I often get asked what it’s like to live in Bali and the answer always depends on the day. There is good and bad in every place you could live and everyone’s experience is different. But more and more families are moving to Bali with their kids, so it’s a topic I thought I should delve into more deeply. Here are my thoughts, pros/cons, and general ramblings on what it’s like to live in Bali with kids.
My day-to-day life differs a little from families who have moved here as a whole unit. I’m married to a Balinese man and live in the family compound so my life is somewhat more “local style” than others. I’m very lucky to be part of a tight community and have in-built babysitting and playmates for my kids. However, it can feel like I’m constantly being watched and everyone knows everyone’s business in a village. The kids even get tired of being asked the same questions over and over.
Generally though, life isn’t so different than it would be elsewhere. There are the usual routines of school runs, work, cooking, bedtimes etc. My real bonus is that I have a helper that comes to clean 6 days a week. This makes me a nicer person and keeps me from crying about dirty dishes and things like that.
We go to temple for Hindu holidays and help with ceremonies in the community. I don’t do half as much as the amazing local ladies, but try to help out when I can.
– Balinese communities are incredible if you make yourself part of it. They will keep you and your house safe and your kids will have friends to play with all the time.
– Being able to hire help with cleaning and/or kids
– The weather is pretty much always good enough to go out and play
– Everyone knows or wants to know your business
– Being treated like a tourist every day can be really draining
If we were in the UK the kids would have the choice of 2 schools. Here a lot of ex-pat families choose the area they live in according to the school their kids will attend.
Up in Ubud we don’t have a whole lot of choice, but from around Sanur and south there are a lot more options. Options don’t come cheap though. Schools in Bali range from $5,000 – $20,000 a year (US$). This may come as a shock, but international school educations are costly wherever you are in the world.
I personally have chosen to put my kids in a very local school called a National Plus school, but when they get to junior high they’ll be moving to an international school.
You can find more information in our blog: 11 International Schools in Bali
We also have a great blog about alternative schooling in Bali, which you can find here: The Definitive List of Alternative Schools in Bali
– A large choice of schools (in the southern part of Bali)
– Kids socialize with others from all over the world
– They will most likely learn Bahasa Indonesia and maybe other languages
– School fees are very expensive
– Holidays can differ from those back home making it difficult to have time with family/friends
– Curriculums can vary and may not match well if you move back home
Healthcare is one of my biggest worries about living in Bali. In the UK we would have the NHS, and no matter how slow etc. it would be there in an emergency. In Bali we have insurance but this can be expensive and difficult to get if you are an ex-pat family or have pre-existing conditions. Many families by pass this by using a yearly travel insurance plan while they live in Bali.
The other worry is the standard of healthcare. Even ‘international standard’ hospitals can be pretty rough and the doctors say some pretty insane things. I still don’t have any solid plan of what I’d do if one of us got really ill. My top choices would be BIMC or Sanglah International Wing, but I don’t think I’d be very happy about going to hospital at all in Bali.
In serious situations it’s possible to fly to Singapore, Bangkok or Australia for treatment. I won’t do a pros and cons here because I don’t really feel like there are any pros of living in Bali when it comes to healthcare. This may be a different story if you are coming from somewhere like America.
I’ve mentioned the cost of schools, but what about the cost of living? Rental houses are getting more and more expensive and most landlords expect at least 1 year’s rent in advance. You’re looking at Rp80million – Rp160million ($8000 – $16000) per year for a 2-bedroom house.
Depending on how many air conditioners you use and if you have a pool, electricity can be anywhere from Rp500,000 – Rp3million per month.
The other main expense you’ll need to consider is visas. It is possible to get a one-year stay permit (KITAS) for students from most international schools. Parents will need either a Social Budaya visa for a 6-month stay, or a Business Visa, which allows you to run a business in Indonesia.
If you decide to homeschool, you will all need either tourist visas that can be extended up to 60 days, or a Social Budaya visa for 6 months. Both options can get costly with having to do visas runs with a whole family.
It is possible to eat extremely cheaply in Bali. Feeding a family of 4 on $5 a day is not uncommon in Balinese compounds. Morning markets are great places to shop for fruit and veg and the night markets hold delicious street food treats. However, if you want to eat healthy it can be way more expensive.
Over the past few years the cafe and restaurant industry has boomed in Bali. When I arrived you couldn’t buy fresh milk in the supermarket! You can now find just about any type of food you can imagine, world-class coffee shops and smoothie bowls galore. I love all this food, but it’s definitely taken a toll on my budget. $6 for a smoothie bowl, $7 for smashed avocado on toast and $10 for a pizza is the norm these days. We can easily spend $50 on dinner for the 4 of us.
– You can find gorgeous villas with pools that you probably wouldn’t be able to live in elsewhere
– No paying for heating
– Amazing local food and so many great café & restaurant choices
– Paying at least a year’s rent in advance
– Running air conditioners is costly
– Finding and keeping up the right visa and visa runs
– Food is pretty expensive
Activites for Kids in Bali
Bali is extremely kid-friendly and there are way more things going on than there were a few years ago. From art classes, yoga and sports, to holiday camps, there is always something happening. You do have to keep a really good eye out for events though. Things are rarely published until the very last minute and there isn’t yet a great online calendar for events. (we tried but it’s really hard!)
We have also found that classes tend to come and go very quickly because the numbers are never consistent. This is the transient nature of Bali and I’m not sure it will ever change. We end up doing a lot of one-off events rather than a term’s worth of classes or after school activities.
I have to say I’m quite jealous when I see my friends’ kids in Australia, the UK or America all booked up with consistent activities.
Thinking of Making the Move to Live in Bali?
Are you considering moving to Bali? What are some of the concerns/questions/reservations you have about the move? I’d love to know and to be able to help you with some insider advice. Follow our Facebook Page for great community advice and tips for holidays or living in Bali. You can also see what fun we have on a daily basis on our Instagram feed.