Retiring in Bali

Retiring in Bali

We talked with Lindy Sutherland, who used 2021 to make her and her husband’s dream of retiring in Bali a reality!
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Bali is one of those places where one visit is never enough! It’s not unusual to hear that people have holidayed in Bali 20 times or more over several years. For many hard-core Bali lovers, it is the ultimate dream to one day retire in Bali, either spending the whole year or part of the year on their favourite Island.

We get asked a lot about the cost of living when retiring in Bali, things that need arranging before retiring in Bali and what life is like as a retiree in Bali. Bali Buddies decided to catch up with Lindy Sutherland, who has recently moved with her husband Leigh from Australia to Bali to make their retirement dreams come true (Yes, it’s still possible, even during these crazy times in the world!)

Departing Australia ready for their new Bali life
En route to their new life in Indonesia

Lindy and Leigh Sutherland arrived in Bali on July 21 this year. The pandemic added extra planning and costs to their move, including an eight-day stay in quarantine in Jakarta. However, ultimately retirement is still possible in Bali during this time (albeit a little more stressful than usual). Their decision to retire in Bali was twofold, one was their love for the Island, and the other was for financial reasons. With the cost of living in Australia being so high, retiring in Bali meant that they could live a retirement lifestyle that they just couldn’t afford to in Australia.

It took them around eight months to plan and execute their move (but they had been researching the idea for a couple of years before this). It included selling their house in Australia, setting up retirement visas in Bali and getting all of their affairs to make a smooth transition to expat life.

When they first floated the idea of retiring in Bali to friends and family four years ago, most thought it was just a pipe dream that wouldn’t come to fruition. As time went on, their desire to make the move only became stronger and they continued to make decisions to ensure retiring in Bali became a reality.

Moving during the pandemic made the goodbyes a little harder than in normal times as they didn’t know when they’d get to see family and friends again, but that day will come, hopefully in the not too distant future.

New friends in Bali

Lindy and Leigh already knew they wanted to retire in the area of Sanur (great choice, it’s also where we chose to move our family five years ago when we left Australia!). Its community vibe, long beach path, easy traffic, and access to everything you need (groceries stores, health centres, spas, shops and more) makes it a popular choice amongst both retirees and families in Bali.

When choosing long term accommodation, the two popular options are to either take yearly rentals or purchase a long lease on a house/villa (foreigners can’t own freehold in Indonesia, but you can take out long leases on properties). Lindy and Leigh chose the latter to purchase a long lease on a property that they’d never seen in person!

Now, we wouldn’t recommend this option for everyone unless, like Lindy and Leigh, you have done a lot of research on prices and gotten to know a few other expats who can give you advice on things to be aware of when purchasing a lease sight unseen. “Villa Linleigh” is now their home. They bought a 28-year lease and were very happy to move in and finally see it in person in July.

To live here legally, Lindy and Leigh both hold retirement visas. To access a retirement visa in Bali, you must be over 55 years of age and meet a few other criteria to ensure you can fund your retirement here. This kind of resident’s visa does not allow you to work or earn an income in Bali, but it does allow you to live here legally, open bank accounts, buy cars and motorbikes and more. When asked about how long they plan to live in Bali, Lindy answered that there are no hard and fast rules, they will stay for as long as they are happy and their health allows. They imagine they will be in Bali for around 10-15 years but could be more.

Getting the keys to Villa Linleigh
The pool area of their new home in Sanur
One of the biggest comments made to us when we decided to move full time to Bali was, “you know it won’t be the same living there as it is a tourist.” We asked Lindy the biggest differences for her moving to Bali as a resident rather than as a tourist. For Lindy, it has been learning how everyday things work in Bali, for example, having a prepaid electricity metre that needs “topping up with credit” before it runs out and you have no power. She has had to get used to learning that things work on “Bali Time”. When you make appointments in Bali, it is not unusual for people to turn up late; it’s commonly known across the Island as jam karet or rubber time. Things happen in a very relaxed fashion. If you are a ‘time is money’ sort of person, the Island life may not be for you.
Everything comes to you in Bali!

One of the most significant differences Lindy has found being a resident is figuring out that pretty much everything can come to you in Bali! With apps, like GRAB, where you can order your shopping, deliveries and more, as well as home visiting doctors, spa treatments and even hairdressers, you don’t need to leave home at all if you don’t want to. When asked what a typical day in her retirement life looks like, Lindy made this list.

She said her typical days include some or all of the following:

First weekend getaway staying at Westin Ubud
Enjoying a birthday getaway at Bali Beach Glamping

Safe to say, Lindy is enjoying the transition to Bail expat life. We have been following her and Leigh’s journey since they arrived and have seen them make many friends and go on so many adventures already!

Finally, we asked Lindy about tips and advice for other people considering retiring in Bali. Lindy recommends “doing your homework!”.

She and Leigh researched for three years before putting their retirement plan in motion. Choosing which area of Bali you will base yourself in is a significant step, as different areas of Bali offer different experiences. Joining Facebook groups and chatting to other expats is also helpful to get ‘insider information’.

Final Words

If you don’t fancy doing all the research yourself, we can recommend the services of Our Year in Bali – Relocation Service. The Founder Simone and her family relocated from Australia and spent two years living in Bali. Now that she is back in Australia, Simone helps other people who want to make the move to Bail. She helps with every aspect of your relocation from advice on visas, insurance, villas and more. 

Final words from Lindy on making the decision to retire in Bali – “We absolutely love it and have no regrets at all.” We look forward to continuing to follow Lindy & Leigh’s Bali adventures, they are excited for when their friends and family can come and visit their new home. 

Have you considered retiring in Bali?

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After 15 years of visiting Bali as a tourist, Karlie moved her family to Bali 4 years ago. She loves helping others to enjoy Bali and founded Bali Buddies to encourage others to explore the island she now calls home.

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