Cost of living in Bali is one of the reasons why the Island of Gods is in demand among digital nomads. Of course, it varies. Cost of living in Bali for tourists is higher. But for the longterm stays living cheap in Bali becomes real.
My wife and I lived in Bali since August 2019 till the end of January 2020. In this article, I’ll tell you about our expenses as a couple.
Where to live in Bali
Bali is a small island, but the price of living varies a lot, depending on the part you choose. Most of the time, my wife and I lived in Canggu. It was a great place in terms of value, and for sure great for surfing. In January 2020 we moved to Sanur. I visited Ubud 3 times but never stayed there longer than for a weekend. That’s why my expenses were reduced compared to life in Ubud.
Indonesia provided a free visa for 30 days, which was meant for tourists and could not be extended. While I intended to live in Bali, I had to count with visa cost too. For digital nomads, there were 3 options:
30 days visa which could be extended for the next 30 days. Then digital nomads had to do visa-runs, which meant to go to another country and then come back to Indonesia. Most of the long-term travellers did it in this way. There was no need to go to the embassy to get 30 days visa, it was available at the airport on arrival.
The cost of a visa on arrival was $37 for one person. On other blogs, I read that it was $35, so maybe it depended on the currency exchange rate. For visa extension, I used the services of the immigration agency, and that cost me IDR 850 000 for a person, which was around $60. The extension took 14 business days, so basically I had to order it after the 1st week. It could be done faster, but then the cost was higher.
There was no need to use an agency, but then I would have to go to the immigration office in Denpasar for 3 times, while with the agency only 1 time. I had a lot of work, and for me, it was a good value to pay to the agent for not going to the immigration extra 2 times.
Social visa for 60 days, which could be extended 3 times, so in total it gave 150days. Social visa could be issued only at the embassy. I never tried it, but as far as I know from my friends, it was not so complicated to get it. Based on their experience, the best embassy to get a social visa for Indonesia was in Kuala Lumpur. Near the embassy were several travel agencies, which helped with the required documents, such as a sponsor letter, which was necessary to obtain this type of visa.
Social visa cost was around $50, the extension was the same as in case of the standard 30 days visa. It was cheaper if to use the same agency for sponsor letter and extensions. Or for those guys who had Indonesian friends who could write the sponsor letter. Then they extended visas by themselves at the immigration office.
Business visa. Those who planned to work for Indonesian companies or provide services directly in Indonesia needed a business visa. I knew only 1 guy who had a business visa, he was American working as a boxing trainer in the gym in Canggu. But I forgot to ask for the details about the business visa cost and process of getting it.
Officially first 2 options did not allow to work. But literally illegal was to get paid from local companies or individuals in Indonesia. That could get people into trouble with immigration police. Those who worked for their clients from other countries were ok.
IMPORTANT! Indonesia had very high fees for overstay, $100 for a day. And visa was not for the whole month, but 30 days, including the days of arrival and departure. And extended it was 60 days, not 2 months!
I’ve spent 5 months (150 days) in Bali excluding time for 3 visa-runs. Formerly we planned only 2 visa runs, but my wife messed up with dates, she forgot to count the arrival and departure dates, which meant $400 overstay fee for 2 persons. We found it out on time and decided to make an extra trip to Bangkok to avoid this fine. If we planned that in advance, we would not buy our first visa on arrival and save $74.
Totally during our almost 6 months living n Bali, we paid for 2 persons 4 visas on arrival, 2 extensions through agency and got 2 free 30 days visas. Altogether it made $268.
While I used the 1st visa option, I had to do visa-runs. Some of my friends simply flew to Kuala Lumpur, got stamps and returned to Bali. The cost of those return flights were around $120 for a person.
I intended to see more of Asia, and I used it as an opportunity for touristic trips and sightseeing. I told about the cost of each trip separately in the articles about Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Bangkok.
Cost of living in Bali – accommodation
During my stay in Bali, I lived in several places.
Living in Canggu
First accommodation was a lovely bungalow close to Berawa beach. There was no swimming pool and internet was weaker than in other places. I booked it through Airbnb and for 1 week for $290.
The second accommodation was a guesthouse called Digital Nomad Village. Same as with the first place I booked it only for 1 week and paid $135.
