I’ve lived in Bali for the past few months and it’s been one of the best experiences of my life. I had visited Bali as a tourist many years ago and I already knew I loved the island. I came to Bali again during the pandemic and stayed. It was quite the process to enter the country during COVID, but it was well worth it given that it was not crazy overcrowded like it was during normal times.
I haven’t many negative things to say about Bali so this post will mostly be dedicated to why I absolutely love living on the Island of the Gods. If you’re also planning to spend extended time in Bali, this post will definitely help give you plenty to think about!
Year round great weather
I’m a warm weather type of person and Bali is absolutely perfect for me. As it is located around the equator, it is warm and tropical year round. You can expect warm to hot temperatures throughout the year which is just what I need. Because of the predictable weather, shorts and tank tops are the only type of clothing I need which really helps cut down massively on the clothing purchases.
Bali has a two season: a rainy season between December and April, and a dry season between April and November. During the rainy season, you’ll find weather that is largely unpredictable. Sometimes you’ll have sunny days for days on end, and other times you’ll have a stretch of days where it’s only rain. More likely is that you’ll have sun for most of the day with a downpour at some point in the day (usually later on in the day). You can expect temperatures to be really hot in March with humidity elevated as well.
I stayed in Bali largely in the rainy season and it really isn’t that bad compared to other rainy season’s I’ve experienced.
During the dry season, Bali is less humid and it rains far less often. Sunsets can be enjoyed almost every night. It’s no surprise that Bali’s high season months are typically between June and August.
Riding my scooter around everywhere
Scooters are the main form of transportation around Bali. There is no public transportation to speak of (at least I’ve never come across any) and almost everyone uses scooters (locals and tourists). Walking and even cycling is just not something that is done here. When it gets super hot and humid, you won’t want to be on your bicycle anyhow. For someone staying in Bali long term, a scooter is the way of life and you can rent a scooter for as cheap as 400k IDR a month which definitely won’t break the bank.
Personally, I love getting around everywhere on my scooter. Something about cruising along the rice fields with the wind blowing against you on a hot and humid day is just great. With the scooter, I can go everywhere and explore all of Bali’s different neighborhoods as well as taking weekend trips to Ubud or Uluwatu.
Scooters aren’t great for exercise because you end up traveling even a few hundred meters by scooter but that is what going to one of the numerous gyms in Bali is for!
More beautiful cafes than anywhere in the world
Bali has perhaps the highest number of brunch style restaurants and cafes of anywhere in the world. I’m not joking. Within maybe 5 square km, you’ll find a hundred different trendy cafes and beautiful restaurants beckoning for your stomach and Instagram account. Seriously, I would like to know if there is somewhere with more beautiful cafes per capita than Bali.
Living in Canggu or Ubud, I know that a delicious cup of coffee is probably one of the easiest things I can obtain. Read my best cafes in Canggu post for a list of all of my favorite cafes (There are many) as well as my favorite cafes to work from in Bali.
All different restaurant cuisines available
I’m a big fan of Indonesian food. From Nasi Goreng to Beef Rendang, the strong flavors, spices, and ingredients are totally my style. There are countless Indonesian restaurants on the island in the form of Warungs (local restaurants) for you to try the local cuisine.
However, if you are feeling like you need a break from Indonesian food, there are countless options of all different cuisines in areas like Canggu, Seminyak, and Ubud. From delicious Napoli style pizza, to Mexican food, Italian, Greek, Steakhouses, Michelin star tastings, there is everthing you’ll ever need here.
There are new restaurants constantly being opened in Bali so you always have something new to look forward to. When you feel like you need just a casual no frills no thrills meal by yourself, you can go to a local sate shop and grab 10 chicken/pork sates for 10k-20k IDR!
Natural beauty is easily accessible (rice field to beach in one day)
Bali is just incredibly beautiful as far as natural scenery goes. Bali is an island but due to its size, it offers so much more than a typical tropical island like Koh Phangan, Thailand, or a place like Caye Caulker Belize.
