Living in Bali as a Digital Nomad
Updated: Jan 26
Try this exercise. Go to your favorite search engine and write Bali. Check the images that pop up. It’s paradise, right? It's no wonder many digital nomads choose to spend a couple of weeks or even months in this dreamy destination in Indonesia. Just picture yourself waking up to a beautiful sunrise, doing a yoga class, practicing surfing, heading on to brunch at a nice cafe, working whilst sipping coconut by the beach, and enjoying relaxing massages. That is the routine of many remote workers in Bali.
Furthermore, the introduction of a 10-year visa program in Indonesia, makes it so much easier for you to visit and work in the country. Truth is, living in Bali as a digital nomad is possible, and there are many ways to do so. However, there are some things to know about the island before heading there. To help you plan this, we will discuss what it is like to live in Bali as a digital nomad.
Why Should You Live in Bali as a Digital Nomad?
Indonesia is filled with excellent sites for location-independent workers to spend time. choices. As with any other city, there are pros and cons to living in Bali. Let’s take a look:
It is the best combination of nature and modernity: the island is not as metropolitan, but it's got all the modern amenities that anyone would enjoy while mixing work, travel, and chill. It is great for every kind of lifestyle: relaxing, adventure, and working.
It offers all kinds of natural scenes: Bali has beaches, waterfalls, rice fields, and mountains. In all of them, you can always enjoy various activities such as watersports, hiking, surfing, ATV, and more. Visitors know that locations like Tanah Lot, Gunung Kawi Temple, and the Monkey Forest are only some of the many must-visit places in the island.
Bali’s diverse cuisine: the city has plenty of local Indonesian options as well as international options. Whether you are on a budget or consider yourself a big spender, there are places for everyone. For vegans and vegetarians, there are many alternatives too. For those who seek to try local tastes, don’t miss out on satay, babi guling (suckling pig), Jimbaran seafood, among many other dishes.
A religious, cultural, and open environment: the observed religion in Bali is Hinduism, while the nation's predominant population is Muslim. This does not affect in any way how locals receive guests of all religious and cultural backgrounds. Bali, in particular, is not as strict as other cities in Indonesia, meaning there's respect for various beliefs.
Budget-friendly city: with options for every budget, Bali receives all kinds of spenders, especially those looking to travel low-cost.
A digital nomad hotspot: you will never feel alone in Bali. The place is filled with digital nomads, ex-pats, and all kinds of travelers giving the city an international vibe. You can find people from many countries here and be part of multiple communities, as well as plenty of coworking and coliving space to make your stay there easier. Plus, the Balinese people are accustomed to having foreigners, so they are also very welcoming and friendly and have a good understanding of English.
Traffic jams and lacking transportation infrastructure: public transportation is not available in Bali. Furthermore, the island’s size makes some distances not travel-friendly. So, unless you're only staying in a small neighborhood and are willing to walk or bike around, this is a limitation. Taking a taxi to move around can be quite expensive, and traffic can get tricky during high seasons. The main way to get around the island on a budget is by renting a scooter, which can be dangerous if you are not too familiar with it. Alternatively, you can rent a car, but apart from the hasty traffic, Bali's small roads can be uncomfortable for some drivers. You can use mobile apps like Go-Jek or Grab, but there are “drop-off zones only”, which means you may not be able to get picked up everywhere. The best bet for someone who would want to travel around and far would be hiring a driver and renting a car, but this is not a budget-friendly option.
Healthcare limitations: as an experienced traveler, no one would doubt hiring some kind of health insurance before a trip. In Bali, water sports injuries or food poisoning are a high possibility. Moreover, food and hygiene or safety measures are not the best here, so every visitor should be mindful of their security. The healthcare system on the island is complicated, as the bigger hospitals might be hard to reach when you're on the other side of the island, and there are only small clinics in the more residential areas. Therefore, if you get into a big accident, it might be hard to get the immediate attention you might need. In general, you need to exercise caution with certain activities on the island.
What is the Cost of Living in Bali?
In case you were wondering what salary you need to live in Bali, the cost of living here will vary greatly based on multiple factors. For starters, the location of the island you choose to stay at will affect the costs. Secondly, the lifestyle you'd like or you can afford is also an important aspect. If you practice water sports or prefer dining in top restaurants, this will take a toll on your budget.
