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Retiring in Bali: 5 Favourite Spots for Expat Living—

September 7, 2018 Visit ASEAN No Comments Email Email

According to recent statistics, increasing numbers of Australians are retiring overseas. Bali, one of Australia’s nearest neighbours and one the most visited islands in Indonesia, has long been an exotic dreamscape for many an expat. But where are the best places for a new life on this paradise island? The editors at list five of the best places for expat living.


Floating in aquamarine waters, Bali’s interior is filled with intense green rice paddies and lush jungle—a place expats enjoy life’s little luxuries at a fraction of the cost and where spas are part of the lifestyle.

Bali is only eight degrees south of the equator so you can count on most days being between 26 to 32 C with 75% humidity. The mountainous regions get some slightly cooler temperatures and the monsoon season is from October to April. But even the rainy season has plenty of sunny days.

Here are five places that are favourites for expat living.

1. Sanur

Sanur was one of the first towns in Bali to see tourists yet happily isn’t overrun by development and tourism. It’s a sophisticated town with a great food scene, a laidback lifestyle and a very local feel.

Sitting on the south-eastern coast of the island and only 30 minutes from the airport, Sanur has all the Western amenities needed to make moving there an easy transition.

In Sanur, it is easy to be part of the local community and the Balinese are a welcoming bunch. The town itself is small enough to ride a bicycle from end to end and has a laidback vibe. Sanur is a fascinating blend of traditional meets modern.

The beach is calm, just like the rest of the town. The pale green water is bath-like and a perfect place to learn to stand up paddleboard. It’s warm, shallow and flat, so if you’re looking to surf, Sanur isn’t the best spot. It is, however, ideal for snorkelling or learning to scuba dive because there is a reef right off shore teeming with fish and coral.

A paved boardwalk that runs the entire length of the beach, over four-and-a-half kilometres, is perfect for a sunrise stroll or jog. It’s lined with dozens of restaurants, local warungs, cafés at every price point and a few larger hotels.

2. Seminyak

Seminyak is one of the most popular expat choices in Bali. There are expats from all over the globe here, many of them Aussies. It’s also only 30 minutes away from the airport but in the opposite direction of Sanur, on the south-western coast.

Seminyak is a shopper’s paradise with every kind of boutique imaginable from high-end clothing stores to Balinese furniture, jewellery and art. Wedged in between the rows and rows of chic stores are hundreds of bars and restaurants. It’s stylish and trendy.

There are numerous beaches to choose from in the area, each catering to a different crowd from young backpackers to yachties. All are ideal for learning to surf or just to find a long fine stretch of sand to lounge upon.

There are restaurants galore to choose from mouth-watering tacos and robust Italian to Spanish tapas and swanky French fare. Prices range a couple of bucks for a local dish at a warung to white tablecloth, five-star cuisine if you’re happy to splash the cash.

Seminyak is known for its sizzling nightlife. As the sun sets, the party begins—watch the sky turn ruby red, prosecco in hand…

3. Ubud

Ubud is Bali’s spiritual heart—it’s the cultural and art epicentre of the island with an authentic Balinese ambiance. It’s teeming with expats who’ve moved there for an alternative lifestyle, more out of the norm and spiritually rich than Seminyak or Sanur.

Bordered by lush emerald rice paddies and at times a little cooler than Seminyak, Ubud is still only 30 minutes to the nearest beach. It’s an hour’s drive from the airport.

Nature plays a major role in Ubud, the locals embrace it. In the middle of town is the famed Monkey Forest where you can mingle with cheeky macaques in their natural habitat.

Ubud is chock full of temples and palaces where you can watch a different traditional dance performance every night of the week. It is where some of Bali’s most famous artists have made their home and there are plenty of museums showcasing their work.

In Ubud, it’s more about wellness therapy than retail therapy—think yoga retreats, meditation lessons, vegan cooking classes and places to balance your chakras. That said, the lifestyle in Ubud is balanced and you don’t have to be a health nut to live there.

4. Lovina

The name ’Lovina’ doesn’t sound Balinese, as the letter ‘v’ doesn’t exist in the local alphabet and it’s actually an abbreviation of the words ‘Love Indonesia’. In the 1950’s the Balinese author Anak Agung Panji Tisn had a holiday home here—named Lovina—and developed tourism in the area.

Located on the north of the island, the town spans two kilometres east to west, with a small area in the Kalibukbuk village as its main focal point and all of the beaches belong to the local fishing community. 

When you drive into the town, impressive Balinese gates frame the two roads which provide access to Lovina.

Local traditions here are much the same as elsewhere across the island, with the many temples and statues covered in the daily blessingscanang sariand colourful Balinese fabrics used to adorn them. Watch your step as smaller canang sari baskets are scattered across pathways in front of homes.

5. Canggu

Located just 15 minutes’ drive north from Seminyak, Canggu is a melting pot of tourists, locals and expats. What lures most people to the area is that even though development is proceeding quickly, you can still live amongst lush rice paddies and green countryside. The town spans about eight kilometres from Berawa beach to the village of Cemagi.

The coastline is fringed with lava stone temples, some of them are centuries old. At first the town might seem disjointed with the main three beaches being separated by rivers. Some streets are busy, while the roads and lanes leading away from the main thoroughfare are quiet. Local warungs thrive and attract visitors and expats just as much as the more modern restaurants appearing everywhere.

The food scene is vegetarian heaven, with many places focusing on raw and healthy menus, but don’t think you won’t find fish and meat, all appetites are well catered here.

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