Expats Jobs in Bali: Which are the Most Common?

Alexis
Modified on December 29, 2023

Expats jobs in Bali are very rare but some are much more common than others. Here are the ones where you stand a chance as a foreigner.

Finding an expat job in Bali: doable but (very) complicated

As a disclaimer, it is important to emphasise that finding an expat job in Bali as a foreigner is VERY complicated. It often requires a lot of patience, the right skills, a good local network, and accepting certain (read: many) concessions.

This is for several reasons.

Local wages are low and foreigners are rarely competitive price-wise

The minimum wage in Bali is around €/USD150 per month depending on the regions. Local supervisors can be hired for as low as €300 per month, and managers of substantial teams can be found for €400-€500 per month.

With this alone, you don't need to be a genius to understand why companies don't bother much with employing foreigners. They can easily find local staff that are equally qualified and much cheaper.

To give you an idea, generally, the minimum salary required by immigration to legally employ a foreigner is around €/USD 600 (10 millions rupiah). Below that it is pretty much illegal.

So to say that foreigners aren't competitive is quite an understatement.

Bali is a tourist island, not a metropolis full of jobs

Despite what you might think, salaries in Bali are relatively high compared to the rest of Indonesia in general, especially compared to rural areas.

The jobs offered in Bali are often in the tourism sector and its sub sectors (construction...) which is by far the main driver of the Balinese economy. These jobs are often filled by people from nearby islands (Lombok, Flores, Java...) where the wages and cost of living are lower than in Bali.

Outside of these jobs, there aren't much qualified jobs in Bali in general, even for locals. There aren't big industries, big tech or big energy sectors to boost the hire of qualified jobs and salaries.

In most cases, an employee with a prestigious position in a multinational company in Jakarta never moves to Bali for a better salary. Their salary would be cut in half compared to the one he could get in the Indonesian capital. So, even for Indonesians living in Jakarta, moving to Bali is a lifestyle choice and not a career move. More often than not, the move comes with a severe pay cut!

Employing foreigners in Bali is strongly discouraged by the authorities

Employing foreigners is anything but encouraged in Indonesia. The goal is, of course, to protect the local market from foreign competition, especially for entry jobs.

The only jobs available for foreigners for which it is possible to obtain a work visa are skilled jobs. To recruit a foreigner, it is generally necessary to prove that the skill cannot be found locally. Some degrees (usually bachelor's degrees) or experiences may sometimes be required to get a work visa.

The process of obtaining visas and work permits is also tiresome, expensive and often requires several weeks of paperwork. There is a $100 per month tax that contributes to a fund supposed to finance the education of Indonesians.

In short, when you factor the higher minimum wage for foreigners than for locals, the various taxes and expensive paperwork that are needed to hire a foreigner compared to how simple it is to hire a local... employers are rarely missing out on hiring foreigners.

Read more on the subject: What are the types of visas for Indonesia?

Not many employers want expats in their teams

Aside from the legal and economic constraints of hiring foreigners in Bali, not all employers are simply willing to hire foreigners.

Foreigners are not always aware of cultural differences, don't speak the local language well enough, or simply don't have sufficient skills to justify a significant salary difference with local teams.

In the end, the only employers hiring foreigners in Bali are those who really need them (and are willing to make the effort / pay for it!): foreign entrepreneurs who want to work in a specific language, those with clients communicating in a particular language, and those whose parent company is a foreign company.

Foreigners are therefore very rarely employed by locally managed companies.

The most frequent jobs for expats in Bali

Now that the constraints to hire a foreigner are clearer, here are the jobs that are most frequently found among expatriates in Bali, those where you theoretically have the best chance of getting hired.

Entrepreneur: a common "occupation" among long-term expats in Bali

Okay, it's a bit of cheating. But entrepreneur is indeed the most common job among long-term expatriates in Bali.

There's no secret, if you want to work in Bali in a stable manner, it's better to create your own job or your business. Entrepreneurship in Bali is not always simple, but if you succeed, it's a guarantee of stability. Like entrepreneurship elsewhere, that in Bali results in many failures, especially with newcomers who don't understand the local market.

Remember that for every "old expat" who seems to have a great life with their business in Bali, there are probably 5 times more who have gone bankrupt and left Bali with their tails between their legs.

But as we say, 100% of winners have played at some point. Or something like that.

The sectors where you find many foreign entrepreneurs are quite numerous: tourism, restaurants, qualified services, real estate, clothing, import/export etc...

Dive instructor: a classic job for passionate expatriates

Foreign dive instructors are quite numerous in Bali. Diving can be a dangerous sport, and the qualifications of foreign instructors are often recognised.

