If you are thinking about taking some time off and moving to Bali for a couple of months or a year, we compiled some of the most common questions people asking us:

Where to find a house / apartment in Bali ?

Houses are pretty affordable to rent in Bali, especially if you compare it to Western countries. Consider spending between 1500 – 3000 US$ per year for a decent house , for an average area of 100sqm, sometimes partial furnished. We paid  2400 US$ for 12 months rental in a good middle class area: 2 bedrooms, partial furnished, just needed to buy an A/C for 250 $ for our bedroom and some fans for the living room. It’s similar with apartments, but here it’s more likely that you can pay monthly and the fees are lesser, usually around 100-200 $ per month.

Our 100 sqm house in Gatsu Barat

Our 100 sqm house in Gatsu Barat

Sounds to good to be true? The only catch is that you have to put the entire rental for one year upfront (speaking about houses). Means it will be difficult to move, if you don’t like the area / neighbours / landlord, etc. and request for a refund – you have to look for a new renter who is then willing to stay just for a couple of months, which might be a long-lasting process. And don’t forget that not all houses are (partial-) furnished and ACs and hot water are not common!

One of two bedrooms

One of two bedrooms

Important note: Most landlords will ask you for your KITAs (residential visa) before you can sign the contract, it would be very difficult for you to rent a house or apartment without it.

Do your research careful; connect with both, expats and locals:

Look out for signs on houses saying “Di Kontrakan” (for rent).

www.berniaga.com – marketplace for everything used from furniture over electronic to cars and motorbikes

www.olx.co.od (previously called TokoBagus) – same as above

www.anglobali.com (Expat-Blog)

You might come across, one-bedroom apartments for as low as US$ 50-75, however, it’s unlikely that a Bule (that’s how Indonesians call Westerners) will get it. Before we moved to Thailand, we stayed a week at Bali Tulip Hotel, a new, small hotel near Dhyana Pura University, with great weekly and monthly rates: e.g. only US$ 250/month, incl. water, electronic and internet.

Bali Tulip Hotel
http://balitulip.com (that’s not an affiliate link)
Tel.: +62 361 413 445

The staff speaks just a bit English, so either come around yourself or let a local call them. It’s located in Gatot Subrato Barat, or known as Gatsu Barat, a bustling part just outside of Denpasar. It’s also the area where we lived, peaceful and safe.

Public or own transportation? What’s the best way to get around?

Public transport in terms of short distance metro busses virtually doesn’t exist. It’s recommendable to rent or buy a motorbike as soon as possible. Choose a motorbike over a car, just being honest here, the traffic in the southern part of Bali is horrible and you won’t move.

Taxis are recommendable in the beginning and are affordable, compared to other major tourist destinations: Take Bluebird Taxis (Tel.: 701 111), they are known for their honesty, prices and are reliable.


Prices for a good used motorbike between 1-4 years starting at around US$600- 1100. If you consider buying a new one, prices will start at about US$1200, of course, depending on brand and model. Personal recommendation would be a Honda Vario, due to its low fuel consumption.

The rental for an automatic motorbike starts at about US$75 per month. The price for fuel at the gas station is everywhere the same at 6500 IDR per litre (US$ 0.55). In case fuel gets low, you can buy it at many Warungs (small kiosks/local restaurants), for about 500 IDR more. The fuel is usually filled into vodka bottles.


Look at www.berniaga.com or www.olx.co.id if you want to buy a bike. There are also many motorbike sellers in the city, especially in Denpasar.

Important: try to make local friends from the very beginning and ask them for help when it comes to buying things like motorbikes, etc.

Driving license: Unlike Thailand for example, it’s a must to have an international driving license in Bali to rent a bike. In order to obtain a local license, you need to have a KITAs Visa (residential visa). The responsible police department around Denpasar to issue an Indonesian license is called POLTABES:

Poltabes Denpasar
Jalan Gunung 110 Denpasar
Traffic Rules: Do wear a helmet. That’s not only for your own protection, but you will be the first to be stopped by the police. Even if an Indonesuan without helmet is next to you, the police will take you first. Pay whatever they will tell you, mostly between 50.000 – 200.000 IDR. If you don’t want to pay, they will threaten you with a court-visit.

Long-Distance buses: From the “Ubung Bus Terminal” ,buses are departing to other parts of Bali, like Singaraja or Negara, but also to Java. Take the “Safari Bus Company”, they have extremely comfortable seats. Tickets from Bali to Yogyakarta, Java cost 275.000 IDR only.

How about the quality of food / where are the best places to eat?

I can tell you what: it is quite difficult to top Bali’s incredible and diverse cuisine. I love to eat and I love to eat Balinese food. Prices start at about US$5 for a main course in areas where many foreigners live. But if you live where a majority of locals reside, you  might pay just about 80 cents for a good portion of Nasi Goreng ( fried rice ) or Mie Goreng ( fried noodles )…sounds great, or ?! Ah, and yes, the food stalls are usually fine -hey, the good thing is that you can see the preparation. Can you see it in a restaurant…? No.., thought so. And no “weird” stuff either

Ayam Sate (chicken skewer)

Ayam Sate (chicken skewer)

Shopping ?