My wife and I loved this place. Internet was fast and reliable, there was a swimming pool, 3 shared kitchens, rooms were good equipped and clean. The only con was its location. The guesthouse was situated at the most crowded street of Canggu. There was no noise coming from the traffic, but it took much longer to get anywhere in the evening. We considered it as a minor issue and decided to stay there for living.
There we different rooms, and we moved 2 times from the smallest one in the front part to the bigger room and then to the biggest one in the old part of the guesthouse. For the bigger rooms, we paid $350 a month. It included accommodation, all bills such as electricity or internet and cleaning 2 times a week.
I can’t say I wasn’t thinking about living in Ubud for longer. In winter months Canggu became very hot, and the weather in Ubud was softer. But living in Ubud was more expensive, and this place was more crowded. That’s why we visited it 3 times on the weekends but never lived there.
The average price for a room with breakfast 1 night in Ubud was $22.
Living in Sanur
My last 3 weeks in Bali I spent in Sanur. This place was more quite than Canggu, it was possible to swim in the ocean, plus the traffic was not so heavy. My wife found a cosy guesthouse 10 minutes by walk from the beach. It cost was $235 for 3 weeks.
There was a swimming pool, each room had its own small but very good equipped kitchen, working space and router.
Food and drinks
In Bali it was possible to eat very cheaply in the local warungs, the cost of a meal for 2 persons was around $5. But the food there was far from healthy and not suitable for vegetarians. Hipster places on average cost $18 for dinner for 2, and at the beach restaurants, we usually left $30-40 for dinner.
To maintain a healthy lifestyle and save money, my wife and I cooked our meals during the week and went out for dinner or lunch with friends on weekends. We used to buy necessary products, such as vegetables, fruit, tofu, tempeh, eggs and rice on the local market close to our guesthouse.
The local Balinese markets are called “Pasar”, it was easy to find the closest one on Google Maps. Those markets were usually opened only in the mornings. There I found the best prices, locals go shopping to pasars too. But on pasars were no exotic for Bali things, such as olive oil and olives or milk products. Also, some pasars had no avocados, so I had to buy them separately at the small stores with vegetables, which were usually situated near the roads.
For other things like pasta, olives and olive oil, cheese or chia seeds, I had to go to the Supermarket. The most common chain in Bali is called Pepito. And in Canggu, I also liked the one called Canggu station. The prices were equal, but in Canggu station, I found a lot of “exotic European” products.
In average I paid around $15 a week for essential things n Pasar and $60-70 for fancy products in Pepito. Totally for food for 2 people, it was around $400 a month, including eating outside with friends on weekends and buying drinkable water barrels.
Living in Bali – Transport
Everyone told me that I have to rent a scooter in Bali. Which I did, but only for 1 month. The price for a scooter may vary, mine cost 900 000 IDR, which was around $65 a month. Fuel was very cheap in Bali, and parking near the beach cost 5000 IDR, basically cents.
But next 4 months I lived without a scooter. On weekends my friends and I usually took a car with a driver for trips, and during the week I wasn’t going out so much. I was going 3 times a week to the beach for CrossFit training and 1 time to the market. And it was cheaper to take a bike with a driver using Gojek app. And the cost of a bike taxi a month for 2 persons (riding on the separate bikes with drivers) was about $60.
I was surprised, but gyms were quite expensive in Bali, around $100 a month. But my wife found very affordable CrossFit training on the beach. The cost was 75000 IDR – about $5,5 for 1 training. We used to there 3 times a week, so for sports for 2 persons it was around $130.
From all other expenses, I can remember laundry, which was around $4 a week and mobile data around $20 a month for 2 sim cards.
Cost of living in Bali
Putting all things together, the average cost of living in Bali for 1 month for us as a couple was:
- $54 – visas
- $380 – accommodation including all expenses (electricity, cleaning, internet)
- $400 – food and water
- $60 – transport
- $130 – sports
- $40 – other expenses
Total average expenses for 1 month living in Bali as a couple: $1064.
That was the amount we spent on essential things. First 2 months I had no time for having fun, so we weren’t going on trips. While in December we went to explore something new every weekend.
And I didn’t count here cost of visa-runs. If we were doing it only to renew the visas, then the cost of living in Bali would include $200 every second month for a return flight to Kuala Lumpur. But we used those trips as an opportunity to explore other places in Asia.
If you want to find out more about expenses in other Asian cities, check out my articles about the costs of living in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Bangkok.