HOW TO BECOME A DIGITAL NOMAD IN BALI

Posted by on

EXPAT LIFE - IS IT FOR YOU?

Ever wondered if you could become a digital nomad by making money online? I want to show you what the digital nomad lifestyle might look like in a place like Bali Indonesia and you can decide after if it’s something you could ever see yourself doing.

Lost LeBlanc and What The Chic in front of Mount Agung, Bali

FIRSTLY, WHAT IS A DIGITAL NOMAD?

Digital nomads are people who utilize technology such as a laptop and a good internet connection to work and thus make an income from pretty much anywhere in the world; from coffee shops, co-working spaces, hotel rooms, anywhere. This may sound amazing, but to break the myth, true digital nomads aren’t on a long holiday living off their family. They work incredibly hard, often 7 days a week, to make this life a reality. 

IS BEING A DIGITAL NOMAD FOR YOU?

If you care more about experiences than possessions, love being flexible, self-motivated, independent, enjoy meeting new people and you have a skill or can learn a skill that can be done remotely, then a digital nomad life could be for you.

Find your niche - what are you good at or what do you enjoy? If you’re not sure, there are plenty of courses out there that you can build your skills on. You could even start off your new venture as a side hustle while still working your current job to save some money before taking that leap; that way you can get an idea of whether the remote life is really for you! 

Are you a web developer, digital marketer, virtual assistant, consultant, work in customer support, know lots of languages, copywriter, video editor or content creator? All these could be remote based jobs!

TYPES OF DIGITAL NOMADS:

Freelancer:

A freelancer will work online for the clients, such as website designers. They have complete freedom to work from wherever, unless the client wants them physically available. 

Entrepreneur:

Nomadic entrepreneurs are those who own their own business and therefore take on their own financial risk. They’re similar to freelancers, making money by offering online goods or services or through their nomadic lifestyle itself; for example, a travel content creator, like myself.

Remote worker (as an employee):

A growing number of companies are offering some or all of their employees the opportunity to work remotely, for instance, Apple, Dell, and Amazon. Some companies will still want you to work within a specific time zone, whereas others won’t mind where you work; but it's a great way to have a secure income. 

Lost LeBlanc on laptop at Tumpak Sewu Waterfall in East Java, Indonesia

WHY DID I CHOOSE BALI?

Because Bali is paradise. 

Bali, the Indonesian island known for its iconic beaches, volcanic mountains, lush rice terraces, incredible waterfalls and unique culture; it’s a great spot to get away from the colder climates and explore some of the nearby islands. 

Bali also has a good airport for my needs, a great ex-pat community, cheap transport costs, pretty reliable internet in most places, beautiful villas, exciting nightlife, friendly locals, amazing food and a great health and fitness scene.

Bali is a paradise for any digital nomad; a perfect place for great work-life balance.

Cost of Living 

It’s unbelievably affordable to live in Bali. You can budget anywhere from $20 USD a day or spend significantly more depending on what you value as important. I’ve created a full blog to showcase the full cost of living in Bali, where I tracked my expenses for 30 days, so make sure to check that out. 

Lost LeBlanc on Berawa beach in Canggu at sunset, Bali

WHERE TO LIVE IN BALI AS AN EX-PAT

Choosing where to live in Bali as a digital nomad really depends on the environment you are after. The two most common areas to live in Bali as a digital nomad is Canggu and Ubud, but you’ll find nomads in many other locations in Bali such as Uluwatu, Sanur and Kuta. 

Ubud

If you’re after more of the Balinese culture, yoga, spas, waterfalls and rice field views, Ubud could be your place. Centrally located on the island, you can easily explore different areas around Bali in a day. 

Ubud is typically cheaper but often offers less in terms of options for shops, nightlife, and other western amenities. There is also no beach close to Ubud, so you’ll have to travel at least an hour to get to the beach from here.

Canggu

Canggu, on the other hand, has a little bit more of an ex-pat community, with less cultural richness than Ubud and a little more of your western comforts. If you’re after beaches, bars, surfing and plenty of amazing cafes, restaurants and villas, Canggu is the place for you. 

Lost LeBlanc and What The Chic at the Campuhan Ridge Walk in Ubud, Bali

FACILITIES AVAILABLE FOR DIGITAL NOMADS IN BALI

Bali is full of coworking spaces, co-living areas, digital nomad hostels, shared and private villas and amazing cafes, all offering great facilities for digital nomads. 

A coworking space is a shared workspace, often including desks, private meeting rooms and coffee making facilities for remote workers. Coworking spaces are great places to keep you motivated, join a community and meet other digital nomads, future clients or even future partners! The only downside is they can be quite expensive, at around $15 USD per day, especially when compared to a cafe with free Wi-Fi and coffee for around $2.5 USD. 

