Cost Of Living In Bali: How Much It Costs Me To Live The Digital Nomad LIfe

Bali is one of the most sought after destinations for Digital Nomads and retirees in the world. It’s one of my favorite places that I’ve traveled to and I’ve been here multiple times. In fact, I like it say so much that I did the 10 day hotel quarantine in Dec 2021 just to enter Bali without the huge crowds.

Canggu Bali digital nomad working from villa

I’ve seen Bali when it was super packed (yuck) and during the Pandemic when it has more or less been closed off to the outside world (not great for the locals but nice as a foreigner looking for a more chilled time). I’ve spent some extended time in Bali in 2021/2022 because I would be foolish not to after spending $300 on a business visa and 10 days in a hotel quarantine, all requirements to enter Bali during the pandemic.

raja ampat diving beautiful ocean

Visiting Raja Ampat while living in Bali. Incredible

For the purposes of understanding, I have listed my expenses in Indonesia Rupiah (IDR) as well as US Dollars since this is what all my finances are in. As of the time of writing, the exchange rate is $1 USD = 14,400 IDR. All cost of living figures are monthly figures.

 

Bali is Cheap


Have you dreamed about living in Bali as well? I don’t blame you. This is one of my first big stops after reaching financial independence. I had budgeted around $40,000 a year to fund my lifestyle which is less than a 4% withdrawal rate from my current portfolio. Throw in the money I earn through this blog and it is more than enough money to live in Bali.

Bali is cheap. Like really cheap. In fact, I forgot how cheap Bali was because the last time I visited I spent so much money on going out to beach clubs. Having traveled so much of the world since that time, it is shocking how cheap Bali is.

The thing that really stands out for Bali is not that it’s just cheap, but it’s cheap and you get so much for it. The quality of the food, restaurants, and facilities in Bali combined with its cost makes it one of a kind.

Even when I was in Thailand for a month right before coming to Bali, it was cheap but I could still notice that Bali was just a little cheaper. However, the restaurants, vibe, natural beauty, accommodation options, and just overall ambiance is just better in Bali (personal opinion of course). Compared to the island life in Thailand, I just thought Bali was more upscale but at a lower cost.

It’s also significantly cheaper than other beautiful island destinations like Zanzibar. I spent two months in Zanzibar and while beautiful, lacks the infrastructure and freedom that somewhere like Bali provides. It’s also considerably more expensive to live a comparable life in Zanzibar (at least 2-3x).

 

Pandemic Effect on Bali

I’ve been to Bali a few times but my most recent trip in Jan 2022 was where I stayed in Bali for an extended period of time. To say the COVID pandemic has affected Bali negatively is an understatement. Bali lived and survived off of tourism. More than 60% of the economy was based on tourism before COVID and all of that was merely wiped out within weeks.

Camaya bamboo house in Bali

In Jan 2022, the country still remains mostly closed off to foreigners. You’ll need to apply for a business visa and quarantine in a hotel in order to enter the country. Safe to say no casual tourist will do this and Bali remains at the mercy of the pandemic. Areas that were previously packed with tourists became ghost towns overnight. Kuta, Seminyak, Legian, Sanur, and Ubud are pretty much dead. Prices for accommodations in these areas drastically decreased.

The areas of Canggu, Berawa, Pererenan, and somewhat Uluwatu remain resilient because of a large contingent of long term digital nomads that call these areas home. The price of real estate Canggu has stayed constant throughout the Pandemic as it’s become the hotspot for foreigners and local tourists alike.

Nevertheless, you can expect to pay less for almost everything. From restaurants, to villas, to scooter rentals, everything is cheaper in Bali during these times.

 

Long term vs short term stay in Bali


I want to upfront about my expense report for the month and a distinction has to be made between long term and short term residents in Bali. Long term residents are those with KITAS or KITAP. A KITAS (Kartu Izin Tinggal Terbatas) is an Indonesian work permit that allows foreign nationals to work or stay in Indonesia legally for up to 12 months. It’s also commonly referred to as a limited stay permit, work permit, or work visa. A KITAP is a permanent residence permit valid up to five years and more common for retirees.

