CAN I LIVE IN BALI FULL-TIME? HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO LIVE IN BALI? WHAT’S THE COST OF LIVING IN BALI?
AHHH Bali! You’ve been to Bali and you are considering moving there? Or you’ve heard so many people moving to Bali that you wonder how much does it actually cost per month?
“BALI IS A DREAM DESTINATION”
Bali, the enchanting Indonesian island known for its lush landscapes, vibrant culture, and sandy beaches, has been a dream destination for many travelers and expats. More recently it also became on of the Digital Nomads Hotspots.
The promise of a laid-back lifestyle, warm weather, and a thriving expatriate community has lured people from all corners of the globe to make this tropical paradise their home. But beneath this paradise lies the practical question: What is the cost of living in Bali?
In this post, we depicted all you need to know to consider whether or not you have enough budget to move to Bali!
IS BALI REALLY CHEAP?
Many people simply say Bali is quite cheap! But what does “quite cheap” actually mean?
Many people think that if locals can live on $150 a month, so can they. Unfortunately, this is (very) wrong and unrealistic if you want to settle here legally.
Besides, some of the digital nomads’ hotspots such as Canggu, Pererenan, Ubud and more recently Uluwatu have gotten a lot more expensive over the last few years. And if you want to keep a social life and meet other people you would probably want to live in one of those places or at least nearby!
Hence, this question, is Bali really that cheap?
1. Be realistic and clear about your legal and tax situation
Many foreigners make very bad calculations about the cost of living in Bali because they do not take everything into account. This is particularly the case for those who live a few months a year in Bali without really having established their legal and tax base here.
If, for example, you are domiciled in Europe, both legally and for tax purposes, but you live in Bali for a few months a year, your home country still covers things like retirement costs, insurance / social security.
When you move to Bali for a longer period of time, you need to add all these costs! Insurance, Visa, Retirement etc. And that’s not negligible!
Being legally settled in Bali and being able to work there is not at all the same cost as spending a few months spending your money there.
2. Calculate the cost of living in Bali per year and not per month
Summing the monthly recurring costs of your life in Bali certainly gives an idea of the cost of living in Bali, but does not take into account the non-recurring expenses which can also be significant.
For example, if you are a family of 4 living in Bali and you want to go back to your home country once a year, it will probably cost you at least (planes, trains, hotels, food, and a few extras) $1500 x 4 people = $6000. This has already increased the home’s budget for living in Bali by $500 per month!
In the same way, the costs of certain goods that you may need to purchase in Bali (vacuum machine, motorbike, etc.) are ideally amortized based on the number of years that you intend to use them, but still to be considered in your estimation.
3. What is cheaper in Bali than in Western countries?
On the cheaper side, there are several categories. The costs of services and transport are much cheaper in Bali. Indeed, local salaries are much lower in Bali than in Western countries. The minimum wage in Bali is around $200.
Restaurants are also much cheaper in Bali. Local food especially! We often eat for less than 5$ for 2 per meal! Crazy right!? But we can’t only eat local food. So consider paying much more for Western foods. It’s still cheaper though.
Accommodation is (often) more comfortable and cheaper than in Western countries. However, note that in Indonesia, rents are often paid annually and UPFRONT! You can rent a house for 2 years, but then you have to pay the 2 years’ rent in advance. Monthly rental is getting more common but often more expensive.
4. What is more expensive in Bali?
Imported products are very expensive in Bali. As long as you eat local, you are fine. However, western products tend to be much more expensive.
Alcohol is also very expensive in Bali. Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country that discourages alcohol consumption by keeping taxes quite high on it. Going out in Bali is therefore not cheap, and can quickly become a big budget on its own!
Arguably the most expensive, and clearly not to be overlooked in a place like Bali, are healthcare expenses. Getting hurt or sick in Bali can quickly throw your budget through the roof. And a foreigner without money will not be treated, even in an extreme emergency.
So health insurance is an absolute must in a place like Bali. More on that later in this article.