The most popular coworking spaces in Bali are: 

Canggu

  • Outpost Canggu

  • Dojo Bali

  • Tropical Nomad

Ubud

  • Outpost Ubud 

  • Hubub 

Outpost sign, Bali

A co-living space is similar to a coworking space but you share your accommodation with digital nomads as well. Commonly you’ll have your own private room (although you can stay in co-living hostels) and the common area will be your shared workspace. Most co-living spaces are fully serviced, so you can focus on productivity and socializing. 

Popular co-living spaces in Bali:

Canggu

  • Outpost co-living

  • Matra co-living

  • Dojo Bali

Ubud

  • Outpost co-living

You can even go on a nomad retreat, a great way to immerse yourself into the digital nomad lifestyle when you first arrive in Bali and try out the different coworking spots so you can choose the best option for when you go it alone.

If however, you’re not looking to spend too much money but still want to meet people, either stay in a shared villa, a digital nomad hostel or join digital nomad Facebook groups (like Nomadic Entrepreneurs); all great ways to meet like-minded individuals. 

ALTERNATIVE DIGITAL NOMAD LOCATIONS TO BASE YOURSELF

Naturally, anywhere you have access to affordable living and an internet connection could be a great place to get started. However, there are some internationally renowned digital nomad locations, such as:

  • Chiang Mai, Thailand - the only place in South East Asia that really rivals Bali’s digital nomad scene. Chiang Mai is a well-developed city within Thailand where the cost of living is still low but the Wi-Fi is great and the nomadic community is ever-growing. 

  • Bangkok, Thailand - a city I used to live in and absolutely love; similar to Chiang Mai, Bangkok is a great hub for digital nomads, with great food, shopping, and cheap living costs. 

  • Cebu, Philippines - despite the Philippines often being known for poor Wi-Fi, it’s definitely improving and is becoming a digital nomad favourite, especially because it’s one of the cheapest destinations to travel!

  • Lisbon, Portugal - Lisbon, a European city that I absolutely love Lisbon, full of colour and culture with a thriving coworking environment. It’s definitely a city I would love to try working in for a month or two. If you have to work within the European timezone, Lisbon is a great choice. 

And two that I have yet to visit are:

  • Budapest, Hungary - a cheaper European city with an amazing cafe and bar scene. It's also a good spot to explore other cities, such as Prague or Vienna!

  • Tbilisi, Georgia - a relatively new digital nomad location, but with great Wi-Fi, cheap living costs and especially great for the more adventurous types with hiking trails in the summer and skiing during the winter.

Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand

DISADVANTAGES TO BEING A DIGITAL NOMAD

Being able to work wherever and whenever you want, traveling the world with complete freedom to meet like-minded individuals sounds amazing right? It is, but I don’t want to sugar-coat it. As with any job, there are going to be a few downsides:

  • You won’t have a guaranteed income (unless you’re a remote employee). A client you’re currently working with may drop you or you may just be having a slow period. Make sure you have some backup savings in case this happens. 

  • It’s a LOT of hard work - you’ll often work more than your old 9-5 job. You may have to work seven days a week, on public holidays and live on little sleep. Be prepared and willing for this to happen, especially in the beginning and don’t forget you can outsource to other freelancers instead of turning down work. 

  • It can be lonely. You may not see anyone for a few days and people are always coming and going in this industry. To avoid this feeling of loneliness, join coworking spaces, exercise classes or go to events, just try to keep yourself busy. 

  • Remote time management can be difficult. With no fixed schedule, self-motivation is crucial to ensure you get your work done, especially in a beautiful country like Bali. Set yourself time-frames, prioritize your work and learn to say no. 

    On the other hand, you may feel like you should always be working. Because you’re living where you’re working it can be difficult to switch off and take a break. Just because you’re living in paradise doesn’t mean you don’t need a break, it's important to relax - it’ll benefit your work in the long run! 

  • People will not always understand your job. When you tell people what you do you can get all kinds of responses, often ones like “why don’t you want to settle down?”, “you’re just avoiding adult life” and “you’re so lucky, “I wish I could do that”. This digital nomadic lifestyle is still very new to a lot of people, try to explain it as best as you can and that it’s just a different way of working. At the end of the day, you’re choosing to do what makes you happy and that will be different from other people.

Lost LeBlanc on scooter with Mount Agung in background, Bali

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND 

Travel Insurance: 

  • Travel insurance for digital nomads can be pricey, particularly if you don’t have a return date in mind, but is crucial. Make sure to choose the right policy for you, especially if you’re carrying expensive equipment as a digital nomad. 

Healthcare:

  • Healthcare in many countries may not be the standard you are used to your home country, so make sure to get good health insurance (commonly combined with travel insurance). Saying that Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, are all known for having great healthcare.

