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Trust me, you won’t like living in Bali


I get emails everyday through my baliexpat website from people interested in living in Bali. I am also a member of expat forums and try to share the knowledge I have gained while living here. While there are many people who want to live in Bali, in the end only a few actually make the move.

I know the feeling. It is a big decision. Made even bigger if you have a spouse and kids. You have to find a new place to live, apply for visas, new schools for the kids and work out how you are actually going to support yourself, if you don’t already have an income. At the same time you  have to decide what you are going to do with your current house and with all of your ‘stuff’ it is so easy to accumulate over the years, not to mention what you are going to do with your pets that you aren’t allowed to bring to Bali.

While some of your friends and family will be supportive of you, there will be others who think you have lost your mind and will go on to recount every negative story they heard about Bali.

Based purely on anecdotal evidence, for the people who do make the move, only a few end up settling on Bali permanently. There are many reasons why things don’t work out, but mostly it comes down to people finding out that living in Bali is very different from being on vacation.

Perhaps it is just human nature, but many people will constantly compare everything to their own country. The whole point of traveling or living overseas is to experience something different. So of course some things will be different, but you are the one that needs adapt rather than expecting Bali or Balinese to change.

I get many questions from people asking about finding work. Unfortunately there are very few jobs for foreigners in Bali. Not only is it difficult to find work, working visas are very expensive, making it only viable for large companies to employ foreigners. Many foreigners start a business and while there are plenty of opportunities in Bali, it does require innovation, hard work and start up capital to be a success.

I can only say to be realistic with your plans and your goals. Be prepared for a lot of setbacks and problems, especially in the beginning.

So do you still want to move to Bali? Are you living in Bali what tips can you provide to “newbies”?

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50 Responses to Trust me, you won’t like living in Bali

  1. Cheryl April 22, 2013 at 4:09 am #

    I did live in Bali for almost 2 years. During this time I felt it was difficult for the locals to accept me as a local & they still wanted to sell things to me for a tourist price. They failed to understand that if they sold items to me at a local price I would return & support them ongoing. This was extremely frustrating so I just had my local friends do my shopping for me, then I always got the local prices..Hope this information helps others to be aware that us “tourists” always gets charged more, no matter what…

    • Ms: Debby June 28, 2013 at 9:36 am #

      Dearest Cherly
      I do agree with you, about living in Bali, i am from the USA
      United State, and been living in Bali for the past of 15 years
      and most of my work is doing export,I do help the Expat living
      in Bali, for their Visa’s include their staying permit,and their
      Investment project,I do not trust the local,cox been cheated by
      Visa agency’s and the expat should double cheak their Visa, before
      they get the visa extend, the best solution is to Call Ms: Debby
      +6281808320061,Expat satisfaction guaranty

      • donna December 23, 2013 at 7:12 am #

        Hi Debby, Do you have amail where I can contact you.My husband and I are looking at a business iN bali and hope to live there for a few years

        • tommyb April 7, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

          Hi Donna,
          Why don’t we share the opportunity to do business in Bali, since i will move to Bali. I live in Jakarta for about 45 years (my whole life), and now decided to move there. please contact me at
          hopefully it’s not to late. check my linkedin as tommybempah

  2. eric April 22, 2013 at 4:24 am #

    To much corruption, the traffic, the locals, do not like you, only want bule money, they hate muslims even though Indonesia the largest Muslim country on the planet, the Banjar and the ceremonies it is just too much, the traffic e will drive you insane, the locals on their mopeds have no road sense, it will never change, they are badly educated, and the higher caste prefer that…..
    apart from that it is cheap, a driver will cost you 100 USD a month a maid the same, but the cost of living has tripled over the last 3 years, Bali is not this beautiful Island you see on postcards, dirty beaches, unlike thailand where you see literally hundreds of people cleaning the beachs in the morning…Holiday Yes, live there a big fat no…………

    • Ms: Debby June 28, 2013 at 9:38 am #

      Hi Eril
      the best solution is to call +6281808320061, concerning about
      living in Bali,