Bali is unique in that it has all the beautiful beach things you can want like surfing and diving but it also offers incredibly picturesque rice fields that are world famous, ancient temples, and numerous dramatic volcanoes. You can go from mountain rice terraces to the ocean in the same day.
While I lived in Canggu (neared to the ocean) for most of my stay, I would frequently travel around Bali visiting places like Ubud and Sideman because it just felt like you went to a completely different place.
If I wanted a longer trip, I could take a ferry to islands like Nusa Penida which is even more stunning in my opinion and offers the most impressive scuba diving in Bali.
It’s easy to get sucked into Canggu lifestyle I’ll have to admit. But being able to leave what is already an amazing lifestyle to have a weekend break in a villa in Ubud overlooking the rice fields just goes to show how special Bali is.
Indonesia is absolutely stunning, options are endless
Continuing off the previous point, Indonesia as a whole is just absolutely stunning. It is one of my favorite countries in the world because the diversity above and below the water is unmatched. Most people think Bali is the only thing Indonesia has to offer but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Indonesia has 18,000 islands after all and Bali is just a few of them.
As I’m an avid scuba diver, I’ve dived all over the world and I can safely and firmly say that Indonesia offers the best scuba diving in the world. I’ve spent many months diving around Komodo National Park famous for its beautiful manta rays and pristine reefs.
In addition, Raja Ampat is equally if not more beautiful than Komodo which is just crazy that the country can have this many beautiful things in one place. I spent a week in Raja Ampat on a dive liveaboard which was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
Balinese people are very friendly
Balinese hospitality is a real thing. The smiles in Bali are contagious and the people are some of the most friendly and hospitable people I’ve met during my travels. It’s not surprising to see why Bali became such a popular island for tourists over the decades.
Customer service is paramount and people go above and beyond to be friendly to you. Balinese people have a be happy with what you have type of mentality and it really shows.
Sadly, there are so many tourists that take advantage of Bali’s hospitality to act like complete degenerates. In the end, you are a guest of Bali and Indonesia. Never forget that no matter how much money you have.
The Perfect place for a digital nomad
There are many amazing places to be a digital nomad these days, but I honest to God believe that Bali is the best of the bunch. Of course everyone has different criteria for their dream digital nomad destination (myself included) but Bali ticks off the most boxes for me.
Bali is one of the few places in the world where you’ll find the most digital nomads per capita. So many people that I’ve met in Bali are doing some sort of online work in some fascinating field. Whether you’re into crypto, coaching, video editing, or just working your traditional job in a remote location, you’ll find your tribe here.
Bali has endless co-working spaces, cafes, and great WIFI which makes it the perfect place for digital nomads.
Easy to meet people in Bali
This leads me to the next point, it is so easy to meet people in Bali. In fact, it’s probably been one of the easiest places to meet new people. I say this with having a lot of first hand experiences. Compared to other countries/cities/regions, Bali is a place that attracts a lot more long term travelers than average.
Everyone is coming here for either some online business, retirement, or everything in between and people are just more open to meeting other people in Bali. Perhaps it’s the fact that everyone else has also figured out how amazing they have it in Bali which automatically just makes a person more laid back and keen to meet others.
Either way, you’ll have no shortage of ways to meet people. Whether this is through co-working spaces, meetup events, fitness clubs, yoga clubs, vegan clubs, club clubs etc. You name it, there’s something here for you.
Villa life on a budget
Bali is famous for its sheer number of “villas”. Before I came to Bali, I had always pictured a villa being a huge estate for a very rich person. Something like the huge houses on Lake Como or the super fancy houses in Mykonos. In Bali, you have these huge villas, but you also have smaller more modest villas. Essentially, a villa in Bali is any standalone housing structure with a private pool. This could be a 1 bedroom villa, or a 10 bedroom villa.
Bali has endless amounts of villas built in a traditional Balinese style which has become more beautiful and more inviting throughout the years. You can find amazing villas that look like something out of a travel magazine at a very affordable price. Other tropical destinations like Thailand, Zanzibar, Philippines, Mexico etc. just don’t have any of these types of accommodation options on offer, and certainly not at an affordable price.
