How Much Does It Cost to Live in Bali as an Expat?
Ever since leaving Australia to live in Bali with our family in 2017, the question we get asked most often is “How much does it cost to live in Bali?”. This is a very hard question to answer because it depends on a lot of things!
Which area of Bali will you live?
Do you have kids that need to go to school?
Do you like to party and drink alcohol?
How will you get around?
Will you employ domestic staff?
Will you cook, eat local or want to dine out at restaurants?
All these answers will contribute to how much it would cost you to live in Bali as an expat.
Given that it is such a hot topic though, we will attempt to break down some different scenarios of what your cost of living would be in Bali, should you choose to move here. These are approximations and are based on our experience of living here.
Costs of living in Bali will fluctuate and some people will live more cheaply than what is stated here, and some will spend a lot more. This article will, however, give you an idea of the things you need to take into consideration when creating a budget for a possible life in Bali.
The very first thing you need to consider when moving to Bali is what visa will you live here on.
If you are moving and already have an employer, your visa costs are usually taken care of by your company. If you plan on being self-employed or self-funded during your time in Bali, your visa costs and setup are up to you.
The legal way to be a full-time foreign resident in Bali is to be on a resident visa called a KITAS. A KITAS allows you to be a tax-paying resident in Indonesia. Not everyone can access a KITAS, you must either have a business of your own, be over 55 and retiring in Bali, have an Indonesian husband or wife or be employed by an Indonesian company. Most foreigners use an agent to process their KITAS and to renew it, the cost of this is approximately $550 USD per year (depending on your agent’s fees and how long and what type of KITAS you have). You can process your KITAS yourself and it will be a lot cheaper, but this requires quite a few visits to immigration and some translating of documents if you don’t speak Indonesian.
If you can’t obtain a KITAS, the other visa option for a long-term stay in Bali is a 211 Visa (also called E-visa) for either Business or Tourism purposes (please note a business visa does not allow you to work legally in Bali, just to explore business options). If you use an agent these visas are approximately $330 USD initially, which covers your first two months. Then you can renew this visa for a further four months at approximately $200 USD per month. At the end of six months, you must start an entirely new visa. Prior to the pandemic, you were required to leave the country before you could renew your visa, now it is possible to renew these visas without leaving Indonesia.
*Note: Having a KITAS or a 211 visa doesn’t necessarily give you the right to work legally in Indonesia. This is an entirely separate issue and seperate topic. Working legally in Indonesia often requires a work permit which is supplied by your employer and a separate thing to your living visa.
Health Insurance is non-negotiable when it comes to moving to or visiting Bali. Some visas applications require proof of your insurance before your visa will be granted. Depending on the length of your stay, you will have some different options for insurance.
For those staying up to 12 months, it may be possible to access a travel insurance plan in your home country before your departure, this is often the most cost-effective option.
For those who are employed, health insurance is something usually provided and paid for by your employer, but be sure to check exactly what you are covered for as sometimes you may want to add an extra insurance.
For those looking to call Bali home for an extended number of years, an expat or global health insurance is usually the preferred option.
These policies vary greatly depending on several factors, including your age, pre-existing conditions, what’s services you wish to have covered and if medivac to a different country is included.
In most cases it is best to use a consultant you can find the best expat insurance policy to suit your own individual needs. Asialife is a renowned insurance consulting firm located in Kuta, and has been helping expats find insurance solutions since 1999. Not only can they help with international expat health insurance, but they can also help with business, villa, car and travel insurance solutions too. Consultations are free and can be done online if needed, so we suggest this as a great starting point to finding your best health insurance options. If you take out a policy through Asialife you also get the bonus of their 24/7 medical emergency assistance and general enquiries / claims assistance, as their team is on the ground in Bali.
When using figures to make a budget for living in Bali, a rough guide of approximately $700 USD per person per year is a good starting point for an average comprehensive cover.
Housing in Bali
When it comes to where you are going to live in Bali, the good news is that the options are wide and varied! You can rent simple rooms within a homestay, right through to luxurious villas with full amenities, and absolutely everything in between.
