Bali: Cost of living

“If you want to have a driver, full staff, nanny, big house….you can, if you’ve got the wallet for it. But you can also have a pretty sweet standard of living as a “not rich” normal person…

I get this question alot and the truth is it can cost as much or as little as you like. If you want to have a driver, full staff, nanny, big house, big pool, beach front or epic views – you can, if you’ve got the wallet for it. But you can also have a pretty sweet standard of living as a not rich, normal person with a few special comforts that are waaaaay more affordable here than in the west. I’m gonna break it down for you…


We call them villas here dahling 🙂 Firstly if you’re thinking of moving to Bali long term, you should know – foreigners can’t technically “own” property in Indonesia. Not freehold anyway. You can rent short term (usually done yearly) or you can leasehold a property for 30-50 years which is how many Bali expat locals “buy” property in the long term. For the purposes of this post, I’m just gonna focus on short term rentals since that’s what I get most questions about. Its not an easy answer cause like anywhere its gonna depend on location, size, age of the property blah blah blah but if you work on about 12-15 million IDR per month (150-180 million IDR/year) for a 3 bed villa with a pool and go from there (up or down depending on the factors I already mentioned) that should give you a realistic place to start.


This can be a luxury or a norm. Its very normal to have staff at home here but how much help you have depends on how much help you want. If you have a pool, a pool guy is a must! Our guy comes 3 times a week (for a half hour) and charges us 600k IDR per month and our pool is always crystal clear! We have a lovely couple that work in our home – cleaning, cooking, laundry, gardening – 6 days a week, 8.30-12.30pm but most people I know who have staff have them in for a full day. Ibu and Pak Ketut (aforementioned lovely couple) work for us but they are more than just staff to us, they are our Bali family. Their youngest son is friends with Arlo, we went to their daughters wedding, attended the blessing of their first grandchild and they’ve taken care of us when we got so sick with food poisoning we couldn’t take care of ourselves, never mind the kids. We don’t have a nanny but Ibu watches the kids when we need a babysitter at night or even during the day when I need it and Hardin’s working away. I’d be lost without them – the kids adore them and they adore the kids.


Wifi, electric and a cash handshake with the bin men are about our total house bills each month. We don’t have a tv package so our wifi is internet only for 500k per month. And electric mostly depends on how much you run the pool pump, enjoy air conditioning and leave lights on but we have a four bedroom house with no walls, so AC is in the bedrooms only at night and the pool pump is on a timer so our electric is usually around 1.5million IDR/month.


Having a driver is normal for some people and we did when we first arrived but I found it expensive and I don’t like the feeling of not fully having my independence so I drive myself now. Renting a car each month is about 3-3.6 million rupiah but motorbikes are cheaper at about 500k per month. We have the car for most stuff that involves the kids and keep the bike for trips around town or for us without the kids.

With Ibu and Pak Ketut at their daughters wedding almost 2 years ago – god, Eia was so bald!!! Hehehe!

Cheap as chips. I can fill my soccer mum car for a little over £10 and the motorbike is peanuts!

Groceries & Eating Out

If you shop in the really western super markets, expect western prices. Same goes for restaurants. But THE best thing about Indonesia when it comes to food is the local markets for fresh produce and the small warungs for tasty, cheap Indonesian food! If you shop at the market, you have to barter well! Ibu goes to the market for us and gets fruit, veg, meat, eggs etc when we need it but more recently we’ve been getting deliveries straight from the market and farmers, ordering from Bali No Plastic. Its cheap, easy and the fruit and veg is sooooooo good!


Our kids aren’t school age and they don’t go to preschool but if you’re an expat in Indonesia this is gonna be one of your biggest expenses! If you’re kids aren’t Indonesian, they can’t attend public state schools which means you’re gonna be paying for private schools or international schools. Like I said, we’re not there yet so I don’t know first hand the costs and it will depend on which school you choose but preschool and kindergarten seems to start from a few thousand dollars per year/per child right up to tens of thousands of dollars per year/per child for high school. Yikes!


This also depends on many factors but we’re all healthy, no pre existings and our quotes for full cover with med evac ranged from £5000 per year for the whole family to £20,000 per year! FML! If you don’t have insurance, you better have savings cause when you go to hospital the first thing they’re gonna ask for is your credit card details. I grew up in Scotland with the NHS – people don’t always have great things to say about it but for me, it was a gift from god. Paying up front for health care has been one of my hardest adjustments here! So if anyone back in the UK is reading this and works for the NHS or knows someone that does – thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service. I miss you!!!!!!

I think that’s pretty much everything! I’ve probably missed some stuff but this is the main points me thinks! Bottom line – Bali isn’t as cheap as it once was or people think it still is but our standard of living is definitely higher here in many ways cause its still cheaper than the west. We have a pool here – couldn’t afford that in Scotland! Though I think its called ice there 😛 jokes! But, seriously…

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