Top tips for starting a new life in Bali

You've decided to answer the siren call of the Island of the Gods. Diana Deer tells you how to avoid it all going to hell

1 mins

1. A roof over your head

Rent for at least a year before taking a long-term lease on any land or property. You cannot own land freehold in Bali, although a lot of properties are advertised as such.

Do your research before entering into any agreement. It is not always clear who owns the land and it is not always properly surveyed. You could end up with your front door facing a wall one day and literally not being able to get out (don't laugh, it happened to a friend of mine).

Get a good notarist to make sure that you have the proper legal documents in any transaction. Building is rapid and unpredictable in Bali. What is now a rice field could be a multi-storey hotel in a few months.

2. Putting food on the table

Food shopping can be done at markets and supermarkets but prices are rising everywhere. Indeed many items cost the same as they do in Australia. Having said that, you can still eat a good local meal at a warung with a fresh juice for under $4US.

3. Make sure you are legal

Investigate what type of visa suits you best. Costs per month and per year vary. Also keep in mind the 'associate' costs of the different types of visas.

If you get a Social visa, factor in the cost of leaving the country every six months. Get a longer stay visa and you may have tax obligations, plus departure tax may be higher when leaving the country.

And don't forget to look into the implications of your visa on your travel insurance. Medical evacuation costs are very high in an emergency and some procedures are best done in another country.

4. Getting down to business

Starting a business in Bali? As well as the usual things like the cost of manufacturing and shipping to take into account, there are some distinctly Balinese considerations to keep in mind too.

Jam Kerat – rubber time – rules here. Balinese traditions and obligations take precedence over everything.

As well as holidays, such as Galungan, there are other obligations to villages and temples, which locals have to meet and for which everything stops!

5. Learn the lingo

Learn at least the rudiments of the language. If you cannot understand the bargaining process in Indonesian you are at a very distinct disadvantage and will certainly pay more for everything. Bargaining is part of everyday life in Bali: transport, food, clothing, accommodation and even some medical expenses.


Diana Deer moved to Bali after leaving a complex working and married life in Australia to seek simplicity and follow her dreams. She lives in Ubud alone and happy after publishing her first book, Seeking Simplicity. It is available on Amazon now.

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