This post is not about the KITAS and KITAP. Unlike when I was living in South Africa or living in Germany, I came to Bali purely for tourism and digital nomading. I did not have an Indonesia company hire me for a work contract and I had no intention of staying in Bali for years on end. For this purpose, I consider myself a short term resident. I applied for a B211A visa which allowed me to stay in Bali for up to 2 months, and then allowing me to extend the visa (by paying money of course) up to an additional 4 months making it 6 months in total.

Because of my short term bias, I definitely found myself living a more lavish lifestyle filled with travel, visiting the trendy cafes, sunset bars and the like. When I had a more permanent base, I definitely did not go out so much. Therefore, these numbers will be slightly inflated if you are planning to spend years on end in Bali.

 

Cost of Rent In Bali – 9m IDR (~$650)


Like all places, the main expense you’ll have is accommodation. Bali has an incredible amount of different accommodation options available at all price ranges. You can get something for as cheap as $250 a month and spend for as much as your heart desires when it comes to luxury stays.

I must say before I get into this that the most overused word in Bali is the word villa. Prior to coming to Bali, staying in a “villa” always conjured images of beautiful estates in Lake Como or a giant cliffside house in Santorini.

In Bali, the word villa is used for pretty much all accommodations. Whether you’re staying in a boutique hotel with a few different bungalows or a big 5 bedroom house, everything is called villa. The only time you don’t use a villa is when you stay in large resorts or big hotels with multiple floors. When you arrive and look for places to stay, expect everyone to tell you about their “villa” but don’t get too excited.

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The cost of accommodation in Bali is quite cheap overall. You can find some amazing places for not so much money. Depending on the duration of your stay, you can expect a wide array of deals. For example, If you’re staying a month, you should expect to pay more than the monthly rate of a year long stay.

 

Where to stay in Bali

Bali is very region by region. Some parts are definitely more “hot” than others so you can expect to pay more or less depending on how central you want to be. Just like any other place in the world. As I write this in 2022 with the country mostly still closed down, Canggu and the surrounding areas like Berawa and Perenan are the hotspots of Bali. Traditionally busy areas like Seminyak, Kuta, Legian and Ubud are completely dead and you can expect to pay much less for accommodations there.

I chose to stay in Canggu because I actually really like the vibe of the place during the pandemic when there’s far less tourists. I focused my search to Canggu and the nearby areas. I wanted to be within a 10 minute scooter ride from the heart of Canggu.

Canggu gets a lot of hate for some reason and I expected I might not like it because people are stuck up or pretentious but it is not the case at all. Canggu is a new neighborhood that’s only come on to the scene in the last 5 years (I’d never heard of Canggu during my first visit in 2015). There is far less development in Canggu versus Seminyak or Kuta and the traffic is nowhere near as horrendous. Canggu is full of amazing restaurants, cafes, beach bars, and co-working spaces that you never really need to leave. Make sure to read my list of best cafes to work from in Canggu if you are also planning to be a digital nomad here.

Because of how less developed it is compared to surrounding areas like Seminyak and Kuta, I find that Canggu is like a upscale backpacker version of Bali. It’s the perfect mix of laid back with plenty of amenities and things to do. Yes you’ll find all of your crypto bros cyrpto’ing it up but it’s worth the price.

 

There are not many smaller villas

If you want your own standalone villa with outdoor space and such, you’ll find it relatively difficult if you’re looking for just one or two people. Most villas meant for long term rentals are built for 3-5 bedrooms. There are very few one bedroom and studio style villas in Canggu and Bali in general because it just doesn’t make financial sense to make small places.

If you’re looking for one bedroom places, you definitely can find them but it will be tougher. What may be easier is to look for rooms at an already established boutique hotel or guesthouse and ask them about their monthly rates. If you’re paying in cash up front, you can almost always expect a better deal than 30x the nightly rates. Sometimes you can even get a 50% discount off the rates!

 

What are the average prices of rent in Bali?

