What it’s Like to Live and Work on Your Internet Business from Bali, Indonesia

So, you want to live in Bali? WHO DOESN’T nowadays. It’s got more charm and beauty than @AnythingIan, and its much cheaper!

I got a ton of emails after podcasting and writing about Bali. Perhaps people could feel our passion about the place, or maybe a lot of people remembering their own good memories.

All Pics on My iPhone, I Don't Have A Stand-Alone Camera, Or ANY Stock Photography :)

Since so many of you wanted to hear more specific information, I’m happy to have gotten in touch with Mike from BaliExpat.com (@BaliExpat) to help me create this quick guide to living and working in Bali. He’s also got a much longer free guide on his website that you can check out. If you’ve got more information on this stuff, let us know in the comments and I’ll eventually amend the post to be more detailed!

Okay, here’s Mike….


After reading and listening to the podcast about Dan’s adventure in Bali, I thought I could shed some further light on what it is like to live in Bali– I’ve been living here for the past year.

I have also spent some time in Thailand and I thought Dan did a pretty good job comparing the islands of Thailand with Bali [NOTE: also check out Chris’ great article on the topic, “What is the Perfect Place to Live and Work in South East Asia?”)] It should be pointed out, however, that Bali is just one of over 17,000 islands in Indonesia. Lombok and the Gili Islands, for example, are just a short boat trip from Bali.

There are many things to like about living in Bali. There are many different activities within a very small geographical area. The climate is great for outdoor living. If the heat becomes too much for you, you can always head to the central mountain areas like Bedugul, where the air is fresh and cool. The people in Bali are genuinely friendly and welcoming and there is a very strong sense of community with a truly fascinating culture.

I know of people operating software companies in Bali that employ local designers and programmers, so there is definitely the potential of locating a technology based business here. Internet speed is not great however and is relatively expensive (see the specifics below).

When it comes to find a place to live, you can use the services of an agent, but most good places are found by word of mouth. It is possible to find places on the internet, but they are typically more expensive. The best way is to drive around areas you want to live in and look for ‘for rent’ signs. Most landlords in Indonesia operate on a 12 month contract, where the rent needs to be paid in full and in advance. You might be lucky to find a western owner, who will allow you to pay on a monthly basis.

Many places have at least some furniture. For used furniture and appliances check out: http://www.baliadvertiser.biz/

If you are on a budget, you can stay in ‘kos’ which is best described as a boarding house. Some places will have rooms with private bathrooms and perhaps a shared kitchen.

If you get out of the main tourist areas in the south, you can experience a relaxed lifestyle. The cost of living is dramatically lower in the north and east parts of Bali. The only western level expenses you would have are internet and imported spirits (which are expensive in Indonesia). In general, there are huge differences in prices between tourist and non-tourist spots.


Most popular neighborhoods for expats. People generally live in the area which suits their interests.  Roughly:

  • Seminyak – for upscale bars/restaurants
  • Sanur – laid back beach
  • Bukit – for surfers
  • Ubud – for artists/yoga practitioners
  • Kuta – tourist central and active nightlife

Average internet download speed: Download speed: (source http://www.speedtest.net/) [DAN: this is corroboruated from my experience, also note speedtest.net is an essential website for any internet business person in SE Asia].

  • Indonesia Ranked 148 in the world.  1.13 Mb/s
  • Ranked 144 in the world 0.38 Mb/s

Average Monthly Cost for DSL Internet Service:

  • 1 MEG Down / .256K Up, $65.00
  • 2 MEG Down / .512K Up, $100.00
  • 3 MEG Down / .512K Up, $170.00 (Business use)

Average rent range for furnished 2br apt 12 month lease:

  • A reasonable place would cost around US$500 a month.  Of course you can pay a lot more than this and it is still possible to get a local Balinese house in a village for $500-$600 a year. (note that rooms, or floors within these houses, which are often MASSIVE, can go for MUCH less).

Average monthly expenses for food/dining out/entertainment:

As long as it is not too extravagant $100-200 a month.  There is also a big difference between eating at local restaurants vs. places geared for tourists.

Estimated salaries of average Balinese workers [DAN I often find it helpful to understand what local people earn and live off of].:

  • Average monthly salary for house maid (full time, live in) is $50.00 monthly at the low end.  The minimum salary is higher than this, but it is not enforced by the government.
  • Average monthly salary for fast food employee is round $130.00 a month.
  • Average monthly salary for web developer is around $150.00 a month.

Categorize briefly the expats in Bali by percentage: Retirees, escape artist bums, surfers, internet marketers, career breakers, NGOs, etc.

  • Very difficult to say.  A fairly recent thread on the Bali expat forum posed this question, which you can read here : http://balipod.com/bali-expat-forum-f2/budding-expats-please-share-t4539.html For example, “Im getting the feeling we have wandering surfers, retirees,rotation workers (month on/month off) and people involved internet/web based industries coming more often now.”

Thoughts on the Visa Situation:

  • I think it’s difficult to get people to answer honestly because of the situation with visas.   There seems to be quite a trend of families basing themselves in Bali where one partner flies in and out for their job in the mining or oil industry.
  • Visas generally comprise a significant part of expat’s budgets.  A visa extension for the social visa for example is $25.00 if you do it your self and around $70.00 if you go through an agent.
  • If you get a working visa for example you need to pay US$1200.00 per year, plus the administration costs to get the visa, which is at least another $500-$600.00.
  • The 30 day visa on arrival can be extended only once for another 30 days.
  • There is a ‘social visa’ which you need to apply for outside of Indonesia and is good initially for 60 days, but it can be extended on a monthly basis four times, for a maximum stay of 6 months. You need to have an Indonesian person to sponsor you for the visa and it does not allow you to work. If you want to stay longer than six months, it is just a matter of getting a plane to Singapore or Malaysia and repeating the whole process.

If you’d like more information about living and working in Bali, you can download my free guide here: (http://www.baliexpat.com/guides-and-ebooks/getting-started).

Thanks Mike!

Here’s some iPhone snaps from my time in Bali…