Dec 15

I was asked by Lizza from expatinterviews.com, if I could fill out their questionaire about people living abroad from their home country. While surfing their website, it’s really interesting to compare the different interviews of other people, who are in similar situations but have different experiences and encounters in countries around our globe.

On further thought, I felt it could be interesting for my own site as well, so here are the questions and answers I provided: ;-)

Chris - Happy in Bali! :)Where were you born?

I was born in Germany, in a small town which has no more than 20.000 souls and is located not far from Berlin in the eastern part of Germany.

In which country and city are you living now?

Currently I’m living in Bali, Indonesia.

Are you living alone or with your family? How long have you been living there?

I live here with my fiancée. We arrived only 4 months ago, although we visited Bali a few times earlier over the last 3 years, so we knew what to expect.

What is your age?

34

When did you come up with the idea of living in that country (and what factors helped your decision)?

This story is a bit longer and goes back a few years:

When still living in Germany, Bali was always some sort of distant “dream-location” for me – a ‘far-far away land’, with an exotic touch in it’s name. An island which had always great weather, with dancing and smiling people. I didn’t even know at that time, that Bali was part of Indonesia.

A few years back my love with Asia started, when traveling to Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines, Australia and other countries in the region. Almost every year I had to come here for a few weeks and slowly I began to think about living here. On one of those common stopovers in Singapore I had a bit more time than usual and I discovered that my then current employer had an office there.

So I just walked in to say “Hello!” and check out what ‘crazy things’ my colleagues were doing in that ‘remote part of the world’. Surprisingly I ran into a colleague whom I still knew from Germany and he pointed out some open job positions to me.

It was basically the same job in the same company (Account Management for Key Customers), so I didn’t have to think long to decide that this was a great opportunity. A risk for sure, but with a parachute in case I wouldn’t get along.

As I was single and free of choice at that time, I moved to Singapore within 4 weeks after having signed the employment contract.

My time in Singapore allowed me to live and travel Asia heavily for the past 4 years, making me fall even more in love with the region, its people, the weather and its food. And I found love here as well! ;-)

So having worked in Singapore for 3 years, it was just time again to move on and explore life in different countries. Our first stop was Phuket in Thailand, where we moved due to its pristine beaches, the great Thai food and the cheap cost of living. Incredible Bali - Lake Batur

After about 8 months in Phuket we became a bit bored. So when the Thais decided to tighten their visa regulations, we thought why not try out something else and move to Bali, which offers nice beaches as well, the tasty Indonesian cuisine and a vibrant scene of young travelers.

On top of that Bali is located in the middle of Indonesia, so you can travel easily to other parts of the country like Lombok, Komodo Island, Flores, or East Java with its Mount Bromo or Borobodur Temple.

So far we like it a lot! ;-)

Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?

I’m here on a Social Visit Visa (‘Sosial Budaya’). It’s easy to get, when you have a local sponsor (which is more like a formality). We applied for it in Singapore and you can extend the visa directly in Bali. Every 6 months you have to leave the country and apply again.

Here is some more detail regarding the Visa process:

http://www.nomad4ever.com/2006/12/15/visa-extension-in-bali-how-does-it-work/

Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?

Honestly: I’m not a friend of insurances. That goes way back to my time in Germany, where everyone is practically forced to subscribe to all kinds of welfare insurances like health, social, employment and retirement insurances. You basically work half of your life to pay of those insurances. In the end, insurances don’t even pay enough anyway.

And when you are sick or dead, what good is money for?

Okay, seriously – so far, as we are both young and healthy, I don’t see it as a main problem. Healthcare is still affordable in Asia, so you can as well pay it out of your pocket, in case of need.

As another blogger put it: “Face the facts – you are either afraid, or you jump!” You can’t and don’t want to control everything.

I know this is a bit lax and controversial opinion and maybe I have to revise it in the future. ;-)

How do you make your living there? Do you have any type of income generated? (if you have a job there, how did you get it? How long did it take you to get a job there and how hard was it to find one? What tools did you use to land a job — a website, agency, etc.?)

I don’t work in Bali, as I’m here on a Social Visa only. From my previous activities I have a few streams of income like rent, dividends and interest, which all occur back in Europe. Due to the strong Euro compared to the Rupiah it’s more than enough to stay afloat here.

Online Stock trading and a bit of webdesign/blogging keep my brain flexible and provide some pocket money.

Do you speak the local language and do you think it’s important to speak the local language? (please add your thoughts on local customs and whether it’s important for expats to respect/observe local customs)

For sure it’s important that you can speak at least a few words to ask your way around, negotiate prices or articulate what you want to eat or buy. It makes things easier and shows your respect for the locals. You will have a much better standing with the people here and some doors are opening, which otherwise stay shut.

Though my fiancée is Indonesian (although not from Bali), she helps me a lot to catch up with words and phrases. Of course I can’t speak fluently yet, but over time that will surely improve.

