I always dreamed about moving to Bali for good and living the digital nomad lifestyle. 2020 presented the perfect opportunity to take the leap when my marriage suddenly broke off. I sold everything I owned, despite the global pandemic. Leaving the UK's corporate finance world, I followed my passions that led me to Canggu, Bali.
It wasn't the first (and probably won't be the last time) that I moved to live in a different country. I was born in a small town in Poland, and all I ever dreamed about is traveling and living in different countries. I have lived all over Europe, Poland, Greece, Spain, and the United Kingdom, where I spent the last 14 years, and now Canggu, where I've already spent four months.
There is no better place for starting up an expat life than Canggu. Digital nomads, entrepreneurs, and retirees worldwide made this piece of tropical paradise home base.
Canggu is the place where you can meet and connect with like-minded people, work from chic cafés, and have a chilled island life far away from the restricting 9/5 lifestyle.
The local currency is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). At the time of this writing, the exchange rate is 1 US Dollar = 14,000 IDR. For reference, 1 Euro =17,150
What Is The Cost Of Living In Canggu, Bali?
After a full day in the ocean, everyone deserves a rest break.
|Total Monthly Expense||$1250|
|COST PER MONTH|
|Rent- Private room Guesthouse with pool||325|
|Water/Sewer/High Speed Internet/Electricity||Included|
|Maid Service - Daily||Included|
|Cell Phone- 5 GB Internet Per Month||5|
|Total Housing Expense||330|
|Takeaway- Breakfast Smoothie Bowls||116|
|Budget Warung- 3-course lunch + fresh coconut||137|
|Mid-Priced Café- Vegetarian meal with coffee||244|
|Total Food Expense||496|
|Netflix and Spotify Subscriptions||22|
|Budget Night Out- Sunset Drinks with Friends 2 times per Month||24|
|Weekend Trips 2 time per Week||91|
|Visa Renewals per Month||58|
|Motorbike Rental + Gas/Petrol per Month||53|
|Go Jek (Indonesian Uber) 1 time per Week||16|
|Total Transportation Expense||127|
|Travel Health Insurance||59|
|Health Care Expense||59|
|Laundry Service per Month||10|
|Beauty Services (Hair, Nails, Waxing)||28|
|Personal Care (Shampoo, etc.) & Household Items (Soap, etc.)||28|
|Other Misc Expenses||35|
|Total Personal Care and Misc Expense||101|
|Exchange Rate to $1 USD to Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)||14000|
My average monthly budget for a single person living in Canggu is $1,250 (17.4m IDR). This amount excludes business expenses and contractual UK bills, including my UK mobile phone, doctor's prescription, and drone insurance.
I have a simple yet engaging life here in Canggu. I live in a decent guesthouse that has a lovely swimming pool. I commute everywhere on a rented scooter. Because I spend a lot of time working on my business in cafés, I usually have my meals there. I never cook. I don't really drink and party, partly because of the pandemic, partly because it's my choice, and alcohol is almost as expensive as back home.
I do travel a lot around Bali. But the cost of that is minimal because I travel on my scooter and stay in cheap hotels. The cost of traveling, which is about one week a month, is included in the total budget.
Bali Cost Of Living Comparison Vs. The US
Even moving to "expensive" popular beach towns in Bali could save you ~$18,000 in reduced living costs.
It's hard to imagine that Canggu was until very recently a quiet surfer village surrounded by fields of rice. But with Seminyak, Kuta, and Ubud already swarming with tourists, travelers overflowed to Canggu.
The rice paddies are still here, but with a cement "shortcut" that becomes a parking lot of motorbikes and cars during rush hour.
Prices have increased across the board. The high monthly living cost in Canggu will shock expats from Vietnam, Mexico, Turkey, or other low-cost beach destinations. However, there are still plenty of geoarbitrage opportunities for Americans coming from the United States.
Let's add some context to the $1,250 monthly budget. The chart below compares a medium-cost city in the US (Portland) vs. the cost of living in Bali.
The Top 4 essential costs in the US are housing, food, transportation, and healthcare. These 4 expenses make up 68% of the average costs in a major city.
Key Living Costs
Total Average Per Month
Save 59% on Major Monthly Expenses
HOW DOES THE COST OF LIVING IN CANGGU COMPARE TO OTHER CITIES?
