Digital Nomad in Bali: the Pros & Cons

Alexis
Modified on January 23, 2024

Relocating as a digital nomad to Bali is not always a fairy tale. Here is my review about the mains pros and cons of living in Bali as a digital nomad.

Digital nomads and Bali: a true love story

Digital nomads are (very) numerous in Bali, but also in some other similar areas in Southeast Asia, notably Phuket, Koh Samui, or Chiang Mai.

In Bali, you will encounter them most in the cities of Canggu and Ubud, which are true hubs for digital nomads. Let's admit it; it's even probable that the majority of people you will meet in Bali for a few weeks, months, or longer are part of this community.

Once, you would only come across obscure professions like bloggers, influencers, and other online coaches. Today, many of them have almost normal jobs that they simply do from wherever they want.

In short, you won't be surprised; you will encounter many digital nomads in Bali.

The pros of being a digital nomad in Bali

So why do all these digital nomads from around the world gather in such restricted and isolated areas of Bali? Here are the main reasons. 

The cost of living for a digital nomad in Bali is quite low

We would like to tell you that most digital nomads end up in Bali for its unique culture worldwide, but that would be a bit false.

The first reason for their presence is undoubtedly the cost of living in Bali and what it implies in terms of quality of life at an equivalent budget.

Because yes, when you work from home, you quickly get bored with a metropolitan 1 bedroom apartment. On the other hand, working from a 3-room villa in the heart of Bali for the same price... that's already a significant upgrade.

Digital nomadism also has a significant drawback: it's hard to start. While the pandemic has popularized remote work, becoming geographically independent doesn't happen overnight. Spending as little as possible to launch your business can be easier in Bali than in expensive Paris / Berlin / Melbourne or Singapore.

The climate: working as a nomad in the tropics

The other reason explaining the presence of many digital nomads in Bali has much to do with its climate.

If the climate in Bali has its disadvantages, one often dreams more of Bali than Paris in the middle of November, strangely.

Those who can't stand the cold, rain, and other inconveniences of the northern hemisphere at certain seasons end up working in Bali for the short or long term.

After sweating it out in Bali, they might miss the freshness, snow, or raclette, of course. The grass is always greener on the other side.

Restaurants and coworking spaces for nomads in Bali are abundant

Working in a bamboo restaurant, feet in a pool or facing a rice field... paradise? When you're freezing in a Parisian studio in the middle of winter, it's surely the ideal balance you envision between work and pleasure. However, when you live in Bali and know about the humidity, heat, and mosquitoes in the area, a bit less. Naturally.

But there's some truth to this cliché of the digital nomad in Bali: the restaurants and coworking spaces are of high quality, numerous, and always ready to welcome them. In Bali, digital nomads really have the choice of deciding where to work: in a cafe, in a restaurant, in a coworking space, or even in their villa if they can afford to rent one. It could be worse.

cafe nomades numeriques bali

Bali's Activities are never far away for nomads

One of the perks of being a digital nomad is choosing where to live. Everyone has their reasons. Nomad surfers will naturally want to live near the sea, yogis will want a calm and natural place, while others simply want to party once the workday is over.

In Bali, whether you're based in Canggu, Seminyak, Ubud, or Uluwatu, Balinese entertainment is never too far away, and it's quite easy to settle in a place where you can live the life you want with your own leisure activities.

The digital nomad community: a real plus in Bali

The popularity of digital nomadism in Bali makes it easy to meet other digital nomads from around the world.

Working online can be a real solo adventure. If you're tired of working alone, want to find experts in certain fields, or attend special events for digital nomads, you should find what you're looking for in Bali.

There are countless events dedicated to digital nomads in Bali, organized in various venues: coworking spaces, bars, beach clubs, and even villas. Workshops, conferences, meetups, or simply evenings to meet other digital nomads: it's an excellent way to enrich your address book and enjoy your life as a digital nomad in Bali to the fullest.

digital nomad bali

The cons of being a digital nomad in Bali

Working as a digital nomad from Bali may seem to be a perfect solution, but it is actually far from the case for everyone.

The significant time difference with Europe / US can affect your productivity

The time difference with Bali is a crucial factor if you work with Europe or worse, the US. The time difference of 6 hours in summer and 7 hours in winter with Europe can be both a blessing or a curse depending on your job and personality.

Those who work mostly asynchronously should not have too many problems working with such a time difference. However, those with numerous daily calls may find the time difference quite burdensome, especially as it gets dark at 6 p.m. in Bali. If you wake up every day at noon because you finished your work at 2 a.m., you won't get to enjoy much of Balinese day or night.

