We spent our first month as Digital Nomads on the beautiful Indonesian Island of Bali, here’s what we found.
It was never the plan for us to go to Bali this early. The initial plan was to fly straight from Brisbane to Thailand and make Chiang Mai our home but one day last July, Jetstar had a sale and suddenly we were booked on a one-way trip to Bali in January 2016.
When I arrived in Bali, the only thing I was truly excited about seeing was the world-famous coworking space called Hubud. For the first two weeks of our journey, we decided to situate ourselves a quick 10min walk from the space in Ubud. This turned out great as my full-time contract with PetCloud was only extending two weeks into our nomad journey.
The second fortnight, we decided to stay the rest of our time in Seminyak, tourism central, on the west coast of the island. Places to work were much harder to come by and without client work, I found myself bouncing around the island, checking out different coworking spaces and attending talks and meetings back at Hubud.
Coworking in Bali
The coworking culture is quite good in Bali but it does come at a premium. For example, my membership at Hubud cost me $300 AUD for 100 hours. Perhaps, that was just Hubud however as Dojo in Canggu was only charging 1.2m IDR (aprox. $125 AUD) during renovations.
Despite the high price, Hubud was so worth it. The space is so unique but the community and vibe are what truly makes it. I met so many interesting people at Hubud like Dr Matt Horkey who I had the pleasure of interviewing and Serge Bajic with whom I went to Waterbom Park with. Each week, Hubud hosts numerous events and if you get involved, there’s no limit to the connections that you can make.
In terms of the other coworking spaces in Bali, you can’t go past Dojo in Canggu. The space is a converted pool villa, complete with a pool and outdoor shower. Of course, the space would be nothing without the community who are both friendly and interesting. There are other spaces in Bali but none are more suited to digital nomads than Hubud and Dojo.
Cost of Living
After a month in Bali, we were happy to leave. This was for one reason – tourist pricing.
In Bali, there are two tiers, local prices and tourist prices. Tourist prices are usually the same as what you would pay back home (Australia) for the same product or service. Local prices are dramatically less.
Our issue with Bali was that although cheap food and services did exist, it was hard to find them in the massive sea of tourist traps. We had to use a tip from our favourite travel show on YouTube, The Budgeteers to find our cheapest meal in Bali, a small bowl of Soto Ayam (Chicken Soup) for 8,000 IDR (less than $1 AUD). We also found cheap food at the hypermarket in Kuta for 15,000 IDR (less than $2 AUD).
Apart from those two meals, we generally settled for the cheaper of the tourist restaurants (or ‘Warungs’ as they are called in Indonesia). Warung Semesta was the restaurant that I frequented the most as it was both affordable and close to Hubud. I’d eat off the lunch menu most days and pay just under 40,000 IDR (aprox. $5 AUD).
Besides the food, accommodation and transport were both very affordable. We paid around 20-25 AUD for our accommodation (pictured above) which we secured through AirBnB and for transport, we manage to keep down costs by only using Uber and GrabCar. Taxi’s will charge you a ridiculous amount in Bali if you’re ignorant enough so it’s best if you stay completely away from any mainstream taxi service. I’ve also heard that bike hire is very cheap but I can’t comment further as we never rented any bikes.
Here is the full breakdown for one person (ie. me)**:
|Dates||22 Jan – 19 Feb 2016|
|VISA on arrival||$54.00|
|Food + Drink||$570.68|
|Connectivity (Sim cards/internet)||$35.79|
|Flight into Bali from Brisbane||$219|
|Total (inc Flight)||$2,101.50*|
* This total does not include an $80 phone bill liability, other virtual expenses like web-hosting and a two-night stay at a luxury pool villa for Valentines day (valued at $300).
** Currency in AUD
Things to do and see in Bali
There’s obviously no shortage of things to do in Bali. Tourist sites and activities are spread all over the island and in 29 days of living in Bali, we could not do them all. We did one tour on our month’s stay with our Ubud homestay host and explored 6 destinations in one day which I highly recommend doing. Apart from those the only other tourist site we visited was Tanah Lot, the seaside temple which is stunning at sunset.
In terms of nightlife, bars and nightclubs are everywhere on the west coast from Kuta to Canggu. Denise and I didn’t go to many nightspots as we’re more on the conservative side when it comes to nightlife, however, having that party vibe around makes life interesting and gives you a sense that many exciting things are happening all the time.
Bali is a vibrant and happening place. If you’re looking for entertainment, this Indonesian island is one of the best locations in Asia. However, if you’re looking to focus and get work done, living in Ubud, I believe, is your best bet.
While Bali might not be one of the cheapest destinations in Asia, it was well worth visiting. It offers a unique blend of entertainment, tourism and coworking culture. This makes Bali one of the prime locations for what I like to call ‘Destination Working’.
Until next time,