Indonesia representing a UK business you should get a business visa: KITAS is hard, but multi-entry business visa (for companies doing business in Indonesia), is, I understand, relatively simple. That’s issued for 12 months and you need to leave at least every 60 days, so you’d fall under that category. I’d suggest that would be a better option than working on a tourist visa – though, with the rate you’re leaving the country at, if you’re one of the nationalities that get visa-free entry, you might consider taking that risk. (It’s a small stamp at visa on arrival.) Typical place to arrange a business visa is in Singapore, using an agent (never DIY big visas in Indonesia!). I’d need to double-check this but my understanding is you need a letter of invitation from an Indonesian business to your business. Cheers, Theodora

      • Chris T says:

        Thanks for the prompt response, Theodora – very much appreciate your close attention. Unfortunately the company I work for do not want to get into the visa hassle at all so the business visa, even multi-entry is not an option. I’m a UK national so I guess from what you are saying I can get a stamp each time I come back in.
        “though, with the rate you’re leaving the country at, if you’re one of the nationalities that get visa-free entry, you might consider taking that risk. (It’s a small stamp at visa on arrival.) ”
        Do you recognise the need to submit living address (is it a problem to have a 12 month let on an apartment for example) and the need to have proof of future exit within the 30 day period? What are your thoughts?

        • Theodora says:

          My impression is, Chris, that since they introduced visa-free entry they’ve effectively if not practically nixed the requirement for an onward ticket, though you might hit problems flying out of Oz, which was always by far the most rigorous about that. I’ve heard of people creating fake tickets in specialised software: I don’t do that myself. Safer option is to buy cheapest flight out – usually Medan-Penang – or ferry ticket online at check-in desk if challenged. Still cheaper than the old visa.

          No, no visa issues on 12-month lets. AFAIK you can get bank accounts and even longterm leases on a tourist visa, although if you got into a legal dispute over a lease the tourist visa would come back to bite you as the last statement of the rules was that long-term leases (by which they mean considerably longer than one year) needed permanent residency. Please do be aware that they do have clamp downs on foreign workers and if you’re doing anything that could be perceived as taking jobs away from Indonesians they are very strict about that.

          • Chris T says:

            Theodora – I can’t thank you enough for the information. It is reassuring to understand possible issues in advance. For sure, I owe you a beer or two !
            Thanks again – Chris

  27. First I want to thank you for providing this generous free consultancy service, Theodora. My query is about visas: I intend to live in Bali for at least 5 years (inshallah!), and I have two passports, British and Australian. Which would be best to enter Bali with? I am a retired widower living in Australia on a fixed income from pensions and a managed fund, and look forward to the value of my income being increased by about a third. Will I be disappointed? I gather that Sanur “is for retirees” but will first explore Ubud. I paint pictures, so perhaps the arty ambience my suit me. Can you comment on the Ubud ExPat’s club? Once again, sincere thanks for this valuable help.

    • Theodora says:

      Oh, there are plenty of retirees in the ‘Bud, Alan, and if you like painting that’s likely to be a great spot for you – it also has the vast advantage of being walkable, unlike much of the rest of Bali, and good art stores and book stores. You can check Ubud Community on Facebook for an idea of the denizens of Ubud that frequent Facebook, though there are many folk in town without overt spiritual interests. As a widower, also, the Bud has the advantage of having lots of classes / courses / self-improvement options, as well as small galleries etc, which make it easy to build a community, meet people and make friends.

      The only effective difference between the passports is that Brits can get the free tourist stamp which can’t be extended, while Australians at time of writing have to pay. I’d propose, giving you’re looking to settle, that you apply for the 60-day tourist visa initially, and, as you’re doing it from Australia, do it on the Australian passport (unless you have a Balinese friend who can sponsor you for the sosial-budaya).

      This can technically only be extended once but in current practice there are agents that will bodge it into a sosial-budaya, allowing you a six-month stay before you need to pop over to Singapore: or you could pop out after 90 days anyway, since you might want to do some shopping for the sorts of essentials that can still be hard to find in Bali. This will give you long enough, I would think, to decide where you want to live and whether you want to jump through whatever the retirement KITAS hoops are at that point in time or continue popping home or elsewhere every six months to get a new sos-bud.

      I’d recommend taking a one-month rental in a part of Ubud that you like and seeing how you feel first of all. AirBNB isn’t the cheapest way of finding accommodation – though most people on there will discount if you discuss with them through messaging for a one-month rental – but it is comprehensive. You might find then that you want a different neighbourhood. Penestenan is a nice part of Ubud, as it’s walkable (albeit with steps) to most places you’d want to go to, has a nice cafe scene, but at the same time is not swarming with tour buses. Then for your next month you could either try somewhere else in Ubud, or take a look elsewhere – you might also consider Jimbaran in the Bukit, which I believe also has an, ahem, more mature, artistic community.

      Rinse and repeat until you’ve found a location that’s right (you might, for example, be the kind of person who’d like to live out of Ubud in a more traditionally Balinese community, or even in an Indonesian community) and have a handle on the prices (which will be way less than you paid on your initial AirBNB), and then embark on the godawful process of finding a longterm rental.

      As regards prices – you’ll have a much higher standard of living in Bali than you would in Australia, and be relieved of the necessity of cooking unless you actually enjoy it. Things that only bule like tend to be expensive. Much other stuff is cheap. Do take the time before committing to a longterm rental, though – as you get to know people in your community, whichever it ends up being, you’ll start to understand how pricing works.

      Hope this helps!

      • Many thanks for the detailed response, Theodora. I will study it.

        • Theodora says:

          Do please come back with any queries. Finding the right area means you find the right community of both expats and locals, which is especially key if you’ve lost your other half.

          • Our discussion was around Sept 20, 2015, Theodora, and it is now March 31, 2016. I board my flight to Bali at 6.30 tonight, equipped with my Retirement Visa and lots of ‘friends’ made online in the Ubud community. Many thanks for your help.

      • Matthew Hensley says:

        Hi Theodara. I am a US citizen (married to Javanese) living in Miami Beach. We are moving to Bali for a year so my wife can return to Indonesia and our family (2 small girls) can experience Bali. I am impressed with you knowledge and versatility! I have a few questions about visas and health insurance options. I am a semi-retired writer so wondering if I should do visa runs or try and get a Kitas. I also would like to know how I can get health insurance in Singapore or if I should just keep my US insurance and pay for emergency insurance for me and the family. Any suggestions? Thanks so much. Matthew

  28. Freda says:

    Hi Theodora,

    There is a lot of great information here. I have just moved to Bali on a social visa and would like to open a bank account here on the island. You mentioned above that several banks will let you open an account on a tourist visa. Can you tell me which banks will do this? All of my reading online indicates you must have a KITAS, which I don’t have.

    Thanks for your help.

  29. Freda says:

    Hi Theodora,

    Thanks for all of the great information. I have relocated to Bali recently on a social visa and have a question from above. You mention that a lot of banks will let you open a bank account with a tourist visa. Can you tell which banks will do that? I am quite keen to open an account here.


  30. martin says:

    Hi just wondering if id be able to invest in bali and make enough to live I will have about $350,000 aussie dollars to my name and im a 40 year old man cheers mate.

    • Theodora says:

      Don’t invest in Bali. It’s full of bent lawyers who will screw you over and even if the legislative environment were kinder – it changes all the time – you stand no chance as a foreigner in a court of law. Especially, don’t invest in property in Bali. If this hasn’t put you off, take a look at the currency chart of the rupiah. It’s not a stable currency right now and all transactions within Indonesia have to be made in it, so just by moving money into the country you’ll lose a chunk of change.

  31. Helen A says:

    Hi Theodora
    I am UK resident/passport holder and will be travelling around south east asia in the coming months. With the new “stamp on Arrival” allowing 30 days stay in Indonesia I’m wondering if there is a minimum period after leaving Indonesia to returning there once more? For example, can you leave one day then come back the next? Is it possible to revisit several times within a few months? Do you or your friends have any experience that can help me.
    Thanks – Helen

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Helen, There seems to be new rules coming in specifically for Bali which could change the situation a lot: overview here, although of course nobody knows how or whether that will play out in practice. If you want to do extended travel within Indonesia, I’d propose you apply for the 60-day tourist visa: the KL embassy won’t issue these but as far as I know Singapore still will. From this recap, and I don’t know how accurate it is, over four months will cause significant problems. Cheers, Theodora

  32. Laura says:

    hey Theadora….what a great load of information!! thank you for taking the time to put this together…

    I’ve been to Bali heaps of times, and in march 2016 I am looking to live there. For how long who knows….I used to live in Thailand (1 year) and Australia (9 years). My only real question about living in Bali is the visas. I saw an article quite recently that said immigration were cracking down on foreigners using the tourist visas and social visas back to back…how true is this really do you think?

    Now I’m from the UK and Im thinking the best visa to come on is the 60 day tourist visa? Would you agree? I see you have said this can be extended twice for 30 days each time to a total of 120 days? is that right. Not 180 days total as it used to be?

    And then I was looking to get the social visa once I was in bali which looks fairly easy if you use an agent, and which as I understand it lets me stay in the country for 180 days in total, as long as i make a little holiday every 60 days? I was then thinking I could hop over to sg and get a new social visa…

    BUT then I have been reading about the business visa. Now I’m a freelancer….graphic designer and illustrator. Could I get the business visa? If not could I get one of my clients to say I work for them? Given the visa is 12 months I think its possibly a much better option.

    And lastly…and I promise this is my last question lol, I’m a qualifies ESL teacher, I have taught in Brazil, Thailand and the UK. I’m pretty sure I could pick up some teaching work….is it normal for a teacher to be given a work visa? or is it normal for them to work on a tourist visa? I don’t mind to take up a 12 month teaching contract.

    Thanks in advance for your time


    • Theodora says:


      I understand that, yes, it’s true they’re cracking down on foreigners working illegally: they’re aiming to get people working in the tourist trade, teaching English, working in F&B, scuba diving etcetera and generally taking jobs away from Indonesians, and they’re focusing, sensibly enough, on people with multiple, back-to-back VOAs/sosial-budaya. If you work as an English teacher on a tourist visa, they won’t be happy about that at all: I’d suggest approaching language schools and see if they can help you get a KITAS. That still won’t allow you to work as a graphic designer, but it will allow you to work as an English teacher, and it will allow you to go in and out at will. They’re not cheap, though.

      The business visa does not allow you to work in Indonesia. It allows you to explore business possibilities or discuss business with Indonesian companies, and you need an Indonesian company to invite you.

