Great places to live in Bali

Hi everyone
I am currently in Kuta and have committed 2 months for volunteering here.  During this 2 month period I need to find a permanent home in Bali. 

My problem is a beautiful one but daunting.  The island is so varied and has so many jewels that I'll never get to know about without help, so I wondered if anyone would like to tell me their favourite place(s) to live.

I'm looking for a place with a few things going on (I need mental stimulation) and a place that I can afford to live on a tight retirement budget.  The coast is a draw card but not a show stopper.  I also need the company of an expat community even though I'm slowly learning Indonesian.

I'd love to hear your stories and suggestions and I can then spend time visiting those places if they sound like a good fit.

I always get great advice on this forum, so thank you in anticipation.

Hello Rose,

Based on budget I would probably recommend Canggu or somewhere near there. However, Sanur is my favourite as it has beaches, an established expat community and is fairly peaceful. Sanur also has the luxury of being very central in regards to Kuta, the airport, Denpasar and Ubud. So if you can find a place in Sanur within your budget then I think it would be a nice place to live.


Rose, you are totally right…the diversity within Bali is amazing and seemingly endless.  This diversity includes the environment, the climate, and indeed, even with the people (Balinese), themselves. 

My best suggestion to you…and if you take it, I have no doubt you will thank me endlessly, is to take a good two week “road trip” of Bali, and get out there and see it, taste it, touch it, and smell it for yourself.  No advance plans, no itinerary, nothing but a good driver with a decent SUV, and simply head in the direction the car is pointing at. 

Not knowing you, what you like, what makes you happy, and what you need makes it virtually impossible for me, or anyone else for that matter, to recommend the right area of Bali for you.  This is something you simply have to do on your own.

As small an island as Bali is, you will be amazed how different it can be from just one or two kilometers to the next.  And frankly, you will never know what could be a “good fit” for you until you’ve experienced it for yourself.  **

You might enjoy reading this entry on Virtual Tourist that I wrote nine years ago titled, “Get Out of Kuta.”  It needs some updating (bemos are almost now a thing of the past) but the message stands as valid today, as it did nine years ago.

I would presume that working as a volunteer on the sea turtle program that you’ve already met and are beginning to form some good and trusting friendships with some Balinese.  You could discuss this plan with them as they likely will know someone you can trust and rely on for such a road trip…driver, guide and most importantly…very knowledgeable about Bali…or you can send me a PM and I’d more than happy to pass on some names of drivers that I have known for many years. 

Cheers!  -Roy

A suggestion to other and perhaps casual readers of this forum…get to know the poster.   ;)

My Interview with

Some of my Writings on Bali:

Moderated by Christine 2 years ago
Reason : comments maybe offensive for others.

Thank you Hansson.  I believe you've mention Canguu before and I intend to pay a visit there.  I hadn't thought of Sanur but it must be worth checking out.


Hi Roy
Thank you so much for your post.  The reason I decided to ask on this forum is that generally people have a story of how they found their place to live and it can be inspiring or it can help me rule out places.  I will be hoping to get an extension after my initial 60 days and yes I will need to travel around.  I just thought that people on the forum may be able to make some suggestions.

Thanks for the offer of drivers' names and for your publication, which I intend to read avidly.


You are most welcome Rose. And actually I would also check out other places and wait for more incoming comments from other residents of Bali before making that big decision.

I lived in Sanur a few years back and I really enjoyed it. Prior to that I stayed in Kerobokan for a while but that area along with Seminyak is so congested these days that I found it stressful and not at all relaxing, which is why I like Sanur.

Sanur was actually "the" place to stay a very very long time ago but these days it is quiet, perhaps too quiet for some. What I really love is walking on the path that runs just above the beach and stopping at cafe's or small beachfront hotels for a snack and cold drinks. And the fact that the beaches are never very crowded, and that we can see families with young kids playing in the sand, so different from beaches on the south. So aside from it's excellent central location I would recommend Sanur to people who do not want be in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the south but want to be near the sea. If I ever wanted to live in Bali again then I would choose Sanur.

Of course, lots of expats and retirees also live in Ubud, and you will find Ubud more alive than Sanur and perhaps more interesting, being the cultural capital of Bali. The only thing Ubud lacks is the sea and of course it is more isolated from the south and the airport. However, it more than makes up for that with some stunning views and a very healthy expat community.

IMHO, when considering where in Bali to live, near the top of the list to be considered is climate. 

Make no mistake about it…southern Bali is excessively hot, especially during the rainy season, which of course is our Summer.  If one believes in what scientists are calling climate change, or global warming…this is only going to get worse.

Air-conditioning is mandatory down south.  That also means closed and sealed rooms.  OK, in a car, air-conditioning is acceptable for me, (when driving in the southern areas of Bali), but never in my living environment.  We have no air-conditioners in any of our rooms, and only one room (on the third floor used as a gym) with a ceiling fan.  We like our living space open air 24/7, 365 days a year, and being just north of Ubud, the climate provides exactly what is needed to live with that luxury.  And believe me, luxurious living is best when your rooms are open to fresh air, day and night.   

As I mentioned in my first post, go just a couple of kilometers in any direction in Bali and things change…and this is especially true of climate.  Just two or three kilometers up the road from our village, the climate is noticeably cooler.  Go further north from there and it can get down right cool (even cold) at night, requiring a sweater, and blankets on the beds.  This is best understood by the extreme variety found in agriculture here.  Only in Bali can one find such an endless variety of plants, each requiring specific climate conditions and ranging from apples, strawberries and pears, to classic tropical fruits like mango or papaya…and all of that within just a few kilometers away.   

And again, only you, Rose, can judge what defines personal comfort and gauge how important that is for you.  But, unless you get out there for yourself, and experience this personally, you will only have the opinions of others to rely on.   ;)

Cheers!  -Roy

Being Australian I'm very used to air conditioning, and actually quite like the contrast between the heat of outdoors and the cool of indoors.
For me it's the people who matter, and I don't think I'm going to easily find ex pats just by visiting a village for a day and then going on my way to the next village.  This is why it's  so daunting and why I'm calling on anyone who wants to share their experience.  I'm happy with almost any climate as long as the people are welcoming (Indonesians and expats).

hanson made a good suggestion in sanur especially if you like to walk or bycicle near the beach , check out nusa dua if you have a scooter or car, not in btdc but on the bukit side of the bypass .

OK Rose.  I understand a lot better now. 

I personally cannot be of any help with advice, since the very last thing I look for in Bali are those places with large enclaves of foreigners.  No criticism intended with that comment...rather just a matter of personal choice. 

Cheers, and good luck.

Ha ha each to his or her own I guess.  It's not that I only want ex pat company but I need the mental stimulation of conversation in my own language.  I can understand it's not everyone's cup of tea. 

Thank you anyhow, Roy, you have pushed me in the right direction on many occasions on this forum and your advice or comments are always very welcome.

I'll certainly check out Sanur.  Everyone has different opinions of the area so it's intriguing.  Thank you.

Good luck and let us know how your hunt works out Rose.

Cheers, -Roy

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