My Top Tips for Moving to Bali
I get so many requests from friends of friends asking about Bali life, schools, housing, healthcare and much more, I thought I’d summarise the information in a blog. If there are any questions I have missed or you need more information on something, please do not hesitate to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
Note that I am just sharing my personal experiences and information. Please do your own research and make the best decisions for you and your family. Bali is definitely not for everyone, but it can be a magical island to relocate to.
We moved to Bali over 4 years ago; the reason? Because my husband's job is based in the APAC region (Australia Asia Pacific). Before Bali, we lived in Singapore, but 4 years was enough for me. I needed to escape the city and had heard about the Green School (an eco-conscious bamboo-built education centre in the jungle) and decided I would seize the opportunity to give my kids a different kind of education to the one I had.
For our family, Bali offers the best of all worlds: a great school, a great position to travel (when not in a pandemic) , a great location for my wellness business, great food, beaches and mountains. Of course, there are some minuses, but I struggle to find many: villa prices, mosquitos, and lack of snow!
There are many reasons people come to Bali, most want a lifestyle change. They want to move away from the routines of their home country or corporate jobs because they seek a different pace of life. They fall into many categories: digital nomads, cryptos, career breakers, expats seeking alternative education for their kids, health and healing and the list goes on. The pandemic has also had an affect on the type of person now seeking to re-locate to Bali.
Bali is known as the Island of the Gods, and I certainly feel it is a spiritual attraction. The people are kind and welcoming, their Hindu religion is complex and surrounded by ceremony and community and the island offers beaches, jungle and mountains.
There are offerings to suit every budget - from the very wealthy, to the low-budget backpackers - with amazing quality of food, beach clubs, hostels and of course a huge surfing culture.
Navigating your first weeks in Bali can be tricky, like any re-location. Finding the right villa, the right school and transitioning to life here can leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Below you will find a short list of things to consider. I have lots more information available so please do reach out to me directly if you still have some burning questions.
Finding a Home
Many people think renting a villa in Bali is cheap, they are wrong. Yes of course there are some very affordable options out there but many of the villas on the cheaper end of the market are not suitable for long, water comes up, damp, flooding and water comes down, the rainy season puts contraction to the test. Many villas that look aesthetically pleasing come with a raft of hidden impracticalities. Often photos on the agents' websites were taken when the property was first built 10 years ago and the reality of inspection is completely different. Lots of villas are designed for holiday lets and not long term family homes.
The pandemic has also changed the market so there is limited stock for long term rentals.
There is no exclusivity - all the agents are renting or selling the same villas so navigating this can be time consuming and frustrating,
When I first moved to Bali I said I would never move again (having just done 2 international moves in 12 months). I ended up moving 4 times in the first 3 months! So even though we’d taken the sensible option for a short term let while we found our bearings it still didn;t quite go to plan. When we finally moved into our dream home (with a few compromises (no guest room and a non communal kitchen) we signed a 2 year lease. We had to leave 14 months into our agreement because the villa got sold. We were aware of that fact but it had been on the mkt for a long time so we had no idea it was going to actually get sold.
We are now embarking on the next crazy journey of building a villa - you can follow our story on Instagram @Villa-Jam-Karet .
So if you are looking for a home so please reach out to me, WA +62 877 0154 7214. I have checklists for renting, buying and buying land. I am happy to share my learnings with you to help ease (not alleviate) but ease the process. I am in the process of adding a concierge division to my company PI Properties to provide more help and guidance in this field
It’s important you choose the right location for your stay so I really recommend taking a short term villa (1-3 months on your arrival). Remember if you have kids in school you might need to change them so don’t always opt for the villa closest to school/
The main areas people stay are Canggu, Berawa, Pererenan, Sanur, Ubud but there are so many options so don't rush into a decision.
Hospitals & Doctors
From personal experience we are very happy with the doctors in Bali who are competent and honest, and my mother was also satisfied with her experience in the hospital. Many kids from green school have been stitched, glued, and put back together by Bali doctors. I am sure there are some horror stories out there, but I expect it's the same you’d find in the UK or other western countries. You can get to see a doctor very quickly with numerous medical centers around the island, plus they can even come to your house.