  3. Chris April 22, 2013 at 4:43 am #

    This is one of the things I really value about your blog, Mike. You say it like it is. Relocating to Bali comes with so many obstacles that are far more challenging than many other places in the world (visas alone – eiee!), and far more complex than in most expatriate’s home countries. It takes sincere – make that extraordinary – passion, dedication, and patience. Douglas Adams’ “Don’t Panic” button needs to be kept close at all times. There certainly are tales of success among expats in Bali, but those no doubt have had more than their fair share of frustrations. Arrive in Bali with no expectations other than things won’t be as you expected. 🙂

    • Ms: Debby June 28, 2013 at 9:48 am #

      Hi Christ,
      The only solution is +6281808320061 for visiting Bali, extend visa
      for retirement or working, everything about Bali,just call the above said number.Ms: Debby

  4. Ross April 22, 2013 at 5:09 am #

    A tip I have is DO NOT GET INVOLVED FINANCIALLY WITH A BALINESE!!! I was and escaped unscathed, finally, but they are dishonest people. Forget what they say about karma; they don’t believe it and say it for show, nothing more.
    DO NOT OWN PROPERTY IN BALI!! Indonesia is a third world country, and laws can change that will leave you high and dry financially. Rent isn’t expensive, and you’ll be infinitely better off going down that path.
    In Indonesia, civil and criminal law aren’t separate as in most countries. Police can make summary decisions and have you deported for almost anything, mostly on a report from a local, and you won’t be able to prove otherwise. You just won’t have the opportunity.
    Additionally, you can’t trust local law firms, either Balinese or Australian owned (and maybe other nationalities). You are fighting against the tide, locals and your own.
    If you are in business without a local partner, the locals will report you for imagined breaches of your visa, work permit, or anything they can fabricate, and the police will harass you.
    Holiday in Bali, or even retire in Bali, but don’t ever consider going into business with a local. They’ll sell you out so fast you won’t see it happen, and it doesn’t have to be for a lot of money.

  5. Ross April 22, 2013 at 5:18 am #

    I should probably qualify my earlier comments.

    I have been holidaying in Bali for 30+ years, and lived there for about a year. I had a local partner, known from my first visit, 25 years at the time, and from the time I put the money up, she worked against me behind the scenes, doing everything she could to separate me and my money, have the police harass me, and generally make life uncomfortable.
    I owned, through her, two blocks of land, secured with mortgages and contracts, but ultimately the relationship soured because of her subversive actions. The only reason I escaped with my shirt was I had proof of her taking a secret commission, and that is a criminal offence. Ultimately, I got my money out, and she didn’t go to jail, a poor trade off, but the only way I wasn’t going to blow a huge amount of money.
    My advice is DO NOT DO IT!! Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines aren’t much different.
    These days I seldom visit Bali, preferring the Philippines and Thailand, but one still needs to be very careful.

    • JOSE I.DIAZ August 14, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

      I am very sad to read different reviews about Bali which are nothing positive social relations with foreigners to which at every opportunity often cheat. I have the good fortune to live in the Korea paradise island of Jeju for 9 years and have never had any kind of problems with the natives, much less with the authorities which value and appreciate foreign investors. Planned to visit Bali but I am very disappointed with the comments made in this blog.

      • Lemel October 2, 2013 at 9:29 am #

        Hum….I too live in Korea, but rather Seoul. While JeJu is dreamy, very different than Seoul, we are happy here, and like you, enjoy Korea very much.

        I have visited Bali 3 times. First time, fell in love with it, second time had some interesting times, but the third time, was quite a bit different from the first two.

        I would stay where you are, as the Korean culture is stable and there isn’t much need for the Koreans to deceive you out of your money for any reason.

        Bali is truly filthy dirty, garbage all over the place, broken sidewalks which make walking a hazard. Frankly, the Balinese men and women will ripe you off terribly in any number of ways, but daily at the market is the first insult of each day with inflating the prices, just for your white face!

        I find Balinese people charming, but then after my third visit started noticing differing stories from the same person, then a lot of asking me for money due to their hardship, which in this case turns out to be gambling what little they make, day to day.

        I would say stay away…….it’s no where near as beautiful, clean or upstanding as is Jeju, or the Korean Culture.

        Save your money for a more upstanding culture, one that is honest and does not hide behind religion to come across as people who are honest and forthcoming.


