Expat Life In Bali: 4 Things To Consider Before You Buy A Ticket

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So you read ‘Eat Pray Love’ went to Ubud on a two week holiday and fell in love with the cheap beer, bohemian lifestyle and super pretty, accommodating locals.

Then one morning you wake up with this great idea:  “Why don’t I move there?   I had an awesome time, it’s kinda cheap, I didn’t get too sick and every ones doing it.”

Before you know it you’re online researching Bali, calling travel agents trying to find the most economical ticket and making sure your arrival does not coincide with the rainy season.Then.your telling all your friends they’d better come hang out with you soon, as before they know it you’ll be gone and a part of you feels very mature and adventurous for having taken this ‘out there’ step in your life.


I mean…who just ups sticks and moves to a new country other than the super adventurous and super cool right?

The idea of moving to a sunny and exotic place is a tempting idea and one that many act upon each year, some with far more success than others. The primary reasons many foreigners fail in their attempt to relocate, is based on:

  • Lack of information
  • The lack of either a plan B or an emergency fund
  • Highly over inflated expectations

The bottom line is;  relocating to a new country and new culture successfully requires a lot more than just selling all your belongings and purchasing a plane ticket.

Below you will find several things to consider before you commit to moving abroad, especially to a country and culture that is worlds apart from your own.

Firstly let me say, I have made that jump and whilst it’s too early to say whether it’s successful or not, I have already heard more than my fair share of stories where it has all gone horribly wrong.

However, I tell you all this not to put you off,  rather to help you make a more informed and considered choice before you: pack it all in, pack it all up and hop on a plane hoping for the best; with nothing but a fist full of dollars.

1. Consider the culture

If you’re moving from a western culture the biggest lesson you can give yourself is an understanding of the culture you will be living in. Whilst books and the web are very helpful, a real in-depth talk with a native of that country will no doubt give you some tips and pointers that you just won’t find in any guidebooks.

1.1 Whilst a suitcase full of wispy bits of fabric with the sole intention of barely covering your butt and making you look super cute, is fine for your 2 week beach bound holiday.

You will find it highly inappropriate for daily life and highly unappreciated by most locals, especially when you walk into their shop wearing fewer clothes than most members of their families have seen them in.

Wear clothes, be modest and be respectful.

2. Take however much money you think you need, and double it

Countries like Bali can seam incredibly cheap when you’re here on a sunshine and beer break, and have designated enough money to have as much fun as you can cram into two weeks.

However the cost of daily life as a foreigner is decidedly more expensive than the average local, including your accommodation which is not only more expensive as you have higher expectations but the agents also know you can afford it, and that inflates the price. It’s not uncommon for expats to have a cleaning lady, pool and garden man and regular driver for nights when they intend to drink and are smart enough to know it’s best to not even look at their scooter. The costs of living in Bali can soon start to mount up.

3. Health is important whatever country you’re in

If you’re not used to living in a country where a health consultation comes with a bill to be paid on your way out; you may find yourself becoming a bit more economical with how you receive medical attention when you live abroad.

If you plan to stay in any one place for longer than 6 months, it’s worth considering whether to purchase expat insurance and receive all the extra benefits that go with that level of cover.

The silliest and the often the sorriest expats, are those living out their island dreams with no health insurance. Should the unexpected happen, you can guarantee the medical costs will end the dream for more than most.

If you chose to ride a motorcycle (the transport of choice in over populated, traffic laden Bali and many SEA countries), then be sure you feel confident before you hit the Jalans (streets). Balinese roads are not for the newbie scooter rider.

4.Don’t just be an expat, get to know the locals

If you’re from a western culture; living in an environment like Bali with all its idiosyncrasies and different ways of thinking and doing things. After a few rough experiences, it can be surprisingly easy to isolate yourself from local people and begin to only spend time with other expats, those experiencing the same difficulties as you.

Making 2-3 local friends will work well for you in a variety of ways, especially as you never really see the best of what any country has to offer without getting to know its local people.

Also, if you have chosen to live cheaply by taking a house in a local community rather than a gated- off expat community, having good relations with your neigbhours will pay dividends. From everything like security, showing you were to purchase things you need and getting invited to weddings and festivals;  getting to know your neighbors is always a good idea.

Don’t let a few bad experiences with the sort of bad element that you find in every country, stop you from getting to know those good, kind, helpful people around you.

They do exist, it just takes a while for them to get out of ”tourist mode” and start seeing you as someone here to stay. They are adjusting to having you in their community and it takes time.

It takes a lot of confidence to make a big decision like relocating to a country like Bali or any country with a completely different climate and culture to that which you grew up in. Check this article out  on 5 steps to living with more confidence in your life ,if you’re looking to build your confidence up to make some big changes in your life.

If you plan on relocating to Bali or any exotic culture far different to your own, pay close attention to this advice and all you’ll have to worry about is picking up the local language and if you ask me, that’s where it really starts to get hard.