Digital nomads: should you move to Bali?8 min read
Bali has not been nicknamed “Silicon Bali” for nothing. It has fast become the dream destination for digital nomads. But, does the social media dream and pictures of entrepreneurs lounging on beaches really reflect what it is like to live in Bali as a digital nomad?
And, while it looks great, should you move there? Working remotely either some or all of the time is one thing, but moving to another country and working remotely as a digital nomad is next level. As opposed to remote workers, who often work from or near home, digital nomads are truly location independent and work wherever they want.
As a warm up to Running Remote 2019, the world’s leading and biggest remote work conference in Bali, Indonesia on 29 – 30 June 2019, we look into the pros and cons of life in Bali, and unpack some top tips to get you started.
Is Bali the best place on earth for digital nomads?
Bali is paradise. Lush green rice paddies abound. Beaches are plentiful. Yoga and spirituality are available in bucket loads if you want to find yourself.
If you are going to be a digital nomad, Bali is certainly a great place to do it. But how does the more practical side of life stack up? Can you get a good Wi-Fi connection? What are the hospitals like?
Let’s unpack the good, the not-so-good, and other practical things you should consider.
Cost of living
In terms of living expenses, Bali comes in at one of the most cost-effective places in the world for digital nomads. Canggu, a very popular Balinese digital nomad hub, is number one on the Nomad List database, with a Nomad score of 5/5 and average monthly living expenses of US$1,011 per month.
Bali is said to pass the Netflix test for internet speed and Wi-Fi, meaning internet streaming works and the speed is comparable to that of many western nations.
The majority of coworking spaces in Bali have Wi-Fi as part of their membership and many cafés also offer Wi-Fi. A word of warning, some areas in Bali are better than others for Wi-Fi, so if you are going to Bali with the intention of working as well as relaxing, do some research into your location before you go.
The co-working spaces in Bali are amazing. It is not surprising given the number of digital nomads and young entrepreneurs flocking to Bali that such a thriving co-working culture has sprung up.
- Dojo Bali in Canggu, near to Echo Beach, has both coworking and coliving options. Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Dojo caters for those telecommuting to a different time zone and has a pool, café and other options to meet like minded individuals in and around the building.
- Hubud, a coworking hub located in Ubud, also offers coworking, coliving and career education events for its members. Named by Lonely Planet as one of the top co-working spaces in the world, Hubud is worth checking out if Ubud takes your fancy.
Thinking that a coworking space (averaging around 200,000 Rp a day) might be more expensive than simply working in a café (30,000 – 50,000 Rp, depending on whether you buy food or coffee) or your rented villa? You are right, but what you don’t get at a café is the same level of opportunity to meet other digital nomads and build relationships. If you want to work in isolation, you could just stay home and work remotely!
At the very least, you should join social media groups and attempt to meet other digital nomads and entrepreneurs. Working in a foreign country can be lonely and you never know when you’ll need help, particularly if you are travelling solo.
For those that seek it out, the community in Bali is there and waiting for you.
The not so good
Public transport is few and far between in Bali. While you can rent a scooter (and believe me you will see whole families plus pet chickens on the same scooter), it is not for everyone and traffic is pretty wild, so I can understand why some people shy away from this option.
Ride sharing services and private cars, like Uber, are available, but of course they come with a price and if you plan to avail yourself of these options, factor them into your budget.
It is busy
When a location gets a reputation, like Bali has, it attracts a lot of visitors. So be prepared for it to be hectic. If you are after a peaceful retreat off the beaten track, then Bali may not be for you. That being said, if you are a digital nomad and want to work while you are travelling, the Wi-Fi in Bali is reliable (see above) and that can’t always be said about those off the beaten track locations, where tourists are few and far between.
If you do want something a little quieter, I suggest you give yourself a time period when you’ve hit the ground in Bali to scope out locations and settle on those best suited to you. For example, if you don’t like busy, avoid Kuta and look further afield to places like Sanur or Ubud.
How digital nomads can make it work
Be aware of Visa requirements
Bali offers visitors from 140 countries (including Australia, the US, Canada and some EU countries) a free 30-day tourist visa on arrival at the airport, which cannot be extended. However, this may not suit those wanting to work as a digital nomad for an extended period of time in Bali.
If you know you would like to extend your 30-day Visa, you can buy a Visa on arrival for US$35, which can be extended once for another 30 days during your stay in Bali.
If you want to stay longer than a month or two and obtain a Visa that is something other than a tourist Visa, you can apply in advance for a Social, Tourist or Cultural Visa (B-211), a Multiple Entry Visa or a Work Permit and KITAS Visa.
Make enquiries with the Indonesian Embassy in your country before you travel to ensure you can live in Bali without incident. The different types of Visa may not allow you to work as a digital nomad and you need to be clear on the legal requirements of your situation before you commit to spending a significant amount of time in a foreign country.
The healthcare system in Bali does not have a fantastic rating on the Nomad List database and if you are working with a laptop, you will need to insure it in case the worst happens and it is damaged or stolen.
To that end, you should ensure you have travel insurance that will cover you for as long as you are in Bali and which includes theft and health cover, including emergency assistance and airlifting you home.
Be aware that tourist travel insurance is different to what you might need as a digital nomad, and make enquiries to ensure you have the right insurance coverage.
We have mentioned that the cost of living in Bali is attractive, but where do you live? Bali has co-living options, where digital nomads can share a serviced residence (see options at Dojo and Hubud above) with other nomads. Alternatively, private villa rentals are available through real estate agents, AirBnB or Facebook groups.
Exercise caution in making arrangements: ensure you inspect before hiring wherever possible, don’t pay a year in advance for accommodation you are yet to see, and arrange a monthly direct debit to ensure you don’t get scammed.
Want to know more?
Got a dream to work as a digital nomad or entrepreneur in Bali? Come along to Running Remote in Bali, scope out potential locations and learn how to build and scale a remote team so you get off on the right foot.
Have you been to Bali? If so, what advice would you give to digital nomads looking to visit?