Like I said earlier in this post, Bali can be enjoyed for as little money or as much money as you can dream of. There is a Bali for everyone.

As I mentioned earlier, I decided to spend my time in Canggu which is among the most expensive areas in Bali.

For a 1 bedroom apartment you can expect to pay roughly 5m IDR ($300) to 10m IDR ($600). For a standalone villa you’ll likely not be able to find many one bedroom versions since most developers would prefer to build larger villas. They villas I’ve seen that are meant for 1-2 people are generally a bit more expensive than an apartment.

For 2-3 bedroom villas, you can expect to pay 10m to 20m IDR ($700 to $1300) a month but of course you can pay much more depending on how much luxury you prefer.

As you go to other areas of Bali like Seminyak, Pererenan, Kuta, or Legian, you can expect to pay slightly less as the real estate has really dried out during COVID. Uluwatu and Ubud are also a bit cheaper.

 

Where to find accommodation in Bali

The best place to find accommodation in Bali is through Facebook Groups. There might be better sources but I think if you’re staying for multiple months or a year, the best options are to use Facebook groups. There are a ton of groups in Facebook so I would just join the ones with the most people.

If I click into the Bali House Apartment Villa for Rent group with 50k members, I can find some really good deals like the following:

This apartment (they actually called it that finally) is 7m IDR for one months rent (slightly under $500). This price also includes all the drinking water and regular cleanings.

Use Airbnb to find long term stays in Bali

Airbnb is a great option if you’re staying for a month or two. You can almost always expect to find great discounts if you are search for monthly rentals and most of the places you’ll find on Facebook will also be on Airbnb. However, you will need to pay the Airbnb service fee which is another 10%+ on top of the listing price. It’s often times easier just to message people and do it direct to avoid these booking charges.

Often times, if you click into the Airbnb listing, it will tell you the name of the villa/hotel/guesthouse and then you can simply Google them to find their direct contact information.

 

My villa in Canggu

I ended up finding a villa in Canggu very close to the central part of the neighborhood. I stayed in numerous other places around Bali before settling on something long term. I’d recommend you do the same. It is important to get a feel of the different areas of Bali to see what fits your vibe. I didn’t have many requirements for my search. I just wanted a place that was in the Canggu area, with an open space, nice bathroom, and views of rice fields if possible.

Canggu Villa cheap monthly rental Bali

I also spent some time contacting people all over the place to find the best deal. It took some time but I ended up finding this villa for 9m IDR ($650 USD). I think this is on the lower end for a villa of this caliber and modern style.

This villa is the perfect place for one or two people. It has a small pool with dead on views of the rice fields which is just amazing. The inside is about 40 square meters and comes with a large bed, free water, kitchen, fridge, TV and the works. The bathroom is also incredible. It’s mostly outdoors, beautiful redone, and such an inviting place to start the day.

Canggu Villa cheap monthly rental Bali

Wifi is also included in the price of the apartment which sometimes is not the case if you’re renting something long term. Payment is made upfront and in cash.

Canggu Villa cheap monthly rental Bali Canggu Villa cheap monthly rental Bali Canggu Villa cheap monthly rental Bali Canggu Villa cheap monthly rental Bali

 

Mobile Service in Bali – 80,000 IDR (~$6)


Having cell service is imperative no matter where I live. Bali is no different. While there is ample wifi in every restaurant or cafe you visit (some of the local warungs even have wifi!), you just can’t substitute having good data.

Thankfully, data is very cheap in Indonesia. I got a sim card with Telkomsel which is the fastest and most comprehensive network in Indonesia. I won’t even begin trying to explain the seemingly endless data packages and options on the platform. To summarize, I purchased a pre-paid sim card as these are only allowed for tourists and short term residents. I top up my phone with cash credit every month and buy data when I need it.

Telkomsel plans

So many different offerings on Telkomsel.

On average, I buy a 10-15GB data plan for a cost between 70,000 and 80,000 IDR. Sometimes, there will be deals on Telkomsel’s app which offers something like 16 GB of data for 50,000 IDR. The best I’ve found was a 30GB deal for 75k IDR. It’s hit or miss and I still haven’t really figured out Telkomsel’s offerings at all.

