Bali is a mixture of extravagant vacation resorts, sprawled along pristine sandy beaches, and local poverty. Most people are employed either in the tourism industry in the south of the island, or work in subsistence farming and agriculture. For expats who plan on working in Bali, the hospitality industry is the most pragmatic choice. As the cost of living in Bali is relatively low in comparison to other countries, most expatriates in Bali find themselves living a comfortable, almost luxurious, lifestyle.
Anyone who starts working in Bali will quickly become aware that the largest industry on the island is agriculture, at least in terms of employment. The most important agricultural products are rice, coffee, tea, cacao, cloves, soybeans, and tobacco, among others. However, the major contributor to Bali’s GDP is the tourism sector.
In the 1970s, the Balinese government realized that they could not avoid the huge torrents of tourists streaming onto the island and decided to be proactive. Instead of rejecting the onslaught of tourists, they turned it around to make the island one of the first cultural tourism hotspots. This resulted in Bali becoming the showcase of Indonesia, making the Balinese island one of the wealthiest in the entire archipelago.
Expats who dream of working in Bali will find most opportunities at an international company, as an English teacher, or working with tourists. If financial prosperity is not your motivation for coming to Bali, there are also several volunteer organizations based in Bali.
If you aren’t sent to Bali on a foreign assignment or don’t decide to retire there, a good way to begin the search for a job in Bali is to find out in which areas the Balinese economy requires specialists. As previously mentioned, the tourist industry is booming again, so if you are qualified for a hotel or restaurant job and bring outstanding experience with you, getting a job in Bali may not be too challenging!
It is important to note that finding a job once you are in Bali is usually more complicated than having one before you move there, especially as far as visas and permits are concerned. Therefore we highly recommend you begin your job search long before your intended moving date.
Acquiring an employment visa for Bali is a slightly complicated process. This is due in part to the fact that many Indonesian companies prefer employing locals over hiring non-Indonesians. In Indonesia, businesses are required to have what is called an IMTA, which is a work permit given to companies interested in hiring international employees.
That does not mean that working in Bali as a foreigner is impossible. On the contrary, there are many foreign nationals working in Bali. However, it is important to be aware that legally working in Bali can be more difficult than expected. It would be beneficial to either hire an immigration agent or find a confirmed job offer before entering the country.
Next to having a confirmed job offer or being sent by an employer, there are two options if you want to acquire a work visa for Bali. One of them is the so-called business visa, which is a visa assigned to people interested in conducting business negotiations or carrying out a project with a Balinese company. The catch is that this visa is only valid for up to 60 days!
However, some expats now working in Bali have done the following: they have conducted negotiations with their Indonesian partners to see whether they could somehow acquire the IMTA permit for hiring foreigners. This enabled the expats to extend their stay in Bali.
The other option is to contact an Indonesian immigration agency or headhunter to have them help you find a job and take care of all the paperwork for you. Some employment agencies have immigration agents on staff that, for a fee, may be willing and able to aid you in finding work in Bali. For more information on obtaining a work permit for Bali, please consult our Moving to Indonesia guide.
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