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What Kind of Lifestyle Can I Afford On $1250 Per Month?
Clearing your mind and enjoying $7 massages is one of Canggu's affordable luxuries.
What Is It Like Living In Canggu?
A typical day of a Canggu expat starts by waking up early in the morning to go for a workout or morning walk on the beach with your dog. If you're a surfer, you will be heading to the beach to catch the morning waves with your surfer friends.
To compliment starting your morning with some healthy movement, you head to a trendy café for some fresh food. You snack on a delicious fruit smoothie bowl or smashed avocado on toast while working on your laptop until the afternoon. Next, you probably meet some new friends for lunch that you connected via Instagram or Facebook expat group.
In the late afternoon, after a little more work, you head to your pool for a dip and some laps. Around 6-ish, you head to the beach to see another dazzling sunset, catch up with friends and plan some exciting adventures around Bali. There are so many stunning places nearby, and you cannot resist but plan excursions most weekends.
For Fun On The Weekends
Weekends in Canggu are much more chilled. Most people go away to Uluwatu to enjoy the beautiful beaches or head to Ubud to unwind in nature. Ubud is home to Bali's most Instagrammable hotels, including epic bamboo houses built right in the jungle. Also, Ubud is an excellent base for exploring north of Bali. Think chasing waterfalls, trekking through rice terraces, and volcano hikes that are a must on your Ubud itinerary!
If you're less of an adventurer, a weekend spent in Canggu can be great too. Weekends are great for visiting Canggu markets and buying eco-friendly toiletries, hand-made bakes, and organic produce. Other typical weekend activities are spending a day in a fancy beach club such as Finns and getting pampered at a spa, followed by a seafood dinner and wine on the beach.
What Does An Apartment Cost In Canggu?
Most places you'll stay in Canggu will come with a gorgeous swimming pool to cool down from the warm weather.
There are three main areas to live in Canggu:
- Batu Balong- popular for the nightlife and closet to trendy Echo Beach
- Berawa beach- less popular and a little less crowded
- Perera – the quietest area, perfect for expat families.
I live in Batu Balong, 5 minutes drive from Echo Beach. I pay 4,500k IDR a month ($325) for a double room, all utility bills (electricity and water) and wifi included. The guesthouse has 15 private rooms with separate bathrooms, a fully equipped shared kitchen, a lovely pool area, and a rooftop where you can do yoga. Most guesthouses include a housekeeper for daily light cleaning.
If you want to rent out a one-bedroom apartment, expect to pay between 5,000k and 12,000k IDR depending on the standard and location ($360 - $863). One-bedroom apartments with a shared swimming pool in Batu Balong rent for 8,000k IDR ($576). Nearly all apartments and villas in Canggu come fully furnished.
A private room in a guesthouse rents for 2,500k and 7,000k IDR. An average price for a two-bedroom villa rental with a pool is around 11,000k IDR ($792).
INSIDER TIP : The discount rental rates during the pandemic were abnormally low. The guesthouse I'm staying in now costs 3,000k IDR ($216). But leases gradually went back up when borders opened for different visa holders.
What is an Estimated Food Budget For Canggu?
Canggu is home to several vegetarian cafes, including Vinny's, where menus offer delish plant-based burgers for $5
My daily average food budget is just under 250k IDR ($18). I'm vegetarian, perfect as Canggu restaurants focus on healthy foods. I also never cook at home. I don't have time to cook, plus I live on my own. Buying groceries and cooking for one person would be equally expensive as eating out. Plus, Canggu is chock full of chic cafés and bistros serving trendy yet delicious food.
Typically, I eat three times a day. I start with a takeaway, fully loaded smoothie bowl that is topped up with peanut butter, granola, and cut-up fruit for 55k IDR ($3.8). Then I have lunch at a cheap to medium range café where I have a salad, a buddha bowl, or avocado on toast. If the café is more expensive, I only have a glass of complimentary water with my meal.
Due to pandemic and closed borders, many cafés run promotions where you can have lunch or breakfast for 50k IDR, which is less than $4. In some places, that includes juice or coffee. I'll stop at a local warung for dinner, or depending on how hungry I am, maybe just some fresh fruit.
