Updated 2 months ago

Are you looking to live a life of tropical ease on the Island of the Gods? Does eating healthy and delicious food, living in a beautiful villa, and enjoying the rich Balinese culture and sense of community appeal to you? Then read this article to find out more about living in Bali.

Bali is arguably one of the most popular locations in Indonesia for both tourists and expats, and it's easy to understand why. Exchange the common greeting — “Mau ke mana?” (Where are you going?) — with the locals, and immerse yourself in a rich culture and beautiful lifestyle fit for the whole family, even if you have young children. There are so many things to do on this island, and facilities for kids — such as waterparks, playgrounds, international schools, and daycare centres — have risen exponentially in recent years. Hiring a nanny or a babysitter is also a very affordable option, making it a relaxing place for parents to raise their children.

Thanks to the increase in international hospitals and medical facilities on the island, living in Bali also means that you don’t have to worry about your family’s health and safety while living there.

Most accommodation options have airconditioning, which makes for a refreshing welcome when you arrive home on a scorching day out in Bali, before hitting the beach for a sunset stroll. Keep in mind, however, that electricity in Bali tends to fluctuate, so it's always worth checking that there are generator facilities in your accommodation before you rent, and make sure that your computer has a UPS and a stabiliser to save you unnecessary stress. Prospective tenants should also find out whether there is a working phone available if they want one, as it can be quite difficult to install a landline in some areas.

Types of accommodation in Bali

Housing is available at all price levels in Bali. Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can still live well in Bali without necessarily needing to sacrifice comfort or location.

There are many western-style apartment complexes on the island that are of a high standard; and the quality, price, and wide selection of accommodation makes it preferable to rent first, even if you wish to eventually buy property.

Most apartments in Bali are serviced apartments, which offer most creature comforts down to cutlery. They often also come with cable TV, and sometimes a shared pool, cleaning services, and internet connection.

If you are financially stretched, then consider renting in a kost, which tends to come in the form of a few small one- or two-room apartments that are arranged around a central courtyard area. This is often the cheapest rental option in Bali and, if you aren't too fussy about location or amenities (and are prepared to borrow or buy furniture), a kost can cost you as little as IDR 500,000 (US$37) to IDR1 million (US$74) a month, while a nice kost not far from the beach would set you back between IDR 2 million (US$148) and IDR 4 million (US$295) a month. The good news is that many kosts in Bali have been upgraded in recent years, and so are much nicer than they used to be, and some even have cooking facilities.

However, Bali is indeed known for its villas and palatial housing estates, so if you do have the cash to spare and are looking for a more luxurious stay, you might want to consider those. They often boast spectacular views of the ocean and come with swimming pools as well as your own staff, but prices have gone up tremendously in recent years. You can find both one and two storey houses — some boasting a traditional Balinese design — and rental contracts can vary from one week to three years.

Where to live in Bali

Although Kuta is the tourist hub in Bali, very few expatriates choose to live there since it is also a party zone full of curio shops and Western restaurants that do not necessarily convey the feeling of Bali. Most expats opt to stay in and around Seminyak and the Kerobokan area instead. It is hard to believe that Jalan Legian was a dirt road in the 1970s. Since then, the crowds have slowly rolled north along the beach to the Legian/Seminyak area, and development has increased a lot in the past decade.

Although it moves to a slower beat than Kuta, there's still a crowded beach scene and lots of good restaurants in Seminyak, as well as large houses and high-walled villas that stretch north for many miles.

As traffic in the south of Bali tends to be quite heavy, and the neighbourhoods are more heavily populated and fast-paced, many expats choose to continue north from Legian/Seminyak to the Petitenget/Kerobokan area, which now mostly comprises of villas, high-end apartments, five-star hotels, and some of the best restaurants on the island. If you move inland a little, you can still benefit from the infrastructure that has developed in this area, while renting less expensive accommodation.

Alternatively, there are also lots of rentals in the Sanur area in South Denpasar, which offers a peaceful environment, surrounded by beaches and international schools. As a result of the tranquil setting, it is a particularly popular area for retirees, and it is more affordable to live here than in places like Kuta or Seminyak.

Ubud can also be a great place to live as well, and many of its residents love its positive energy, artistic vibe, and its proximity to nature. Life in Ubud is much more laid-back, and there are great cafes and yoga studios on every corner.

If none of these scenarios sound right for you, then head way up to the north or over to the east of Bali, where there are far fewer expats and you can enjoy a much more traditional Balinese way of life.

Finding accommodation in Bali

If you're looking for accommodation in Bali, then the local papers can be a good place to start. You never know what you might find in the classified ads in the local paper, Bali Post. Additionally, The Bali Advertiser is often considered to be an invaluable guide for expatriates (it is published every two weeks and is free!)

You could also contact a real estate agent to help you find the most suitable accommodation option for you. However, be aware that they tend to promote villas more than other housing options due to the hefty commission that they stand to make. It is, therefore, generally advisable to go in person to the offices of property management companies if you find a particular place where you want to live.

 Useful links

Bali Advertiser
Bali Rent
Direct Owner
Bali Villa - long term rental
Villa Bali Luxury
Bali Budget Housing

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.