Generally, the more touristy and built up an area is, the more expensive your rent will be. You may choose to stay well off the beaten track, in which case your rent will be considerably cheaper. For the purpose of this article, the approximations are based on living in one of the main tourist and/or expat areas of Bali.
A simple room at a home stay will cost you approximately $300 USD a month, this usually includes air-conditioning, hot water, sometimes a small kitchenette and often your WIFI.
If you are looking to stay in your own private house or villa, once again size, location and if it has a pool and/or furniture will contribute to the cost. A 2-3 bedroom villa with a pool will generally start from $8000 USD per year (these can go up in price considerably, it’s not uncommon for fancy villas in popular locations to cost up to $25,000 USD per year).
The key to your accommodation is to choose which area of Bali you want to live in first, then make a budget of how much you are willing to spend. From there use the area community Facebook pages to ask for what is available to get an idea of what you can afford.
Things to consider when seeking accommodation are inclusions (WIFI, electricity, repairs etc) and things such as open style or closed style living areas, pool maintenance, road access, security etc.
A lot of foreigners who stay in Bali long term end up buying a long-term lease on a villa or house. This usually reduces the yearly price quite significantly, but as the long-term tenant you then usually take on any maintenance expenses during your lease period.
TIP: If you’re not familiar with the areas of Bali, our Bali Itinerary Planner is a great way to get to know Bali better.
Schooling – Bali Island School
If you are relocating with children, schooling is an important factor to budget in. There are many top-quality international schools in Bali, such as Bali Island School (which was opened way back in 1985 and has been educating expat kids ever since).
These schools offer international curriculums, teach in English, and see students graduate with a globally recognised secondary education qualification.
International schools vary in price from school to school and fees depend on the age of the children. On average international schools in Bali start at approximately $8,000 USD per child per year.
Other options when it comes to schooling are home school programs or groups, distance education schools or there are some local schooling options however these are mostly delivered in Indonesian.
Transport in Bali
There are quite a few options when it comes to deciding how you will get around the island.
If you are experienced and properly licensed, hiring a scooter or motorbike can be your most budget-friendly option. Basic bikes can be rented from approximately $45 USD per month, this includes insurance and servicing. Petrol is an inexpensive factor; a full tank of fuel will only cost you around $3 USD.
*TIP: ensure you’ve checked your insurance properly so that you know you are covered in case of an accident on your bike!
Renting a car is also a popular way to get around when living on the Island. Basic, smaller cars can be rented from approximately $200 USD per month, which will also include insurance and servicing. The bigger and fancier the car you rent, the more expensive your monthly rental price will be.
If you don’t fancy riding or driving yourself, there is the option to employ a driver. Most full-time drivers work 6 full days a week and either bring their own car, or you rent yourself a car and pay the driver a salary and petrol costs. On average a full-time driver with a car cost approximately $450 USD per month plus petrol.
Bali is lucky enough to have several app-based transport options that are inexpensive and very reliable. You can use apps such a GRAB to get car or motorbike rides around the more populated areas of the Island. Short rides start from as low as $1 USD and longer drives that take up to an hour are around $7 USD.
Food is another big part of your budget and how much you spend can vary greatly. If you are renting a place with a kitchen you may choose to mix up your meals by cooking some and buying some.
Buying local food can be very cheap, you can get a decent-sized nasi goreng (fried rice with meat) for as low as $1.50 USD – you probably wouldn’t be able to cook that yourself for that price!
There are lots of local food options if you look around your area and around on the apps where you can order food. It is your most inexpensive way to eat. Ask the locals in your area for their favourite warungs or night markets.
Bali is also full of world standard restaurants, cafes and venues, and part of the lifestyle here is being able to enjoy eating out, either occasionally or in many expat cases – often!
Average meals at restaurants cost around $5 USD, it can vary greatly from venue to venue, but this is what an average meal will cost at a lot of places.
Depending on where you live, most long-term living options will require you to pay for your own electricity.
Electricity is not so cheap in Bali, so it pays to keep an eye on how often you run the air-conditioning. Fridges, air-conditioners, and pools are the three things that will drive your bill up. Smaller houses or villas usually end up spending around $40 USD per month, while large villas with pools and several air-conditioning units may spend around $200 USD per month.
