Practicalities of Moving to Bali – Part 3

What Are The Laws Pertaining To Owning Property?

Stories are legion about foreigners who have been cheated out of their money and land when buying property in Bali. People tend to get starry-eyed and act with less caution than they would if they were buying property in their home country. You need to proceed slowly and with caution.

The laws have been slightly modified recently which offer more options to the foreigner who wishes to buy or lease property in Bali. The laws are complex enough that I will not try to explain them here. There are several web sites that detail the regulations of property acquisition. The one thing that all of them have in common is insisting that the buyer beware and find legal representation. A few web sites to consult are: Wonderful Bali (, and Bali Information (

Is There An Available Supply Of Housing, And What Are The Costs?

These days there is a plethora of housing options available in Bali that range from $1,000 a year Balinese-style houses to rent to million dollar villas to buy. It is possible now to find a house to fit any budget. A number of real estate companies have moved into the Balinese market over the past decade. A few examples (which I am only listing, not endorsing) are: Bali Karma Properties ( which sells and leases land and villas, as well as building swimming pools, etc., Bali Property Information (, and Tropical Homes: Bali’s Best Properties ( which is a very upscale real estate company. In addition to selling and leasing incredibly expensive luxury homes, Tropical Homes also has two bedroom apartments for sale in the range of $80,000 to $135,000.

While using these companies obviates the difficulties of looking for a place to live on your own, they tend to charge extremely high prices (compared with what you might be able to negotiate on your own, not to mention what an Indonesian would pay for the same property). An example is a five-room house located in the less popular north of Bali which has a Balinese-style bathroom and which lists for about $42,000.

What Are The Rules For Foreigners Who Want To Live In Bali?

Indonesia changed its visa policy this February. Previously, tourists from many countries were granted a free 60 visa on arrival. The new law offers tourists from a limited number of countries visas on arrival for 30 days and at the cost of $25. Tourists from other countries must apply for a visa in their country before they arrive in Indonesia. It is possible to obtain 60 days visas for an additional fee if you apply in your home country. However, all of these visas are not appropriate for the potential expatriate. Many expatriates hold a social visa that is good for six months, but must be renewed monthly at the immigration office. Applicants for a social visa need an Indonesian sponsor. These visas are relatively inexpensive, but the monthly renewal can be time-consuming and irritating. A favored option is to use a visa service like Bali IDE ( that will take care of the paperwork you need to obtain the visa and then renew it for you monthly. There is a new retirement visa for people 55 years of age and older. Applicants for this type of visa need to have proof of a pension plan or sufficient funds in a bank account, health insurance, life insurance, proof of residence in a designated tourist area, and at least one Indonesian employee. Additionally there are several other visas – business, working permit – that can be obtained with the correct documentation and fees.

Living in Bali can be the experience of a lifetime, and there are many expatriates who have lived there blissfully for years. But like with any major lifestyle decision, caution needs to be exercised. I can’t tell you how many foreigners I have met over the past 15 years in Bali who arrived lock, stock and barrel and were gone within a year because they weren’t prepared for all the realities of living in Indonesia because in spite of what some expatriates like to pretend, Bali is still part of Indonesia with all of the good and bad that that situation encompasses. Come and visit, study the culture, do your research, talk to long-term expatriates, monitor the Bali forums on the internet, and then make your move if you feel that Bali is really for you. It could be the best thing that you’ve ever done for yourself.

Excerpted from “The Practicalities Of Moving To Bali” in Escape From America Magazine, Issue 69.