    • gerry hallen September 8, 2017 at 6:57 am #

      Thailand and doing business way more easy than Bali
      way more.

  6. Trish April 22, 2013 at 5:57 am #

    I’m looking at leaving Australia for a short term at this stage to try and get the feel of living in a different country also u need a change I have no plans other than to contemplate my world and what I should do in my future . Ill be turning 50 at the end of this year and really worry about my future . Could you give me a general idea of what a three month stay in Bali may cost in aus dollars ? Also accomodation cost and places to stay . I’m not fussy but would like a place a feel safe and cool . I’m also willing to do anything volunteer wise to help less fortunate . I am by no means rich or well off myself but any help would be much appreciated . As I said I’m just putting my feelers out at this stage . Looking forward to your comments . Cheers Trish

    • Stephen April 23, 2013 at 11:12 am #

      Hi Trish, my name is Stephen formerly from Adelaide south australa, I have been living in Bali for11 years now, my wife is from indonesia so that helps a lot. The things you read above are quite true, and one can get frustrated with local Balinese people with their ceremonies etc, traffic, and the lack of road rules. But the good things that no one has said is there is no police camera’s, radar guns behind trees, and if you go through the yellow and even an early red light no tickets, where as in australa they all cost mo ey, as I recall with my last trip back to Adelaide. A newly installed camera cast me some 200+ dollar fine.
      So if the police stop y on the road, no license or Helmut just pay the fine and your off, in australa your in big trouble.
      Food for example is very cheap, I’m not big on indo food and still eat western style and its still a lot cheaper than Aust.
      For voluntary work I suggest for you to contact some local churches when you come over they can help a lot. I belong to the Sanur GCC church and you want to speak with me more then my email is
      Hope this gives some better light on Bali.

      • hotdawg June 2, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

        Steve, I don’t think your comments regarding traffic offences are relevant and seem also ignorant. Yes it is a pain when you’re hit with a fine for speeding or racing traffic lights but they are obviously in place for a reason other than revenue for the police.
        I think encouraging people to just pay the Balinese police when you’re in the wrong is also not recommendable as it encourages corruption. Just wear a helmet and follow the rules to avoid getting stopped by police in the first place.

        • Chris May 28, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

          Whilst I agree with hotdawg, what do you do if you have infringed the law and are stopped.

          DO NOT pay the policeman. Ask for a blue ticket. This means you admit guilt. You can then pay the fine directly. This means
          a) Nothing for the policeman’s pocket
          b) You are not fuelling corruption
          c) It will involve the policeman in paperwork later, so
          d) Likely he will just give up and let you go without paying anything at all.

    • Ross April 24, 2013 at 10:46 am #

      Trish, if you want to be cool, try Baguio in the Philippines. The cost of living there is very reasonable, perhaps no more than Bali.
      You could also try Chiang Mai in Thailand, and that is a cheap place, more so than Bali. It’s not a cool place though, only a couple of degrees less than Bangkok or the coast.

    • Alex December 26, 2015 at 12:29 am #

      Hi Trish,

      Have you considered Vanuatu ? Less of the rip off tourists culture, as most families there are self sufficient and don’t really chase tourists money. 2 and half hour flight from Brisbane wonderful friendly people and am sure you could apply for an extended Visa easily if you volunteered to teach English at a local school. Hope this helps.

  7. Joe April 22, 2013 at 6:34 am #

    Mike is right in every sentence. I have lived for many years in Thailand, Turkey, Mexico and Indonesia (Jakarta and near Jakarta), now four months in Bali. Bali is the only place most of the locals will never accept you as a local. Prices for you will be always double, triple or more. Just a small example:
    I got price of 10M rupiah from the cousin of my Balinese “friend” to arrange the house I have rented. Because I know the price was very exaggerated, I bought myself the best materials and accessories for 3.5M, three day two workers 500,000 (not from Bali, let’s not forget that Jawa is one hour by ferry) so total 4M. Where supposed to go the remain 6M from the proposal? So my Balinese “friend” is not my friend anymore.
    It will be not fair to say that all the Balinese are just waiting the money to fall from the sky sitting near the sea and offering you everything from small shells to acres of land with and “exceptional price”.
    My house is in building process by a contractor according to my two floors design. After we closed on price he wanted the pillars bigger even the designed ones were much stronger than necessary, I told him that I can’t afford that financially and he told me he don’t want any extra for that. He is more than fair with other customers also, not charging them for changes in the design if it is before he starts locating the pillars. So have this kind of Balinese people also. He is also helpful in other subjects if I need an advice.
    Because of his attitude I am doing for him free of charge AutoCad drawings if he needs for his customers or for IMB.