      The 60-day tourist visa is a complicated one. The 180 day extension, as I understand it, is basically turning it into a sosial-budaya visa, which they’re not supposed to do. With the social visa, you don’t get multiple entries: you can stay for up to 180 days, extending every 30 after the first 60, but if you leave the country the visa is cancelled and you have to reapply.

      With all this said, visa regulations are in a state of massive flux right now – new regulations coming out almost weekly – so what you’re seeing today may not be the case in March, and, although I’m hearing about people being questioned at the airport, I’ve yet to come across anyone being refused admission. It’s also worth noting that the Bali crackdown is not new legislation but guidelines for enforcement of existing legislation, and there’s still time to see how it plays out.

      It would be fair, however, to say that now would be a really, really bad time to seek employment in Bali on a tourist visa (not that there has ever been a good one!), and it looks as though anyone planning to base here should plan on extended sojourns out of the country.

  33. Cat says:

    Wow this is so helpful!! I’m thinking of moving to Bali and was wondering, as a business owner (jewellery) how easy would it be for me to operate out in Bali, is it likely I would be granted permission to run my (small) business? Xxx

  34. Turid Hanaset says:

    Hallo Theodora 🙂

    We are a married couple from Norway,we have just got our kitas,and now we are looking for a healt Insurance her in Bali.
    We are now permanent resident her in Bali , so we cant by trawell insurace i Norway because we have no adress in Norway.
    We will be very happy if you can help us with som information about where to find a ok insurace, for a ok price .

    Best regards Turid Hanaset and Odd Fossum Dalung Bali.

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Turid & Odd! For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. For health/medical insurance while you’re in Bali, try asialife.net or medibroker.com: medical care is cheap here, so I’d recommend you go for one with a high excess, as they typically work out cheaper. Cheers, Theodora

  35. veronica says:

    Dear Theodore thank you so much for the post and I admire how carefully you answer all the questions with so much care! Absolutely fantastic! Please don’t make fun of me but what about buying an existing small hotel business that has been running For a while and had lots of reviews and big presence on interenet? Is it also doomed to fail? I have 15 years experience in hospitality and we have 2 small restaurants in London that have been running for a long time now. Do you know any one who done that? We have a baby boy and enother on the way and I would love them to escape the craziness of London at least whike they are young.Any advice would be much appreciated! Thank you very much for your time

    • Theodora says:

      I wouldn’t say it’s doomed to fail. I’d establish why the vendor is selling if the business is doing well: how long is the lease? Is it a legitimate lease? Did they have the right to build and all the proper paperwork for that? I’d visit to see that it is as the reviews say – as you know, internet reviews can be easily faked. I’d spend time sussing out the competitive landscape in whichever little place it’s in: I’m sure you’ve already looked at the accounts. And I’d take very, very solid legal advice and investigate thoroughly. I know a couple of people who run hotels that do well, so it can be done.

  36. Millie says:

    Hi 🙂 I’m 15 , and I really want to do an exchange to Bali in my last year of school. Unfortunately I would have to go into a lot of effort to arrange that as no organisations often do student exchanges to Bali here in New Zealand. But if I did, what would it be like for me? I’m thinking Conggu, so I’d attend Conggu community school 🙂 would it be a good choice if I made it happen? Thanks !

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Millie, Canggu Community School is a lovely school, with lots of things going on! How long would you want to do the student exchange for? They’ll be studying for IB (international baccalaureate) in your last year of school, which will mean quite a difference from the NZ curriculum, as you choose optional subjects to pursue. Theodora

  37. Matt says:

    Hi Theodora,
    Thanks for the detailed information you shared on this blog already.
    I’m an independant IT consultant looking to relocate to Bali for about a year, working with my current customers over the web. My main concern is the speed/reliability of the internet in Bali, as I need it 8 hours a day. I noticed co-working facilities offering dedicated internet access, like Hubud and many others. From your experience, is that a good option to be assured of reliable internet?
    A second concern is housing. I don’t need a top notch villa, but like a quite/peaceful place to sleep, preferably outside the expat scene. Are there areas/town near Ubud where I should start looking? Is there a website or do you have some pointers where I could find houses to rent for about 12 months?

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Matt, Hubud does have reliable internet so could be a good backup for your internet at home. I’d recommend waiting until you get to Bali before looking for accommodation. There are Facebook groups devoted to rentals in Bali, rentals in Ubud, etc, which are often quite highly priced, but not always; there’s also groups called things like cheap house to rent Bali, Ubud house shares, etc. If you search in the Facebook group Ubud Community you’ll find pointers to accommodation Facebook groups, but by far the best option is to drive around looking for signs. Theodora

  38. Mark says:

    Useful, and I would agree a lot of it spot on, since I have visited a number of times from Singapore where I live. Looking to potentially move/retire next year to Bali. I do some Forex trading….plan to do that as a way of earning some subsistence/beer money over there. Anything to consider because of that..?


  39. Jacquelyn says:

    I’m a U.S. citizen and I’m a certified special education teacher K-12, elementary education teacher K-6, dyslexia specialist and have a Master’s of Administration in Education degree . How do I go about seeking employment in my field with the intention of moving to Indonesia? Would you even recommend this if it is feasible, and if so, what salary could I expect if offered a position in education and what type of lifestyle would that afford me there?

    Thank you,

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Jacquelyn, You’d likely want to look at schools in Jakarta and Bali, although there are other international schools elsewhere. Jakarta living is not for everyone as it’s a very, very crowded megacity with dreadful traffic. With a dyslexia specialism, I’d suggest you look at Green School Bali, which has a lot of dyslexics and a dyslexic owner, although I’ve heard it can be a challenging management environment. You might also want to look at Bali Island School, Jakarta Intercultural School, Canggu Community School, though do note that most follow the British or IB system rather than the American. Teachers at big schools can enjoy a high standard of living; smaller schools deliver a less high standard of living. I’d look at the jobs pages on schools that interest you: most do advertise vacancies on their websites. Theodora

  40. Basyani says:

    Dear Theodora thank you for beautiful dedication. Bali has been calling me very clearly for some years, and now i feel ready in some weeks to make the big move!
    I want to start my own business there, giving concerts, offering sessions (sound healing and massage) as well as workshops (with meditation, movement, sound). Could you please tell me how to do with the visa and working permit? Thanks a lot. Wish you a beautiful end of the year ♡

  41. jen says:


    I am an American citizen living in Canada (permanent resident) and would like to visit Bali as an extended holiday (a few months… or maximum allowed). How long can I stay (max) and which VISA would I be applying for? Also, how do I go about applying for the VISA?

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Jen, Your best bet would be the sosial-budaya: this requires an Indonesian sponsor, which some agencies on Bali can arrange for you if you don’t’ know any Indonesians. This lasts for an initial 60 days and can be extended for a further 30 days to a maximum of 180 days. I would recommend that you enter the country on a tourist visa, connect with an agent and fly out to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur to arrange the sosial-budaya and then fly back in again: that’s typically easier than trying to arrange this visa before you leave, particularly given you’re not in the country of your birth. Cheers Theodora

  42. Ladreina says:

    Thank you for the information, Theodora. I am from the US and I’ve been thinking about moving to Bali or Lombok. I have a question about employment. Can you be self-employed in Bali? My fiance and I are going to take online classes for professional photography and graphic/web design. He’s currently in the US military. After that we’re planning on moving internationally.

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Ladreina, You can’t legally be employed in any form in Bali unless you have the working KITAS: however, there are plenty of self-employed people here and, if you’re not taking jobs away from Indonesians, you’re currently unlikely to be in trouble. There are a lot of photographers and graphic design types based here in Bali…. Theodora

  43. Elliot says:

    Hey Theodora. My partner and I are looking to get a 1 year rental in bali with her two girls aged 5 & 7.

    We are New Zealand Citizens.

    Just wanted to ask some questions as I see you respond to other questions which is great.

    In regards to visa. If we do a yearly rental how will we go about with being allowed in the courtry that long.

    In regards to the girls. How do we home school them in bali based on their age.

    Which would be the best area for upper to high class away from Cockrells and is safe for a woman and two girls.

    Which area specifically has good dental and health care and how much would that cost.

    Where would you recommend that we go to in regards to choosing a yearly rental.

    Sorry for all of the questions but I truly do trust your opinon on the matter

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Elliot,

      I’d recommend you went with the sosial-budaya visa which requires an Indonesian sponsor: enter on the tourist visa, leave to Singapore or KL to do the sosial-budaya, leave again after 6 months. There are lots of different areas in Bali – not sure what you mean by Cockrells, but I’d avoid Kuta if you have safety concerns, and consider hiring security for your villa. I feel as safe anywhere in Bali as I do anywhere in London where I’m from, arguably safer.

      I can’t recommend an area without understanding what your requirements are, but Sanur is a popular choice with families with young children because the beaches are much safer than elsewhere on the island, and you might also want to look at Jimbaran. Seminyak has a lot going for it but might be a bit nightlifey.

      There are no problems with home-schooling foreign children on Bali (and in fact there are a number of home-school coops operating): your main focus at that age would be reading, writing and basic numeracy. You can take a look at the NZ primary curriculum to see where they should be and what they need to know. You could also look at international schools if you wanted to: there’s a number of affordable fun options at that age.

      Re: dental and health care. I wouldn’t make dental and health care the determining factor of where you choose to live on Bali unless you have specific medical concerns. It’s a small island, with decent dentists in Ubud and the south, and international clinics and hospitals in the south: do not expect emergency treatment anywhere on the island to be up to NZ standards, though.

      Hope this helps,


  44. Shams says:

    Hi Theodore,
    I’m really impressed and grateful that you’re taking the time to answer all these questions in detail 🙂
    I just came back to Cairo (where I’m from) from Bali and Lombok a few days ago. I have been interested in East Asia but now my heart is set on Indonesia. I have read about visas extensively so my question is regrading property ownership/investment. I have also been reading a bit regarding that and I understand that foreigners cannot own property or land in Indonesia, but van do long-term leass that are 25 years and up to forty, which I believe give them the same rights as an owner (building, renting out, etc.) I found a lot of land “for sale” in Lombok and I’m keen on the idea if purchasing-or leasing or whatever it may be-a small piece of land in Lombok. Would this change my visa status? Would I be given a longer visa if I had land there that I needed to tend to or build on, or would I still have to stay there on a tourist visa? Any information would be much appreciated. Thanks 🙂

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Shams,

      First off – the Lombok land market is famously dodgy. Pieces of land get sold to foreigners, then a brother comes out of the woodwork and claims he owns it, takes the land off the foreigner and then sells again, and so on through the brothers: there are a lot of dubious notaries supporting these kind of things. I wouldn’t recommend property investment anywhere in Indonesia until you’ve lived there for a while and got a handle on land values and challenges.