You live large in Bali and you live well!
Cheap cost of living
Well I’m not ashamed to admit that one of the reasons I love living in Bali so much is because of the cheap cost of living. I’ve traveled to many many countries around the world and have lived in many as well. However, for the money you spend, you will be hard pressed to find anywhere in the world where you get more value.
Bali offers an incredible lifestyle for amazing prices. You can live a life of luxury at a fraction of the price of other similarly tropical destinations. Bali is unique in that it has that island life feel, but because of how large it is, it also offers a city vibe as well. It’s hard to explain unless you live here.
Nevertheless, you can rent an amazing villa with a private pool for under $1,000 a month or you can rent a room in a guesthouse for as little as $250 a month. Of course, if you want to really live it up, you can spend $3,000 or more for a huge villa. Food is incredibly affordable and delicious with every cuisine you can think of.
All in all, I spend under $2,000 a month and I live the high life. I don’t worry about money and I pretty much do whatever I want, whenever I want to. Make sure to read my detailed cost of living Bali post for the full breakdown of my monthly budget!
Massages anytime you want
Massages are a common part of life while living in Bali. There are massage parlors and spas everywhere you go. A Balinese one hour massage can be as cheap as 75k IDR (very basic) to a luxurious experience up to 1m IDR. Something in between between 100k and 200k IDR means you have a very comfortable experience.
I definitely got more Bali massages when I first moved to the island as it was just such a great novelty experience. I still get massages once a week but this is down from the multiple times a week in the beginning.
I also prefer Balinese massages to say the massages in Thailand. Not only is it a more luxurious experience in Bali but it is cheaper and generally feels better.
Easy to lead a Healthy lifestyle
Having spent some time in Bali, I’ve noticed that Bali is perhaps the easiest place I’ve ever lived in to lead a healthy lifestyle. By healthy, I mean eat good food, exercise frequently, and drink less. One would think that people come to Bali to party and get drunk at the beach clubs and you wouldn’t be wrong. However, this is primarily people that come here for a one to two week vacation.
A life without alcohol in Bali
If you are actually living here long term, you quickly realize that drinking daily and going to beach clubs get old very quickly. On top of this, drinking in Bali is not cheap in comparison to other things. Sure, you could get a Bintang beer for 30k IDR but how many mediocre lagers can you drink before you get tired of it? Wine is almost all imported and is on the expensive side (100k IDR per glass) and cocktails are mostly mediocre and not that cheap (120k+ IDR).
What you do have in Bali is easy access to fresh fruit all over the island, protein shakes, smoothie bowls, veggie foods etc. There are so many places to eat in Bali that it is easy to lead a health conscious lifestyle. This is not to say you need to go full vegan (although this is very easy to do in Bali), but you quickly realize you don’t need to drink as much as before. Instead of drinking beers for the sunsets, I opt for a coconut now.
All in all, my alcohol consumption went way down. It’s quite the shock to go back to Europe for example where alcohol is just a way of life. I do love drinking amazing wine in the Piedmont region of Italy or the Douro Valley in Portugal overlooking the vineyards but I really do love a clean and healthy lifestyle even more.
There’s a Bali for everyone
In the end, there is a Bali for everyone. I’ve never seen a collection of people doing so many different things than in Bali. I think living here during the pandemic was particularly interesting because the people who stayed were people that actually had success in their lines of work. Even with the cheap cost of living in Bali, you still need some money to live here and survive.
Whether you’re a spiritual healer, web developer, crypto trader, media specialist, social media influencer, travel blogger, or anything in between, you’ll find something here for you.
Some of my favorite moments were hanging out at the cafes in Bali and meeting a web developer and talking to them about my travel blog, and their friend at the same table was trading NFTs. Just so much diversity and so many interesting stories that I never had before living a digital nomad style life!
What I dislike about Bali
As with anywhere else in the world, there are things I also dislike about Bali. All truth be told, there is nothing in Bali I particularly hate but here is a list of things that I find annoying.