  8. Rok Sivante April 22, 2013 at 6:51 am #

    I’ve lived here over a year now, though knew this is where I needed to be 3 years prior to ever coming. It is NOT a place for everyone… Many good things about it, but alot of adjustment as well. Alot of beauty, but ALOT of traffic. Heard from many people, it is not a good place for you if you’re controlling – will test your need for control, and challenge you to “go with the flow.” Things can take ALOT longer to get done here. More & more development = not the serene island paradise people might think it is. BIG commitment is required to make it here – and, it just won’t work for everybody. They say, Bali kicks alot of people out – if you’re not in vibration with the ways here, you won’t last. Thinking it MIGHT be a cool place to live – try it if that interested, but don’t have expectations of it working out – things won’t happen the way you think. I knew long before coming here, this was home – and it is – will be here for a LONG time. But, it’s not all easy & pretty. And if you think it’ll be easy to do business here, think again – yes, lots of corruption and countless horror stories. Can be done with the right partners, but not easy – far better to create an income stream that can be sustained from anywhere. (unless you do have that solid commitment and some serious street smarts). The language barrier & cultural differences can be a challenge at time – one of the easiest languages to learn, but still requires alot of patience. Patience, yes – much required here.

    Some people will love it. Most wouldn’t. Coming for a brief vacation would be a different experience. Whatever fantasies you have about what it would be living like here – only part of the picture. Very magical place with much to offer, but will definitely get faced with the reality check of the yin-yang nature of reality and that there’s always the negative accompanying the positive…

  9. Leon April 22, 2013 at 6:55 am #

    Interesting views all around. I’m currently seriously looking at moving to Bali with my family next year. I live in Taiwan, been here for 14 years and in Asia 16. Bali looks good to me for a number of reasons, but I hear what people are saying about living there being very different from holidays.

    I’d love to connect and talk with anyone who has some experience setting up a PMA (fully foreign owned) in Indonesia. This aspect of the move is what’s on my mind the most these days, and would like some insight into it all. If it’s okay to leave my email here, it’s



    • Kim May 10, 2014 at 3:14 am #

      Hi Leon,
      I’ve lived in Bali for 18 years, have a company here for many years which is registered as a PMA. If you want to find out the pros and cons, leave a reply and we can get in contact via email.

      • gerry hallen September 8, 2017 at 7:06 am #

        well thats interesting.I am in the process getting a PW but have difficulty getting access to the IMB and
        going through a PMA migth be easier BUT do I need
        access to IMB?

        • Sasha Pillai March 22, 2019 at 2:42 pm #

          Could anyone recommend a good lawyer who can help me get justice from problems I am having with regards to my hotel property and greedy nominee ?
          I paid for power of Attorney and the nominee signed and received money for it.
          Recently he has become greedy and trying hard to cancel the POA !
          The lawyers and the Notary who arranged and administered this POA 9 years ago want me to pay big money to defend me against this.
          I feel since they did the POA they should do everything to endorse and uphold it without asking for big fees.
          I really don’t like Bali. I am really upset.

  10. Ross April 22, 2013 at 7:24 am #

    Trish, the only cool places in Bali are obviously the mountains. Bedugul/Candi Kuning are relatively populated places and you should be able to find somewhere to live there. Along the ridge line between Bedugul and Gobleg is a nice area, about 5000 feet above sea level and never more than about 24 C. I can’t give you an idea of costs, but there area few small hotels you could start off with and explore renting options. The net is your friend when finding hotels.
    Regarding doing voluntary work, I’d explore that very thoroughly first, and you may need a work permit, but that is just may.
    They’d cut off their noses to spite their faces, and I was going to give the local school three computers as an offering when I built there, but they then wanted me to build a retaining wall on the lake, cost about $20,000 (western price). Interestingly, 5 years later, after I sold to a Balinese, no wall has been built.
    They’re nice people, but also mercenary people.