In general – only look for shops where the items are labelled. You might end up paying a ridiculous price. No labels? Okay, there is a price for tourists, one for those who speak Bahasa and one for locals. Bargain – but keep a realistic sum in your mind. Don’t like the offer? Walk away!


Also, expect that staff at Warungs (the  aforementioned, small local restaurants) like to enrich themselves, by not having enough change, usually they will keep 1000-2000 IDR for themselves.

If you are in need of Western products, look for the “Tiara”- supermarkets. It’s important to mention that dairy products are quite expensive though; while a litre of milk comes at a regular price of about 15.000 IDR (US$ 1.20), you won’t find a yogurt below 9000 IDR (US$ 0.75) and that’s for about 100 gr.

Telephone -/ Internet

The provider with the best coverage for calls, not only in Bali but whole Indonesia, is SIMpati (yes, that’s how it’s written) by Telkomsel.  The fees for SMS / calls within Indonesia are quite affordable and you can top up your balance for as low as 5000 IDR. The SIM card itself costs about 25.000 IDR (that’s just US$ 2.05). For international calls and SMS expect to pay at least 10.000 IDR per minute.

Simpati by Telkomsel

Simpati by Telkomsel

Before starting to think about installing a whole new wifi system in your house or apartment, it is more recommendable to buy a USB router along with a SIM card. The best company so far has been ‘Tri’ or just written as ‘3’. A card with a volume of 5 GB comes at 90.000 Rp. Tip: Once the volume is finished, buy a new SIM card again. Why? Because recharging 5GB will cost you 150.000 Rp.

Tri Indonesia

Bank/Money Exchangers

Fair to say that there is a great coverage of ATM’s and reputable money changers ( go to “BMC Money Changers”, daily rates here: (www.balimaspintjinra.com) across Bali. Also credit cards are widely accepted. To open a bank account, you must have a valid visa (KITAs) and address in Bali.

How about my visa?

One of the most important points: Most nationalities get a Visa on Arrival for US$25, valid for 30 days. In order to extend it, you have to see the immigration NOT less than 7 days prior to the expiry of your current visa. And it is a long process: first day you have to submit your application, another day the payment (250.000 IDR) and the third day you can pick it up. That process takes usually two weeks and will not be done on three consecutive days. How many times are you able to extend? Well to be honest here, it depends on your relationship with the immigration officers. People might say 1 or 2 extensions are possible, others will tell you more.

The best visa is called KITAs and offers plenty of more possibilities for you, but only recommendable if you know that you want to stay longer than 6-12 months.. I just paid US$75 for a year which I think is only because I am married to an Indonesian citizen. If you look for a job and a company should hire you, the price will be somewhere around US$1500 for a year. There are plenty of agencies here, specializing in visas, paperwork for company set ups, etc. and you should consult one of them. Yes, there will be additional fees for the agent, but the work will be done without the additional headache you would have, trying it yourself


As a tip: Be polite and dress modestly. Do not offer a bribe to the officers behind the desk in the waiting hall. You can also go for one of the numerous agencies who will run for you to the immigration and do all the paperwork. But expect to pay 50-100% from the usual visa fee on top for their services.

How are my chances to find a job?

Though there are lots of expats living in Bali, it is quite difficult to look for a job; however this also depends on the job itself, required skills, etc. Keep in mind that positions will be prioritized for locals, which is a fair enough reason. It is more advisable to look for a job opening in advance, before moving.

How about the religion / etiquette rules?

As in whole Indonesia, religion comes above everything in life and should be respected by you. About 85% of Balinese are Hindus, while the rest are Christians, Muslims and Buddhists. Don’t be wondered if you see suddenly a closed road for a few hours due to an ongoing ceremony. Despite a few other places in Indonesia, such as Central Sulawesi, people of different religions live in harmony with each other in Bali. There are a few but important etiquettes to follow, such as removing shoes when entering a home, but it’s better if you read this for more information.


Should I learn Bahasa Indonesia?

English is only spoken in the main tourist areas and not as many times written on blogs, travel guides, etc. that it’s widely spread, this is just a dumb lie. Don’t expect people to be able to talk in English (what Kian thought). Even if you come to a middle-class neighbourhood, you will be amazed that even students and teenagers don’t speak English and also not trying/willing to. Now there are a few good things about learning Bahasa: the first being that the language doesn’t has calligraphy-related signs like Japan, China or Thailand, but “normal” Latin letters. It has a very easy grammar and is easy to pronounce. Most of the TV channels are in Bahasa and you won’t find lots of foreign newspapers in Bali, speaking you will learn automatically the language step by step. The best way how I found and find people (or better how people found me) were putting ads on classifieds, such as  www.anglobali.com or www.thebalitimes.com .

A final word

If you really intend to stay for a longer period, it would be recommendable if you either know a local very well- this means that you know where he/she lives, you have been invited to his family / home village, etc.- you have visited Bali in advance and / or know ideally another expat who lives in Bali. Please also understand that Bali is one of those destinations which are completely different from visiting for holiday and long term living, even if you have visited Bali ten times, it still doesn’t mean you know the island and its people.


If you are currently living in Bali or spent a significant amount of time there and have additional tips and recommendations then please leave your comments below.

 Smart Travels,


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