WHAT ARE THE MANDATORY EXPENSES AS A FOREIGNER IN BALI
1. Your Visa
The visa is clearly not a cost to be taken lightly in Bali.
Tourist visas and Social visas are easily accessible but are limited to 6 months and prohibit you from working. Also, they do NOT make you an “official” Indonesian resident, which may not matter if you are officially established in your home country, but may be a problem if you want to officially settle here or work there.
So you will need to look at your options for Long Term visas… And that’s not a walk in the park, unfortunately. The only way is to consult with a visa agency. We always use Bali Visa, which has been super reliable.
More recently the government launched a Digital Nomad visa, also called “Second Home Visa“. However, there is a catch… You need to prove that you have at least $140,000 in funds.
The other option is the D212 Multiple Entry Visit Visa, which allows you to stay for a year, but every 60 days you need to leave and re-enter the country. This will cost you $500 for 1 year (not counting the trips outside Indonesia every 60 days).
Lastly, if you are going to work for a company in Bali, you will need a KITAS, a working permit basically, sponsored by your company.
2. Your accommodation in Bali
The cost of your accommodation will certainly be the biggest part of your budget!
In areas like Canggu, Seminyak, Uluwatu etc. consider the following monthly rental cost:
- Very basic room in a guest house: $150 – $200
- Comfortable room: from $250 – $400
- Small villa (1 bedroom): from $800 – $1300
- Spacious villa 2-3 Bedroom: $1200 – $2500
Of course, these prices are indicative and based on the hotspot areas in Bali. You can cheaper as you can find way more expensive!
Just to give you an idea, when we moved to Bali we lived in a 2 Bedrooms, rather basic, Villa, but with a garden and pool really in Canggu Residential area (see photo above). We paid $1,200. This included cleaning service 2x per week, pool maintenance, gardener, internet, and all utilities.
For some $1200 for a couple might sound crazy, for others it’s a bargain, as you get a villa, a cleaning service etc. It all depends on how you look at it.
Insurance is a MUST when living in Bali. Nobody is forcing you, of course, but it is completely suicidal not to have one, especially if you drive 2 on a scooter. We hear stories about people having accidents on a weekly basis. It’s no joke here. BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL.
Insurance can vary greatly depending on your age, your country of origin, and many other factors. Hence it’s hard to put a price on it.
As for us, we paid roughly $500 per year per person!
You are of course free to choose your formula and only insure yourself for serious things (operations, cancers, repatriation, etc.) and pay the rest out of your pocket, or take all-inclusive formulas (with glasses, dentists and co.) for peace of mind.
Whichever you choose, trying to save on insurance when living in Bali is anything but a good idea. Assume that you and your family members are going to need it, even if it’s a budget. You don’t want your life to depend on a transfer from your grandmother or a gofundme campaign.
We’ve been using Allianz for a while now, and can only recommend them. However, there are tons of different insurance out there.
The food budget should not be neglected, especially if you plan to eat Western food often.
If you plan on eating lots of local food, you can maintain a very low budget.
Here are some restaurant prices to give you an idea.
- Local dish in a local warung (non-touristy): $1-$2
- Local dish in a restaurant/tourist warung: $2-$5
- Western dish in a restaurant: 6-$10
- Western dish in a high-end restaurant: $15 – $30
If you eat 100% local, it is therefore theoretically possible to eat and therefore survive for $3 per day in Bali, or less than $100 per month. But this is a rather extreme. You will not be able to drink coffee, no beer and no western food at all…
We would say a decent food budget should be around $350 – $500 per person per month. Again if you live in places like Canggu.
Transportation is also something to budget for in Bali.
Scooters can be rented from $60 per month for a basic one. Count $80 to $120 for a better scooter. Transport is therefore not a huge expense item in Bali, but it is to be taken into account if you are on a tight budget.