  11. Ross April 22, 2013 at 7:38 am #

    There is an additional problem taking money to a third world country. You are subject to the vagaries of exchange rates, although with the rate at Rp10,000+ = AUD1, the danger is not huge. I had friends who owned a hotel, took money over at Rp 4200, and when they sold the rate was almost 10,000. They lost heavily on exchange rates. Additionally, banks charge 2% to transfer money out of the country, so if you want to bring back $200,000 it will cost $4,000!! That may have changed, but check before taking bulk $$ to Bali.
    I know I’m not overreacting, and there may be some decent people, but every westerner I know who has gone there with the intention of staying has been taken to the cleaners to a greater or lesser degree.

  12. Temajin Khan April 22, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    patience is a virtue, literally. honesty, well, there’s a lot of dodgy Aussies too. talk, talk, get to know expats comfortably living &/or working in Indonesia/Bali. nothing in life is easy, so settle in for a ride & keep your “smarts” about you. never ever put yourself on a pedestle & think for 1 minute you are smarter than a 3rd world native. of course they want your money “bule”, nothing surer but be aware, watch, look & listen. learn the language, if need be set up a PMA (private company to own land/villa/house freehold). thing is to slow down, enjoy the ride, remember “when in Rome, do as……..”

  13. Tim April 22, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    Bali is wonderful…compared to Jakarta. Ha! If you are new to Asia in general, don’t start a business here. If you are new to Indonesia, don’t start a business. here. Don’t rush into anything, don’t put everything in your wife’s name, don’t marry, don’t have a Balinese partner unless you are willing to use the “dark side” as your leverage.

    It’s no place for business people who have never been jailed in the west for administering justice.

    Stay home it you don;t have the stomach.

  14. Ross April 22, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

    Tim, you are right on the money!!! My thoughts exactly.
    It’s been called ‘yellow fever’, and in the case of Balinese women it’s ‘brown fever’, but whatever it’s called, don’t fall for it guys. Never put any assets in a local’s name unless you’re prepared to write it off.
    If you intend buying property there, ask yourself how many times you’ll use it, how much you’re tying up, what would that return in an investment back home, and compare the holding costs (of which there will be plenty) with staying in a 5 star hotel each time you visit, and there is no risk with that.
    Buying a condo in Bali can be compared with having a back yard pool in Melbourne, or a houseboat on Eildon. It’s used every day/weekend for the first month, then less often as time goes on, but continues to swallow buckets of $$.
    For a block of land I had on Lake Bratan, I had to have a local villager as a caretaker (no power or water connected) and that cost me Rp 100,000 a month ($20 at the time) but i received nothing for my money. A leaky water main a couple of blocks away ran for months across the property but the ‘caretaker’ did nothing.
    Think long and hard before submitting to being conned, and you will be conned.

  15. wayne April 23, 2013 at 1:06 am #

    ahaha interesting responses and all true. If you want to be accepted by the locals you have to let go of being a bule to some extent. Somebody gave me the advice “learn at least one mantra and pray with them” I didn’t coz I dont pray but I do work with them on the household ceremonies its called suka duka, pigs blood and guts and chicken plucking fun, constant challenge for sure. You want to live in Bali? my advice is dont arrive as a neo colonist looking for cheap indulgences and or with economic, spiritual or any other superiority because the Balinese can smell all those things and use them to bleed you dry offer your essence to the gods and eat the leftover.

  16. wayne April 23, 2013 at 1:13 am #

    I should add I’ve lived in Bali for about 6 years, in the village for 5, I married a Balinese lady, put everything in her name,made every mistake and am still there enjoying. I do not expect to get rich, just to survive without a western indulgent lifestyle. A Balinese indulgent lifestyle with a bit of come and go freedom makes much more sense to me.

  17. Danny April 23, 2013 at 3:18 am #

    Things many aspiring expats tend to forget:

    – Bali was there before them
    – Balinese Hinduism was there before roads, traffic lights and banks
    – Locals, in general, never asked for the current popularity of the island.

