Many people who visit Bali for a holiday, fall in love with the island and have dreams of living there permanently. I had similar dreams and this year I decided to make a permanent move to living on the island. I had read everything I could on the internet about living in Bali, but of course there is no book or website that can really prepare you for what it is like to live there.
For many people, Bali is a tropical paradise and even for me after living here I never get tired of seeing the beautiful rice terraces, temples, mountains and the sea. The people are friendly, the food is fresh and delicious and the tropical climate is great for people who love the outdoors.
Whether you are looking to retire in Bali or start your own business, making the transition from being a tourist to expat is not an easy one. Many people like myself, when they decide to live in Bali, they hope to live outside of the main tourist areas. Not only is it cheaper, you can expect a quieter lifestyle and you have more opportunity to become part of the local community.
Bali has a strong community spirit and the community is referred to as a "banjar". There are over 3,500 banjars in Bali and they typically have 50-100 households. The head of the banjar is an elected position. Foreigners are usually required to register with their local banjar. Balinese are mostly Hindus and the banjar plays an important role in the various ceremonies and daily life of the Balinese. If you are looking for workers, it is custom to seek assistance from the head of the banjar.
Bali's popularity as a domestic and international destination attracts both foreigners and Indonesians from the many the other islands, to move to Bali to find work and start businesses. The increase in development is putting a huge strain on the island's resources.
Even rainfall is quite high in Bali, particularly the central and southern areas, the island is going to face real problems with water shortages in the coming years. Occasionally I have experienced water to stop all together, especially in the evenings when everyone is taking showers and watering their gardens.
Electricity supply is also suffering from the huge increase in demand, Locals typically only used electricity for some lights and a television, but foreigners and wealthier Indonesians typically run a whole range of modern appliances like computers and air conditioners, putting enormous pressure on the electricity grid. Blackouts are common in many areas, but most big hotels have their own generators for backup.
Tourists are usually charged more when prices are not fixed. Local prices for many goods and services are a fraction of what a tourist would pay. Living in Bali however, this can be very frustrating as you start to learn the real price of things. Learning the language can be a great way to not have to pay tourist prices for everything, but even long term expats can have problems with overcharging.
Bali is a beautiful place to live with an amazing culture and friendly people, but its not all a bed of roses. Problems with basic utilities and overcharging for just being a foreigner are some of the problems you can face.