Updated: Apr 4, 2019
Less than five years ago, "digital nomadism" was a word that's almost unheard of. Tell someone then that you were a digital nomad, and quite likely you'll get a blank stare in return. Today, digital nomadism is a lifestyle that is experiencing significant buzz and a title that people often throw around to induce that sense of newness and hipsterness, but above all, a legit lifestyle that is actually made viable with today's ubiquitousness of fast internet and cheap air tickets . Nomadlist, one of the most referenced websites for digital nomads, currently boasts over 100,000 members and has more than 2,000 cities in its database.
If you have been browsing Nomadlist for the last 2 years, you would realize that one location seems to always rank among the top three: Bali. Having moved from Singapore to Bali almost two years ago, I begin to understand why Bali is one of the best places in the world to be a remote worker.
1. Nature, Nature, Nature
Try to do a Google image search for Bali and the first many images you’ll see are the pictures of white sandy beaches, breathtaking cliffs, misty mountains and beautiful waterfalls. With an area spanning less than 6,000 sqm , it is far from being a large island by any measure, but boy does Bali punch way above its weight. No wonder it is nicknamed the Island of the Gods – if Heaven is real, it might as well look like Bali.
With more than 16 thousand islands and over 300 native languages and dialects, Indonesia is one of the most diverse countries in the world. It is a melting pot of multiple cultures and ethnicities; to travel to Indonesia means to immerse yourself in a cultural trip unlike any other countries in the world. As one of the most popular Indonesian islands, Bali is often seen as the gateway to this beautiful country. It is also the only majority-Hindu province in Indonesia. There are countless of cultural festivities in Bali and all of them are celebrated fervently by the people. With a nickname “a land of a thousand temples”, Bali will keep you feeling enchanted for a long time.
Many travelers who visit Bali ended up making this island their permanent home. Although to be able to live and work legally in Indonesia can be tricky, many have successfully done it. This guide is probably one of the most comprehensive to learn about working and living in Indonesia.
3. Close Proximity to Other Digital Nomad Hotspots and the Rest of Asia
With 65% of the world population living in Asia and a GDP growth hovering steadily in the area of 6%, there’s no question that Asia is increasingly becoming a more important region in the world, economically speaking. Being based in Bali means putting yourself in the front row of the Asia economic boom that the world is experiencing right now. Bali's international airport is probably one of the cleanest and most accessible airports in the region. It has direct flights to major cities in Asia, and one can easily travel across the region and feels the pulse of Asia first-hand. Want to spend a week in Tokyo or Shanghai? It’s only 7 hours away. Need to visit the Asia regional HQ of your client in Singapore? Hop onto a plane and you’re there in 2 hours, and stay in the same timezone. Bali is also just 2 hours flight to Chiang Mai – another digital nomad hotspot.
4. Cost of Living
Having lived in the most expensive city in the world (i.e. Singapore) and travelled extensively to the rest of the world, I understand why Bali is attractive to remote workers that hail from developed countries: the cost of living can be much lower in comparison. Is it the cheapest city in the world? Probably not. What Bali is, is this: it provides the convenience and amenities at the fraction of the price others would have to pay for in major metropolitan cities. Renting a 1 bedroom villa with a private pool costs around $600 a month. A 2-hour full body massage costs less than $20. A nice dinner in a full-service restaurant costs about $10 per person.
Recently, there has been a lot of talking points about the rising cost of living. Suffice to say, this is the case with any growing tourist hotspots around the world. What I like about Bali when it comes to this is that Bali has plenty of options to choose from when it comes to location to live in; and each area varies a lot in terms of cost of living. Besides, Bali (and Indonesia in general) is mostly still a relationship-based economy where prices are heavily negotiable. So settle down here, learn the language, befriend the locals, and you’ll have the most fun and inspiring periods of your life, for a fraction of the cost elsewhere.
5. The Affluence of Coworking Spaces (and Coliving Spaces)
Forget the coworking spaces that you’ve stepped into in metropolitan cities like WeWork, Impact Hub, or Regus. Bali offers coworking spaces unlike those that you’ve visited before. Chris “The Freelancer” Dodd sums up the top coworking spaces in Bali in this article, and if there’s anything in common among them, it’s this: coworking spaces in Bali offers an ambience and vibes unlike anywhere else in the world. Another theme among the top coworking spaces in Bali is the availability of speedy and reliable internet. In a land where high-speed internet is not the norm yet, this is a godsend, especially for remote workers where you need to occasionally make client calls and video conference from halfway across the world. Whether you choose to stay in Seminyak, Canggu, Ubud, Jimbaran, Sanur or Denpasar; Bali has the coworking space you need to get your job done and as a bonus, you’ll get to induce the office-envy among your peers.
Eve Green (last name changed) is one of our past members who works as a freelance writer for gaming companies. Originally from Norway, she spent 4 months in Bali with her boyfriend on November 2018 after planning to be here for less than one month. She wrote an article about why she decided to work from a coworking space after trying Biliq Bali Cosharing Space for a day.
6. Bonus: Many People or Companies are Already Moving to Bali
Before the era of smartphones and cheap travels, Bali was often merely seen as an exotic destination or the perfect honeymoon trip; a resort island not to spend more than a couple weeks at, because at the end of the trip, one needs to fly home and clock in to the office to be able to afford future travels.
How things have changed. In a Gallup poll, 37% of respondents are already working remotely and the trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere but up. We already live in a world where the infrastructure and the norms are in place to support such lifestyle. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to work and live in an island with all-year-round sunshine, while lounging in a villa by the pool sipping coconut, and by the end of it all, walk to the nearest beach and play fetch with the dog? It is now possible, and people are doing it more than ever before. Take it from Yousician, a Helsinki based company which moved 80 people of its employees to Bali for one month back in November 2017. Read how the team felt more productive and connected because of the trip here. At Biliq, we increasingly see that as well. Just a month ago, the team from Recruitee UX department flew from Amsterdam to spend 2 weeks in Bali on a work and travel program.
In conclusion, Bali is one of the best places in the world to become a remote workers surrounded by beautiful nature, unique culture and rapidly growing infrastructure. To top it all, you’ll easily meet and network with like-minded people in the dozens of cool coworking spaces that dot the island.