If I was working and traveling to more remote parts of Bali, I would consider buying more data as often times wifi can be spotty in places in Sideman for example where I stayed in the amazing Camaya Bamboo Houses.

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Otherwise, if you’re staying in a developed place like Canggu or Ubud, you’ll find wifi everywhere.

 

Gym Membership – 1m IDR (~$70)


I’ve always been into living a healthy lifestyle and a gym has always been integral in that piece. I’ve worked out at some really nice gyms in my life and my search for the perfect gym in Bali was quite difficult.

I’ve written a post about all all the best gyms in Bali where I essentially went to like 20 different places to check what was on offer. There are many gyms in Bali but not that many really nice ones. If you are looking for top end luxury fancy type gyms like Equinox or a Virgin Active Classic, you’re choices are limited.

Body Factory Canggu Bali Fitness

The body factory. Crazy expensive.

In Canggu, Body Factory is the only gym that provides this upscale environment. The cost is absolutely insane however at nearly 3m a month. They also have a spa and pool area that is an additional 1m a month which means the cost of this gym is almost $300 a month if you want all the goods. The prices of course drop depending on how long of a commitment you make but holy crap that is an expensive gym. In fact, it is more expensive than any gym I’ve ever been a part of, even the Equinox gyms in New York City.

In the end, I settled on Bull Gym in Canggu. It is not fancy like Body Factory but it has a nice open space with good quality equipment. The price is 1m IDR a month which still isn’t cheap but that’s just the compromise I had to make. There are cheaper gyms catered to locals as well but the equipment quality is questionable at best.

 

Dining and Restaurants – 7m IDR (~$500)


Without a doubt, eating out is the biggest and most variable expense I have in Bali. I don’t cook much, and I don’t know many other expats in Bali that regularly cook. There are just too many delicious options all over Bali at cheap prices and there aren’t that many large supermarkets.

 

Local Warung serving Indonesian food

Eating out in Bali is cheap by any comparison to Western countries. However, you can eat cheap or you can eat super cheap. Warungs (local restaurants) are the best options to eat cheap Indonesian foods. These local warungs can range from roadside shacks to well lit restaurants. You’ll find the typical dishes in these restaurants like Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng, Beef Rendang, Nasi Campur etc. You can expect to pay between 25,000 IDR($1.6) to 40,000 IDR ($2.5) per dish. If you’re a fan of suckling pig, then you must eat the local Babi Guling at the countless Babi guling shops around the island.

babi guling

Delicious Babi Guling in Bali

There are not as many night markets in Indonesia. The culture is not like the buzzing street markets of Thailand but you can find cheap delicious foods all over the place. Indonesian Sate’s are the street foods of choice and you’ll find people grilling pork and chicken satays all over the place around night time. One of my favorite places in Canggu grills the best Babi Sate’s and it is 20,000 IDR for 10 skewers ($1.3).

Sate in Bali delicious indonesian food

DELICIOUS Sates on the street for 2k IDR each.

 

Western Restaurants

One of my favorite things of Bali and staying in a neighborhood like Canggu is the incredible diversity of different food options you have. I’m totally okay just eating local Indonesian food all the time because I just love the flavors and spices. However, there are times where I want to mix it up and eat something else. Or if I’m going out with friends, it’s more likely we’ll pick a place with a nicer atmosphere which often times mean Western restaurants.

Santanera Bali restaurant

Santenera, an amazing delicious and atmospheric restaurant in Canggu

What sets Bali apart from other places is the quality of the food and the prices. The quality is absolutely top notch with restaurants having super inviting ambiance. The prices are of course much more than warungs but not that expensive given the quality of food. I’ve traveled all over the world and often times I find that eating Western food in non-Western settings means paying prices that are almost on par with the West.