    Try picturing a total stranger coming to your house and trying to buy your living room, then hire you for an alm of a salary to work on your own home. That’s mostly what’s happening, and that’s how many are seeing it. Yes, locals can be arrogant asshats, like everywhere else. Yes, in a group of people, the greedy amoral ones stand out better and, generally, gain power.

    But that’s how it is, that’s the situation. If you plan on moving there, you’ll have to learn how to wrap your head around it, and come as a guest, learn the language, the traditions and be patient. Very, very patient.

    Thanks for this blog entry. Nothing is all black or all white, and it’s a good thing to be reminded of it every now and then!

    • Gabriella April 23, 2013 at 6:46 am #

      I really agree with Danny – you have to act as a quest and respect the culture, learn the language and be a part of everyday life, even though it may not be the everyday life you are use to or understand. If you don’t like things in Bali – then move! There are many challenges as a foreigner everyway and if you can not see it as what it is – a challenge, instead of a problem, then maybe you are not fit to live there. There is also the possibility that you might be able to learn something from this other way of living if you take your time and patience to learn and understand. I have been living in Bali. In the end I decided to go home, but I have learned so many things from Bali – some good and some bad experiences as I suppose would have been the case everyway – but it made me in the end a better person, as I have chosen to focus on the good lessons which I today use in my everyday life. So….instead of critizising try to learn instead….

    • Kim May 10, 2014 at 3:21 am #

      Hi Danny,
      Love the way you put it. That’s exactly how it is. I’ve lived in Bali for 18 years, have my own business here and yes, there’s been tons of set backs, challenges and obstacles to overcome. I still get frustrated once in a while, but there are also a million very positive things about living here.
      I guess it takes a long time and some real Balinese Friends who are willing to talk about how all this looks from their side of the coin.

  18. Ross April 24, 2013 at 5:21 am #

    Danny I hear what you say.
    The issue I have with the Balinese is that they pay lip service to their form of Hinduism. They are mercenary, dishonest, thieving people, and not just from foreigners, but from each other. The have a peculiar way (for us) of looking at the world, and the caste system, still in operation though it’s generally denied, is largely responsible for that. If you’re screwed by someone of a higher caste, that’s just your karma!! Bizarre concept, but the way it is. They are not the intensely religious people they would have us believe, but then neither are many of the self confessed religious people in our own societies. They’re called Sunday morning christians.
    They didn’t ask for the current masses of tourists spoiling their island, but they don’t have the balls to say ‘enough is enough’. They can’t turn their backs on the money and unfortunately the social ills that tourists bring.
    They are responsible for their own destiny, and that destiny is not a pretty one from where I stand.
    I still enjoy dropping into Bali on my way to or from somewhere else, and marvel at the change over 34 years since my first visit.
    I condemn the yobbo conduct, but being a yobbo in itself isn’t a crime, nor is much of their anti social behavior, in spite of it being most unsavory to probably the bulk of visitors.
    I also thank my lucky stars that I escaped, financially, even though I didn’t make any money, just didn’t lose.
    I reiterate, to anybody contemplating investing, DON’T!!!

  19. dave April 24, 2013 at 6:35 am #

    Many good experiences and points posted here,i think Mike`s blog is very good but I disagree with the point he made about we as visitors have to change,sure I accept that point to a certain degree,but when 70-80% the economy of bali comes from tourism then I believe that Bali has to do some changing also,i live in Bali for 6 months each year from December to May,i come on a sosbud visa,so lets start with that,its a visa valid for 6 months ,but the truth is that its not valid for 6 months,you arrive and you are good for 2 months,within 24 hours you must report to police who give you a document to carry around which is supposed to be free however they charge for it,also they don’t issue it for 6 months ,they have you come back a coup[le of times to renew just so they can charge you again and again,now after 2 months you must go to immigration and go thru a process much more complicated than when you got the original visa from Indonesian consulate in your country,this is to extend your visa for 1 month,yes one month,again another charge of 250,000rp,it takes 10 days for this stamp to be put into your passport and takes minimum 3 visits ,during this time you are really restricted ,if your intention was to travel to other islands you would have to do so without your passport as immigration are holding it for 10 days,so people why do they issue a visa for 6 months in the first place,the whole system from the top down is wrong,i rent a nice house here ,not a villa,all money up front,im the only one on my street who pays to have my garbage collected,all others burn it on the streets or leave it there until it rots ,and as for the guy who collects mine he takes it about 1 kilometer down the road and dumps it right there in a mountain of garbage,moreover if you try to be neat and tidy as we have always tried to do by buying nice big garbage cans they steal them God only knows what they do with them,but they throw our garbage all over the street,which attracts rats and all kinds of disgusting insects ,I could go on for ever about Bali and its bad points,sure there are some good things here such as the cost of socializing compared top back home but unfortunately the bad far outways the good,so much so that next month we will move to Java,my advice to those who are thinking about a move here ,come for a holiday but when here look outside the tourist areas and you will see a completely different Bali,

