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What You Need to Know When You’re Moving to Bali

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Relocating to Bali

  • In Bali, you can choose between a more authentic Balinese bungalow or a more conventional house.
  • It is important to apply for a visa way in advance of your arrival; there are different visas which apply to different needs.
  • Healthcare is of good quality, but it is also possible to turn to private clinics.

When you arrive in Bali, you will probably expect to find lush palm trees, endless sandy beaches, and a year-round vacation feeling. Although reality may come pretty close to this picture, depending on your reason for moving to Bali, you should prepare yourself to enter a culture which may differ significantly from your own.

With its natural beauty and rich cultural history, Bali is indeed a favorite vacation spot; therefore, you should be prepared to be treated as a tourist after first arriving in Bali. However, if you want to truly submerge yourself in Balinese life and take full advantage of your time in Bali, you will quickly realize that by simply being curious and open, you will see the local culture unfold in front of your eyes.

Practical Tips for Your Arrival in Bali

Bali’s international airport, Ngurah Rai International Airport, is easily accessible from most local cities. It is located in Tuban, not far from the island’s southernmost tourist attraction points, and 13 kilometers south of Bali’s capital, Denpasar.

It is recommended to pack light, as customs rules on what you are permitted to bring into the country are strict. Shipping a container can be quite expensive as well: the daily rates are very high, and you may be required to leave your container in the harbor for several days or even weeks while waiting for customs clearance.

Additionally, you should keep in mind that the humid climate in Bali may not necessarily be ideal for some furniture. It’s probably a good idea to either sell most of your furniture or put it in storage before your move to Bali, to avoid any unpleasant surprises either at customs or during the rainy season. Rest assured that moving to Bali does not mean dropping off the face of the earth. There are many furniture stores where you can easily and inexpensively furnish your new home.

Accommodation in Bali: Will You Go for Authentic or Conventional?

Before you move to Bali, it is a good idea to get some sort of feeling for what to expect in terms of housing and residential areas. You will discover that most Balinese live in bungalows with large shaded terraces to escape the high daytime temperatures.

Expats who are looking for something more conventional can rest assured that there are also plenty of expat housing complexes available, which typically come with caretakers. If you move to Bali and plan on living in accommodation catering to foreign residents, be aware that you will be paying more than what you may expect from the standard of living, though.

There Is More than One Destination for Expats in Bali

Denpasar is the capital of Bali with roughly 782,000 inhabitants. Unfortunately, recently large quantities of residential and commercial building sites have sprouted up across the city, drastically reducing the amount of green space for its residents. In addition, if you are familiar with Bali’s unique architectural style, you will notice that Denpasar has become a smaller version of Jakarta, with close to no buildings in the original Balinese design.

Singaraja is Bali’s former capital city and borders Bali’s National Park on the western side of the island. With a population of a mere 81,000 inhabitants, expats moving to Bali are met with less congestion and fewer crowds. Singaraja also features a large amount of preserved colonial buildings, which both visitors and expats may find of interest.

Expat Info Bali: Visas and Healthcare

Your First Step: Getting a Visa

There are numerous types of visas for Indonesia. Please bear in mind that most of these visas must be applied for well in advance of your arrival in Bali. It is best to contact your local Indonesian embassy to ensure that you have all the required documentation and to speed up the application process. It is also wise to visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Indonesia for more concrete information as well as up-to-date visa fees.

If you do not qualify for a visa on arrival, you may need to apply for a tourist visa. A tourist visa for Bali (single or multiple entries)*: is valid for stays of up to 60 days, the tourist visa requires the display of a roundtrip itinerary, a return or through ticket, a copy of your bank statement, and an application letter. Please note that for some nationalities and ports of entry, there is also a visa on arrival available (see below) or, for single-entry tourist stays of up to 30 days, you might not even need a visa. For more details on the latter, please refer to the website of the Directorate General of Immigration.

business visa is not the same as a work permit for Bali. In Indonesia, the business visa is restricted to a stay of 60 days, and it is only assigned to those who can provide proof that they will be conducting business negotiations or leading a project in Indonesia. This proof includes a letter of purpose by the employer and the written guarantee that all expenses incurred by the holder of this visa will be covered during their stay.

Further Visa Options for Longer Stays

In addition to the abovementioned visa on arrival, tourist visa, and business visa, which are the most common types of visas issued by the Indonesian government, you can also apply for one of the following visas:

The social visit visa can be applied for by people wishing to visit relatives or wanting to take part in a cultural exchange. To apply for the social visit visa, a letter of invitation from the person/organization requesting your presence, a copy of the ID card or residence permit of the host in Indonesia (who acts as a guarantor for the foreign national), and proof of a roundtrip ticket will be required.

The journalist visa and the research visa are more difficult to get hold of. Please contact your respective Indonesian embassy for more information on press passes and journalist visas. Be sure to do so well in advance of your planned departure, i.e. at least two months.

For more information on work visas, please see our Moving to Indonesia article.

What You Can Expect from Healthcare in Bali

Healthcare in Bali, although not up to the standards of clinics in some other countries, can be trusted to be of a sound quality. Healthcare providers vary from small specialized clinics to all-encompassing hospitals complete with ICUs and emergency rooms. As is to be expected, the main public hospitals on the island — like the Sanglah Public Hospital — are located in the capital Denpasar.

If you feel more at ease getting treated in an international setting where all doctors and nurses speak English, Bali offers the International SOS Clinic and the BIMC Hospital, both located in Kuta in the south of the island. Both provide emergency treatment as well as regular doctor’s check-ups and visits. Due to the fact that these clinics are headed by American, Australian, and British doctors, they are more expensive than care at the local Indonesian hospitals and clinics.

Many expats in Bali end up going to “group-practice medical clinics”, which are less expensive than private hospitals and often offer the same standard of care. These medical clinics are frequently run by a group of specialists who can take care of most routine medical check-ups as well as some emergency operations.

What You Need to Know about Health Insurance

As of 1 January 2014, Indonesia’s health insurance will, for the first time, cover Indonesian citizens and foreigners living in Indonesia for more than six months. However, there are also hundreds of insurance companies that serve expats abroad. Allianz Worldwide Care, for instance, provides a directory of doctors and hospitals in Bali whose services are covered through their insurance policies.

Please also be aware that most of the medical treatment you receive has to be paid in cash upon completion of the procedure, as credit card machines are scarce in Balinese hospitals and medical facilities.

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