Traffic is terrible
Bali traffic is terrible. This is a well known fact by locals and foreigners alike. The roads in Bali were just not designed properly from the beginning. You’ll find mostly one lane roads throughout the entire island that might have sufficed decades ago when they were first constructed. Over the years and millions of tourists later, the roads are just way too small to fit in all the bikes and cars around Bali.
Before the pandemic, it could easily take 2 hours to drive from Canggu to Ubud (only 25km) because there was just so much traffic. This is particularly painful when it is hot outside and you are just waiting in traffic the whole day. I avoid anything south of Berawa like the plague because the traffic is too much. Even living in Canggu, the shortcut that connects Canggu to Berawa can be jam packed full of bikes.
The visa situation in Bali is quite a hassle. You can only have a VOA for 30 days which can be extended for another 30 days. Once you’re finished, you can leave the country and come back to get a brand new visa (this method might or might not work in the future). If you want to stay for longer, you can apply for a B211a visa (business visa) which is good for 2 months and can be extended every month until 6 months. You’ll have to pay a fee to get this visa and a monthly fee for renewing the visa.
If you want to stay longer than this, you’ll want to invest in a KITAS which is essentially a residence permit for 2 years. This costs something in the range of $2,000-$3,000 depending on the agent you use.
Indonesia is not the only country that makes it difficult to stay long term. In the end, you’re not meant to legally stay in a country for so long without a proper residence visa.
Monthly living costs in Bali
Cost of living is one of my favorite things about living in Bali. I’ve lived all over the world and I must say that Bali is probably one of the cheapest places I’ve lived in. The value for money in Bali is absolutely crazy and sometimes feels a bit surreal how something could be so cheap.
I’ve written in great detail about my cost of living in Bali and break down my monthly budget line by line. Here is a summary of my monthly budget. Keep in mind that I am not a backpacker or a recent college grad. I have a large portfolio of stocks that I can withdraw from. Along with the income from writing this blog, I can easily withdraw $40k USD a year without any issue. Therefore, I don’t really skimp out on my experiences, dining, accommodation etc. The great thing about Bali is you can totally live a good and respectable life without spending too much.
Gym: $120 (nicest gym in Canggu)
Food, cafes, and Going out: $800
Cell Phone plans: $5
Visa Fees: $50
Scooter transportation: $40
In total, I spent just under $2k a month give or take. I live a very comfortable life in Bali and there’s not much I can’t do here. I find that a big reason for the low cost of living in Bali is the lack of drinking. While living in Europe or the US, I found that going out and drinking excessively contributed to a lot of cash outflow. In Bali, the vibe here is not so much focused around drinking which saves you so much money! I could spend much more of course and get a huge villa but what is the point of that when my villa is already so nice?
I’ve also met many people that spend much less than me ($1k or so) and they still live totally respectable lives.
Best areas to live in Bali
If you’ve been thinking of moving to Bali and are sure of it after reading this post, the next question to ask yourself is where should you live? Bali is a huge island after all with most of the island being jungle and rice terraces. It’s not an island where you can get from one side to the other for a day trip. Traffic is also horrendous so where you live will dictate where you spend the majority of your time.
If you’re a digital nomad, the vast majority of people choose to live in the Canggu, Berawa, Pererenan areas. This is where I lived for my entire stay in Bali (I spent a few days each exploring the other areas of Bali). Canggu is my favorite area in Bali because it offers the cosmopolitan lifestyle with insane amounts of restaurants, cafes, and coworking spaces that you would find in a city, but in a beachside village vibe. Canggu is not crazy hectic like Seminyak, or Kuta where it’s essentially just a concrete jungle. Rather, Canggu still has beautiful rice fields, trees, and open space.
Ubud is another very popular area for foreigners to stay. Ubud is the famous area that is packed with dense jungle, nature, and rice fields. It’s so different than the seaside towns which is why I love Bali. Ubud also attracts a lot of the spiritual, vegan, and yoga types. If this is your scene, then you’ll love Ubud.
Finally, somewhere like Sanur on Bali’s east coast is perfect for those that like quiet and peace. You don’t even need a scooter for most of Sanur. Sanur generally attracts an older crowd.
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