After living on Maui for nearly two years, I am anxious and excited to announce that I will be moving to Bali, along with my sweet boyfriend. Traveling, and more specifically, moving, has always come naturally to me. While not having all the answers tends to stress people out, being out of my element and learning how to acclimate, adjust, and enjoy myself in unfamiliar places is always a challenge and great way to keep life on its toes.
This will, however, be my first time to move somewhere I’ve never been. To which I say, game on.
As opposed to moving to Maui, Bali comes with a whole new set of challenges – for one, there’s a language barrier. While American and Australian expats have been flocking to Bali for decades, and English is the third most common language spoken on the island, the predominant languages are Balinese and Indonesian. Having studied French in school and extremely basic Spanish during our brief move to Costa Rica, it’s safe to say that we’ll be starting from scratch as far as language is concerned. But that’s also part of the fun, and moving somewhere is really the best way to dive head-first and learn the basics of everyday communication quickly.
There are also a number of language classes I’m sure I can take, which might help speed up the process, as well as my speaking abilities.
Second, there’s the whole legal issue of moving to a foreign country with no intention of buying property, owning a business, retiring and living off of pension funds, or being sponsored by a Balinese employer (at least not initially). Like most other countries in the world, we can’t simply fly to Indonesia holding a suitcase in one hand and a one-way ticket in other and expect to stay however long we like.
After doing a bit of research, we have learned a few things:
- 1) There is officially no limit on the amount of times you can enter Bali on a Visa On Arrival, which is now free for U.S. citizens as well as residents of many other countries
- 2) A VOA last for 30 days (the day you arrive counting as day 1), and can be extended one time for an additional 30 days with the help of an agent, or on your own
- 3) You will need to leave Bali at the end of the 60 day period, and likely every 30 days after that, unless you plan on getting a Social Visa, a popular choice that eliminates the possibility of working in Bali but allows you to stay for up to 6 months at a time, or a Business Visa, which requires a local company to pay a hefty fine to sponsor you (around $2,000 USD) for a job that a local Balinese cannot do.
While Bali is known for its relatively low cost of living, anywhere can be expensive when you’re not making money. We previously ran into this problem while living in Costa Rica, which was surprisingly way more expensive than we had planned for, and unsurprisingly did not offer much in the way of legal employment opportunities for foreigners.
However, my ability to work from anywhere as a copywriter and blogger has allowed for employment opportunities all over the world, which I’m thankful for. Through writing about the process of moving to Bali as a young traveler and ‘digital nomad’ (I really hate that term, but it has its purpose), I will hopefully be able to make a living while on Bali, a huge weight off of my shoulders (and bank account).
With my boyfriend’s background in photography, tour guiding, and ocean everything – he has previously worked in Key Largo, Bermuda, Costa Rica and Maui as a photographer, scuba dive, kayak, and SUP instructor – he’ll hopefully find amazing opportunities once we arrive on-island.
Cost of Living
One of the greatest things about Bali, or so we’ve heard and read, is that if you’re comfortable living simply, it’s a really inexpensive place to call home. We expect to pay no more than $500/month (on the high end) for furnished housing and a motorbike rental. We have no intention of buying a vehicle, and while they look amazing and luxurious, we certainly won’t be living in a four bedroom villa with a pool, personal chef and driver. One can dream, though…
Before the Move
In preparation for the move, we are saving as much money as possible while still on Maui, as well as renewing our passports, reaching out to people with experience in Bali, and generally beginning to think about what we want to bring, sell, store and toss. As opposed to our move to Costa Rica, where we picked a town off a map and signed a two month lease, we want to travel around Bali a bit before choosing a place to live. Because of this, we’ll pretty much be forced to pack as little as possible, and ship the rest to ourselves later, if needed.
While we will most assuredly miss Maui, which has been a completely unforgettable and wonderful place to live, continuing to travel is the plan. At least until it isn’t. Here’s to new adventures in foreign places, and bringing y’all along for the ride! Mahalo for reading, and more of our Bali travel news to come.