      As to your question: if you set up, or more likely purchased, a legal property investment company that would employ Indonesians, and had substantial capital, and if that company came with permission for KITAS, you could use that to get a KITAS. But you’d be talking about $250,000 down payment and an ongoing commitment to employment. At the moment, you can stay for up to six months (extending regularly) on a sosial-budaya, so I’d suggest you did that to test the waters and see how you feel about living there. At the moment, although there were noises about making it more difficult, there’s no limit to the number of repeat sosial-budaya you can have. Another option for residency, if you’re over 55, is the retirement KITAS. Hope this helps – and come back with any other questions. Theodora

  45. Kunegundis says:

    What would you suggest of i want to go with photography business my own company in hotels? Kuta needs to be avoided? Witch area? Is the place crowded by photographers? Thanks

    • Theodora says:

      Yes, there are a LOT of photographers based on Bali, both Indonesian and expat, many of whom take pictures of villas, resorts, hotels, AirBNB etc. If you’ve got an established track record doing that internationally, that would help.

  46. Kari says:

    Hi Theodora….is English teaching to the locals an option for Ubud…children or adults ….can you make a living from that and can you find a job?

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Kari, It’s a very crowded and far from well-paid field, and nigh-on impossible to do legally, I’m afraid. If you have fluent Indonesian and an English-teaching qualification, that would help you stand out from the crowd. Theodora

  47. Drs says:

    Hi, Love this page of comments and answers. I stayed in Kuta and went swimming at the Dreamland beach at 6 am on New Years day, 2016. Kuta is gritty and has local diners selling big meals for less than $3/£2.

    I also visited the monkey forest. I liked gritty kuta and got chatting to aussies and brits and exchanged friendly banter at macdonalds and other places.

    I loved bali even though I stayed in gritty, busy kuta. It is near beaches and shops. And crazy street people. Also, loved riding the kuta strips full of hustle and bustle and shops selling carvings. Some of the aussie hippies looked as exotic as the local balinese.

    My conclusion is that there is something for everyone in Bali.

  48. Josie says:

    Hi thank you for sharing all of this useful info, we are Australians moving to Bali / Nusa Lembongan and would like to bring our dog with us, are there any restrictions?

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Josie, You are not allowed to take animals off Bali, because of rabies, so if you bring your dog he’ll need to stay on the island – I’ve heard of smuggling animals off, but quite often they just take however many thousand dollars and kill the dog. To bring them in you’ll need to go through Jakarta, with a bunch of paperwork, outlined here: http://www.embassyofindonesia.org/wordpress/?page_id=709. I’d suggest, if you’re serious about this, that you double-check with your consulate that this list is still current…

  49. duane says:

    Just wondering if u can help i “bought” land in telo island from a surf guide and manager of a surf resort telo101 and we went through to do notaries that I’m the investor that will pay for builing ect and that if the land was to have anything built or the land to be sold it has to be agreed by both parties and at the end of the transaction i only recieved a photo copy of the land certificate. Now he wont speak to me after a surf trip with some people got weird. Just wondering if there is anything i can do with this or have i just lost 10+K

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Duane, You should have a hard copy contract: one copy for you, one copy for the surf guide, and one copy stored with the notaris. Was the notaris a friend of the surf guide? I.e., a local? Got to say, this doesn’t sound promising. Sorry! Theodora

  50. Liam says:

    Hi, my wife and I have in the back our minds that we would like to live in Bali. We have only been twice but got married there in August 2015 (so not long ago), and we’re sick of the rat race here in Australia…Were do we begin?

    We would love to open yoga studio/retreat somewhere but I seen in your comments not to do this…can you further explain?

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Liam, Lots of people move to Bali with the dream of opening yoga studios, restaurants and hotels. Most fold within a few months. It’s an expensive business to legally set up a company in Indonesia, and it’s a crowded market with a complicated business culture. Even for people who speak fluent Indonesian, doing business in Indonesia can be hard. If you’re serious, I’d start by researching where you think there’s a gap in the market, why you think there’s a gap in the market, and what it would cost to do. Theodora

  51. Paul says:

    Hi Theodora, many thanks for the your very detailed advice. We have been to Bali many times on short stays and are playing with the idea of moving there for a year and see how that works out. I have one question : if one rents a villa on a long term lease (say 1 year) is one allowed to occasionally rent out a room to tourists via Airbnb, besides getting the prior approval from the landlord ? Your advice would be highly appreciated. Thanks. Paul

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Paul,

      The Indonesian authorities recently announced an intention to make AirBNB illegal, and then changed their minds same day, but may switch back again. I’ve heard stories of immigration coming in to AirBNB properties on Bali and evicting first the guests and then the illegal sub-letter, and also of house to house checks on paperwork, including the business license that’s required to run a rental business.

      Lots of foreigners here make a living by renting entire villas illegally on AirBNB – to operate a villa rental business, you need a license known as a pondok wisata and a PMA (foreign-owned company) – without establishing a business, getting the proper licenses, or paying tax. Understandably, the authorities and Indonesian villa operators aren’t happy about this. Lots of people also do sublet rooms on AirBNB and other platforms: I’ve heard that letting by the month does not need a license, but will check the current legal status early next week and get back to you.

      AirBNB is having a very destructive effect on the Balinese economy. Foreigners take local houses in local areas at local prices, then flip them to incoming foreigners at double the market rate after slapping on some paint and installing some cheap bamboo furniture, which is driving up prices for the Balinese to whom this island belongs. Illegally subletting entire spaces on AirBNB is really, really common – it’s a practise known as “rent to rent”, where you take a villa you can’t afford and let it out for odd weekends at a massive mark up to cover the cost, moving into a hotel. It’s leading to massive inflation within the expat economy, and, unsurprisingly, legitimate Indonesian villa operators aren’t happy about it at all.

      Given the issues, I would recommend that you look for a villa you can afford without relying on AirBNB as an income stream to support that rent. There are strong grassroots and mafia-led campaigns against Uber at the moment, and I would suspect that at some point locals will come after AirBNB too.

      I’ll double-check the current legal position on this for you early next week and advise. With all that said, it’s wise to ensure you have permission to sublet in whatever lease you sign anyway: if you need to leave Bali for any reason, that means you can over-contract or sub-let rather than losing the remaining months on the lease.



  52. Brad says:

    Hi Theodora,

    My Young wife and I are looking to move somewhere to be free from the stress associated of Canadian and American Lifestyle. I have a couple questions being a Military Vet of 8 years ill get a return of contributions for my service instead of a pension being short 2 years for the 10 for the minimal pension. Leaving me with roughly 100k CAD in total Id be arriving with around 200k. Is there jobs there that could supplement a healthy lifestyle for us both in a nice area for someone with my experience? She is an animation graduate so her work consult wise can be done almost anywhere if she can find the work which can be feast or famine. How about the dangerous critters that the Island has? Do you encounter them often?

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Brad, Fairly few dangerous critters: I’ve met one small cobra in two years, and the snake guy came to pick him up. As I say in the post, there are few employment opportunities for Westerners in Bali. Most people who are here are doing their own thing in one shape or form. Cheers, Theodora

  53. Dez says:

    Hi Theodora I would like some info from you but I would like you to message me privately if possible

  54. Pedro says:

    Hi Theodora,
    Nice blog with lots of useful information. I´m from Portugal, Osteopath and i would love to live in Bali for a few years. I´m currently living in Africa, and i lived in South America for 3 years, so all the “hard” things exposed here will no scare me 🙂 What are the chances of getting a job, or open a space, as an Osteopath? do you guys need me? 🙂 Cheers and happy day

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Pedro, To open a space you’d need to set up an Indonesian company, which is expensive and difficult to do. I’d suggest you start contacting existing alternative health spaces to see if they have slots for osteopaths and can arrange visas. Theodora

  55. Tamara says:

    Thank you for your many many helpful information. My boyfriend and I would like to move to Bali, of course first trying to get a job – we were considering to get a job as an administrative help/marketing help etc in one of the resorts. What do we need if we get hired by a company already legally in Bali, so that we can also work legally? If medical insurance is covered by our employee, that depends on them, right? Thank you for your answers! Regards,Tamara

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Tamara, Most resorts use Indonesians for admin and plenty also have Indonesian marketing departments. There are some marketing and PR jobs that take Westerners if you have an existing strong CV – the package would depend on the employer. Theodora

  56. Tatiana says:

    Excellent review, thank you, Theodora! I’m considering moving to a warm country for few months next winter and know absolutely nothing about them warm countries. Among too many reports that are useless (and often subjects to a particular personal situation) yours is truly helpfull (and well written, and funny 🙂 ) We are retired, and so not looking for a job, we could – and so much rather would – live in a very remote place.
    Could you suggest a quiet non-touristic, non-industrial (and non-polluted), cheapest place of all? I’m vegan, my hubby isn’t (yet), but we both appreciate the local fresh produce (we shop in supermarkets once every couple of months – only for toilet paper and toothbrushes), I am organic addict. How’s water there? (Not a vain question: I was astonished to find out how bad water in some parts of my dream country – Italy – was! It literally burns your skin!) What about medical care? Dental? Would be very gratefull for any info.

    • Tatiana says:

      Found this in a previous comment: “Another option for residency, if you’re over 55, is the retirement KITAS.” What is KITAS, please? Are there any particular residency conditions for the retired old bones?

      • Theodora says:

        KITAS is a permanent residency permit, which you wouldn’t need if you’re only planning to spend a few months: you could enter the country on a tourist visa and then arrange a sosial-budaya in Singapore. Water is usually from wells and varies according to place. If you’re looking for somewhere cheap and quiet, I’d recommend the north coast of Bali – depending on how often you think you’ll need to access medical care (which is better in the more touristic south).

  57. Serge says:

    Theodora, thanks for all the info, and I’ve read thru most of the comments and threads. Is there any move to establish a health care/hospital service close to the standard of eg Australian care, given that in an emergency you may have to hike/hobble/take a taxi to the appropriate medical facility. And… if in the worst case one needs to pay the local charges for med treatment and a hospital stay, are we up for megabucks?