  • If you chose Bali or many other Asian destinations for that matter, be prepared for Bali belly. Food and food standards may not be the same as your home country, so an upset stomach every now and then is pretty unavoidable, particularly when you first arrive.  The food may take some time to get used to, but don’t be put off - Asian food is so tasty!  

Equipment:

  • As a digital nomad, there is certain gear that will definitely make your life easier. The most obvious being a laptop, an unlocked phone, their chargers and a good travel adaptor. Other beneficial items include an external hard drive, portable charger, noise-canceling headphones and a good protective backpack. There are many other tools that can make your life so much easier, but you’ll learn those while on the road. 

Visa: 

  • You’ll need to be aware of visa regulations for any country you plan to work in and I highly recommend doing your own research before you enter as visa restrictions can change quite frequently. 

  • Also, make sure you have proof of departure, even if you don’t know when you want to leave, just buy a cheap flight out, plan ahead, buy a refundable ticket, or use one of the many websites that provide you with a flight ticket, such as onewayfly.com; just don’t forge one! 

Getting Paid:

  • If you are a digital nomad and accept different currencies from clients around the world, then you’ll most likely need a bank account that offers low-cost exchange rates. I could personally recommend Transferwise as a reliable bank with great exchange rates.

Safety and Security:

  • Safety is a concern anywhere in the world, so just keep your wits about you. Some useful tips however, are:

    • Ask around for the best ATM machine to avoid potential scamming and use a debit card provider that allows you to freeze your card if you notice anything suspicious. Never use an ATM that isn’t in an enclosed area and cover up your card number until it’s in the machine. You can find trustworthy machines in big corner stores like K MART and Mini Mart

    • Don’t leave valuables unattended

    • Hold onto your phone with two hands when on the back of a scooter (if you’re the passenger guiding the driver) so it can’t be grabbed. Put your bag below the seat if it fits while riding and make sure to take everything valuable out of the seat when parked up.

    • Stay in places that are well-reviewed with in-room safes. 

Accommodation in Bali:

  • Finding a place in Bali is easy, with plenty of options on Airbnb, Facebook pages, hotel sites; there’s something for everyone. 

  • If you’re planning to stay in Bali for a while, a lot of hosts on Airbnb offer monthly discounts and Facebook groups such as Bali Housing and Accommodation will offer deals. There are many types of accommodations in Bali such as…

    • Guesthouses: a private bedroom and washroom with a shared living space and potentially a pool. In prime locations, guesthouses will be around 5,000,000 IDR per month. If you’re willing to be out of town or in something not as fancy, guesthouses can be found for as low as 3,000,000 IDR per month. 

    • Studios/Apartment: one-bed private accommodation with a small living space and typically a private kitchen (sometimes all in the same room). This accommodation is great for a solo nomad or a couple on a budget. You can find a nice studio in a prime location for around 6,500,000 IDR per month, or less outside the town. One of my friends paid 4,500,000 IDR for a two-story apartment in Ubud with a kitchen and rice terrace view.

    • Villa: larger private home with multiple rooms and typically a pool. Villa prices depend on how fancy the villa is, how many bedrooms, how long you sign the contract to rent for and where it’s located. A decent 3 bedroom villa in a prime location in Bali, such as Canggu center, will cost around 30,000,000 IDR per month or 300,000,000 per year (you can save a lot by renting longer-term). For a clean, simple villa two-bedroom clean on the edge of Canggu can be as low as 10 - 15,000,000 IDR per month or 100 - 150,000,000 IDR per year (again saving around 15 - 20 % by renting for a year).

Wi-Fi:

  • Most cafes, restaurants, villas and hotels have Wi-Fi offering the opportunity to work anywhere in Bali. Some Wi-Fi connections are definitely better than others, so when looking for a place to stay, I would advise checking reviews first. 

  • I also recommend getting a local SIM card while you’re living in Bali; you’ll regret not having that backup internet when WiFi is going slow. You can purchase these pretty much anywhere; ideally away from the touristy area as it’s definitely cheaper. For a data plan, you can buy 15GB of data for around $7 USD. Once you buy the sim card you can top up on your phone whenever.

Overall, a digital nomad can be anything you want it to be, there is no set structure to it. But working and living as a digital nomad can be hard, it takes a lot of commitment, focus and time; it’s not for everyone. However, it's much easier to start now than ever before, with so many remote and freelance opportunities available. It’ll take time to get used to, but if you’re after location independence, then what’s stopping you?

 

Let’s get lost in the next one!

Bali Bali Digital Nomad Digital Nomad Travel

← Older Post Newer Post →


Comments


  • CiqEstRypgJ

    pLMohqrulHS on
  • NCiBgqQKV

    LdJkvmeuQCYE on

Leave a comment