Bali is an island and province of Indonesia situated just off the coast of Java. As the only hindu-majority region of Indonesia, it is known as the ‘Island of a Thousand Temples’. These landmarks, along with Bali’s golden beaches and laid-back way of life attract hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. More recently, the low cost of living in Bali has started to attract expats, retirees and digital nomads too, who move in search of a new way of life and a great place to live and work.
Moving to Bali as an expat or digital nomad, you’ll find the island to be brimming with other foreign nationals like you. Over 100,000 expats already call Bali home. The majority of these foreign nationals come from Russia, the USA, the UK, Australia, Germany, Japan, France, Italy and Holland. As such, English has become the third-most spoken language in Bali, behind the native languages of Indonesian and Balinese.
But is Bali cheap like everyone says? We’re here today to look at the cost of living in Bali, taking into account everything from accommodation, to daily spending on food, to the cost of education, transport and healthcare. Not to spoil the surprise, but the answer is yes, Bali is cheap – especially if you know your way around like a local!
With average monthly expenses of US$548, Indonesia is one of the cheapest countries in the world to live. Bali takes full advantage of that low cost of living, offering a sun-swept paradise packed full of ancient temples, and a relaxing way of life that makes a stark contrast to bustling Jakarta (one of the most stressed cities in the world), all at a low price that makes the island attractive to foreigners.
To put the cost of living in Bali into perspective, here’s what you will expect to pay for everyday necessities:
Average cost in Bali (USD)*
*As of June 2023, Numbeo
No wonder, then, that Bali is renowned for its low cost of living. Westerners will find the island to be incredibly cheap compared to their home countries, which is why it has become an attractive destination to live and work.
However, the low cost of living in Bali is tempered by low wages and an unemployment rate of over 5%. Those coming to Bali as expats tend to work remotely as digital nomads, allowing them to earn Western salaries. If your income is sourced from one of the 71 countries with which Indonesia has a double taxation agreement (including the UK, USA, India, France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands), you won’t need to pay income tax to the Indonesian government while living in Bali.
Bali also benefits from being attached to the economy of Indonesia, a rapidly-modernising country and the largest market in Southeast Asia. Bali’s capital, Denpasar, is only the 24th-largest city in Indonesia, but ranks 9th according to GDP. Tourism is playing a key part in the city’s growth – indeed, Bali is the most-visited destination in Indonesia. If you intend to work locally while living in Bali, you will find the majority of employment opportunities to be in this sector.
Now is a fantastic time to move to Bali, as you can take full advantage of the low cost of living and enjoy a high-quality lifestyle in one of the most beautiful regions of the world.
Like most other parts of the world, Bali has been impacted by the cost of living crisis. In early 2022, Indonesia’s rate of inflation shot up from 2% to over 6%. Things have started to balance out as of May 2023, with inflation falling to 4% in the first months of 2023, but inflation in Indonesia is predicted to remain above 2% until at least 2028.
Rising inflation has made the cost of living in Bali significantly more expensive than it was just a few years ago. Everything from the price of consumer goods, to accommodation and transport has shot up in price. Having said that, Westerners will still find the cost of living in Bali to be comparatively much lower to that in their home countries.
However, it is fair to say that Indonesia is recovering from the cost of living crisis faster than other countries. For instance, the price of fuel dropped sharply in June 2023, from US$0.94 to US$0.85 per litre.
Like many other countries, Indonesia has also been affected by the war between Russia and Ukraine. With both countries integral to Indonesia’s trading markets, Indonesia has remained neutral, and has opted not to place sanctions on Russia. Indonesia’s trade with Russia continues to be worth over US$1.7 billion to their economy every year, but the rising price of this trade has fallen back on the economy, leading to the levels of inflation Indonesia has seen in recent months.
On the bright side, a strong response from the Indonesian government saw a faster return to manageable levels of inflation than have been witnessed in other parts of the world. While the rate of inflation at 4% will still cause prices to rise, this will happen at a far slower pace than in countries, such as the UK, where inflation remains around 6%.
The price of accommodation in Bali will vary depending on where you choose to live and the size of property.
The most popular areas for expats are on the outskirts of the capital city of Denpasar, especially in the regions of Canggu, Ubud and Uluwatu. If you prefer to live nearer to the coast, you may also like to live in Jimbaran, Seminyak or Munggu.
All of these areas offer an excellent quality of life at a low cost of living. For your money, you will benefit from high air quality, great weather and a very high level of personal safety. Bali is known as a generally safe area with a declining crime rate – as of 2020, there were 60 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants. By comparison, the rate of crime in London is 92 per 1,000 inhabitants.
When it comes to the cost of accommodation, you will probably find that for the same price you’d pay to rent in a major Western city, you could find very luxurious accommodation in Bali. Many expats choose to live in villas that include air conditioning, swimming pools and a number of modern conveniences such as newly-fitted bathrooms, high-speed internet and cleaning services.
The cheapest property we could find to rent in Bali cost US$374 per month to rent and included a swimming pool, brand new bedroom and kitchen, plus a garden.