    • Theodora says:

      Medical care is payable on a three-tier system: local price, KITAS price and no-KITAS price. Hospitals like Siloam brand themselves as Western standard (and can cost many thousands of dollars if you don’t have insurance), but at heart Bali remains a small island in a less developed nation: there are big hospitals and there are modern hospitals but there are no big, modern hospitals. That said, most people here survive just fine. Note that you can be up for tens of thousands of dollars without insurance if on life support, eg, so getting insurance is key.

  58. Hi Theodora I am looking to move to Bali , building a Villa and renting it out as an income source, while employing locals. With your knowledge of Bali what should J watch out for .

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Warren, Building in Bali is difficult – project management is a nightmare – and starting a business with the appropriate licenses is expensive. I’d suggest you write a business plan including all costs, budgets for cost overruns and a realistic occupancy rate for the villa and see if you can make it add up. Cheers, Theodora

  59. Theodorus says:

    Hi Theodora what a coincidence my name is Theodorus I am an classical dance artist together with my twin bro Ronald we are currently living in south India set up the non profit trust Arangart. We met a couple two wonderful people here in Auroville India who have a enchanting place in Ubud and going to open this beautiful place soon. They approach us to be part of the opening and do besides performances also workshops/masterclasses. There seems to be changes they said in the short working visas. They are busy with that now with help from lawyers to make things easy for us without getting involved with the governmental rules and regulations.
    My question is to you do you know how we or they can get this done visa for artists but we are not business artists who comes to entertain people although we can do that to. What would you advise us? Thank you in advance looking forward to receive your reply. Greetings Theodorus

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Theodorus! Nice to meet a fellow gift… Performer visas are notoriously hard to get in Bali – whether that’s DJs or dancers or models – as they’re seen as taking jobs away from Indonesians so I’d leave it with your friends to sort that one out for you, as they’ll need to find a solution not just for you but for other performers and teachers that they bring in. Cheers, Theodora

  60. Helle says:

    Hi Theodora,

    Thanks so much for all this info, really helplful, thank you. I was wondering if you would actually not recommend to start something in Bali then? I really want to open a retreat for surf and youth hostel stays, think there really is a market for it. Any additional adivce/recommendations??

    Thanks so much in advance.

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Helle, I’d start by writing a business plan, including the costs of setting up a PMA. There are already a lot of surfer camps / hostels here and, while some people make businesses on Bali work, it’s tough: do you have any previous experience of owning or managing an accommodation business? Theodora

  61. Emma says:

    Hi Theodora,

    Thanks for providing all this really useful information; you’ve cleared up a lot of my questions but I have one more.

    I’m a web developer (UK citizen currently living in the US) and I’d like to move to Bali for a year or two. I’ll be working remotely (via internet) with clients in the US. Will I still need a KITAS to stay that long? I just checked the requirements and it looks like I’d need to find an Indonesian company to invite me. Is that accurate? Or does that only pertain to people working with Indonesian clients?

    Thanks so much for all your help!

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Emma, Technically, you would need a KITAS and an invitation from an Indonesian company – but KITASes are only possible if you’re employed, which of course you won’t be. A lot of people in your sort of situation fly under the radar and use the sosial-budaya visa. Theodora

  62. Esther says:

    Bali,is a beautiful island to visit,i like it here.

  63. Carmen Gillis says:

    Hi Theodora,
    Lots of great info – thank you. I’m an ESL teacher (qualified with experience), and while I have interest from schools in other parts of Indonesia, I am assuming by your comments that Bali is not high on the list of legal teaching opportunities? I really want to go there and give it a try with my 11 year old daughter, so I am guessing with my VERY limited funds I should do the paid tourist visa, extend, then apply for a social visa through an agent if things are working out..? Can I just ask – what DO people do to make a living on Bali if they are not in business? Is it online business that could be done anywhere on the globe, therefore not actually qualifying as ‘working’ in Bali? I could try and find an online teaching job – obviously not taking work away from locals, and just keep coming and going on the social visa. I’m just really disheartened, and not sure if I should take the plunge and just ‘go see’, or be really careful and have it as perfect as possible before I go (read: never going to happen!) From what I can tell from your info, I would only be able to afford the ‘home schooling’ option for my daughter, so it’s great to know there are co-ops – thanks.

  64. DarShan says:

    Thanks for good info Theodora. I had visions of retiring in Bali, but not so sure anymore. I had thought that buying Real Estate was possible. Any suggestions on which part of Bali a guy could look at with only 1/2 a Canadian Pension and next to no savings? I think that I minimum income of $2000 USD per month is required for, (1100 ft2 – 100 m2), quiet – with some local yoga crowds – but away from partiers (I have nothing against them – I used to be one). I was thinking of visiting Bali this winter to scout the area but would like hotel in an area that has potential for living in. I’d want a place where I can do yoga, not too far from ocean (bicycle ride away), preferably with a view, maybe with a nearby hotel for swimming laps & sauna, and be able to import, buy motorcycle (or rent one if I have to). I’d probably not want to be in Kuta (likely too expensive anyways). I was in Lovina when I visited about 6 years ago. I like the energy there but not sure I’d want to live there. I stayed in the Banyualit Hotel and quite enjoyed it. I’d really love to live in an old stone temple if I could find other meditative-type musician-singers to share the expense.

    • Theodora says:

      Hi DarShan – I don’t think the Balinese like people living in temples, but you can sometimes rent traditional stone-built compounds. Without knowing your budget, it’s hard to advise as to location – but there’s a lot of yoga happening in Balian, which is quiet and has a beach, and isn’t quite as far from the rest of the action as Lovina. I would check that area out when you head over in winter. Cheers, Theodora

  65. Rosita says:

    Hi, Thea,
    I’m planing to move to Bali for a time, when I grow up. What do yuh’d recommend to a young single mum who plans moving to Bali for a season of nearly two years, with two children and four dogs? there’s any good vet clinic on the island? And how to be a westerner doctor in Bali? Can belongers be hostile with me, by the fact of practicing western medicine instead of their own? What’re most common illnesses on rural Bali? And what’s quality of Balinese public schools? Are they as bad as Brazilian public schools? And what’s best Balinese neighborhood in your opinion, considering I want a rural, tranquil settlement, although it should be near of an urban centre?
    Your Brazilian-with-Balinese-soul buddy

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Rosita, I don’t know what the situation will be like in the future. There are vet clinics, but if you move to Bali with dogs you can’t take them off…. Cheers, Theodora

  66. Rosita says:

    And if I smuggle them for another island? And how’s Balinese public school quality? Are they as bad as Brazilian public school? Can someone with pre-existing illness live relatively well in the island? And what’re most common health problems in rural Bali?

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Rosita, I can’t compare Balinese and Brazilian public school systems, but it is the case that most locals with money put their children into “international” schools. It depends on what the condition is with pre-existing illnesses – some commute to Hong Kong or Singapore for treatment/medication, some go pure Balinese, others have to leave when they become unwell. I don’t have a great deal of data on health problems in rural Bali, but we do have dengue here, though not malaria. Cheers, Theodora

  67. Nadesh Kumar says:

    Hi I’m nadesh and I’m from Sri Lanka. I’m trying to get a job in bali on hotel field which I have 7 years experience in that per tickler field..And the best thing is that my girlfriend is from bali and that’s why I’m finding a job to settle down with her in bali.. but unfortunately I heard that there are no job opertunities for foreign people.. is that true?? And if I want to do a job in bali what is the best way to get it?? Pls advice..thanks

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Nadesh, Does your girlfriend also work in hospitality? It is very hard to get hotel-type jobs, due to Indonesia’s working visa rules, but being an ASEAN national who’s dating a local should help. Are you with an international group, where you could ask about moving to Bali? Would you have the savings to come to Bali and spend a couple of months asking around on the ground? The best way to find a job will be through local contacts – does your girlfriend know anyone who could help you? Theodora

  68. Rosita says:

    Hi, Thea,
    How’re Lombok beaches? Are they overcrowded as Balinese ones? Or are they unspoiled and paradisiacal? Is there any good school in Lombok? And can I own dogs in Lombok, though most Lombok belongers are Muslim and we know that Muslims aren’t very fond of dogs, so, can someone own dogs in Lombok? And is the island rabies-free? Can someone work as a westerner doctor in the island? Is there malaria and dengue in Lombok? And is there any airport in the island?

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Rosita,

      There are dogs on Lombok, and there is also rabies, although there haven’t been any human infections. There’s both malaria and dengue on Lombok, although not much malaria. There is an international airport with flights to Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. I’m not aware of any international doctors working on Lombok.



  69. Rosita says:

    Hi, my dear Thea,
    Are there any resistance about westerner vets by part of Balinese belongers? And how busy is a vet routine in the Island of Gods? More specifically, in the RURAL Bali? And what’re most common ailment in Balinese pets?

  70. nick says:

    hi theodora, id first like to mention what a pleasure its been obtaining information from you on this blog. you are extremely thorough and answer everybody’s queries. A friend and I are thinking about planning a long trip to bali, we wanted to know where you would suggest the best place for 2 mid 20 year olds would find a good balance of fun, culture, and sight seeing.

    thanks in advance, nick 🙂

  71. carmen says:

    Hi Theodora,
    I’m just wondering if you know if one can still get a paid 30 day visa, instead of the free one – in order to extend a further 30 days. Since Australia is now on the free list, I’m not sure if they allow us to pay at the airport. Also…do you think someone with a child could live frugally in Bali (Kuta area) on IDR 9 million per month? Thanks for you help!

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Carmen, Yes, you can still choose to pay for the visa: be sure to keep your boarding pass for the visa extension process (they want to see it to prove you didn’t fake entering the country). If that 9 million excludes visa runs for two people and visa extensions for two people, but covers insurance, which you’ll need, that is a very do-able budget. If it’s including your visa runs, you might need to plan quite carefully. You can easily find studios at around the 3-4million mark, or you could stay in a kos-kosan, which will be a lot cheaper. Cheers, Theodora

      • carmen says:

        Thanks Theodora! I was told by a travel agent here that we could only have the free visa now..and not get a paid one on arrival. However, I’d heard too many snippets for that to sound like it was fact!
        The 9 million would be a salary, and I would have a working visa to go with it (assuming I am successful with the job). I then have to work out the visa for my child – as I am hoping I don’t have to do visa runs for her!! Do you know anything about that?
        Thanks so much for your help 🙂

        • Theodora says:

          Hi Carmen,

          There is a dependent KITAS, but your company may be shy of paying the money for that – though there’s no harm in asking if they can arrange that as well as your working KITAS assuming you get the job. There is also a student KITAS, and one or the other form of KITAS is a legal requirement for international schools now, although not all of them are bothered about the paperwork. If your company won’t do the KITAS, many children here live on sosial-budaya (social-cultural) visas, which can be extended for a total of 180 days, by which point you’ll probably both want some time out of Indonesia anyway. How old is your child? There are various cost-effective international schools, and home-school coops, but education can run quite expensive here if you’re not home-schooling. Theodora

          • carmen says:

            Hi Theodora,
            Thanks for the info. I’ve been really busy on the search for jobs lately. It is possible I wont have a working visa initially, as I may not be doing the job I mentioned. I will be doing online teaching though, which I can do from anywhere, so am assuming a tourist visa or social visa is ok for this..?

