Are you considering living in Bali? If so (or if you are just daydreaming) then you’re in the right place!
There is so much information (most of it outdated) about living in Bali that it is difficult to know what to believe. That’s why I will share my recent experience and list of pros and cons of living in Bali in 2023.
I first visited Bali in 2019 when our family was traveling full-time through southeast Asia. Bali was not originally on the radar but it impressed us so much that we came back for another month later in the year.
We continued on our full-time travels for the next two years but Bali kept calling us. Long story short we moved and are now living here in Bali.
The pros easily outweighed the cons for us. We absolutely love Bali! But, even though we are huge fans, there are definitely some downsides to living here. But, let’s start with the good news!
Living in Bali Pros
The list of pros is long. It may be different for others but here is our list and the reasons we uprooted our family of six to live a life on the island of the Gods.
One of the biggest reasons we chose to set up a home base in Bali. The expat community is strong and you’ll find foreigners of all ages and walks of life. It’s easy to meet people in Bali.
The younger 20 somethings tend to congregate in the Canggu area, the older retiree’s like Sanur, the middle aged love Uluwatu and the expat families especially like Ubud. But, you’ll find a mix of everybody in all of those places and others throughout on the island.
Not only will you find the majority of expats very friendly wherever you go, but there are also regular social events organized by restaurants, clubs, groups, co-working spaces etc. that will help you mingle and meet new friends.
I highly suggest joining the expat and community groups on Facebook. It’s a great way to connect and be tuned in to what’s going on in the community.
Last but certainly not least I have to mention the kind and friendly local Balinese people. Many of which speak incredible english which makes it easy and simple to communicate.
Cost of Living
Living in Bali is super affordable. The highest ticket living expenses in life are generally housing, food and transportation. All three of these things can be done on the cheap in Bali.
It’s entirely possible to find a nice studio or one bedroom place in a good area for $400-$500 per month. Depending on location you can find something for less and you can go much much higher. It’s up to you. We have a family of six and prefer a larger place near the beach with a pool and spend $1,500-$2,000 per month.
Food is cheap. You can go out for as low as 2 dollars for a really decent Indonesian meal like nasi goreng (fried rice). Or, if you don’t want to go Indonesian, you can hit up a restaurant with western food options (which are many) that on average will run you $4-$6 a meal.
If you want stay home and cook you can save even more money especially if you shop at the local markets versus the western grocery stores.
The best way to get around Bali day to day is on a motorbike. To rent decent reliable bike for the month you can expect a range between $50-$80. It used to be less but costs have gone up a bit post covid.
If you’re not keen on the motorbike idea or have a larger family you can rent a car. To rent a self-drive car you can plan on about $300-$350 per month.
If your solo and looking to stay on the super cheap, it’s totally possible to live on $1,000 per month. A $2,000 monthly budget will have you living the high life in Bali.
Since we have a large family with a solid appetite for western food options, our cost are greater. But, we calculate that we spend 3 times less living in Bali versus the US.
It’s really nice. If you like the tropical climate with average temperatures in the low to mid 80’s then you’ll love the weather here. It’s never cold unless you get higher up into the Bedugul area which can dip down into the 50’s. Brrrr! But most of island stays in the 70’s-80’s year round.
For more details check our post Bali weather by month.
Like all tropical islands there is a rainy season that goes from October to March. There can be days where it rains steady throughout the day but typically it will just rain for a few hours.
Bali is a magnet for health conscious people and a big part of a healthy lifestyle is physical activity. There is no shortage of fitness options like weight gyms, yoga, crossFit and even boxing. However most of these will be found in the expat hubs like Canggu, Ubud, Seminyak and Sanur.
If you’re more into natural fitness there is plenty of beach to walk or run on, waterfalls to hike to and ocean to swim in. But be prepared if you’re not a strong swimmer, the waters are not calm and the waves and the currents can be quite strong.
The million dollar question. How fast is the internet in Bali? I just ran a speed test from my laptop here in Canggu and pulled a download speed of 57 Mbps and upload speed 52 Mbps. Which is plenty fast to do pretty much whatever you need to do.
There is even another package above the one we have that will get up to 100Mbps. For reference to stream Netflix in 4k you’ll need a minimum speed of 25 Mbps.
The faster service is definitely location dependent so if internet speeds are important for you make sure to get set up in in either Canggu, Kuta or Ubud and verify the speeds prior to making a commitment.
With over 17,000 islands in Indonesia and Bali centrally located there are so many options to explore and travel while living in Bali.
But, if you not keen to jump aboard a ferry or a plane there is so much to do in Bali. One of our favorite past times is to chase waterfalls. If you’re interested make sure to check out our complete guide to Bali waterfalls.
Food Lovers Paradise
Bali is and interesting fusion where east meets west when it comes to food choice. Expats from all parts of the world are attracted to this island paradise and they often bring their cultural food of choice with them.