If WIFI is not included in your accommodation, it is easy to set up in your house or villa and there are several providers to choose from. On average for high-speed, decent unlimited WIFI, it will cost approximately $30 USD per month.
Mobile phone data is also quite inexpensive in Bali and easy to access either prepaid or post-paid. On average you’d only need to budget approximately $7 USD per month for your phone data if you are logging in to WIFI when you are not out and about.
Hiring Staff in Bali
Most long-term expats will end up employing staff in their villas or houses to help with cleaning, gardening, taking care of the pool and taking care of children.
Full-time domestic staff members usually cost around $200 USD per month for working 6 days a week and doing tasks such as cooking, cleaning and laundry. This is for a “live out” staff member, if your staff member “lives in” you generally cover the cost of their food and living expenses and their monthly wage is less.
If you are looking for a full-time nanny for your children, who also does some cooking and cleaning, their wage will be higher depending on the number of children and what tasks they are expected to do.
If you have a pool and garden, most likely you will hire a staff member to take care of them. While some people may want a full-time staff member for this, most pools and gardens will only need servicing once or twice a week, depending once again on size. If you have a pool and a garden you can budget around $80 USD per month for both the service and any chemicals needed for your pool.
This is an area that is dependent on your chosen forms of entertainment. If you want to hang out on the beaches or explore the waterfalls, have some beers and eat local food, your entertainment budget may be as low as $15 USD a week. If you like to party at the fancier bars, clubs and beach clubs, or indulge in the fancy Sunday Brunches, your entertainment budget will need to be significantly higher.
In addition, if you like to explore places with guides and immerse yourself in the culture of a new place, take advantage of GetYourGuide and Viator tours to help you explore your new home town.
Imported alcohol attracts a large tax in Indonesia, so if you are wanting to drink imported wine and spirits, this will impact a lot of how much you need to budget for entertainment.
Gym memberships also vary around the Island, but you can find quite comprehensive and well-equipped gyms for around $35 USD per month. You are spoiled for choice when it comes to activities, so if gym is not your thing there are dance classes, archery, surfing and more to keep you fit and entertained too!
TIP: If you want to know all about things to do in Bali, our Bali Itinerary Planner is a great starting point.
Many foreigners who choose to call Bali home will still have money or income-based in their home countries. It’s important you think about how you will access that money while you are in Bali.
Bank transfer fees, ATM fees and currency conversion fees can all add up very quickly! Using a WISE account is currently the cheapest way to send your money from your home country to Indonesia. There are also some more money tips for Bali here.
Bali Cost Of Living Overview
|Visa||KITAS: $550 USD per year |
B211 Visa: $500 USD for 6 months
|Health Insurance||$700 USD per person per year|
|Housing||$300 USD per month for a simple homestay |
$8000 USD per year for a 2-3 bedroom villa
$8000 USD per year per child
Click for more info about Bali Island School
|Transport||Basic bike rental: from $45 USD per month + $3 USD for a full tank of fuel. |
Car rental: $200 USD per month.
Driver with car: $450 USD per month.
Ride-hail apps: from $1 per ride to $7 for an hour.
|Food||Local dishes from $1.50 USD |
Average restaurant meals start from $5 USD
Or a lot more if you’re visiting fine dining restaurants…
|Utilities||Electricity: $40 USD to $200 USD per month. |
WiFi: $30 USD per month.
Mobile phone: $7 USD per month.
|Staff||Full-time domestic staff members: $200 USD per month. |
Gardeners: $80 USD per month
|Entertainment||Starting from $15 USD per week. |
Gym membership from $35 USD per month.
These are the basic and important factors to consider when it comes to the cost of living for a foreigner in Bali. Different people’s monthly budgets will vary greatly depending on many factors. You need to consider what type of lifestyle you want to live when you are living in Bali.
While Bali can be a very inexpensive place to live (as compared to many Western countries) if you are living humbly, eating local foods, and enjoying nature as your entertainment, it can be equally just as expensive (if not more) than the cost of living in your home country if you want to live the luxury lifestyle.
We hope this has helped you to get a clearer picture of what it costs to live in Bali as a foreigner. These are estimations only, and prices do vary a lot, but they are averages based on what we’ve experienced during our time living here.