            My daughter is 11, and I have looked into home-school coops as well as the international schools. I’m thinking the home school is the best option to begin with. I am wondering if it is possible for her to have a student KITAS and me to have a social-budaya?

            I’m going to be there in about 26 days, and there is so much to organise!
            Thanks so much for your help 🙂

          • carmen says:

            Hi Theodora,
            I did reply already, but I seem to have lost it! If this is a duplicate – my apologies!
            First, thank you for the advice. I’m not sure if I will be working at the school I mentioned now, however will possibly be doing online teaching. As this is a job I can do from anywhere, I am hoping this qualifies me for a tourist visa or social – budaya initially..?? The job requires native English speakers, so it’s not taking employment from local Indonesians.

            Do you think my child (11 yrs old) could go on a student KITAS while I am on a social visa? I have looked into home school coops, and think this is the best idea initially. If we are all happy in 2017, I will look into enrolling her then in an international school.

            Lastly, I have looked into international schools on Lombok, but really cant find much info. Do you know of any?
            Thank you – I really appreciate your help. We are aiming to relocate at the end of this month, and I am ageing rapidly with all the things I have to organise – between making a living, accommodation, schools, do I need to take a blankie…lol

            • Theodora says:

              Hi Carmen, There’s at least one international school on Lombok (in Senggigi if memory serves). Home school coops won’t be able to arrange a student KITAS: you’d need to have both of you on the sosial-budaya (this is the best for you guys as will give you six months at a time). While I can’t recommend that you work on a sosial-budaya, since it’s not allowed, many people do work for themselves on Bali while staying on the sosial-budaya without problems… And, no, you do NOT need to take a blankie. Beer is cheap here 😉

  72. Rosita says:

    Where’s better to an expat family live just for an awhile: Balinese north shore or Lombok? Who of those two options have the most paradisiacal beaches and low life cost, although with urban facilities? Where’s better to work as a domestic animals vet?

    • Theodora says:

      If you want urban facilities and a well-paid job as a vet, neither will do, I’m afraid. For paradisiacal beaches and low cost of living, south Lombok is much, much better than Bali.

  73. Rosita says:

    Oh, thank yuh (I’m just representing my speech form), my dear Thea! You have a special place on my heart. And so… Well, and so I’ll go to Lombok (for an awhile, shall I say), when I grown up and be a vet. Before it occurs, there will be so much improvement in both Bali and Lombok, as well in the whole Indonesia. I think I’ll be a vet, since I saw one of my beloved dogs actually dying on my front, due to vet negligence, when I was a child. The vet could have easily removed his kidney stones, but he refused to attend my dog. He also refused to burn him, as it’d be my desire. I do prefer burn than bury, although I do know my religion condemns it, but it’s a topic for another conversation. And so we bury him under a palm tree, and it could easily have provoked a confusion on a morally developed country, such as USA or England or even France. But there on Brazil it isn’t (or rather, WASN’T) nothing. But I won’t tolerate animal cruelty anymore! And so I decide go vegan and follow my dreams of being a vet. Now I have three dogs (Cleo, Bali and Winnie). Cleo’s a purebred Yorkshire terrier, Bali’s a purebred kintamani and Winnie is… Well, Winnie is what we call as viralatas, who’s basically a Brazilian mutt, or, BSD (Brazilian Street Dog), as I call her. BSDs are loving, affable creatures, as long as they’re well-cared for. I just saw one case of BSD attack, while I hear almost everyday about Pit Bull and Rottweiler attacks. My Winnie is just a medium-sized (yeh, she doubled of size!), black, forlorn big puppy. She also have typical BSD floppy ears and a not-very-BSD-trait: her corkscrew tail. So, I may presume she have some Akita on her, but it’s just a supposition, although hard a clue, since she isn’t as aloof with strangers as Akitas and she doesn’t have oriental-like ears. Well… IDK Winnie’s breed, nor want to. For me, she’ll be eternally a ‘sweet mix pack’, although I do know that exist some canine DNA exams, but I do consider them as waste of time (and money!). A canine DNA would be just did in case of [insert your own joke there, please!] I love dogs, as yuh may have noticed there 😉 to say the truth, I love all kind of animals, so, I’m on doubt between being a doc or a vet. Both professions seem to be attractive to me, although I have natural inclination to be a vet, because, as you can see, I love animals – all of them –, since I was a little girl. Well, if I choose that path, I’ll, I decide, do humanitarian work as a vet on an extremely poor, very remote region, so I can relieve a bit animal suffering in world. I do believe there’s a bit of good and bad in all of us, so, nobody is safe from karma, I do believe. And, yeh, I do believe in both karma and reincarnation concept 🙂 my beloved Bali have an interesting story, since she was brought from Denpasar – Bali island –, to Brazil, before Bali’s rabies outbreak became declared. Or, at least, before the animal island hopping prohibition, AKA ‘Bali Dog Embargo’, as I call it. So….as you can see, your beloved Winnie isn’t live anymore, but see it on the bright side, you’d be stuck with a Balinese pup, ’cause she couldn’t be sent to the States with the woman who over-contracted your land. I know it was a sad situation, but…. Every little thing God Almighty have a purpose, according to my beliefs. As you can see, I have an interesting mix of Catholic and Buddhist/Hindu beliefs. I respect so much every form of life, and I’m pretty optimistic about humanity’s future, shall I say. And so… Well, and so I want to be a vet, although I do fear about moving me to Indonesia and don’t bringing my furry pearls back to home, AKA wherever I want to stay. Well… I can’t say I have a defined patria, since I do love Brazil so much, despite its serious problems, although I plan to spend a year or two abroad, perhaps even more. Who knows. I plan to live for an awhile, shall I say, in Martinique or even French Polynesia, AKA paradise on Earth. IDK why, but the same vincle do you feel with Indonesian islands I feel with less-touristic-and-crowded Caribbean islands, such as nearby Trinidad and Tobago, AKA T&T, as I dearly call them, or perhaps Martinique, AKA Tropical Paris. IDK why, but I do love France so much, so living and loving in Martinique would be just like living in Paris without moving me from the tropics nor saying goodbye to vibrant and happy Caribbean culture. When I remember on my childhood, I just remember of calypso, zouk and soca rhythms, because on my state is pretty common to hear Caribbean rhythms instead of stereotypically Brazilian samba. Brazilian music isn’t all about samba. We have lots of other rhythms, such as those I’d mentioned. OK, they aren’t Brazilian, but, as they’re very common where I do live, I couldn’t forget mentioning them there. Calypso, zouk and soca are genuinely Caribbean rhythms, as you can see. Am I predestined to move me to the Caribbean? Who knows. I like to think that ‘yes, I’ll’, but, during that, I’ll serve as a vet (for an awhile, shall I say!), in Indonesia or any extremely needed country, because animals are important as people. sorry if I did write more than necessary, I hope you enjoy reading my text! And so… what do you think about volunteering abroad as a doc/vet? Would you do it? Would you let Z do it, if he want?

  74. carmen says:

    Thanks so much Theodora. I guess I can skip the blankie then! I’m even trying to cram my own pillow somewhere in my bag…also, probably not necessary! And I foresee myself partaking in a few cheap beers not too long after our arrival. A welcome stress relief after a trying few months….;)

  75. Vitor says:

    Hi, is there any job opportunities for expats looking for work as a software engineer?


    • Theodora says:

      Hi Vitor, There aren’t many software companies on Bali, and those that are there tend to be one-man or two-man bands, rather than companies with the scale required to want or need to hire expats – you’d be better off looking in big cities than Bali. Be aware that there are plenty of Indonesian software engineers out there, so work permits may be hard to come by. Theodora

  76. Jai Jai says:

    Hi Theodora- I’ve got a question I can’t seem to find an answer to anywhere..

    I live in Northern Bali, using social visas, with my girlfriend and two small kids.. We rent a house and the kids are in school.. My question has to do with her being my sponsor for the social visa.. She is from Java and wants to move her official residency to Bali, but when she went in to the local banjar office they told her she had to own a house.. Does this sound right..? I wonder if this relates to her being Muslim in a Hindu village..? How can we get around this..? I really would like it if she could be my sponsor, but I don’t want to have to move to Java to do it.. We like where we are now and the kids are established in school..
    Any ideas..? You think it’s just a village thing, or is the whole island that way..?
    Thanks for any feedback.. And great job on the blogging..! 🙂

  77. Mariam says:

    Hello Theodora!

    Very useful tips, many thanks!!

    I want to explore jewelry design and I’ve read in multiple places that Indonesia and Bali specifically is pioneer in manufacturing jewelry. So, do they have jewelry design schools there? Is it a good choice to go there and pick up parts of the industry?

  78. tim murtagh says:

    Hi theodora
    Have enjoyed reading about your travels in indo on motorbikes very informative and funny got to love indo .I have ridden from Jakarta to Lombok toured all three islands love indo .As I live in Perth try to get to Indonesia twice a year.Iam touring sambawa and florese in July August just wanted to know what you did about malaria eg take anti malaria drugs or just do the dengue approach of avoiding being bitten any insight would be helpful cheers PS iam envious of your life style enjoy

  79. Rosita says:

    Hi, Thea,
    I’m seriously wondering about doing some scuba dive, as I’m going to the Caribbean next week, so, I have those asks for yuh: Who can scuba-dive? Is there any restriction for doing it? Is it a life-threatening activity?

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Rosita, People from age ten can scuba dive. I’d recommend you try it. Yes, it can be a life-threatening activity but not if you get training and follow your training, in particular not going too deep. Theodora

  80. Sydney says:

    Hi Theodora,

    Like all the rest, I just love your blog.