This is a little more tricky and I won't go into too much detail, but try and stick with coverage from your home country. If, like us, Bali is now our home country we have opted for the most basic coverage - hospital and emergency. Policies can range from $2000 USD up to $10k and beyond.
Personal development, Health & Healing
There is a range of holistic healers and healing options in Bali including Reiki (of course) acupuncture, intuitive massage, access bars, breathwork, chinese medicine, osteopaths, Ayurvedic treatments, Balinese priestess/monk healer, consellers, ecstasy dance, Kirtan and a coach for every need.
There are retreats, rehabs, detox centres and some fantastic gyms and yoga studios. Many centres offer cacao (plant medicine) ceremonies, training across various modalities as well as regular classes.
I often joke about becoming a spiritual junkie, because there are just so many amazing practices on offer, it is easy to fill your week with events and sessions and never get any work done!
Green school is not for every child and there are many great options on the island. Some parents have decided to send their kids to a different school depending on their learning styles and needs. The schools range from kindergarten up to high school, and obviously proximity to where you are going to live is important. Do your research, meet the teachers, don't be pressured by wait lists and marketing! Be prepared to change if it's not working for your child.
In terms of the Green School, everyone asks me what the academics are like and that's tricky for me to answer as I have nothing to compare them to! My kids are in middle school, grade 6 and grade 8 and I don’t know what those years are like in a different school. My husband and I wanted to give our kids a different school experience than the ones we had. We feel that experiential learning, project management and problem solving are more important skills to have and we believe our kids are getting that at Green School.
Green school is not for every kid and there are many great options on the island. Some parents have decided to send their kids to a different school depending on their learning styles and needs. The schools range from kindy up high school and obviously proximity to where you are going to live is important. Do your research, meet the teachers, don't be pressured by wait lists and marketing! Be prepared to change if it's not working for your kid.
School List (there might be others I have missed)
The Australian School
There are MANY creative and physical activities for your kids on the island, but if they want to excel in a particular sport (excluding surfing) you might want to consider a different place to locate.
My kids do horse riding, surfing, swimming and scuba diving. They used to painting, pottery and silver jewelry making but pursue more sporting activities at the moment.
There are many other options so I’ll just share a few; tennis, football, acro/circus, motocross, archery, painting, pottery, jewelry making, trampoline, art (various mediums), girls & boys groups (for support in navigating tweens/teens), yoga, volleyball, badminton, skating, dungeon and dragons, theatre, dance the list goes on.
There are also many holiday camps either daily or residential.
What to bring?
You’ll be surprised at what you can buy on Shopee and Tokopedia (Indonesia’s answer to Amazon), but certain items are heavily taxed and expensive. So here is a short list of items you might want to consider. Something else to note: if you bring a phone into Bali you need to declare it and will be charged tax on it. Check with your visa agent regarding other taxable items.
Tampons (they have but…
Contact lenses (some are available but if you have a unique prescription)
Milk powder (how come? Tastes better)
I can’t stress the importance of using a reputable Visa agency. Tread very carefully as you can get yourself into some sticky situations if you trust the wrong person. In this instance the saying, “you pay for what you get” can often ring true. I personally got ripped off when setting up my PMA (company) by choosing cheaper options. I also have a close friend that had a nightmare with someone offering to organise their KITAS visas for them, which lead to passports going missing, months of overstaying bills, and heaps of worry and stress.
Currently, my kids have their “KITAS visa school” and “Ganesha visa”, and their are only a couple of other companies I personally recommend. Please message me directly for an introduction.
I hope this helped in giving you a short summary of things to consider when re-locating to Bali. It really is a magical island with so much to offer that you can understand why so many want to make the move. Of course, you are very welcome to contact me directly if you need any help or extra guidance. Also do follow via our social media channels by clicking the icons below. Suksma (thank you in Balinese).