moving to Bali as an expat

A Comprehensive Guide: Moving to Bali as an Expat

InCorp Editorial Team

Table of Content

Are you considering moving to Bali as an expat? If the answer is yes, other than what has drawn you to live in Bali, you must also know that it takes more than dreams of beautiful seas and incredible beaches.

As an expat in Bali, you must also be prepared for the facts that might complicate your move if you do not consider them. This article provides a detailed look at the basics you will have to know before moving to Bali as an expat.

Why Foreigners Move to Bali?

Beyond its stunning natural beauty, Bali offers a unique blend of culture, lifestyle, and opportunities, making it a sought-after destination for expatriates and travelers. This article will explore why foreigners choose Bali as their new home or preferred vacation spot.

1. Natural Beauty

Bali’s breathtaking landscapes, from lush rice terraces to pristine beaches, are undoubtedly one of its biggest draws. Foreigners often move to Bali to immerse themselves in the paradise of diverse geography and enjoy the island’s tropical climate all year round.

2. Rich Culture and Traditions

Bali’s unique culture and traditions are deeply ingrained in daily life. Visitors are captivated by the island’s religious ceremonies, vibrant festivals, and intricate arts, such as traditional dance and music. Many expatriates are drawn to Bali to experience and participate in this rich cultural tapestry.

3. Affordability

Compared to many Western countries, Bali offers a lower cost of living, making it an attractive destination for those seeking to stretch their budgets. Accommodation, food, and transportation costs are often significantly lower, allowing foreigners to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank..

4. Welcoming Community 

Bali has a reputation for its warm and welcoming community. Expats connect easily with locals and other foreigners, creating a sense of belonging. The island’s diverse expatriate community ranges from digital nomads and entrepreneurs to retirees and families seeking a more relaxed way of life.

5. Vibrant Food Scene 

Bali’s food scene is a melting pot of international and local flavors. From delicious street food stalls to upscale restaurants, the island offers various culinary experiences. For foreigners passionate about food, Bali is a paradise of gastronomic delights.

6. Wellness and Holistic Lifestyle

Bali has gained recognition as a wellness hub, attracting yoga enthusiasts, wellness practitioners, and those seeking a holistic lifestyle. The island has yoga retreats, meditation centers, and spas catering to beginners and experienced practitioners.

7. Business Opportunities:

Bali’s thriving tourism industry has created business opportunities for foreigners. Many entrepreneurs have established successful ventures, such as restaurants, resorts, and online businesses, capitalizing on the island’s popularity as a tourist destination.

Challenges Moving to Bali as Expats

Known for its diversity and infamous throughout the international community, Bali poses challenges for expats who want to move and reside in another country for the first time. Therefore, if you decide to move to Bali, you must ensure you understand and can overcome the challenges. 

1. Visa Regulations

Navigating Indonesia’s visa regulations can be a complex process prior moving to Bali. Many expatriates initially enter Bali on a tourist visa and later seek ways to extend or obtain more permanent residency. Understanding the various visa options and complying with changing regulations can be daunting.

2. Language Barrier

Although English is widely spoken in tourist areas, expats may need help communicating effectively in Indonesian, especially in more rural parts of Bali. Learning the local language, Bahasa Indonesia, can be essential for daily interactions and building meaningful relationships.

3. Cultural Adjustment

Bali’s rich cultural heritage is a significant draw, but it can also pose challenges for expatriates. Adapting to local customs, rituals, and ceremonies can be a steep learning curve. Respect for Balinese traditions and beliefs is crucial to integrate into the community seamlessly.

4. Cost of Living

While Bali is known for its affordability, the cost of living can vary greatly depending on one’s lifestyle choices. Expats who seek a Western-style lifestyle with luxury accommodations may find that expenses add up quickly.

5. Health and Healthcare

Access to quality healthcare and health insurance can concern expats. While Bali has a growing healthcare sector, major medical issues may require evacuation to nearby countries with advanced medical facilities.

Moving to Bali with the Right Visa

First and foremost, the most important thing is to consider the type of visa you need before moving to Bali. Due to the constant change and revision of the Indonesian immigration law, you must keep updated on the latest visa requirements. Ensure you are always permitted to stay in Bali legally with the correct visa type. Below are some of the common visas for Bali ex-pats.