Here are the prices you can expect to pay to rent an expat property in Bali per month:
Lowest rent (US$)
Highest rent (US$)
All in all, the cost to rent a property in Bali is around 70% cheaper than it is in London.
What is the cost of buying property in Bali?
Can foreigners buy property in Bali?
Buying property in Bali as an expat is a complex process, and you will need legal help even if you intend to buy a property with cash. Foreigners are not allowed to own land in Bali, but they can own a property built on land they lease from the government or a private owner.
You can therefore purchase either a freehold or leasehold property. A freehold property gives you full rights to ownership, but you will need a local nominee to help you secure the purchase. Leaseholds typically last for 20–30 years, after which they can be renewed, but the property technically remains in the ownership of the government or land owner.
Many foreign expats choose to purchase property in Bali through a foreign-owned liability company. This is because while a private individual cannot own land in Indonesia, a business can.
In order to own land through a company, you will need to meet the minimum capital investment of US$700,000. Since the director of the company must be based in Indonesia, you may still need a local sponsor to help you.
A local sponsor is an Indonesian person or company who will hold property in your name. Your real estate agent may be able to help you find a nominee.
Ultimately, a foreign buyer can own property in Indonesia, but will be subject to many restrictions. It’s best to do your research and seek local expert advice before committing to purchasing property in Bali.
How much does it cost to purchase property in Bali?
As a foreign expat, you will find the price of property in Bali to be much cheaper than you would expect to pay in the west.
In our property search, we found properties ranging from US$150,000 for a modest one-bedroom villa, inland in Munggu, to US$2.1 million for a sprawling six-bedroom modern villa in the same area. By our calculations, the median price for a property in Bali appears to be US$380,000.
It is important to remember that buying property in Bali will incur many additional fees, especially if you are buying as a foreign national. These fees include:
- Land & Building Transfer Tax: 5% to be paid on the price agreed
- Land & Building Tax: 0.5% of the value of the land on which the property resides
- Notary (conveyancing) fees: These typically range from 1% – 2.5% but may be higher based on the complexity of the sale
- Luxury Goods Sales Tax: If you are purchasing a property deemed to be ‘luxury’ (i.e. a townhouse over the value of US$1.5 million, or an apartment over US$740,000), you may be subject to an additional tax of 20% on the value of the land and/or building
What are the costs of household bills in Bali?
While inflation has made the cost of household bills in Bali slightly higher, expats will still find their monthly expenses to be very reasonable. Internet is slightly more expensive in Bali than in other parts of the world, but the pay-off is that you can usually benefit from high-speed internet.
See below for the average cost of bills in Bali:
Average cost in Bali (USD)*
*As of June 2023, Numbeo
If you are living in an apartment complex, you may also need to be mindful of additional charges, such as service charges and cleaning fees. As you would expect, the cost of living in Bali’s rural areas tends to be significantly cheaper, although you won’t have access to the same high-quality infrastructure you’ll find in and around Denpasar.
Unfortunately, Indonesia is not renowned for its quality of education. Out of all OECD countries, Indonesia ranks rock-bottom in almost every metric.
It is the lowest-performing country for maths, literacy and science, and far below the OECD average for all three. The Indonesian government has responded to its poor international showing by ramping up education spending in recent years, however there is still a long way to go before Indonesia can stand on a par with other developed countries.
For this reason, many expats in Bali choose to send their children to one of the island’s many international schools. Bali alone has 21 international schools, which tend to be concentrated around the capital city of Denpasar.
These schools offer teaching in various languages and education styles, including the British, Australian, French and IB curriculums.
The yearly cost for sending your child to an international school in Bali ranges from US$2,740 to US$20,000.
What is the cost of higher education in Bali?
Indonesia fares slightly better when it comes to tertiary education, with 5 universities in the QS World University Rankings 2023 Top 500.
These are Gadjah Mada University, Bandung Institute of Technology, Universitas Indonesia, Airlangga University and IPB University. All five of these universities are on Java.
Bali, meanwhile, has eight universities, however none of these rank on the global leaderboards. The cost of studying at a university in Bali ranges from around US$2,000 to US$5,000 per year.
Don’t expect modern public transit systems in Bali. The island is somewhat behind the times when it comes to public transport infrastructure, with no metro or train lines to speak of. For this reason, most people choose to get around Bali in one of three ways: by motorbike, taxi or by bus.
If you intend to get around by taxi, it’s best to use registered blue taxis, also known as Blue Bird Taxis or Bali Taxis. You can summon a Blue Bird Taxi by downloading their official app. The cost of these taxis tends to be very cheap, and you can travel a long distance for only a few US dollars.
If you prefer to go by bus, look for the Bemo minibuses. These vary in shape and design, from minivans to tuk tuks. Beware: the larger vehicles can get very cramped and sweaty! However, they are by far the cheapest way to get around (although the driver may try to charge you more as a foreigner).
