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5 Challenges To Overcome Before Moving To Bali

Bali is famous for making people fall in love with its teeming life, fantastic culture and wonderful people. Many decide to actually take the necessary steps and move there for good. Most of the time, all goes well, but there are execptions when the decision to move is made without enough preparations… To help you know more about these necessary steps, here are 5 important challenges to overcome before taking the big decision:

1) Have you seen enough of the place?

There are many sights and many sides to Bali. Are you familiar with all of them?

There are many sights and many sides to Bali. Are you familiar with all of them?

Seasoned travelers will tell you: Indonesia is an extremely diverse country. Medan isn’t Jakarta, isn’t Solo isn’t Makassar, and every one of these cities feels like a country on it own. Bali is no exception, and there are amazing differences between all the major areas of the island -why, sometimes even taking a right turn can make you feel like you’ve travelled for miles already. Coming to Bali for your holidays is one thing, but have you come often enough to really know the place? Are you sure you know about the quirks and perks of staying there? Are you over the culture shock yet? If the answer is yes, congratulations, it will be much easier to answer the next question! If not, well, come again and go around maybe for as long as two months (it’s legally possible), we promise it won’t be disappointing!

2) Learning about environment, culture and language

Bali has its own traditions, ready to welcome you if you welcome them too.

Bali has its own traditions, ready to welcome you if you welcome them too.

Getting a grasp of Balinese culture through your travels is great, but I’m ready to bet you will still be surprised by how cultural and environmental aspect of the Balinese life can influence even your day to day activities. We’ve grazed the surface of this topic already in this previous article, and the points debated there are just a little portion of what you will have to learn about/adapt to. Are you willing to learn about the Hindu Bali religion? The traditional village nomenclature? Are you bothered by the night songs of frogs, roosters and dogs? Are you willing to wait at a road blockade occasioned by a ceremony? Is the food agreeing with your stomach? True, that’s a lot to take in -but somehow not a problem for any genuine Bali lover 😉 Then, there’s the language. Balinese is more difficult than Indonesian and either will do. There is no need to be completely fluent (after all language skills vary from person to person), but willing to learn a new language as a great proof of dedication! Also, it will get you integrated in the community much faster… and about that, by the way, here’s the next question:

Living life as part of a community

It's all about having a good time.

Community and religion are the two biggest social aspects of Bali

Indonesia, Bali even more so, is all about community. Of course, retaining a minimum of privacy goes without saying. You won’t have to share your room with strangers, and you still can shower alone (well, except if you’re go for communal showers, then you will share it with your whole street :D). But beyond just privacy, living is Bali is all about getting acquainted with your landlord, neighbours, shop owners and local authority figure. Chances are that you will be accepted like a newly discovered family member, and will be introduced to the ‘nook and crannies’ of daily Balinese life. Being part of a community, the act of giving back, (even if for foreigners, it isn’t seen as a duty) will be the ultimate proof of your will to integrate. Financial help for expensive ceremonies, sharing and discussing important news, employing local house staff at the legal rates or above and contributing in your area’s development (if nothing else, by paying the area maintenance tax, or “banjar tax”) will make a difference between living in Bali and being a long term tourist. So, are you ready for that? Yes? Excellent! Now, let’s get a little more materialistic.

Having enough resources

Going broke mid-stay is a such a bummer. Even this monkey agrees :D

You don’t want to end up sleeping in the jungle…

Bali isn’t as cheap as it seems, and living there as a foreigner will bear its load of hidden expenses. Tales of travelers going broke mid-stay aren’t rare, and here is a list of things to consider for the sake of your wallet:

  • Accommodation budget, including a 20% annual raise just in case
  • Motorcycle or car rental/acquisition and maintenance (prefer motorcycle)
  • Visa fees
  • Health Insurance (don’t skip this one, believe us).
  • Employment of one or more local staff
  • Food and house needs (whatever your initial budget, double it)
  • Emergency fund
  • Community fund

We’re assuming that, if you want to move to a paradise island, it is more to enjoy the sun, culture and leisure than to experience hardships. In this case, even if life is completely possible with less, we strongly recommend that your monthly budget for the items of this list start at the very least at IDR 15 millions. You’re set? It’s almost time to go then. There is just one little but very important detail left:

Staying long term legally

This is the biggest hurdle when it comes to staying in Indonesia. All around the web, you will find solutions and loopholes to go around various immigration laws, but they are shady at best and dangerous at worst (nobody wants to be deported). Real solution for an extended stay are:

  • Meeting the requirement for a retirement visa
  • Actively taking part in a long term, registered cultural program (will require frequent flights out of the country)
  • Finding a bona-fide job there (applying from your own country rather than looking for work directly there will make things easier. The procedure to apply is long, costly and rather complicated)
  • Setting up a company (extremely expensive and generally a bad idea)
  • Marrying an Indonesian (Out of pure love is best 😉 )

If you find yourself in this list, welcome! Come soon and say hi! Have I missed something? Is there something you want to add? Let me know in the comments!

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