An Attempt at a Generic Reply to Readers

I’m not sure what it is – maybe the cold weather in the States or the hot weather in Australia or a feeling of malaise from the Europeans, but I’ve been getting an unusual amount of email from readers (that I didn’t know I had) about moving to Bali. And, I’m just snowed under now trying to get work done of the school website and keep up my websites and blogs and chill and cook and spend some quite time figuring out what I am going to do next month, so I’m writing a blanket response to emails that I hope will answer the main questions that I have been receiving.

No, the situation in Bali is not the same as it was when I wrote the articles about Bali for Escape Artist. In fact, those articles are probably four or five years old. Prices have gone up quite steeply since then, and the island is getting more crowded as the expat population continues to grow as well as the migrants from Java and other islands around the country.

About Prices

The price of gasoline or petrol or whatever you call it in your country went way up and is on its way back down now. But, when the price of fuel went up so did everything else. And, as my wife just said a few hours ago, even though the price of fuel has dropped nothing else has. The cost of food and other things is showing no signs of dropping at the moment. When I created the budgets that I published, I underestimated the price of education. My children’s school costs continue to rise, and this is for local schools. Three of my children are in private schools and one is in a public school. Still, the costs are nothing compared to having them in international or national plus schools.

Food has gone up, and in particular, food that expats like such as cheese and other imported things like sardines. A tin of sardines cost almost $2 now. If you want to keep your cholesterol down, it’s going to cost you a bit.

Alcohol has reached the stratosphere if you drink anything that is imported like scotch or good wine. Local liquid refreshments like beer and local wine is still relatively cheap – you can buy the local beer for about 80 cents for a small bottle. Don’t even think about scotch unless you are a serious drinker because you can pay your electric and phone bill for the price of a bottle of scotch.


Boy is this a source of controversy. There are some folks who continue to claim that starting a business here is easy and almost a sure money maker, but the number of failed restaurants and bars continues to grow and with the impact of the global economic crisis just hitting Bali, things will only get worse. There’s already a glut of rooms on the island and unless you have some super idea for a special boutique hotel, forget about buying a hotel. If someone is selling their hotel now, it’s because they are losing money. Education is still an industry that is employing people, but the schools here will eventually feel the effects of the crisis, and the salaries in Bali have always been far below international standards for comparable schools.

Bali has always had a floating community of expat exporters who show up and buy arts and crafts and then sell them back in their home countries, but the paper today had some depressing news about the downturn in that industry.

The Short and Skinny

Bali, in many ways is still much like it was fifty years ago. Take a look at this video and with the exception of the topless Balinese women, you can find these scenes in any village in Bali.

The island is still beautiful outside of the tourist/expat ghettos in the south. Life goes on as usual even if it will become a bit tighter because of the global crisis. The main thing is to get out of the Western mindset and enjoy and embrace the culture for what it is. I get this perverse charge out of reading the Bali expat forums which are all about how much things cost and how to get a driver’s license and how to bribe a cop with nothing about the culture of the island. Who are these people moving here? I hope that the people who are buying my book (or not) and planning on moving here don’t fall into this category. Learn about the history and culture of this incredibly fascinating island and country. There’s more here than one person can absorb in a lifetime so get started on it today.


~ by drbrucepk on February 7, 2009.

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