    I spent two glorious weeks in Bali in 2008ish. I fell in love with it and left wanting to live there. With all the shenanigans going on here in the states, and frankly, just Americans in general, I’m seriously contemplating it now.

    I don’t have a big bank roll but I think I could sustain myself for that six months, or what have you, paid upfront until I got established. Not in the expat lifestyle but meagerly.

    I do have a teaching degree, although I’d potentially have to renew it. I let it lapse because I refuse to set foot in a classroom here. I don’t know what their requirements are.

    I’m also a face and body painter, which is my passion.

    I’m wondering if the expat population could keep me busy face and body painting (kids’ parties, festivals, etc) or is this not something that could sustain me at all? Here in the states if you don’t have a face painter at Brittany’s fourth birthday party, expect her to get a lawyer and sue you for neglect and undue trauma, and win. Can you tell I need to leave?

    Also, I’d consider teaching but I’ll be honest, the reason I’m not teaching now is, Murican
    kids. I’m thinking though that the types who would live abroad would be broader thinkers and have children I could stomach spending my time educating. I know my travels and varied life experiences have given me the perspective that makes it impossible for me to tolerate the small-minded, ignorant grrrrrrrrrr that I’m currently surrounded by.

    So there it is. Not the sunny, life is awesome and now I want to try it in paradise, inquiry. Sorry about that.

    Any advice you can give would be great. Thank you in advance.


  81. Fuck you says:

    Thanks for nothing.

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Sydney, I’m a little mystified by this. I don’t check comments on this blog every day, it’s more like every two-three days: that’s when they get approved and usually when I respond. Most commenters seem to accept this. Theodora

  82. Zoltan Szabo says:

    Hi Theodora,

    I am in need of advice regarding life/school in Bali. I just got accepted to Stenden University in Jalan Kubu Gunung, Banjar Tegal Jaya, Dalung. If all goes well, ill be starting in august. Im just asking for advice and if there is anything that i should take to bali with me!
    Btw love the blog! can’t wait to hear from you!
    Best regards,

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Zoltan, Bring comfort food – I know you can’t get Unicum here, and I’m sure there’ll be other Hungarian stuff that you’ll crave. Consider bringing utensils like kitchen knives and potato mashers as good ones are expensive here (pots and pans are cheap enough). Consider getting a motorbike license in Hungary so that you can scooter safely and with insurance – bikes here start at 125cc. You should be able to rent cheaply near to the university. Do you already speak Indonesian? If not, I’d start self-studying: it will help you immensely if you live in Dalung. And – enjoy! Indonesia’s a wonderful country and a great place to study. Cheers, Theodora

  83. Rosita says:

    Thea, is Bukit peninsula a good place for an infectious disease physician & freelancer artist while having free time live in? And wha’ about Phu Quoc (Vietnam)? Wha’ of those places (Bukit peninsula or Phu Quoc) is better for an infectious disease physician & freelancer artist? Wha’ of those two places have better life cost?

  84. Camille says:

    This was a great post, and the loooong and rich comment threads just as entertaining! Was on Bali in February and can attest to a lot of these cultural differences 😉 thanks for your article! Also can’t wait to delve into your blog as it looks well written! I was thinking of applying for a job in ubud as head of “community happiness” in ubud(we loved it there so much!) one of the requirements is the necessary paper work to live on Bali…. The kita seems impossible as this company doesn’t do visa sponsorship… Seems like a Balinese would be the natural fit…But seeing as how they need someone super open and understanding of their clients. Well travelled etc and that most Balinese haven’t travelled a ton… I don’t know, might give it a try anyway… Although your post makes life seem not as fun ahaha Have you heard of companies hiring expats and letting them pull the regular monthly visa exit stunt?
    Thanks so much for your entertaining read!

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Camille, There are expats who are employed without the KITAS, yes, but it leaves them very vulnerable as they’re working illegally, and it sounds as though the company wants someone who has permission to work on Bali rather than using the sosial-budaya visa for six-month stints. KITASes are harder and harder to get hold of these days…. I’d be inclined to give it a go with all that said, though, just because you’ll probably regret it if you don’t…. Theodora

  85. Peter says:

    Hi Theodora
    I’m moving to Bali later this year to spend my retirement. I have an Indonesian fiancée, I’ve been advised not to get married until we have bought our property as she will not be able to buy a freehold property if she is married to a Bule. Is this correct?
    After we have purchased a property and got married can I apply for PR or at least get extended visa. I’ve got a New Zealand passport & have to leave Indonesia every month.
    We are currently living in Jakarta.
    We will be paying cash for a villa & car and will have an income of about Rp40million per month, from my retirement fund.
    Regards Peter

  86. Rosita says:

    Thea, is Bukit peninsula a good place for an infectious disease physician & freelancer artist while having free time live in? And wha’ about Phu Quoc (Vietnam)? And wha’ about Flores (Indonesia)? Wha’ of those places (Bukit peninsula, Flores & Phu Quoc) is better for an infectious disease physician & freelancer artist? Wha’ of those three places has better life cost?
    Your Brazilian buddy

  87. Allen says:

    Thea….I’m 57 and Australian wondering if I can live permanently in Bali or Lombok??

    • Theodora says:

      HI Allen, You’re old enough for the retirement KITAS which will enable you to live permanently in either of those places. Be sure you spend some time trialing living here – which is different from travelling here – before you get the ball rolling on it, though, as it’s a massive commitment. Cheers, Theodora

  88. Erdi says:

    Hi, Me and My Girlfriend are thinkin about moving to Bali, Should we? Or Not? Both of us can speak English and German. I have worked as a Waiter and Animationer in Hotel. She is primary school Teacher also Flight Attendant. Do you think we can find a work there easily? Waitin for Your answer, thank you. 🙂

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Erdi, Most hospitality jobs are reserved for Indonesians so you’d find it hard to get work. Your girlfriend should take a look at international schools and see if any are hiring. Theodora

  89. Eddie says:

    Hi Theodora, you are incredibly generous with your time and replies to all. I am an Australian business and marketing consultant to small to medium businesses. I visit Bali regularly to holiday and would love to be able to provide a consultancy service assisting expat small businesses. Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Theodora says:

      HI Eddie, You’d need a company with a KITAS attached – companies with consultant KITAS do sometimes come up for sale – but I’d ask you to think seriously about whether you’d want to earn Balinese rates and deal with the instability of expat businesses. There are a lot of marketing professionals on Bali already, so it’s a crowded marketplace, and businesses work differently in Indonesia from how they do in Australia – without having a handle on the legislative and linguistic environment you might find yourself struggling. You might do better to look at offshoring your existing business, so you’re still earning Australian dollar rates while commuting virtually from Bali. Theodora

  90. Jackie says:

    Your initial paragraph objectifies women. Change that. Women aren’t things.

    • Theodora says:

      No, but we often get treated like them, and there’s a certain subset of chap here for whom women – be they officially or unofficially paid for – are a line in the budget.

  91. Zette says:

    Hi Sir,

    Am a Kenyan lady who lives and works in Kenya.For my leave days I impromptu booked a flight to KL as I have been there before and loved it.Am considering going to Bali as my wanderlust seems set on Bali.As Am travelling alone,any pointers of what not to do.I will like to enjoy my stay but also be cautious.I will be there for two weeks. Highly appreciate you taking time and giving pointers.

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Zette, I’d recommend you spend a few days in Ubud, which is walkable and has lots of culture, and avoid Kuta, which is a tourist trap and can feel really unpleasant due to the prevalence of drunk Australians. If you drive in Kenya, you should be comfortable driving in Bali, although check that you have the legal license for insurance purposes. Munduk and Sidemen are nice highland areas for ricefield and forest walks – Uluwatu is very beautiful with the cliffs and the temple. The north coast is serene and tranquil. Bali’s very different from KL but basically pretty safe provided you avoid riding a motorbike alone at night and stash your handbag in the well of the bike – there are occasional motorbike bag-snatchings. Ubud would be my top recommendation for you as it’s very popular with women travelling solo to do yoga etc and there are lots of cultural sites. Theodora

  92. Zette says:

    Thanks a lot Theodora.I will definitely do as advised. As am not big on the party scene Ubud sounds very much like what I would enjoy.I highly appreciate your assistance.

  93. Leigh says:

    Hi Theodora, I am a woman in her late 60’s. I have a son living in Bali and have visited Bali many times over 40 years. I am thinking of retiring to Bali, but want to live independently to my son. My question is, where would you recommend me living. Is there any area where older people gravitate towards? I am worried about making friends, and apart from holidays, I have not previously lived by myself.Know that sounds crazy but common in women of my generation! I am reasonably fit, and quite with it mentally, and love Bali, but not blinded by it. I would appreciate your opinion.

    Hi Leigh, There’s a glitch that isn’t letting me reply to your comment, so replying here instead. Sanur is popular with retirees; Ubud is a mecca for single women, including older women, with lots of activities that make it easy to meet people. I’d suggest on your next visit you spend a couple of weeks in each and see how you feel about both. Theodora

  94. Shikhar says:

    How much money is enough for 2 weeks for a tourist……… I just want to explore there……..and Ur blog is great….

  95. Althea says:

    Hi Theodora
    I am looking at escaping to Bali for the next couple of years with my 7 year old son. I love the sound of Green School but it is expensive. Do you know if it is as good as it looks/sounds? Any other good international schools you could recommend? I know you are not legally allowed to work …I would like to buy an existing we’ll run resort/retreat to set up health retreats/weddings etc. I know you strongly advise against foreigners buying property but if one was to buy a ‘home’ with income ie live on site would it not be possible to buy a good lifestyle? I realise one needs to research well and look at the accounts/lease etc well first. If I was to take the plunge I would want to be far enough away from Kuta and Legian/Seminyak …I like Ubud but a bit too bushy/in land for me where would you choose natural beauty, open spaces, green but close to good/clean beaches? A place which you’d recommend good growth for investment and enough wow factor to create/run a great resort. Also cost of building sounds much cheaper than elsewhere would buying land and building an option worth exploring? Lastly knowing the above best place to rent for first months while I scope places out? Cheers Althea New Zealand.

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Althea,

      I was personally underwhelmed by Green School – you can read my take on it here: http://www.escapeartistes.com/2014/09/13/green-school-bali/. Pelangi also has outdoor bamboo classrooms and is a fun school and costs much less; Canggu Community School is more school-y but still has a community soul.