  20. Adrian April 26, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    The golden rule…do not invest any money in Indonesia, I did and lost big time, even with all the evidence of investment/ bank statements ect the court decided to put the woman in jail as she said I have no money….I lost everything !! what about an investigation into what she done with the 12 years income she is hiding or the criminal syndicate behind her… bankrupt I was forced to return to the UK, My Indonesian wife I have lost, my personal belongings/ effects all held at customs in Surabaya I fear I will never see again….I am trying to go through diplomatic routes to resolve these issues….I worked to hard for that money to ever let this go…. so now I write to the media every week to try and get their attention…a victim of corruption Im sure, I wonder how much of my investment went to the police to stall at every opportunity, forcing me to live there and preventing me from working in the UK, these criminals have ruined my future, do they work for that money as hard as I did, a big NO… My wife I loved dearly and still do if I was honest…we had a wonderful future planned together…we both suffered at the hands of these lying thieves….a big thumbs up to the KPK, I hope this is the start of something that will change the country and a warning to others… corruption does not pay in the long run….I read with interest the amounts of money recovered from these selfish greedy people… they still seem to go to jail with a big smile on their faces, knowing when they are released they will have money stashed away… audit them again and keep doing it until they stop smiling….

    • Ms: Debby June 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

      Hi Andrian,
      I raad the contains of your mail, and I do agree with you, some of the contains,you windup in dealing with the wrong person,feel so sorry abt what u went thru,perhaps you would allow me to have your direct email,
      It happens to me too, but I took an action to face them, it didn’t matter to me,who they were,I was born in a hard way,so i have good contacts with the police head quaters law firms,immigrations officers as well as with the Indonesian Government, and have full Auttority to protect worldwide Expatriet, its more about my experience and capability and I have the guts to deal with those who have bad is my email,trully hoping for a feed back email, anything you wish to knw abt Bali just mail me. Rdgs:Debby

  21. Haakon E. Gustavsen May 15, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

    All experiences i read here is what i know happens but remember: also valid somewhere else ,,,also in our western world..cheating,corruption,criminals, lying leave your own homeland take a lot of effort… and learn and try to ajust and tell clearly what u accept and do not accept….especially to your foreign spouse and new family…show you respect and love them by actions and be nice to all…but not naiv.To many naiv foreigners come to Bali. The system -Indonesia- is suffering from a lot of errors(we consider as criminal acts in our system and culture) but it will slowly improve….be has only been a democracy for a very short time. Step by step..ok? Good luck to you all.. Om shanti shanti shanti Om.

  22. Lemmel Murray September 7, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    Oh mY I have the opposite to consider. I am a western woman who has been to Bali three times this year. I met a man the first time, who did not put any moves on me nor did he know I would return. Upon my second visit, I was courted, and fell in love. My third visit, he proposed. After reading the above posts, I wonder if he has other motives? He talked recently about going to the bank with his son to secure enough money to build me a small house in his rice field. I have not offered any monetary assistance with this, but certainly would be able to pay for the house outright. However, I don’t plan on doing that…..especially at this point. I am not even there, nor are we married. He did say we would take it all slowly, which of course is the Balinese mode of operations anyway! Just curious to any expats, or those reading what your take on this is? Am I falling into something I should be worried about? Please respond with any similar situations and how they planned out for the western woman, in Bali! Thanks.