Generally speaking and based on Numbeo’s data, the expected total costs for a single person per month are as follows:
Low range (eating affordable food, cooking own meals sometimes, seldom nightlife outings, doing occasional activities, renting a scooter and limited taxi rides, renting a room in a villa): USD 900
High range (eating expensive food in restaurants/cafes often, frequent nightlife outings, doing many activities, taking multiple classes, renting a scooter/car, renting a whole villa): USD 2,200
If you want to make your own calculations based on your lifestyle, you can break the costs into the following:
On Airbnb: Average 1 bed: USD 49 per night
Average Studio: USD165 per night
For long-term stays, the pricing range could be between USD 300 - USD 1300 per month
Utilities (water, electricity, phone, internet): USD 100
Groceries: USD 64
Dining out and drinking an alcoholic beverage: USD 250 - USD 700
Transport: USD 50 - USD 770
Activities (Yoga, Diving, Massages, etc.): USD20 - USD 200 per activity
Best Neighborhoods to Stay In Bali
For digital nomads, ex-pats, or any kind of people living in Bali alone, there are plenty of places to stay. You can share or rent a place of your own depending on your budget. In general, here are the best neighborhoods to Stay in Bali:
The place is known for its vast paddy fields and lush greeneries, as well as plenty of soulful spiritual and yoga retreats. The neighborhood is great if you're looking for serenity and peaceful getaways. The downtown also has a nice market known for artsy galleries and workshops where one can find local artists and craftsmen. Best for: Digital nomads who are into wellness and want a relaxing lifestyle surrounded by lush greeneries.
This is the trendiest and bohemian area in Bali at the moment. It is a place where you can find a combination of beaches as well as rice fields. They are known for their hip cafes, restaurants, beach clubs, and stylish villas. Currently, Canggu is the most populated digital nomad neighborhood, thus there are many coworking spaces and coliving options stationed in this neighborhood.
Best for: Digital nomads who love a laid-back lifestyle and enjoy the beach and cafe-hopping.
This is the central area of the island, one of the most visited sections of Bali by tourists. You will find beautiful beaches and the coolest bars, the ideal spots to watch the sunset from. The nightlife in Seminyak is also a highlight. There are more upscale and gourmet restaurants available here too, as well as plenty of designer boutiques for shopping. Best for: Digital nomads who love the nightlife, shopping, and fine living.
This neighborhood has great beaches for surfing as well as some of the best high-end resorts and cliff bars. It is a more luxurious and calmer spot, with stunning cliffs. It’s also quite close to Jimbaran, a neighborhood famous for its seafood restaurants and dining options by the beach.
Best for: Digital nomads who love to stay in upscale resorts and visit chic bars at the cliff top.
How to Find Short-Term and Long-Term Accommodation in Bali
Depending on the length of your stay in Bali, you might want to try different options. Let’s divide this section into long-term and short-term accommodation in Bali:
Short-Term (days to weeks):
Airbnb: the site has the largest number of options of villas and rooms available, with various price ranges. It’s your best choice if you're looking for standalone villas or if you're on a budget.
Booking.com / Traveloka.com / Agoda.com: it’s the best option for hotels and villa-compounds (ie. villa compounds rent out more than 1 villa in each location and has more shared facilities/amenities like hotels, unlike single/individual villas). It is also the best choice if you can spend a little more and want to live in more serviced lodgings, and safer for people traveling solo.
Facebook Groups: writing “Bali” and “renting” in Facebook’s search bar will introduce you to many groups that can help you find a place to call home. Some of the well-known ones are Bali Housing and Accommodation, Bali Long Term Visa Rentals, and Bali Villa Rental & Sale. If you are looking to stay in specific areas, you can try Canggu Community Housing or Ubud - Housing & Rental. Nevertheless, be advised that there have been cases of scams in these groups, so make sure to be cautious before booking for a long-term stay. Some people book a couple of days through the sites above first and then do further research for long-term stays by going to the places and speaking directly to the owners. This avoids uncomfortable situations or misleading pictures. On a second note, always make sure to clarify what’s included in the price before renting a villa (cleaning, pool maintenance, utilities, etc.).
Top 5 Coworking Spaces in Bali
Of course, there are many coworking spaces in Bali. As a popular destination for digital nomads, here are 5 of the best coworking spaces in Bali.
With three coworking spaces in Bali, you can become a member and visit any of them at Canggu, Ubud, and Ubud Penestanan. Day passes can be purchased on-site at any location. They also host events and weekend adventures to foster their community.