I’m really surprised on how well the Indonesians speak English. I expected a hard time and a lot of miscommunication, as it happened to us in Thailand.

So basically it’s even possible to get around here without speaking ‘Bahasa Indonesia’ at all.

Do you miss home and family sometimes? (and describe your favorite recreational activities there or those that are available)

Of course I do! I try to visit my family at least once a year. On top of that my parents are still quite mobile and they visited us practically every year as well. We always had a ball of a time traveling together!

Usually we are on the phone once a week. With new technology like Skype, it’s not very expensive anymore to stay in touch over long distances. Connect a camera to your computer and you can even see the other one half ways around the globe.

Do you have other plans for the future? (future travel, business plans, etc.)

Definitely we want to see more and other parts of the world. So Bali won’t be our last station.

What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it? (or give a ballpark figure on how much a home with X number of rooms would cost in your area)

I don’t believe in the concept of owning a house for oneself. The german word for real estate or property is ‘Immobilie’. That basically says it all. Your own house makes you practically im-mobile, as there is always something to fix, money to spend on or problem to look after. Renting is our way of choice here and Bali offers very nice and affordable houses. I couldn’t even rent a 1-room apartment back in Europe for that money.

What is the cost of living there?

The cost of living here is way lower than in Europe, the US or in Singapore. But that doesn’t mean you can’t spend a lot of money here in a very short time. You have to calculate your expenses like anywhere else and learn to survive with what you have.

What do you think about the locals? (also how they treat foreigners)

Balinese CelebrationsThe Balinese are the most loveable people you can imagine. It’s amazing how they keep their culture and traditions alive, even with lots of tourists around. Unlike in Thailand, where the youth is pretty much neglecting their roots and are almost completely westernized, the Balinese seem to be able to preserve their traditions and everyone is involved in all kinds of celebrations and festivals throughout the year.

It’s a great sight, when Jalan Legian (one of the main roads in Bali) is completely blocked for traffic, just to have a celebration taking place with hundreds of people in their traditional costumes and sarongs, marching along with drums, burning scent sticks and food offerings for the gods.

The Balinese really enjoy life; they always have an honest smile and a bit of time for some chit-chat at every time of day. Foreigners are usually treated with respect. Of course you have the usual black sheep here as well, as in every country.

What are the positive and negative aspects of living in that country?

Positive is the great equatorial weather, the laid-back and relaxed atmosphere, the inexpensive local and international cuisine, the choices of entertainment, good value for money and the international crowd in Bali.

Sometimes the hawkers, who stroll the beaches and trying to sell you something every 5 minutes, can be a bit annoying, but you learn to ignore them. As a ‘Boleh’ in Indonesia (‘Farang’ in Thailand or ‘Ang Mo’ in Singapore’) you are naturally overcharged at the start, as in almost every other country in Asia. While learning the real prices over time – things become easier negotiable and of course cheaper.

Do you have any tips for our readers about living in that country?

Check out Indonesia on a few trips before deciding to live here permanently. Take everything easy and with a pinch of salt and don’t let other expats (including me, hehe) tell you, what is right or wrong here. Life is what *you* make it!

Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about anything related to that country and/or living there? (plug your own site(s) and/or your fave sites here! add a short description of the sites if necessary. Please limit to a maximum of FIVE blogs/sites about the country in which you are located.)

You can checkout my blog at http://www.nomad4ever.com

Thank you!


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written by Chris



21 Responses to “Life in Bali, Indonesia – Expat Interview”

  1. Indonesia » Blog Archive » Playboy on Trial in Indonesia UNITED STATES Says:

    […] As a Boleh in Indonesia ( Farang in Thailand or Ang Mo in Singapore ) you are naturally overcharged at the start, as in almost every other country in Asia. While learning the real prices over time – things become easier negotiable … – more – […]

  2. Indonesia » Blog Archive » Life in Bali, Indonesia - Expat Interview UNITED STATES Says:

    […] ( Farang in Thailand or Ang Mo in Singapore ) you are naturally overcharged at the start, as in almost every other country in Asia. While learning the real prices over time – things become easier negotiable … – more – […]

  3. KevinNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Awesome. I miss being an expat.

  4. jessNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Hey thanks for all the info. I’ve been looking into traveling to Indonesia lately. I actually just saw this video everybody should check out. Bali looks absolutely fabulous! : http://travelistic.com/video/show/341

  5. 5 reasons why I blog | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] Some of those schemes are quite smart and in a subliminal way manage to touch someones pride, vanity or ego. […]

  6. Rebecca JamesNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    Hi Chris – this is a really interesting interview. You’re so lucky to live in such a lovely place. I actually lived in Indonesia for 2 1/2 years (it’s almost 10 years since I left now) – but not in Bali, in Jakarta – and I grew to love the country and people and the food and the culture and the language……

    I’ve often thought of taking my (four) kids for a holiday to Bali but have been a bit scared since the Bali bomb. I realise that my fears are probably a bit ridiculous – but It’s just scary when you’ve got kids.