Example Of Meal Prices In Canggu
Budget Warungs– Fish or meat dish at a local warung – 39k IDR ($2.8). This includes rice or noodles, fish, two sides from the protein section – tofu, egg, spring rolls, and two vegetable sides. The meal is super filling and easily satisfies my hunger. Fresh coconut at the same warung cost 24k IDR ($1.7).
Mid-range cafés – Vegan burger with sweet potato fries– 85k IDR ($6). Try Secret Spot in Canggu for some great vegan eats. If you want to add coffee to go with your lunch, expect to pay around 30k IDR ($2).
Upscale Restaurants– Evening meals are the most expensive but still very affordable. You can have an excellent, locally sourced barramundi fish with vegetables for 110k IDR ($7.6). A glass of wine to go with it will add another 85K ($5.9) on top of your bill.
How Much Money Do You Spend For Entertainment?
$2 Bintangs on Echo beach with friends
Entertainment and Sports
Canggu is big on sports and gym memberships, and they are actually pretty pricey compared to what most people pay back in Europe or the US.
INSIDER TIP : Saving On Fitness- If you are looking for a basic local gym, Surya Fitness Center is a cheaper option to keep up your training on a budget. The entrance fee for a single day is $1.50, and a monthly pass runs $20. Their chocolate and banana protein shakes for $2 are well worth the money.
INSIDER TIP : Yoga Studios In Canggu- While Ubud is better known for yoga, Serenity in Canggu is an excellent yoga studio with an intense Ashtanga class. An unlimited monthly pass costs $155 or buy a package of 20 yoga classes for $110.
What Does Transportation Cost?
Motorbikes, scooters, and big bikes are the primary means of transportation in Bali.
Bali's local transport is non-existent. Most foreigners living in Canggu use a scooter/motorbike to commute in Canggu and travel around Bali.
Motorbike rental costs between 400k and 900k, depending on the type and your negotiation skills. I pay 600k IDR ($43) for a moppet. Petrol is very cheap in Bali and is sold by local vendors on the road's side in glass bottles. Expect to pay 30k IDR ($2) to fill up the tank of a moppet. My petrol budget is around $10a month, including driving around Canggu and at least one trip away within Bali.
INSIDER TIP : Medical Insurance and Scooter Rental- Unless you are 100% legal riding a motorbike in Bali (motorcycle license from your home country, an International driving permit, and wearing a helmet), your health insurance will not cover you for any accidents while riding a scooter or motorbike.
If you don't drive a scooter, you can use the Go Jek app to move around Canggu. Go Jek is is the Asian Uber. An average ride within Canggu will cost around 50k IR ($3.5).
INSIDER TIP : Taxi Mafia- Balinese people are some of the friendliest and kindest people you will ever meet. Local taxi drivers less so. I witnessed multiple taxi drivers aggressively confront my Grab rides. If you need a ride, Blue Bird taxis are a more reliable choice. Just watch out for fake Blue Bird taxis.
Unfortunately, Canggu is not highly walkable. Most streets don't have sidewalks for pedestrians, and you rarely see anyone ever walking. The roads are poorly maintained in some parts, and the traffic on the main roads can be terrible.
Located in South Bali, Denpasar, between Kuta, Sanur, and Canggu is Bali's international airport.
Ngurah Rai International Airport(DPS) has direct flights to 9 different countries for roughly $100. A $35 flight to stopover in Jakarta, Indonesia opens up even more international destinations.
Looking to plan a weekend trip in Southeast Asia? The top international destinations from here are Singapore (SIN) and Kuala Lumpur (KUL).
Other Costs When Moving To Canggu
Canggu is an excellent place to spoil yourself in affordable luxuries you would consider too indulgent back home. My favorite splurges include:
One-time moving costs
There were some one-time moving costs that I incurred. Although they may differ for you, you'll get a good feel of what they may be.
What is Healthcare Like In Bali?
Medical insurance for Foreigners- My travel insurance acts as my health insurance while traveling abroad. Any health issues or medical emergencies I have while traveling are covered for $700 a year.
Quality of Healthcare- So far, I used Bali's healthcare system on two occasions: when I couldn't move my arm after the gym and when I had ear infections. In both cases, the pharmacy gave me medication which helped; I don't have complaints.
Will I Have To Pay Taxes Living In Bali?
Expats residing in Indonesia for more than 182 days over a 12-month period (rolling 12-months, not calendar year, is considered a tax resident. Foreigners also trigger tax residency if you live in Indonesia during the fiscal year AND intend to reside there.