Visa for Short Visit in Bali

There are two types of visa for a short stay in Bali:

  • Free tourist visa (Validity: 30 days; Extendibility: No)
  • Visa on Arrival – VoA (Validity: 30 days; Extendibility: Yes)

Short-visit visas will be issued upon your arrival in Bali. However, remember that some airports in Indonesia do not publish VoA, and you will encounter issues when entering the country without the knowledge. Contact InCorp to ensure which airports in Indonesia can issue VoA.

One more thing that expats need to note is that you are forbidden to work in Bali, or any part of Indonesia, with short-stay visas. In other words, you are not able to participate in any profit-generating activities, even if it’s freelancing jobs.

Read more: 5 Tips for Choosing an Indonesian Visa Agent

Business Visa in Bali

If you intend to attend business events such as meetings, conferences, training, etc., as preparation for starting your business in Bali, a business visa is the one. Business visas can also be categorized into two types.


A single-entry visa allows you to enter and leave the country only once. The validity is 60 days, but you can extend the visa up to four times.


If you need more than a one-time entry, you can apply for a multiple-entry business visa for several visits to Bali or Indonesia. A multiple-entry business visa is valid for 12 months with unlimited visits. However, each visit is limited to 60 days.

Remember that business visas do not equal work permits for all expats, so you cannot work and earn income in Bali. Both work permits and business visas require visa sponsorship from a reliable Indonesian company. 

InCorp will be able to assist you with the sponsorship requirement. Apply online for your business visa in Bali to avoid the tedious process of immigration.

Limited Residency Permit (ITAS/KITAS)

You will need a limited residency permit known as ITAS or KITAS for long-term residency in Bali. ITAS/KITAS can be categorized into several types: working KITAS, investor KITAS, marriage KITAS, and retirement KITAS

Working KITAS

If working is the primary purpose of staying in Bali, you will need a working KITAS. You can get a working KITAS only when you have a legal entity in Indonesia that sponsors you. These legal entities include PT PMA (a foreign-owned company), PT (a local company), and the representative office of a foreign company in Indonesia.

Legal entities must meet specific capital requirements to provide KITAS sponsorship to foreigners. A working KITAS is valid for six to twelve months, depending on the job type and the work permit’s validity.

Investor KITAS

You can apply for an investor KITAS if you are a shareholder of a PT PMA. The requirements differ depending on whether you are also a director or commissioner of the company. An investor KITAS is valid for two years.

Marriage KITAS

A marriage KITAS or spouse KITAS is possible when you are married to an Indonesian citizen. However, a marriage KITAS only enables one to live in Bali rather than to work in Bali. If you intend to work, you must get a work permit from an employer.

Once you and your Indonesian spouse have been married for two years, your KITAS can be upgraded to a KITAP (permanent residency permit). Working independently, such as freelancing or consulting, is allowed when you have a KITAP. After two years of marriage, you can apply for a permanent stay permit (KITAP).

Retirement KITAS

For seniors over 55, you can apply for a retirement KITAS in Bali. The validity of a retirement KITAS is 12 months, but an annual extension is allowed. Thus, you will have a retirement visa for 5 years, and then you can apply for a KITAP afterward. Like the marriage KITAS, you cannot work in Bali with a retirement visa.

Read more: How to Protect Yourself from Visa Scams and Fraudulent Visa Agents

Setting up A Company in Bali

As discussed, one of the reasons most expats stay in Bali is to set up a company and fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams. Since you already have a big picture of the type of visa you need, we are moving on to how to jumpstart your business in Bali.

The first thing you need to do is choose the correct entity for your business. Among many legal entities in Bali, PT PMA and local company PT are the most common. Indonesian nationals must entirely own PT, and foreigners can wholly or partially own a PT PMA.

