The first time I came to Bali was when I was 8 years old (1988). My mum had decided she wanted to explore Ubud for a while and escape Brisbane. This was 26 years ago when there was only the rice terraces as far as the eye could see and little villas with an open air design looking out to the most spectacular views. There was the famous Ubud market in the center of town, which sold local grown vegetables, silver, hand made Balinese souvenirs and of course the art Ubud has become famous for!
Back then there was no shops where you could stock up on groceries like there is today. Once a fortnight we had drive down to Denpasar to do the shopping and stock up on peanut better, butter, bread, milk and all the other necessities. Yes, there were restaurants but nowhere near as many as there are today. Ubud had something special; there was something spiritual about this little village. Something unique that we couldn’t find back home and that attracted so many people to give up their jobs and change their lifestyle to come and relocate.
Growing up in Bali
I remember running through rice paddies as a child, catching fire flies, playing with the Balinese children and learning traditional dance and Bahasa Indonesian. Fluent as a child I would go off to the markets by myself and walk around bargaining with the locals. It was so safe back then and many people living there at the time were like my mum – little less stressed and a bit of a hippy. So mum didn’t think twice when I would run off for the day.
Expat children went to the local school’s as the International school was so far away and terribly expensive back then. Home schooling took a while to get used too and certainly a lot of adjusting when I went back to Australia years later. But spending all that time with my mum and living a life that most children don’t experience was well worth it and an experience I will never forget.
I remember mum buying us a TV and not really thinking too much about it, soon discovering there were no English channels. However once or twice a week after 11pm the ‘Bold and the Beautiful’ was shown in English. I still laugh with mum wondering what we were thinking buying a TV and thinking we would be watching Home & Away and all of the Aussie programs along with the news everyday.
Children in Bali
Today there is more set up for the expat families and the children who come to Bali looking for a lifestyle change. The Canggu Club (15 minutes from Seminyak) is a members only club with fantastic facilities for the whole family. There is a lap pool, gym along with PT classes, restaurants, sports, squash courts and more. It’s a very family orientated club. Membership is around $2,000 per year per person or there are family packages available. If you are living in Bali or even here on holidays this is the place to visit if you want to meet other expats who have jumped on the rollercoaster ride and are living abroad.
There is also an Australian school and many children do their schooling here or the International school. Growing up as a child overseas is certainly an experience. Many parents think during the younger years it’s the best time to pull kids out of school and relocate. If feel you need a life change then living overseas can offer so many exciting experiences and memories especially for the children.
But you do have to keep in mind there are also challenges with living overseas. The medical system is nowhere near as advanced as what we have in Australia. Finding a good doctor or dentist isn’t easy but sure is cheap. More and more supermarkets are selling imported goods and the produce that you can buy has really improved over the years. However you still have to be careful and drink bottled water, wash all food and take care.
Building villas is big business and land isn’t as cheap as it used to be. However like anywhere, the further out of the popular tourist spots you are – the better the rental prices. Finding a long term rental can also be difficult. You need to make sure you do your homework or find a recommend real estate agent to help you find a home. Long term rentals require the full 12 month rental price paid in advance. Or you can buy a 25 year lease, again you will be required to pay the full payment upfront. And before you sign any contracts make sure you check all of the property facilities and the terms of the lease to avoid being caught out.
You can’t just pack up and set up shop over here. If you plan to work then you will require a Kitas (working permit) however there are many expats who don’t have one and exit the country every 2 months to reset visas. Or a business visa will allow you to stay 3 – 6 months. Living in Bali is absolutely wonderful but do your homework into legal requirements before making the decision.