Get A Free Tax Consultation and $25 off your US Expat Tax return
What Is Not Included In The Monthly Budget? Taxes!
Indonesia has a Double Taxation Treaty with the US. Speak with a tax accountant to minimize your tax liability. Nomadic FIRE has partnered with Expat Tax Specialists offering a FREE 30-minute consultation.
Full Disclosure, this is an affiliate link. If you use the link, I earn a commission from the company at no additional cost to you. You get the benefit of $25 off your return and a FREE 30-minute consultation with a Tax Advisor.
What Are The Visa Requirements For Bali Indonesia?
Visa policy in Indonesia pre-pandemic. The current visa situation in Bali is in flux.
Visa Exempt or Visa Free Short Stays (less than 30 days)
Americans can enter Bali and stay for 30-days visa-exempt and at no cost. You can simply arrive and get stamped through immigration at the airport. This visa CANNOT be extended.
There are 169 countries eligible to enter Bali without a visa.
Visa On Arrival (30 - 60 days)
Bali has a tourist visa for visitors looking to stay for over 30 days. The "Visa On Arrival" costs $35 can be purchased at the airport and can be extended for another 30 days (60 days total).
The US and 61 other countries are eligible for a Visa on Arrival.
Business, Social, or Cultural Visa
This is the prior loophole method many visitors were using to enter Bali during the lockdown. This visa required the assistance of a visa agent to organize the government documents required, including a "Letter of Invitation."
Agents have informed me that as of January, 2021, the social visa option is no longer possible. The situation in Bali, as in many places in the world, is fluid and can change daily.
EDITOR'S NOTE : What about a Retirement Visa? - Indonesia has a retirement visa available for US retirees looking to stay long-term in Bali. The visa has more conditions than retirement visas in other countries and requires a visa agent and "sponsor" as part of the application.
- $1,500 per month of documented pension income or show $18,000 of savings in the bank
- Be 55 years or older
- Full life and medical insurance
- Employ an Indonesian local as a domestic helper (caretaker, maid, assistant, etc.)
- Retirement visa is valid for one-year and can be renewed five time (5-years total)
- $500 application fee
Only the United States and 51 other countries are eligible for a retirement visa.
List of other countries with easier retirement visa options
Moving to Canggu – useful tips
There are some useful Facebook groups to check out before moving to Canggu. Canggu Community Housing is excellent for finding accommodation. Bali Expats are also great for some helpful information to do with visas and transition.
Bali For Women- There are two supportive and helpful Facebook groups focused on helping women acclimate to life in Bali or to just find a companion for sunset drinks and Bali adventures.
It's also a good idea to just book one week on Airbnb and look for long-term accommodation while you're physically in Canggu.
Making friends in Canggu is very easy; it is a small expat community here, and everyone knows everyone. You can connect with people through Instagram.
I would recommend having at least two different types of debit/ credit cards in terms of finances. Some cards don't work in Bali, and ATMs tend to be sketchy, so it's always good to have a backup. I use Monzo Card and Revolt.
Think carefully about what to take with you. Shipping to Bali when you're already here is very tricky and expensive. They also add duty and tax on anything shipped here, so chances are you won't be buying anything from abroad once you here.
Still researching the best cities for retirement? Check out our extensive Cost of Living collection for the best expat destinations. Get insider information and real examples of expat life from people who have spent years living abroad. I've compiled all the information you need: cost breakdowns, insider tips to save money, and detailed examples of the quality and lifestyle you can enjoy.
Final Thoughts: Life in Canggu
Moving to Canggu has been the best decision of my life despite all difficulties and adjustments I had to go through. The chilled vibe of the island life, the inspiring international expat crowd, and the affordability make this place, hands down, one of the best locations to live for digital nomads.
I have traveled to over 40 countries to give you the best ways to save, invest, and live overseas for less cost than in the US. After five years of traveling, my list of places to live keeps getting longer. To give you more information on the best places to live abroad, I partner with experts from the expat community.
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EXPAT CONTRIBUTION BY: Mal
Mal is a solo female adventurer, travel blogger and creator of Rawmalroams from Poland. She quit the corporate financial world and sold everything to pursue her passions for traveling full time. She is currently based in Bali, where she creates beautiful content and free travel guides to inspire other women to travel the world too.