When it comes to hiring your own motorcycle or car, be aware that many roads in Bali are notoriously dangerous.
Always follow road safety advice and don’t travel without comprehensive health insurance if you are making your own way around the island.
Having said that, the ease and convenience of having access to your own vehicle will make transport a breeze. The cost to rent a motorcycle ranges from US$3.50 to US$21 per day depending on the make and model; for a car, you’ll be looking at around US$50 to US$250 per day.
Ultimately, the cost of all three methods is very low, so getting around shouldn’t eat into your living expenses in Bali:
Average cost in Bali (US$)*
*Data correct as of June 2023, Numbeo
Healthcare is the jewel in Bali’s crown. Bali boasts world-class healthcare infrastructure, which is even starting to draw many medical tourists from abroad. Investment in Bali’s public healthcare system has led to a gradual increase in life expectancy, from 66 years in 1990 to 75 years in 2019.
This bucks a wider trend across the rest of Indonesia, where the quality of public healthcare is notoriously over-stretched, with an average of just 15.9 health professionals per 10,000 inhabitants (as of 2015) – compared to, for instance, France, where there are 124.9 professionals per 10,000 inhabitants.
It is important to remember that, as an expat, you will not be eligible to benefit from Indonesia’s public healthcare system unless you are able to pay cash in hand. The cost of healthcare in Bali can range from as little as US$25 for a medical consultation, to over US$200,000 for cancer treatments. Therefore, if you are going to be living in Bali, it is absolutely essential you take out international health insurance. This will help you to cover your medical expenses should you require substantial treatment.
International health insurance will also allow you to access Bali’s network of high-quality private hospitals and healthcare facilities. Your health insurance provider will be able to point you in the direction of the best and nearest healthcare centre to suit your, or your family’s needs, and you will also find doctors who speak English and other foreign languages in these hospitals.
Furthermore, you will be entitled to medical evacuations should you require life or limb-saving treatment. Some healthcare facilities in Bali may lack equipment or medical professionals, but with a medical evacuation, you can be transported to another hospital – either on Java, or elsewhere in Southeast Asia, or even to your home country – to get the treatment you need. William Russell provides this with our Medevac Plus cover.
The low cost of living in Bali makes it an attractive destination for expats. With affordable housing, low daily expenses and cheap transport – coupled, of course, with incredible scenery and picturesque beaches – Bali makes the ideal location to move either as an expat, retiree or digital nomad. Bear in mind that the cost of living in Bali may change due to the ongoing global cost of living crisis – but for now, it’s easy to take advantage of the affordability in this part of Indonesia.
While it is affordable, there are still some things you should keep in mind when moving to Bali, so that you don’t accidentally overspend. Here are our top tips for managing your finances when moving to Bali:
1/ Take your work with you
Finding employment in Bali can be exceptionally difficult for expats. While there is work to be found in the thriving tourism sector, these jobs tend to be low paid, meaning you are likely to end up with a much smaller budget and a much higher cost of living in Bali than you’d expect.
For this reason, many expats moving to Bali tend to take their work with them, so that they can work remotely. Taking home a Western salary will allow you to live well in Bali, opening the door to more modern accommodation, good food and opportunities to travel.
Make sure you’ve checked if your home country has a double taxation agreement with Indonesia. If it doesn’t, you may be eligible to pay income tax while living in Bali.
2/ Set aside rent payments
Your rent and mortgage payments will account for the majority of your outgoings as an expat in Bali.
It’s important to do your research before settling down, to make sure you choose accommodation that is within your budget. Many expats go to Airbnb, or one of the many property rental websites that cover Bali. But you may also want to consider speaking to a property expert ahead of time – they could help you to find a better deal than you’d find online.
Remember also that you may be eligible to pay security deposits and cleaning fees on accommodation you rent, so make sure to include these in monthly expenses.
3/ Calculate your monthly bills
As inflation drives up the cost of living in Bali, you may find that energy, petrol and utilities bills creep up month-by-month. It’s important to know how much you will be expected to pay for your monthly bills and to ensure you have this income set aside.
One area you should pay particular attention to are your monthly private medical insurance premiums. If you are staying in Bali for longer than a month, you may find that travel insurance is insufficient for your needs. International health insurance can cover you long-term, and even offers additional benefits you won’t find with travel insurance.
Find out more about the difference between international health insurance and travel insurance.
If you believe that your income may change, global income protection insurance could help you to manage your cost of living in Bali.
4/ Stick to your monthly budget
Once you’ve worked out your monthly outgoings, you can rest easy knowing that your budget is secure. The good news is that expats in Bali tend to enjoy a very high standard of living. Have fun!
Insurance to help you manage the cost of living in Bali
For over 30 years, William Russell has helped expatriates like you settle into a new life overseas.
Our comprehensive insurance packages give you and your family peace of mind. Our global health insurance ensures you can access high-quality medical treatment abroad, while income protection insurance is there should you experience a cash flow shortfall.
Speak to us today to find out more about how we could help you make the most of your new life as an expat in Bali.