      If you bought a business you’d also need to offload it when you were ready to leave. Note that there are lots of pitfalls in buying existing businesses, signally that people can fake the accounts. For open spaces and good beaches I’d look up towards Tanah Lot, to the north of Canggu – Seseh, Sosogan, Cemagi, possibly even as far up as Balian. It’s expensive but still lots of ricefield as well as attractive beaches. If you wanted swimmable beaches, however, you’re likely looking at Sanur or the north coast: there are schools in Sanur but I don’t think there are any international schools on the north coast, though I could be wrong.

      Buying land – which means a longterm lease, since foreigners can’t own land – and building is a possibility but if you’re only going to be on Bali for a couple of years you’d probably spend most of it doing the purchasing and the building and have little time to enjoy the fruits of your labour. I can’t really advise on where to build a resort: that’s a massive investment that you’d need to think about seriously and research deeply. Bear in mind that with architecture plans, permits, the actual process of building, it’s a long, long process and that resort licenses can be hard to come by.

      For rent, I’d recommend renting in the areas you think you might live in. Note that it’s harder to find monthly rentals in less-developed areas – although you might well have luck on AirBNB you’d probably be paying over the odds. If you’re only looking at moving over for a couple of years rather than making a lifetime move, I’d counsel against all the hassle involved in setting up a business.


  96. Jamie Jewell says:

    Hi Theodora, wow this blog page and all the discussion threads are very interesting and i really appreciate that you have responded in some way to everyone. Personally, I have thought about living in Bali since I visited it as a 12 year old with my Mum. i have only been two other times since then and each I leave I swear I will make it happen. HAHAHA. I work in the Arts here in Australia and as such the work is very unpredictable, so my dreams of living in the sun have taken some beating. Just a fortnight ago I sent my partner on their first OS holiday with a friend who was already travelling, as an experiment to see if the warmer weather and Barometric pressure would assist at all with a debilitating Chronic Pain condition that he lives with every day. We Skype called within two hours of landing in paradise and the calm, ease and smile on his face was just incredible. I am convinced now that we need to make this work some how. There are a bunch of concerns that I have and would really appreciate an opportunity to discuss some of these with you if you wouldn’t mind emailing me privately. I understand if that is not a possibility. I have just been blown away by your generous spirit by way of communicating your knowledge about this lovely Island, Its people and all its weird little idiosyncrasies. Thanks J

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Jamie, Thanks for your lovely comment. I’m afraid I don’t take comments offline, but I’m happy to address any queries you might have here as best I can. Theodora

  97. Eugene says:

    Hey Theodora, great post, thank you very much for the information.

    I have a question to which I still can’t find a concise answer in spite of furious googling. Maybe you could shed some light on it or at least point me in the right direction. I’m planning a trip to Bali for an undefined period of time, but at least 2 months. I qualify for the free VOA, but I’ve read about the scheme where I can go to immigration at the airport and pay for my visa, which will allow me to extend it on Bali. BUT the problem is that officially in the records it still says that I can be in Indonesia for 30 days and I’ve read that some airlines are strict about that rule (probably because it will be their duty to fly me back for free if I’m denied entry) as well as it is possible to get in trouble with immigration if I don’t have a return ticket within 30 days. So the question is: is there a lifehack solution for this issue? I wouldn’t want to waste money on an airplane ticket I won’t use and afaik the cheap airlines don’t allow to change dates of a ticket.

    Also, do you know if it’s safe to tell immigration officers that I’m a freelancer (freelance software developer)? Can it be considered as illegal employment in Indonesia?

    Thank you very much in advance,

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Eugene,

      What some people do is buy the cheapest available ticket out of Indonesia – a boat ticket from Riau to Singapore or a plane ticket from Medan to Penang, eg – and just junk it. I’ve also heard of people making fake tickets but I wouldn’t recommend this as a strategy.

      Where are you flying from? Australian airports are absolute sticklers for correct paperwork; some others are more relaxed. If you’re not flying from Oz, I’d be inclined to show your actual ticket and be prepared to buy a cheap exit ticket at the boarding desk if need be.

      Immigration officers don’t tend to interview people at Bali airport – they’re far too busy processing crowds – but when you fill in occupation on the customs form I’d just put “software developer”. Freelance or otherwise is irrelevant.



      • Eugene says:


        Thank you so much for the quick reply and information, greatly appreciated. I will be flying with Emirates airlines through Dubai, UAE.

        Have a nice one,

        • jo says:

          Hi Theodora thanks for all your very helpful information…I am currently living in Melbourne and have a shop however planning on moving to Bali. I deal a lot with Indonesian suppliers and have done for the past year. i also would like to bring my little dog with me .

          I want to open a shop in Bali and find a rental do you have any advice.

          Many thanks


          • Theodora says:

            Hi Jo,

            If you bring your dog with you, it will be nigh-on impossible to get it off the island if you want to leave — there are dog smugglers, but death rates are high and it’s not a cheap process. I’d carefully research opening a shop in Bali since prices are much, much lower here than in Australia, and the cost of getting a license to do business is very, very high: I’d do a full and detailed business plan and see if you can make the numbers add up. The economics of shops on Bali are particularly tough since a lot of people run them as retirement businesses and don’t really care whether they make money.



  98. Ash says:

    Thanks for all the great advice Theodora. I think you have helped a lot of people 🙂 Can you recommend the best way to get a business liscense for a clothing store. Who do I apply with? Thanks so much

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Ash,

      Without an Indonesian partner to own the business, setting up a business in Indonesia is expensive and complicated: foreign-owned businesses need six figures in paid-up capital. Lots of companies in Bali can advise you on the legalities: http://www.cciindonesia.com/ has a good reputation.





  99. Jaye says:


    Thanks for the interesting information. We are looking at moving our family (2 children) to bali in a few years. We do not know where to start. I am a RN currently studying cosmetic nursing, with the boom of overseas cosmetics is there any chance for work over there, even in the BIMC? What would you suggest as the most important things to get sorted before moving and the most difficult? Any help would be appreciated.

  100. evren merve says:

    Hi Theodora,
    I am planning to move to Bali later next year to spend at least a year with my son aged 12. We are Canadian Citizen.
    First of all, I thank you for all your very helpful information. I have few question to ask:
    1. a visa for at least a year: what is the best?
    2. best area for single mom and a child?
    3. is there any health insurance?
    4. school for my son (12 y/o) and yearly cost?
    5. monthly cost for living for two?
    Many thanks,
    p.s just followed you from twitter 🙂

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Evren

      1: The only year-long visa is a KITAS, which is hard to get: your best option are back to back sosial-budaya visas, which are an initial 60 days extendable monthly to a total of 180 days.
      2: That depends on what you like. Ubud has many advantages as it’s walkable, but no beach. Sanur is popular with families; Canggu is another popular expat area. I’d avoid Kuta or Seminyak.
      3: Yes, there are lots of different companies offering health insurance. If you maintain your Canadian health cover and intend to return to Canada, you could also use travel insurance like World Nomads but check the Ts & Cs: http://www.escapeartistes.com/2014/07/23/read-travel-insurance-policy/
      4: The best school depends on the best area. International schools on Bali are expensive at high school age, up to US$20,000 a year depending on the school and the child’s age. Some of the best known ones are Bali Island School, Australian Independent School, Green School and Canggu Community School: better-priced ones include Dyatmika, Chinese International School in Denpasar and Gandhi Memorial School. Some people also put their kids in local schools, which will be great for language immersion if that’s one of your goals.
      5: As I said at the beginning of this post, monthly cost of living varies widely. How many bedrooms do you need, where do you want to live, do you need a pool, are you happy shopping at local markets and eating at local restaurants or do you want the full expat style, etc?

  101. komang says:

    for everyone who has a plan to come to my island ,we welcome for it .

    best regard from bali

  102. Rach says:

    Hi Theodora,
    Great thread! My partner has just got a job in Bali working in an institute. Included is they pay for a villa in cangu for us {including my 2 year old son} & travel insurance for us as a family. They have reccomended travel direct, what do you think of that one? Also do most villas include security?
    I’ve heard the garden is good for toddlers for daycare however it looks to be about $1000 a month for 2 days. Do you reccomend any others?
    Also I’m confused with what type of visa I would apply for? I’m not married to my partner but I run an online kids clothing label from Australia that is manufactured in Bali. I have read your previous posts and a business visa means I still can’t work there doing that so what visa would be relevant for myself?
    Would love to know your thoughts, thanks so much, Rach.

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Rach,

      I’ve heard good things about Skoebi-do for childcare for littlies, and they’re pretty cheap, with an outlet on Pantai Berawa in Canggu: https://www.facebook.com/SkoebiUPDATE/.

      Travel Insurance Direct sounds like an odd choice: check the terms and conditions to see how long a single trip is allowed to be (many insurance policies have a limit of 30 days or 60 days etc), what the residence requirements are, and whether it covers you to work. If you’re planning on returning home, WorldNomads can be a good option – again, check the residency requirements! – alternatively I’ve heard good things about the brokers at Asia Life for health insurance. Both of these are more expensive than Travel Insurance Direct, so explore that one thoroughly first.

      I think the business visa *could* be a good fit for you, particularly if the company that manufactures your kids’ clothing line were able to sponsor you, because you’d be doing business with an Indonesian company on behalf of an Australian company. Also, self-employment is a large grey area and lots of people do fly under the radar. If you married your partner, you’d get a marital KITAS which would make life easier on some levels but still not entitle you to work. Is your partner’s employer doing dependents’ KITAS for the kids? If they’re not, the best bet for you and the kids would probably be the sosial-budaya, which allows you to stay for up to 180 days and you can all do your visa runs together.

      But your situation is a little bit complicated: I think you’d count as doing business in Indonesia, not working, but I’m not sure. I’d talk to the visa agent your partner’s employer is using – or these guys, who are well-regarded – about the best options for you as a family. If you land up on the multi-entry business visa you’d need to leave Indonesia every two months, with consequent childcare costs and flight costs.

      As regards security: you’d need to ask your partner’s employer. If a villa is part of a complex, it will usually have security included: if it’s standalone, it usually won’t, though landlords with multiple villas sometimes have arrangements with the banjar. Not everyone on Bali has either security or dogs for their villas, but they’re essential if you have an open living villa.