In Bali, you can go to a Greek restaurant like Santorini in Canggu and pay 90,000 IDR (~$8) for a big plate of souvlaki in a restaurant setting that feels like you’re back in the Greek islands. You can go to a restaurant like Suka in Berawa and ord

 

Cafes for breakfast

Bali has no shortage of amazing cafes and breakfast spots all over the island. This is the island for digital nomads so you can expect the finest cafes perfect for working, drinking coffee, and just being one step removed from a co-working space.

suka bali restaurant breakfast

Delicious brunch at Suka

I went to numerous cafes almost every day for breakfast when I first arrived in Bali. I just loved the vibe and the food. However, after some time, you realize you can’t take down French toast every morning and feel good about it. A meal with coffee at a trendy Bali cafe will run you 70,000 IDR to 100,000 IDR ($4.5 to $7.5).

Therefore, I normally visit cafes for breakfast 2-3 times a week and the other days I will eat my go to breakfast meal of oatmeal with almond milk with peanut butter and honey. This is pretty much the only thing I buy from the grocery stores.

 

Adding it all up

If I add it all up, I spend about the following on average:

  • 50,000 IDR (~$3.5) on breakfast. This includes 2-3x at a nice cafe every week with home made oatmeal with peanut butter on the other days.
  • 40,000 IDR (~$2.5) on lunch at a local warung to get my favorite Babi Guling or Nasi Campur
  • 120,000 IDR (~$9) on dinners. This is just to factor in for meals eaten out at nice restaurants with friends. On nights I don’t go out, I simply get more local foods

Adding this up, you get $15 a day on average which translates to $450 a month. I added another $50 in buffer room for the odd protein shake or meal that gets out of hand in prices!

 

Drinks and Entertainment – 3m IDR (~$200)


I decided to separate my drinking and going out budget from my food budget just to write more about this.

Alcohol in Bali is expensive. Sure you can find local Bintang beers for 25k IDR at a bar but if you want to drink anything else, you’ll have to pay up for it. Trust me, after some unnecessary nights with too much Bintang, you’ll want to drink something else as well.

Cocktails at a decent place will run you between 75k to 120k IDR (~$5 to $9). You can find very good cocktails in a few places but you just need to know the spots.

El Kabron beach club

El Kabron beach club in Uluwatu. Drinks here are NOT cheap.

Wine is also prohibitively expensive. You can expect to pay 90k to 100k IDR (~$7) for a glass of average wine. The pours in Bali are not generous either like the huge pours I became used to in Germany and the rest of Europe. Almost all the wine is imported so you’re paying for that. Having traveled all over Europe and drinking the best wine on offer in countries like Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, France etc. it is hard to justify these prices.

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I would go out with friends multiple times a week. Many times, you could just get away with having a beer or coconut on Canggu beach for 30k IDR a beer. However, there are the odd nights you go out to beach clubs like La Brisa, Finn’s, El Kabron etc. where you end up spending 300k easily.

I could easily spend more than 3m a month and probably have in many of the months but it’s just not a budget you can really account for on a regular schedule.

 

Transportation via Scooter – 750,000 IDR (~$50)


Bali is an island of scooters. There is no public transportation to speak of or at least I’ve never come across any. Everyone, foreigners and locals, get around with scooters. During rush hours, you’ll find just hundreds or thousands of scooters on the roads cruising down the streets.

Scooters are very cheap to rent in Bali. For tourists coming for just a few days, you can expect a scooter rental to run about 50,000 to 75,000 IDR a day depending on your negotiation skills. The price can be higher during high season of course. Once you’ve spent enough time in Bali, you’ll know someone that knows someone with a good scooter hookup and you’ll always be able to find a good deal.

I rented my scooter which is a simple 125 cc Honda on a monthly basis. You can expect big discounts if you rent long term which is what I recommend you do. Like I said above, I ended up meeting people that knew people and got a great deal on my scooter. I pay 650,000 IDR (~$43) per month for full use of my scooter! This includes insurance as well. A far cry from the prices I paid in the Amalfi Coast where the exact same scooter costs more per day than I pay for a month in Bali!