Especially in food hotspots like Canggu where you will find choices like American hamburgers, Mexican tacos, Korean BBQ, Greek, Italian and even Indian cuisine. If you have a craving for a specific type of food chances are that you’ll find in here.
We haven’t made it to the list of cons quite yet but a little sneak peek is the traffic in Bali. Yikes! It can be awful but don’t worry because there is an efficient green army in place to deliver pretty much anything.
The GoJek and Grab app (both coincidentally green colored brands) work together with many restaurants, western grocery markets, vegetable and meat markets to deliver your goods straight to your door by motorbike!
It gets better. Let’s say that you buy a used helmet on Facebook marketplace but don’t want to brave the traffic to pick it up an hour away. No problem! GoJek can do the job and the delivery fees are amazingly affordable often just $1-3.
Getting your laundry done for you is also super convenient and affordable. You’ll find laundry shops no matter where you live in Bali. It usually only takes 24 hours and comes back clean and pressed. We average spending about $45-$50 per month for our family of six.
You can even get free pick up and delivery to save even more time!
Most accommodations in Bali will include or offer some level of housecleaning service. And you will want to take advantage of it, trust me. Living on an island with a lot of outdoor living space equals insects, especially ants.
Keeping your place clean will make all the difference. When we initially rented our long term villa we weren’t sure how many days a week we needed a cleaner. We were originally thinking 3 but it was recommended to go at least 5 and we are so glad we did!
The time savings alone makes it worth the very affordable cost. When I say affordable I’m talking $250-$300 a month for a larger 3 bedroom villa. That’s a full-time cleaner 5 days a week!
We were exhausted with our fast paced and stress-filled life that we we worked hard to achieve. Expensive homes, cars, boats, toys and just stuff (so much stuff) that sucked our energy and resulted in heavy workloads and not enough time for family.
We found that we were not alone when we moved to Bali. So many others had similar experiences and wanted something different for their life. We found a healthy balance here and so do many others.
The list of pros above point to the reasons why the overall lifestyle is a pro. We wanted a place where we could push reset on our lifestyle and build a life that matched our goals.
Living in Bali Cons
As you can see there is a long list of pros for living in Bali but there is no perfect place. There are some cons that you should know about before moving to Bali.
The healthcare in Bali is not the gold standard especially if your coming from the US, Canada, Europe or Australia. The care is adequate for minor issues like Bali belly or cuts or abrasions.
I wouldn’t feel 100% comfortable if I needed to undergo a major surgery or receive life saving treatment. Emergency services like transportation to a hospital can be a challenge too since there are a limited supply of ambulances and the traffic may cause major delays for transport.
Also make sure to have the proper insurance coverage. Before care is given proof of coverage and/or payment will be required.
I alluded to the traffic congestion earlier. It’s real, especially in more crowded areas like Canggu or Ubud. The best way to get around the high traffic areas is by motorbike. The infrastructure is not in place and the roads are too narrow for cars/trucks.
The key is to travel earlier in the mornings or just make sure that you give yourself plenty of time. Don’t trust google maps estimated time of arrival because if you end up in a traffic snarl the travel time could easily double.
If you’re sensitive to the welfare of animals then you’ll want to pay attention to this. There are a lot of stray dogs in Bali. You will see poor diseased and even maimed dogs at the beaches and it will pull at your heart strings.
There are many kind hearted people that end up taking in multiple animals but unfortunately there are more stray dogs then people who can care for them.
I never hear much about serious crime in Bali but petty theft is something that does happen. Usually it is the cell phone or purse snatching.
Always make sure to keep your valuables close to you and be careful to keep you phones secured especially at night.
You probably already know this but you can’t just show up in Bali and stay as long as you want. You will need a visa to match your purpose and length of stay. Don’t mess this up, immigration is very strict.
Fortunately there are many visa options available. You can get a Visa on Arrival which is good for 30 days and extendable for another 30 before you would need to exit the country. Also, there are visas like a B211 which is extendable for 6 months or even Kitas options which is more of a process but is good for 2 years.
I would make sure to use a good reputable visa agent if you’re serious about living in Bali for more than 60 days. We trust Bali Solve with all of our visa work.
Final Thoughts About Pros and Cons Living in Bali
Living in Bali is a dream but it’s important to understand all of the pros and cons and do your research to make sure it is the right fit for you. I suggest spending a month or two in Bali prior to making the move. This will give you a chance to check out the different areas and get a true taste of what it’s like to live here.
Bali is beautiful, lifestyle is amazing and the people are incredible. It is the perfect place for us to call home. Hopefully this information was helpful in your journey to see if living in Bali is the best move for you.
Feel free to hit us up if you have any questions, we’re happy to help! To read more about why we decided to move to Bali read our latest interview with Our Year in Bali.