If you spend any amount of time hanging around with other expats in Bali, it usually doesn’t take long before people start airing their complaints about living in Bali. Pollution, corruption, bureaucracy, traffic and staffing problems are a common topic. I can’t say I am not guilty of this myself, but I always try to be mindful that at least for me, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

It’s not uncommon for people not living in Bali to read expat forums and remark that many expats living in Bali seem to be very unhappy with their lives. I think it is partly just human nature to focus on negative aspects of life – you just need to watch the news for 5 minutes and it is full of death and destruction.

Since all foreigners who live in Bali pretty much do so voluntarily, do they have the right to complain or should they just shut up and leave the island? I don’t think it is healthy for people to be continually complaining about the place they decided to live in and there are certainly some people who would be better off living somewhere else, but do foreigners have the right to be critical of the problems Bali is facing and express them publicly?

I have sometimes seen even foreigners themselves say that we are guests in this country so we should just accept the laws and way things are done here. While I certainly believe that we need to obey the laws of where we are living, we don’t have to agree with them and I can’t see why we can’t be critical of the way something is done, to not accept corruption for example.

Some complaints I believe are justified, rubbish and dirty beaches for example. The mess of the taxi system that greets arrivals at the airport is another. I do not believe however, that expats have any right to complain about how Balinese and Indonesia people as a whole live their lives. Especially when it comes to religious and cultural aspects which attracts people to Bali in the first place, such as Nyepi.

The longer you spend in Indonesia, the more you grow to love the country and its people. You always want to believe that things are getting better and the more you establish roots here, whether it is raising a family or building a business, the more you want the country to improve. So when things sometimes seem like they are moving backwards it can be incredibly frustrating.

There are plenty of foreigners who have started some great initiatives, like cleaning up the beaches and recycling. Instead of complaining about pollution they have done something to make a difference.

I don’t think anyone that could dispute that Bali has been a victim of its own success. The infrastructure just hasn’t been able to keep up with the development. I fear that it will only take a drop in tourist number before the government starts to address dealing with the problems Bali faces.

Why do you think, do you think expats living in Bali have the right to complain?