There are many popular digital nomad spots globally, and Bali is one of the world’s most popular digital nomad destinations. This tropical paradise is one of the worlds best digital nomad spots.
Why? Because the island is home to incredible beaches, rice terraces, fast wifi, and almost every western convenience you could want. And it’s very affordable and easygoing.
It remains one of the most popular tourist destinations globally, and a pillar of the Indonesian economy. An estimated 6.3 million foreign tourists visited Bali in 2019. And according to Statista, there are around 5000 digital nomads in Bali. That makes it the most popular digital nomad spot in Asia.
If you decide to live in Bali as a digital nomad, the island will bless you with gorgeous weather, wildlife, nature, hiking, mountains, and the trendiest coworking spaces.
This article is a guide to being a digital nomad in Bali, Indonesia.
The cost of living in Bali
Let’s get straight to the point; it’s very cheap. Although Bali’s living standards have increased massively since the 90s through the boom of tourism, the island remains very affordable for anyone travelling with a western currency.
The Indonesian Rupiah remains relatively weak compared to western currencies such as USD, Euro, and GDP.
The most significant expenses in Bali is accommodation and food. However, the island is notorious for incredible villas at a low cost. Many digital nomads will rent villas in Bali for low prices. Hotels and guesthouses on the island are very cheap too.
A digital nomad earning an average western salary from their online job/business will live in Bali’s relative luxury. That’s one of the many reasons why this island is so famous for its digital nomad community.
Accomodation in Bali is very cheap. You can find hostel dorms throughout the island, for merely $5 per night. And they are not flea bitten dumps; these are decent hostels. Hotels are very affordable, and you can expect to spend around $50 per night for high-end hotels. And if you want a luxury villa? Don’t be shocked to pay less than $100 per night.
Renting accommodation in Bali is very cheap. You can rent three bedroom houses in the south of Bali for $500 per month. Or you can rent luxury mansions in Canggu for 1,000 USD per month. The luxury that you will get for so little will blow you away.
Food in Bali is very cheap. Local meals are delicious and will be around $3 per meal, at the most. Or you can eat in Western restaurants and pay double the price for meals.
A big mac meal at a McDonalds will cost you around 4 USD. As a general rule, eating out is around ⅓ of the price of a western country perhaps ½ if you’re eating at a western restaurant.
Again, very affordable! Do you see a trend here? Drinking in Bali is very cheap, and you should expect to pay $3 for a beer. The local beer is Bintang – and it’s very affordable.
You can get very cheap drinks in Kuta, which is the nightlife hub of Bali.
Travel expenses are where you might trip up. Due to the nature of Balinese bartering culture, taxi drivers will try and take you for a ride. If you’re not careful, you will pay more for a taxi in south Bali than you would in Kensington, London.
There is a taxi mafia on the island, and they cause problems for locals and tourists. Travel expenses can add up, which is why many will rent their own transport.
Benefits of being a digital nomad in Bali
It’s a beautiful island
This one goes without saying, but it’s a gorgeous tropical island. It’s also a very naturally diverse island. You can stay in the pristine tropical beaches of Uluwatu, or you could live in the luscious forests of Ubud.
Do you love surfing? If so, Changu is a world-famous surfing spot that’s well known on the international surfing scene. But there are numerous great surfing spots along this tropical coast that many digital nomads will love.
The island is a hiking paradise and is home to numerous world-class trekking points. One of the most popular hikes is Mount Batur, and this is one of Bali’s many volcanic mountains. You can hike the mountain alone, or do it with various tour guides to guide you up on the mountain with safety and knowledge.
It’s a stunning island paradise; you will always find things to explore.
Low cost of living
You can live a life of luxury with an average western income on this island. Certain areas on the island are more expensive than others such as Canggu and Ubud where locals will inflate tourists’ prices. But even then, it remains very cheap.
If you want to live even cheaper – and escape western tourists – then stay in the island’s capital of Denpasar.
The capital is very affordable, and you can find inexpensive food and accommodation, which is cheaper than the popular tourist hotspots. And better still, you’ll only be a short 15-minute bike ride away from those spots.
Unless you’re splashing the cash, you can live very comfortable off $1500 per month. Maybe less, if you want to budget hard!
Excellent food options
On a global stage, it’s safe to say that Indonesian food is generally underrated. But anyone who has ever visited Indonesia will speak positively about the nation’s cuisine. Bali is home to some of the country’s finest cuisine, especially in the capital of Denpasar. You can find a variety of hidden gems on the street or in restaurants.
But what if you’re not a fan of the local food? It’s unlikely that you would be, but even so, the island has the biggest selection of western cuisine in Asia. If you walk around popular tourist hotspots like Changu, Kuta, or Ubud, the amount of western food will shock you. The island is home to a global community which offers incredible cuisine from countries like Italy, Mexico, Japan. If you want a delicious burger with chips, you’ll probably find one that’s tastier than in New York or London for a third of the price.