    • Blue July December 26, 2014 at 11:51 am #

      Oh dear Lemmel – how did it work out? I’m a western woman going thru something similar…..

    • Jayne April 4, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

      I am a westerner living in Bali and my advise to you is stay away. I am smart women but these guys are very good a manipulation. Do not spend or give any money.

  23. Jojo September 9, 2013 at 12:40 am #

    Very interesting to read the blog and all the posts. Bringing back all the great memories and makes me want to go back and live there again, albeit temporarily. But the bad things mentioned here as well, I knew first hand as I lived there many years ago. Balinese people, although wonderful and cultured, can be very materialistic – guess I could say that about anyone in any other places, but I’m from Jakarta and still found Balinese different than Javanese/Jakartans. And being a Jakartan in Bali, I was viewed as ‘half foreigner’, so I was still an outsider.

    Anyway, it’s funny that now I came to this blog to learn what and how to prepare myself in case I do go back and live there for a few months. Having lived in the US now for more than 15 years, I forget about lots of these stuff. And the cost of living is apparently a very small factor to consider in addition to the culture and everything else.

  24. Essie October 1, 2013 at 12:48 am #

    Yikes. I’m looking to move to Bali in December for a teaching job which pays 6.5million rupiah. These comments are scaring me, however! I’ve lived overseas already for several years, but you guys are making Bali out to be on a whole different level. 🙁

    • Lemel October 2, 2013 at 9:34 am #


      Oh dear, you should REALLY reconsider this. I am a teacher and can tell you that 6.5 is nothing, and the standard of living will require all of that for you to have any comfort level whatsoever.

      Where in Bali do you plan on teaching? Hopefully, not in a big city as that pay would be eaten in no time. If your teaching stateside, consider staying put there until you actually get the chance to visit Bali. I loved it the first time, but the next two times where EYE openers. Vacationing and living there are very different experiences. I have traveled the world and lived in many different countries, including Asia.

      If you can, stay put, take your money and travel. You will not be sorry you did. I had NO horrible experiences there, but believe me, you will be taken for being a western woman many times over, and only for your money. You may think otherwise, but these people are very well versed in getting into your pockets and say what ever they think you want to hear.

      I can continue dialogue with you here if interested.

  25. RC July 1, 2016 at 6:24 am #

    I am two months in and I love so many things about Bali. I love the natural environment. I love the abundance of raw and organic food. And I came here because I need to retreat.

    Today I was totally offended because when I went back to my local shop I was told empathically ‘never to return again’ just because I mentioned that something I had bought there a previous time was defective..while I was buying something else! I have a direct and honest way of speaking. I didn’t raise my voice.

    I don’t like being stared at and misunderstood here. I don’t like that I found someone creeping around my garden during the day. I don’t like that a money changer tried to rip me off by $50 (but went back and asked that my money was return and they obliged because I was direct in that situation).

    I’m an honest person and I have grown up in a society that is quite imperfect but culturally I’m not used to corruption or having to defend my basic rights not to be ripped off. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth because I live by a code of justice. I don’t have an ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ mentality, I believe that each person should live by their own code of ethics and fairness…perhaps this is very different here and something to reflect on. It may not be for me but I’m sticking it out for a year because I need to get some work done and it is a very inspiring (and affordable) place to write.

    • RC July 1, 2016 at 7:37 am #

      To balance out this post, I want to emphasise that I was writing from the position of someone new and alone in a foreign country who has experienced some confrontational experiences as recent as today. There are also some wonderful things here and beautiful people, but you do need to become self-aware in a way that you may not have previously. Women in particular, I am told, are targeted for crime, which is something new for me.

      The positive thing about Bali that I did not mention is that it is a synchronous place and a place where you will, in a positive sense, learn about yourself. Sometimes these experiences help us to heal and become stronger. And there is always another great experience around the corner. This ‘being banned from a shop’ that had sold me something defective (something I never in my life could have anticipated, especially since I’m mostly a quiet, relaxed and introverted person) has led me to discover a beautiful family-run shop the same distance from this larger shop and made some beautiful new connections. The other place never had a good feel, perhaps it just wasn’t a match for me.


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