If you are yourself qualified in this field, it is theoretically possible to find a job in a dive center. Moreover, many dive centers are located in very local areas like the north of the island, which is quite cool to live the real Bali life.

dive instructor bali

Language teacher: common among native English-speaking expats

Being a language teacher abroad is a classic among native English speakers, in Bali as elsewhere.

They are often employed in international schools, but you can also find them in some other training centers.

Outside of English natives, the market is probably much smaller and chances of getting hired slimer. But I am assuming that there are always a chance if you are a teacher in a in-demand language: mandarin, korean, japanese, german, french and so on.

Chef: a relatively common job for in-demand cuisines

Foreign chefs are regularly employed in high-end restaurants and hotels in Bali.

They may not represent the majority of expatriates in Bali, but it can be quite prevalent for some nationalities. French, Indians, Italians restaurants are usually looking for chefs from their countries. So if you are a qualified chef with experience in the right niche, your chances of finding a job in Bali are far from being nil.

However, note that the presence of foreigners in the kitchen is limited to chefs only. It is absolutely impossible to have a less qualified job in a restaurant as a foreigner, such as a waiter, for example. Small jobs are simply forbidden to foreigners, like most "customer facing" jobs.

chef jobs bali

Yoga instructor: a cliché job in Ubud that is still a bit true

Ubud and yoga have quite a love story. There's a bit of a cliché in that, but yoga is really very popular there (among foreigners, not locals).

As a result, many foreign yoga instructors teach their poses and other breathing techniques there. If you are a qualified yoga instructor, it is possible to find a club or a "retreat" to employ you.

Coach (of anything): the running joke in Canggu

Being a coach in Canggu has been a recurring joke for several years now. There are coaches for everything: sports, entrepreneurship, mindset, and even life coaches!

How many of these coaches provide real answers to their clients? That's a question I wouldn't dare to answer. But if you are yourself a (real) coach in something, you can probably find clients in Bali, even if getting employed as such is highly uncertain.

Real estate: an hyperactive sector in Bali that can offer expat jobs

Real estate can sometimes hire foreigners. The most common case is with villas, whether it's buy & sell, architecture, construction or management.

Agencies sometimes need foreigners to communicate in the local language of their foreign clients, especially to reassure investors that sometimes wouldn't trust someone from outside of their home country. The more specialised towards a specific demographic the agency, the higher are your chances of getting hired if you are from within this demographic.

For example, if you know real estate agency targeting French investors, it is likely that they employ other French people. The same goes for Russian, Japanese and other popular nationalities in Bali.

Hospitality: the last haven of "true" expatriates in Bali

The term "expatriate" is sometimes used loosely, especially in Bali. If by "true expatriate" we mean someone who is sent from their home country to another by the parent company, then by this definition very few foreigners in Bali are truly expatriates.

However, the hospitality sector still harbours some of these profiles. Generally, they are found in high management positions in large hotel chains: CEOs, GMs, F&B managers, and other very specific roles.

If you are qualified and want to live in Bali, these are jobs that can be considered.

Tourism agencies: potential employers of foreigners

Few tourism agencies employ foreigners, but some have no choice, for the exact same reasons as real estate agencies.

They simply sometimes need people speaking fluently a language that isn't widely spoken by Indonesian to close the sale. The "physical" part of the visit and all the participants in the trip, however, are always locals.

The case of digital nomads living in Bali

Digital nomads have often very diverse jobs. Some have online businesses, others are traders, freelancers in design, marketing, programming, and many others.

Only those officially established in Bali sometimes have the status of an employee (some are, for example, employed by their sponsor).

Some have established their business here to be able to carry out their activity both online as well as locally.

For more information on the subject: The pros and cons of being a digital nomad in Bali

People on the receiving end of passive income: not a job but quite frequent in Bali

We couldn't finish this list of jobs for foreigners in Bali without mentioning people with passive income, who are still a significant part of expatriates in Bali.

All passive incomes are great to live in Bali (and anywhere else).

Pension from retirement is undoubtedly the most common. But we also find people living on divorce allowances, on the trust funds of a deceased relative, on the gains from their investments (hello crypto traders!), on a salary from a company in their country that runs "on its own," or even sometimes on the money from social benefits.

Certainly, being on the receiving end of passive income is not a job as such and often requires efforts upfront to reach that goal. But it is a source of income that clearly allows you to live in Bali, and it avoids the work step.

Conclusion

Finding a job as an expatriate in Bali is not easy but is possible.

Generally, this involves being qualified and working for foreigners, with a clientele that is also foreign. Other jobs for foreigners outside of these categories are almost anecdotal.

Ultimately, many foreigners living in Bali come with their work or create it on the spot, which requires a lot of effort but can be a real advantage upon arrival, ensuring a certain stability.

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