Jl. Raya Semat, Tibubeneng, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Jl. Penestanan, Sayan, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Jl. Nyuh Bojog, Banjar, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Website link: https://destinationoutpost.co/cowork/
Bali Bustle combines the best out of coliving and coworking. Shared lounge areas, a gym, and pool facilities serve as the foundation for forming a community in the heart of Bali. During your stay at Bali Bustle, you can share ideas and travel tips and get to know one another.
Location: Bali Bustle, Jl. Dewi Sri II No.23, Legian, Kec. Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Website link: https://balibustle.com/
They call themselves a hub for disruptive business development, long-term remote work structures, and creative entrepreneurial skills. They have incubated dozens of successful businesses, built powerful remote teams, and assisted more than 30 expansions.
Location: Jl. Bumi Ayu Gg. Pungut Sari No.6, Sanur, Denpasar Selatan, Kota Denpasar, Bali 80228, Indonesia
Website link: https://www.liv.it/
Billq offers outdoor seating and air-conditioned coworking areas. Their well-stocked pantry is a perfect rest spot for a good cappuccino. You can nap in their Zen Room, relax by the pool, or take a smoking break at their designated smoking area. They have a free soundproofed Skype room for calls, as well.
Location: Biliq Bali, Jl. Yudistira No.3A, Seminyak, Kec. Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Website link: http://www.biliqbali.com/
Beluna is a creative coworking space designed to let the sunlight and fresh air flow while you get some work done. It’s a calm and quiet spot that helps creative digital nomads work their magic.
Location: Jl. Subak Sok Wayah Jl. Raya Ubud, Ubud, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Website link: http://www.belunabali.com/
Top 5 Working Cafes in Bali
There are a lot of cafes to discover in Bali, so make sure to take a stroll and look around to do some cafe-hopping. We will list 5 of our top working cafes in Bali here, but know that there are many more laptop-friendly cafes available on the island.
1. Zin Cafe
Located in Canggu, Zin Cafe is close to the beautiful Canggu beach. It has a lovely open-air space spread across four floors, with a blend of traditional and modern amenities. It’s one of Bali's premier free coworking spaces, serving a fresh healthy blend of seasonal western fare and delectable local favorites.
Location: Jl. Nelayan No.78F, Canggu, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali, Indonesia
Website link: https://zin.world/zin-cafe/
Drive your car or scooter and use the place’s comfortable parking spot. Once there, enjoy the tasty food while interacting with their welcoming employees. It might not be the cheapest cafe around, but anyone who takes their laptop knows they are in for a treat.
Location: Jalan Dewi Sri Seminyak.888, Legian, Kec. Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Website link: http://linktr.ee/gourmetcafedewisri/
Suka Espresso opened in December 2016, transforming its surroundings into a modern, vibrant Australian-style cafe with a passion for coffee, wholesome fresh food, and good vibes. They also have a location in Ubud, followed by Lusa By/Suka in Berawa, Canggu.
Location: Jl. Labuansait No.10, Pecatu, Kec. Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Website link: https://www.sukaespresso.com/links
This spot prides itself on its top-level coffee, brewed with traditional Balinese methods. Opened all week round, you can take some time and try their coffee while getting some work done in their lovely premises.
Location: Jl. Pantai Berawa No.36, Tibubeneng, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Website link: https://satusatucoffeecompany.com/
With an unbeatable atmosphere in Bali, this cafe offers large portions, and good coffee, served by friendly staff. Plus, the prices are inexpensive, so it’s a great choice for digital nomads on a budget.
Location: Jl. Canggu Padang Linjong No.49F, Canggu, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80351, Indonesia
Website link: http://lifescrate.com/
Closing Thoughts on Living in Bali as a Digital Nomad
It comes as no surprise that Bali has the largest digital nomad community in the world. Living in Bali as a digital nomad is an experience, unlike any other city in Southeast Asia. It's a multi-faceted island with plenty to offer and a lot to discover, so you'll never get bored while you stay. With good weather and amazing beaches, Bali has unique landscapes, a welcoming culture, and a delectable cuisine you cannot miss. It is great for any kind of digital nomad, both those looking for more peaceful locations or the ones who crave adventures and a vibrant nightlife scene. There’s something for everyone, so don’t be shocked if you find yourself never wanting to leave this place.