Australian, Kiwis and digital nomads from other Asian countries have clearly an edge in that department!

Tourist and visit visas officially forbid you to work, including as a digital nomad

Some may say that digital nomads are in a gray area in Bali. This is both true and false.

In reality, the law is very clear: a digital nomad without a work visa (KITAS) is not allowed at all to work in Bali. In theory, you could be deported at any time for violating your tourist or social visa and for engaging in concealed work.

In practice, immigration has been relatively lenient so far, as long as you don't interfere with local businesses. However, this does not mean they will always be lenient; in fact, they have recently stated otherwise. That being said, they mostly target those working with Indonesian companies and/or those on tourist visas for a very (too) long time.

But you could in theory be reported by a neighbour, a competitor who is 100% legal, or your coworking space could be the target of a rightful immigration raid. These things happen. It's better to be very discreet if your situation is in this gray area. It's often those who flaunt the most or get on the wrong side of the wrong people who end up on planes with a one-way ticket to their home country.

If you are there for the longer term, see our section below to get in order.


Bali's internet may not always meet digital nomads standards

Internet has significantly improved in recent years. It is now quite easy to find a fast and stable connection in the entire South and center of Bali.

But these areas are not yet ALL of Bali. If you want to live deep in the jungle, internet could be a problem. Always check the speed of the internet connection in Bali in practical usage. The theoretical and/or advertised speeds are rarely what you will actually experience in use.

That being said, internet is mostly very good these days, and the issue remains true regardless of where you settle as a digital nomad.

Balinese local life can be more tiring than you think

Not everyone is cut out for Bali, especially when working on the internet all day long with radically different countries on the other end of the line. The contrast can be exhausting, and not everyone can handle it.

Moreover, Balinese life is not just about putting your toes up, turning on your computer, and going about your business while sipping on a coconut.

There are, of course, administrative tasks, accommodation, transportation, pollution, heat, cultural contrast, food, economic development level, etc. In short, the dream is rarely in line with reality. Ultimately, no matter where you are in the world, a routine sets in, and problems will inevitably resurface.

Many people realize after a few weeks or months that Bali is not at all for them and move on to other places with their backpacks and laptops.

Advice before relocating as a digital nomad in Bali

Think digital nomadism in Bali suits you? Here are some additional tips to make everything go smoothly for you.

Try to have a somewhat stable professional situation before moving to Bali

Bali can be a very exciting island. It's easy to get lost in Bali, spend more than planned, and even forget to work (yes, really...). Alongside this, while the cost of living is relatively low, some things can still cost a lot of money upon arrival: parties, villas, hospitals, etc.

So, it's good to move to Bali once your professional situation is reasonably stable, and you can live decently. Prospecting via Zoom with a 7-hour time difference can be exhausting. If you plan to enjoy the island at least a bit, try not to leave too impulsively.

Similarly, it's always better to have a few thousand euros / USD / AUD saved when coming to Bali. You don't want to be short of cash here.

If you're coming to Bali for a few weeks/months, keep a low profile

If you're in Bali for just a few weeks or months, you'll probably opt for a tourist visa or a B211 visa. Neither of these 2 visas allows you to work here, keep that in mind.

It's crucial for you to NEVER take an Indonesian company as a client if you're on one of these visas. Never, never, never.

It's also better to avoid shouting from the rooftops that you're a digital nomad; you don't always know who you're talking to. You could very well be speaking to an immigration officer or someone looking to make a quick buck.

On the subject: What are your visas options in Bali?

If you plan to settle officially in Bali, get your paperwork in order

If you plan to live in Bali year-round, it's better to go through all the administrative procedures to get in order quickly.

By having the right visa, namely a KITAS or KITAP, you become a resident, you can work, have Indonesian (and global) companies as clients, in short, you can truly live normally.

These procedures have a cost, but they allow you to live in Bali with a much more tranquil mind.

A good option for digital nomads who don't plan to open a business in Bali is to be officially employed by a local company. You then have a sponsored KITAS (by an agent), which gives you many rights (and duties!) in Indonesia and makes you a "real" resident. If you're already in Bali, you can even convert your current visa.

Conclusion

Digital nomadism is thriving in Bali, for many reasons. Clearly, Bali's reputation as a digital nomad paradise is well-deserved.

However, officially, the law forbids foreigners from working on a tourist, social, or business visa, even if clients are located outside Indonesia. There is therefore a significant risk m

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