Gas Prices in Bali

Gas prices are very cheap in Bali. Indonesia has their own oil reserves around the country and gas prices are subsidized accordingly. The price per Liter is 8000-9000 IDR (~$0.6 to $0.7). There aren’t many gas stations in the island however. Most of them are concentrated in denser parts of the city like Denpasar, Kuta, and Seminyak. I stay away from these areas mostly because the traffic is horrible.

Don’t worry, you will find gas in almost every road side shop. You’ll see the signs for petrol and you’ll see gas filled into 1L Absolute Vodka bottles or into a makeshift gas pump. Prices here are 10,000 IDR per liter.

Bali Gas station pump

Typical Bali gas station pump

Anyone who has ridden a scooter knows that you don’t need much gas. For a month, I normally take about 10-15 liters of gas.

 

Visa fees – 800k IDR ($55)


To live in Bali, you’ll need a proper visa beyond that of a standard tourist visa. The easiest ones for foreigners to get is the B211A business visa which allows you to live in Bali for up to 6 months.

For this visa, the first two months are free, but you’ll need to renew the visa every month for the remainder of the 6 months. Each renewal is about 800k IDR depending on the visa agents you use.

Alternatively, you could book a cheap flight out of the country and back into the country. The cheapest flights are likely to KL or Singapore but these options were not available to me during the pandemic.

 

Misc. Charges – 600,000 IDR ($40)


This section is just for everything else that adds up over time that is not appropriate for the other categories. For example, top water is not safe to drink so unless your villa provides you with unlimited drinking water, you’ll have to go out and buy this for yourself. Water is inexpensive and you can buy a large 5L tub of water for 20,000 IDR (~$1.3). This does add up over time though.

Bali is also hot as well so you’ll want to have ample sunscreen and bug spray. I go through a bottle of sunscreen a month and this will cost me about $10. Through in toothpaste, contact solution, and other random toiletries and you’re up to about 600k IDR a month. It’s not a large sum of money but I’m listing out all my expenses after all!

I have laundry in my accommodation but sometimes (often times) I am too lazy to do it on my own so I send it out. You can find quality laundry services all over Bali for a price between 10k to 15k per kilo that wash and fold your clothes.

 

Adding it all up – 25m IDR ($1,700) a month


In total, I spent about 22m IDR a month or roughly $1,500 USD. I would add an additional $200-300 USD to this budget just as a buffer room to keep me honest. I didn’t track everything to the dollar but rather estimated my budget especially for eating out and drinking.

This budget is also during the COVID pandemic so prices are a bit lower overall than they would be during normal times. I also didn’t really try to save all that much because this budget was already way below my monthly income coming from my investments as well as my blog income. I could have spent another $1,000 USD easily a month and been well within my budget.

I don’t think you need to spend much to live a good life in Bali but it just depends on the life you want. You can literally live so many different lives in Bali it’s impossible to write about it.

Whatever life you do decide to live, hopefully this article gives you a general idea of what to expect with costs in Bali!

 

Trips around and outside of Bali


If you’re spending an extended period of time in Bali, you’ll likely take many trips around the island and to islands nearby to Bali. I did many of these trips because you just have to experience some of these places.

Nusa penida diamond beach stairs

Nusa Penida in all its beauty.

For example, a visit to Nusa Penida to visit the famous diamond beach and Kelingking beach is an absolute must. The Gili islands are also fantastic getaways for a few days outside of Bali.

Komodo National Park Aerial View

Komodo diving corals turtle indonesia komodo national park

Your average at the Komodo National Park…

If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can take trips to places like Komodo National Park which is famous for some of the best scuba diving in the world as well as Raja Ampat which is equally as amazing for diving and an absolutely stunning above water scenery.

heart shaped lagoon raja ampat

In addition, staying around Bali is also a must. Visiting Ubud and the famous rice fields is a must do as well.Sideman bali infinity pool volcano view

Taking trips around Indonesia will undoubtedly eat into any monthly budget. I spent a lot of money traveling around Indonesia but these trips are not added to my budget since they are variable and not something I can have a definitive plan for.

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