As for us we chose a basic one (Scoopy) and paid $60 per month (this of course includes a Helmet). Fuel is really cheap, for us $10 ~ $15 per month was sufficient…
OTHER EXPENSES WHICH ARE NOT MANDATORY WHEN LIVING IN BALI
1. International School
Not all expats in Bali have children. But those who do, often pay dearly for their children’s schooling, especially when they are in international schools.
An international school can easily cost $10K per year and per head. Not exactly accessible to everyone.
If you are going with your family, it is therefore absolutely essential to have a very large budget for the education of the children. Or to send them to the local school, but that could be a bit risky…
2. Your savings for your pension fund
If you live in Bali officially, working or investing there, you will have to think about your retirement rather sooner than later…
There are many options for independently contributing to expatriate pension funds.
As for us, we invest every month in Life Insurance or different funds. Don’t take this lightly, we highly recommend saving a few hundred dollars every month.
3. Returning to your home country from time to time
Bali is good, but Bali is also small. It’s an island…
At some points, you will want to return to your country to visit friends/family.
A plane ticket from Denpasar to Europe (Paris for example) is not cheap. On average around $1300 after Covid! All and all you may easily spend $1,500 for your trip per person.
So do think about this when budgeting for your life in Bali.
4. Entertainment in Bali
You are not in Bali to work only. You may want to do some sports, do some yoga (READ: BEST YOGA STUDIOS AROUND CANGGU), go surfing etc. You may also spend a night in other places around the island, go to a beach club or have fun at a club.
All of these activities have a cost.
You may also need to use a co-working space (READ: BEST CO-WORKING SPACES AROUND CANNGU). And this could be part of this budget.
You will also need to have a plan for your mobile phone. It’s rather inexpensive in Bali, but make sure you have enough money for that as well.
You may also want to go shopping from time to time, hence having a decent entertainment budget will make your life much more enjoyable in Bali!
It’s hard to define a particular budget for entertainment, however, for us we set aside $100 per person per month.
WHAT IS THE TOTAL MONTHLY BUDGET TO LIVE IN BALI AS A FOREIGNER?
So, this is the moment of truth! The moment, where you may say, “YAY” I’ve got a sufficient budget to live in Bali, or “HOLY COW”, that’s way more than expected!
COST FOR A COUPLE (based on our own experience):
|ITEMS||COST PER MONTH||COST PER YEAR|
|Visa (for 2)||$83||$1000|
|Accommodation (for a 1 bedroom in Canggu)||$1,000||$12,000|
|Insurance (for 2)||$83||$1000|
|Food (for 2)||$1,000||$12,000|
|Transportation (for 1 basic scooter + fuel & Taxi)||$100||$1200|
|Trip to home (1x per year for 2)||$250||$3,000|
|Savings for your Retirement (for 2)||$300||$3,600|
|Other (always add some buffer)||$50||$600|
So what do you think? Seems a lot? Probably more than what you would expect when thinking about Bali.
Of course, this is now based on our own experience. You can find much cheaper accommodation either by sharing a villa, in a guesthouse, or by living further away from the few hotspots in Bali.
You can also lower insurance a bit and plan less for your retirement. However, we believe that $3,000 it’s a very good estimate for living in Bali as a couple and enjoying some shopping, yoga, surfing, eating in Western restaurants from time to time etc.
So that would roughly be $1,500 if you come alone.
If you come with kids, then the international school will make a huge difference… without considering schooling, expect at least $5-6K/month for a family of 4.
IN CONCLUSION ABOUT THE COST OF LIVING IN BALI?
To properly budget the cost of living in Bali, it is important to take everything into account. Again, going there for a few months it’s not the same as decided to stay there for a year +.
Bali’s reputation as an affordable destination holds true, provided you adopt a lifestyle that embraces local culture and resources. From reasonably priced accommodation and delightful street food to the diverse and budget-friendly entertainment options, Bali offers a unique combination of comfort and savings.
However, to fully enjoy your life in Bali, live in a nice place, eat Western food from time to time, sip a good cup of coffee every day and take part in some activities, a budget of $1,500 per person is definitely a must!
If you have any questions about living in Bali feel free to reach out to us here.