The island is also home to a massive vegan community, which is probably the biggest in Asia. That is due to the large number of western expats who own businesses on the island.
Negatives to being a digital nomad in Bali
Bali is a very safe island, and crime and theft are generally low. But that’s not the most significant hazard that you have to be aware of on the island. The biggest is the crazy roads and traffic that you have to navigate.
The roads in Bali are hazardous. But let’s not be too cynical about it – you can use a taxi instead. And this is an excellent option for staying safe, but also getting around cheaply. But if you’re living as a digital nomad, it might get frustrating having to get taxis everywhere.
Perhaps it’s a good idea to learn the roads and ride a motorbike, but you must be careful. Fatal accidents – often involving travellers – are not infrequent on Balinese roads. Unfortunately, they are daily.
If you’re in Southeast Asia, you will have to prepare yourself for the negotiation culture. There won’t be prices in many places, and you will have to get a deal yourself. But because you look foreign, you will be charged extra.
In Bali, the negotiation culture is enormous, especially in touristic areas south of the island. To be honest, it’s not unusual or rash to expect the locals to charge you ten times the regular price.
One of the benefits of living in Bali as a digital nomad is that you will know all the scams, tricks, and the actual costs that you should be paying.
Many foreigners find the constant haggling frustrating, and it’s a real culture shock if you come from a developed western country.
Unfortunately, Indonesia doesn’t lack red tape. It has an incredible amount, but much of it you’ll never see until you’re living here full time. And as many expats will tell you, visas for long-term stays in Indonesia are frustrating, inconsistent, and problematic.
Getting a straight answer from government officials can take a while, and the government will often require you to do visa runs. Other countries in the world make it easier to get long-term visas.
There has been a massive push in 2020 for the government to introduce a digital nomad visa. That would encourage digital nomads to pay tax in the country and enable more nomads to move there.
Other things to consider
Visa requirements and taxes
Many digital nomads will enter Indonesia on a tourist visa. And in fairness, that is fine if you’re not looking to stay in Bali for a long time. However, if you plan to stay in Bali long term, you could consider looking into long-term visa options.
As previously mentioned, long-term visas can be a chore. So it’s best to hire an immigration lawyer to see your options.
Tourist visas in Indonesia are generally 30 days long, but you can obtain a 90-day permit once you are inside the country. The issue with that is paying taxes, and if you plan to stay in Indonesia long-term, you are technically supposed to pay tax in the country. And doing this whilst on a tourist visa might be an issue.
Many digital nomads have different ways of handling their taxes, but deciding on your visa choice is an important decision. The reality is until Indonesia provides a digital nomad visa things will continue to be uncertain.
How to find accommodation
Because Bali is such a cheap island, many expats will stay in hotels and guest houses long-term. And that isn’t a bad option, but with such an array of fantastic apartments and villas to rent in Bali – many digital nomads will rent their own place instead.
However, if you want to rent a villa, house, or apartment on the island – here are some fantastic options.
Bali Long Term Rentals is a superb option if you’re a digital nomad looking for a beautiful long term stay. They have many different villas and apartments all over the city, which are fantastic to rent.
And you can use Bali Villa Finder to find some extraordinary villas at affordable prices. You can find excellent villas with swimming pools, spas, and luxury comforts.
But what if you want to budget and don’t care about a villa? Check out Bali Budget Housing which has budget options for all incomes.
Bali is home to some of the most innovative, beautiful, and unique coworking spaces globally. The locals have built an industry that caters to the digital nomad demand within the island. Here are some of the best coworking spaces on the island.
One of the best coworking spots in Bali is Outpost Coworking. This brilliant coworking space is the nomads’ hub in Canggu, which happens to be the most popular nomad area on the island. This space is home to an array of facilities that include
- Private rooms
- Shared kitchen
- High-speed internet
- Private swimming pool
- 24/7 access
- On-site cafe
Hubud was the first coworking space in Bali. It has since merged with Dojo to become a massive coworking space in Ubud. It remains one of the most popular coworking spots in Bali. The facilities include
- Private rooms
- High-speed internet
- Swimming pool
- Community BBQ’s
- Private skype booths
Bali Bustle is in the middle of Kuta, one of the best spots in the south. Kuta is home to famous beaches and vibrant nightlife. And there’s even a coliving space with private rooms to live in and meet other nomads. This coworking space has a wide range of facilities that include
- Co-living areas
- Swimming pool
- Co-working space
Situated in the heart of Kuta, GoWork is a superb option if you’re looking for a great coworking spot in the south. Prices are very reasonable, and the coworking space has excellent facilities which include
- Relaxing lounge areas
- High-speed internet
- Conference rooms
- Fruit water
- Printing facilities
- On-site staff
- Hot desks
Bali remains a top-rated tourist destination in Southeast Asia and an equally popular digital nomad hotspot.
It’s not hard to understand why. It’s such an affordable chunk of paradise. It’s not for everyone, and many digital nomads would instead go somewhere with less western influence.
But one thing is for sure – Bali will remain a global digital nomad hotspot.