      Hope this helps! Theodora

  103. Rosita says:

    ’m NOT from USA, but I wouldn’t vote Trump. NEVER. This man will just make things more complicate for us, Latin-Americans and expats in general, specially those poor Syrian refugees. I feel sorry for them, but it seems Donald trump don’t feel the same & blame innocent people for the wrong reasons. OK, I understand his fear about terrorism, but, WTF?, construct a wall through USA-Mexico borders WON’T SOLVE NOTHING! In fact, I do believe it’ll just worsen – and make far more risky – the illegal immigration thing. I fear by myself, as I’m Brazilian, despite the fact of being raised in the Caribbean, and, worst of all, I’m half-Lebanese! OK, my family don’t have nothing to do with terrorism, but I’m sure that, if trump won, he might consider us as possible terrorists, but isn’t fair to stereotype someone by its ancestry. I have thoughts of moving to USA soon, but, it seems, I – and other Arabic descendants & Latin-American ppl – will find it hard on the “Trump’s Dystopia”, as I have it. This election will be a historical one – on the more tense imaginable way -, I’m pretty sure of that. There are 2 possible candidates: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and, sincerely, I prefer her. That good-intentioned lady is by far better than such a monster. And she’s gonna show us that a strong, fierce lady CAN rule such a patriarchal nation like USA! Brasil even had a lady as president, Dilma Rousseff, but, sadly, she suffered an impeachment process due to corruption in April of this year. Well, whatever, wha’ I wanna say is that a lady CAN rule a country if she wanna do that. So, I’m gonna totally support Hillary!!! well, as I was saying, Trump – and all the rest of Republican Party’s candidates – says they’ll “make America great again!”, but, sadly, they’re megalomaniacs, have obtuse minds, pretty fundamentalist thoughts and it seems they’re trying to solve America’s – and the rest of globe – problems by the worst, pretty radical way. So, if we don’t wanna more problems, we should reflect about Trump’s sick proposals and see wha’ would be the righteous way to solve ours – and other’s – problems too, on a way it don’t causes more suffering, and try to think a bit more about who are we choosing to command our countries, instead of supporting such insane, unprepared candidates. Pulse pounding to see USA’s elections results!!! And I also hope that next brasil’s election won’t be a disaster as last one was. Hope y’all are fine. BTW, is Z gonna make university in Bali? Or are yuh gonna take him back to U.K.?
    Love y’all,

  104. Elena says:

    Why did you write about election in USA? I’m form US and born in Russia and I don’t vote. I don’t want to choose between two evils. But Hillary was saying to start the war with Russia and nuke it. So US will be nuked too. I don’t like to think about it, but to read comment like yours make me scared. I don’t care about walls, I care about life, that’s why lots of people looking to go some place. Read more and don’t watch TV. I don’t want to keep going about it. Lets focus on Bali 🙂 I would like to go to Bali. I will go to Philippines first, but I think the culture is better in Bali. Somehow US and Russia’s cultures are about war. Soon it might be hard to be anywhere.

    • Rosita says:

      Hey, Elena!
      R yuh talking about wha’ I wrote it about wha’ Theodora wrote? If it’s about wha’ I wrote, just read the commentary I put, Just before yuh one. If is it about wha’ our friend Theodora wrote, just click on the blog’s name & u’ll be redirected to initial page then click on first post & u’ll see.
      Hope it’s helpful,
      Yuh Brazilian-Caribbean friend

    • Theodora says:

      I’m pretty sure Hillary never said she wanted to start a nuclear war with Russia! What I think she did say was that she’d be prepared to create no-fly zones in Syria, which is something Russia might not like.

  105. Pam says:

    wonderful support here, my husband has a teaching job offer as head of ICT in a Denpasar school, but i find it all so daunting i am really scared to take the chance. The position will only be for 3 years because he is then 60 and you cannot have a visa to teach past that age so the school have said. Such a big risk to give up a permanent job for 3 years temp one, at 60 he would possibly never get a job again when we get back plus we are in NZ on a permanent residence visa (not affected) but chance is we couldnt afford to come back and face being homeless, broke. So do we take a chance have one last big adventure at our age, worry about what happens when it happens!!!! or do we stay here in NZ and just grow old safe (barring the earthquakes we have just had of course). Decisions, Decisions what would everyone do in our shoes?????

  106. Sam Bond says:

    Excellent kind job you do Lady Theodora. My basic inquiry is:
    To travel from Bali to most of Indonesia the best method of travel is: Bus or boat or Fly & use local transport- over a month or so. Any really outstanding places to visit ?

  107. Natasha says:

    Wow your an amazing person who has taken the time to answer everyone’s indervidual question, even though if they had bothered to read all your posts they would have the answers they are looking for, well done you have impressed me with your amazing patients and knowledge, you are a truly amazing person and I think you deserve a absolutely fabulouse life, you are a one of a kind great person, all the best in your future endeavours,

  108. hello Theodora,
    My wife Sylvia (62) and I (70) are contemplating the possibilities of long term living on Bali.
    We visited for a while three years ago and found the island enchanting. As we are both over 55, could you please explain the 55+Kuta ? visa regulations? We would be able to enter into a leasehold agreement of USD 100 to 150 K with a 15 year horizon. But having to fly out of Bali every 3 months sounds very unattractive!
    Any ideas?
    Thank you very much in advance for all your effort. You appear to be an admirable source of sound advice.
    Greetings, Peter

    • sandy says:

      very interested in this answer, as well. in two years time, I’ll be 55, and ready for long term living lifestyle. thank you Theodora!

      • Theodora says:

        Hi Sandy,

        The main requirements for the retirement KITAS, which lasts five years, are: over 55, no intention of working in Bali, provable income of at least US $18,000 per year, rental or ownership commitment in the place you want to live in. If you scroll down to my next reply to Peter, there’s a bit more detail…



  109. Yo Thea,
    I should of course have looked better at your previous answers; cause later I found this:

    Tatiana March 2, 2016 at 8:20 am
    Found this in a previous comment: “Another option for residency, if you’re over 55, is the retirement KITAS.” What is KITAS, please? Are there any particular residency conditions for the retired old bones?

    Theodora March 2, 2016 at 11:12 am
    KITAS is a permanent residency permit, which you wouldn’t need if you’re only planning to spend a few months: you could enter the country on a tourist visa and then arrange a sosial-budaya in Singapore. Water is usua……………………….

    However, your answer to Tatiana did not really cover our own question completely.
    Does one apply for the “retirement” KITA at the Indonesian Embassy here in Holland?
    Or should we travel on a tourist visa first and then arrange the 55+Kita in Bali?

    Again thanks for answering when you get around to it.
    Sylvia and I have considerably more patience than the US “lady” that cussed you out for not having responded to her needs within 24 hrs. Greetings pj

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your patience. I would, personally, travel on a tourist visa and then arrange the 55+ KITAS here in Bali, just because business seems to go more smoothly when you’re in the right country and available to chat face to face etc.

      However, it looks as though there have been a new set of rule changes (Indonesia is forever changing its visa rules), meaning that the applicant has to come to the immigration office in person several times – http://indonesiaexpat.biz/featured/rules-change-for-agents-visa-kitas/ – and it’s currently taking many months to get the KITAS, so you might want to start the ball rolling from your home country now. The early stages of the application process can be done from overseas: the closing stages involve quite a few visits to immigration.

      CCI is an agent with a good reputation – I’d suggest you give them a call and see whether they recommend starting the ball rolling from Holland. http://www.cciindonesia.com/



  110. Rosita says:

    How can I learn some Balinese typical painting techniques? Can yuh make a post about it, plz?
    Looking forward,

  111. Michael Lyons says:

    This a a great resource. Thank you for this.
    I am an American citizen and my wife is an Indonesian citizen. We recently got married and are in the process of getting the marriage registered. We want to live in Bali—we are both retirement age. Our plan is to get a 317 reunification visa, buy a car in Jakarta (where we are now) and drive to Bali. We want to live modestly, be near the ocean. we don’t surf but love swimming, body surfing and biking. We like the Changu area but plan on taking time to check out all of Bali. Can you recommend a starting spot? Within a year we will want to buy or lease some land and build a small house.

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Michael! Canggu is not a good place to buy cheap land or live quietly at the moment, because it’s exploding with expats and a lot of tourists: the beaches aren’t great for swimming, usually, because of surfers and currents. If you wanted a more villagey feel, you could look at Balian, or around Tanah Lot. The north coast is excellent value and could well be good for biking too. I’d recommend the hills around Amed but they’re a little bit steep if you like pedalling. But I’d roadtrip, if I were you! Start at Canggu and head north and see where takes your fancy.

  112. inkka says:

    Hi i’m planning on attending hospitality college/univ but i haven’t found one that suits me, the course that i want to take is cookery (tata boga) do you have any suggestion and any other details you’d like to add about studying in Bali?

    • Theodora says:


      Stenden University offers a hospitality course, and there are some food colleges in Bali. However, I think most people who cook professionally here learn by doing rather than by extensive training, and you might be better off looking elsewhere for a course.



  113. sandy says:

    more on internet services; I’m researching a number of places from new caledonia to the maldives to fiji and bali to move to. As a self employed business strategist and coach, I can travel every 90 days as needed, however, I absolutely must have a connection that can sustain Zoom video calls with my clients.

    I love your info and blog, btw! the last time I was in bali was in 2000 and I imagine much has changed. Do you think I could live there for 2-3 months at a time and still be able to reliably connect to my coaching clients weekly via Zoom? If you have any paths I can research I’d be so grateful. thank you!

    ps: love the pix!! it takes me back 🙂

    • Theodora says:

      A lot will have changed since 2000! The beach where Tugu is in Canggu is now getting close to Seminyak, while Ubud is crazy busy. You have a range of options internet-wise: live somewhere you can get government fibre-optic (Indihome) or decent satellite (more expensive, but I’ve heard good things about Gecko), and use coworking spaces like Dojo (Canggu), Hubud (Ubud) or Rumah Sanur or Kumpul in Sanur (this isn’t a comprehensive list) as a back-up for the rare occasions those go down. Or live somewhere you can get both fibre-optic and satellite, and run two connections, with one as a back-up. Hope this helps! Indihome is pretty affordable but being rolled out somewhat randomly across the island – so it’s in all sorts of areas you wouldn’t expect to have it, and not in areas that you’d expect to have it. Fast satellite is a lot more expensive but you can often nego with providers.

  114. Jane says:

    I am Philippine passport holder, and I wanted to stay in Bali to work in any hotels. Is there any chance I can get paid of what I am currently receiving now? I have a monthly net of USD 800.

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Jane,

      Without knowing what your role is in a hotel, it’s hard to answer: you’d also need a work permit before you were employed here. If you’re looking at a management role in a large hotel, then that’s conceivable. What level of job would you be looking for?


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