There are a number of locations that quickly come to mind when you think of settling in one place as a digital nomad. Bali is high on that list for thousands of location-independent professionals and a trip to the Indonesian island is more than enough to understand why.
There’s a big difference between paying a visit to somewhere and deciding to stay long-term, though. So what makes so many digital nomads flock to Bali and many of them stay for good?
The nomad life you always imagined
I can only go by personal experience and the people I’ve spoken to along my travels, but there’s a common theme between nomads when Bali crops up in conversation. You tend to have this idea of an idyllic life-work – a taste of paradise with each day – when you dream of being a digital nomad. And, between the energetic chaos that makes many parts of Southeast Asia so wonderful, Bali is one of those genuine retreats that brings everything into balance.
Ubud, in particular, has become a nomad hub for digital professionals and it just so happens to be one of the standout parts of the island. Yoga, incredibly fresh food and clean air define this central Balinese town. You’re also slap-bang in the middle of the island, making everything accessible within a couple of hours or less. Deep jungles, golden beaches, lush rice terraces, and volcanoes are among the landmarks crammed into this natural playground.
Then you have the rise of co-working spaces in Ubud, designed precisely for us nomads who want a place to work and network with other pros on the go.
Finally, I have to dedicate my final piece of praise to the fine people of Bali. I’m not going to pretend everyone on this island is a saint, but traditional Balinese culture and conduct still live strong here – and it’s truly beautiful to see.
So, is Bali the ultimate nomad destination?
I could carry on talking about the wonders of Bali for a week and still not run out of things to say, but there are also reasons I’m not writing this article from the island I’ve praised so much. In fact, it’s more than a year now since I stepped foot in Indonesia, let alone its most famous island. So what are the downsides to staying in Bali beyond that initial visit?
The biggest problem with Bali for digital nomads is it comes with the strict visa regulations of Indonesia. You can get a 30-day visa on arrival and extend that for a further 30 days, but after that thing starts getting a little complicated. I managed to get four months straight by popping out of the country every 30 days, but questions started getting asked by the mt third visit.
You can get longer visas, but you normally need sponsorship from a company and the process is a bit of a chore. That’s fine of you have the contacts and have your heart set on the place, but I didn’t.
Although the internet is getting better in Bali it can still be painfully slow and the last time I was there Skype was blocked entirely. So, if you rely on the web for your job, the peace that comes with Yoga and fruit shakes can soon turn into internet rage. It did for me.
It all gets a bit repetitive after a while
As great as Bali is I think the main reason I never considered a long-term visa was because, as much as I enjoyed my time, I was ready to move on. This is something I think many nomads fall victim to – and more of a reflection on us, rather than the places we visit – but the time came where I felt ready to leave. Bali will always be a place worth revisiting, but there are countless places I’m yet to see and more exciting spots I can’t wait to see again.
There’s a whole lot more to Indonesia than Bali
This isn’t a bad thing by any means, but you can’t enjoy the rest of Indonesia without leaving Bali – and there’s plenty to enjoy. Java has some wicked spots to check out and the people are incredible there too, but in a very different way. Then you have Lombok, Flores, countless other islands and the Indonesian chunk of Borneo. I’m going to end the list here because I’m worried I’ll never stop.
All in all, I can’t praise Bali enough as a place to visit or spend a few months getting away from the hustle of everyday life. There’s so much to love about the place. And, if the visa issue wasn’t such a big factor, it could well be on my list of potential places to settle one day (or Indonesia on the whole, more likely).
The internet thing did bug me a lot, but I suspect that’s improved again since I was last there. Aside from that, I can’t fault the place as a spot for digital nomads and it certainly justifies its place on the must-hit list. I know a good number of people who have managed to make it a long-term base for themselves too. And, if you’re in the nomad game yourself, or simply toying with the idea, the best way to understand why so many of us flock to Bali is to get out there and taste it for yourself!
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