Foreign-owned Company (PT PMA)

To set up a PT PMA, you will need to fulfill the following requirements:

  • Minimum investment of IDR 10 billion for your investment plan
    Paid-up capital of IDR 10 billion
  • Foreign ownership from 1% to 100%, depending on your business fields listed in the Positive Investment List

Local-owned Company (PT)

A PT can be incorporated easily in Bali with very little capital. However, an Indonesian can only own it; only 1% of foreign ownership is allowed. According to the latest changes laid out in Job Creation Law, the classification of Local PT in Indonesia based on paid-up capital is as follows:

  • A micro-enterprise: less than IDR 1 billion
  • A small enterprise: IDR 1 – 5 billion
  • A medium enterprise: IDR 5-10 billion
  • A large enterprise: more than IDR 10 billion

Residential Considerations in Bali

If you’re planning a complete relocation to Bali, understanding the intricacies of securing your place of residence is paramount. Below, we present a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the housing landscape in Bali before you make the move.

Renting Property in Bali

Embarking on your new life in Bali necessitates finding suitable accommodation. Renting a property is a viable option for expatriates, provided they possess a KITAS (Kartu Izin Tinggal – Limited Stay Permit).
Lease agreements typically span from one to three years, and the terms of the leasehold arrangement can be extended for a maximum period of 25 years.

Property Ownership in Bali

Bali’s real estate landscape is characterized by an exclusivity clause, reserving land ownership solely for Indonesian citizens holding “Hak Milik” (Right of Ownership). For foreigners aspiring to own a slice of Bali’s paradise, the process invariably involves the assistance of an Indonesian local partner to facilitate the purchase of real estate.

Buying Property with PT PMA

Engaging an unreliable Indonesian partner independently can expose you to significant risks. An alternative, safer route to acquiring property in Bali is establishing a 100% foreign-owned PT PMA (Perseroan Terbatas Penanaman Modal Asing – Limited Liability Company with Foreign Investment).

This avenue grants you the coveted Right to Build “Hak Guna Bangunan,” providing a secure and legally sound path to realizing your property ownership dreams without unnecessary uncertainties.

Cost of Living in Bali

The cost of living in Bali as an expatriate can vary widely depending on your lifestyle choices and priorities. While Bali is often seen as an affordable destination, expats must plan and budget accordingly to ensure a comfortable and financially sustainable life on the Island of Gods.

1. Housing

One of the most significant expenses for expats in Bali is housing. The accommodation cost can vary dramatically depending on the location, type of property, and amenities. High-end villas in popular tourist areas like Seminyak and Canggu can be expensive, while more affordable options are available in quieter regions.

2. Food and Dining

Bali offers a diverse culinary scene, from inexpensive street food to upscale dining experiences. Expats can dine at local warungs (small restaurants) or indulge in international cuisine. Your dining preferences will significantly impact your food expenses.

3. Transportation

Getting around Bali can be affordable, but it depends on your mode of transportation. Renting a scooter is a common choice for expats, while others opt for car rentals or hiring drivers. Fuel costs and maintenance should be factored into your budget.

4. Healthcare

Access to healthcare is crucial, and expats should consider obtaining comprehensive health insurance to cover medical expenses. Bali has both public and private healthcare facilities, and the cost of medical services can vary significantly.

5. Education

If you have children, international schools can be expensive. Bali has several international schools offering Western education, but tuition fees are expensive.

6. Utilities

Utilities like water, electricity, and internet are generally affordable in Bali. However, monthly bills can vary based on usage and your required comfort level.

7. Entertainment and Leisure

Bali offers many entertainment options, from beach outings to cultural events and nightlife. Your leisure activities and social life will impact your monthly expenses.

8. Miscellaneous Expenses

Expats should budget for other miscellaneous expenses like visa fees, work permits, and travel within Indonesia. These costs can add up over time.

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Are You Ready to Move to Bali as An Expat?

Now that you have understood the basics, the question is, are you ready to start a new life on the other side of the world? Get in touch with us by filling in the form below in case you have further questions. You are also welcome to visit us in our office in Badung. We also have other branches in Jakarta and Semarang.

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David Susandi

Branch Manager – Bali Office at InCorp Indonesia

Holding 11 years of experience in various roles, including project manager, operational manager, and corporate strategist, David Susandi is a prominent figure for many entrepreneurial organizations expanding in Indonesia.

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