    Bec

  7. Is a Nomadic Lifestyle for you? | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] Related Posts How much money do you need to retire?Beckham goes to Hollywood – downshifting!How to Retire in your 30’sLife in Bali, Indonesia – Expat InterviewLibertarianismHow to downshift – learn to live more with less […]

  8. Andi VickyNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Good to know that you love to live in Indonesia..:D as an Indonesian I feel proud for that. But I feel ashamed too that maybe you (must) have a lot of bad experience in my country.

    “So basically it’s even possible to get around here without speaking ‘Bahasa Indonesia’ at all.”
    You can say it’s true for big city and tourism spot, but if go to some village or small town maybe it will hard, sometime even if you talk Bahasa Indonesia it doesn’t help because people in there speak only in local/region language. But don’t fear there only some place like that because English now become main study in every level Indonesia education.

    BTW I live in Jakarta because my job but I hate to live here I miss small town like Cimahi, Sukabumi, Cirebon etc.

  9. Follow that Ogoh Ogoh Monster! UNITED STATES Says:

    […] Blogging his adventure as nomad4ever, Chris ditched the western rat race after 14 years in a big ITC firm to explore ever-fascinating Asia from Thailand to Singapore to his current home-away-from-home in Bali, Indonesia. […]

  10. I will change your life . com » Blog Archive » Personal Stories of Change Blog Carnival: Edition 9 UNITED STATES Says:

    […] Chris presents Life in Bali, Indonesia – Expat Interview posted at nomad4ever. […]

  11. pinkblocks - personal power and self help » Blog Carnival on Personal Power October 27 2007 UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    […] Chris presents Life in Bali, Indonesia – Expat Interview posted at nomad4ever. […]

  12. Sin Young YunNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Wow… I live in Jakarta, Indonesia, but I’m from Korea… You must be very happy to live in sucha great place… BALI is an AMAZING place to stay, no traffic, fresh air, beautiful ocean, it’s amazing… Lucky YOU!! :D

  13. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Sin Young Yun, yes – we like it here very much. It’s really easy living, lovely nature and scenery and friendly/safe surrounding. Traffic is getting more here as well, at least in Denpasar and the touristy areas, but there is plenty of space if you look for tranquility and peaceful/calm landscapes.

    Although I’m slowly getting itchy feet again, in 10/2008 it will be 2 years already. Time to try out some other amazing destinations? :-/

  14. BillNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Chris, do you own rental property back in Europe? You said you have a “few streams of income like rent, dividends and interest,” but then you also said you “don’t believe in the concept of owning a house for oneself.” It sounds like you own rental property in Europe for profit while renting out in Indonesia for your own shelter. You come out ahead because a rent in Europe is higher than in Indonesia.

    Please clarify. I’m trying to understand how you support yourself financially while living abroad. Thanks!

  15. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Bill, you are right. Just to give an example: to rent a small 1-room flat in Europe you spend probably around 300 Euro. For that rental price you can rent a small house in Bali or other countries in Asia. And rent is probably the largest amount of living expenses you will run into. Food, clothes and transportation is easier to handle, so if you have additional income sources from other savings, it’s perfectly possible to retire early in Asia, with income streams in Euro or other ‘hard’ currency.

    Oh yeah, a 1-room apartment in a smaller university town in Germany can go for as low as 50.000 Euro purchase price. So if you own 1 or 2 of those, you actually already set, as you will almost always rent them out (university towns are especially good for this) and generate stable income streams through that.

  16. OzieNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    dude, can you help me with information of expat community in cirebon? cause I am now leaving bali an decide to live in cirebon cause of my mom, perhaps i can do business in computers with those like i did here.

  17. ChrisNo Gravatar GERMANY Says:

    dude, no idea. Maybe your mom knows? Where is cirebon anyway? ;-)

  18. IngolfNo Gravatar GERMANY Says:

    Hallo Christian,

    fröhliche Grüße aus dem kalten Harz,

    ich will vom ca.20.2 bis 13.3. mit meinen Sohn nach Bali fliegen um Urlaub zu machen und den 60. Geburtstag meines Freundes und ehemaligen Kollegen(DTAG) zu feiern. Er wohnt immer über Winter auf Bali und ist natürlich an dt. Kontakte auf Bali interessiert.
    Ich freue mich wenn wir uns auf Bali in der Zeit treffen können und Du mir noch ein paar Tipps für Bali geben kannst.

    Fröhliche Grüße Ingolf

  19. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Ingolf, you’ve got mail! ;-)

  20. PinkyNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    That is a Nice interview. I haven’t been to Bali yet, maybe on summer next year. Will give you an update soon.

  21. AlNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    I’ll choose Singapore than Bali. Its more convenient for me, and there is no problem when it comes to peace and security.

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