Do you want to move to Bali? Are you wondering if Bali is a good place to live and is the island really cheap?
Nicknamed the Island of Gods, Bali is known for its lush greenery, scenic lakes, gorgeous waterfalls, iconic rice fields, and beautiful sunsets.
One thing to understand is that there’s so much more to Bali than being an Instagrammable and affordable tourist destination.
After living in Bali for over a year, I have shared many tips for visiting and things to know if you’re considering moving to Bali, Indonesia, one of the most common questions I got was “Is Bali a country” or how can I live in Bali for more than 3 months legally?
The aim of the guide is to explain the visa options for foreigners in Bali. As an expat its important to underatsnad the rules nd regulations of every country you go to, to avoid legally and tax issues, deportation and ultimately jail time.
One important thing you need to understand is that Living in Bali is unquestionably different from holidaying here! If you want to live in Bali permanently there are some bureaucratic issues you’ll have to take care of first.
Things to know you move to Bali, Indonesia
- Bali is not a country.
- Indonesia has a total number of 17,508 islands of which about 6000 are inhabited, Bali is one of them.
- Bahasa is the official language and some locals understand basic English.
- There is one airport in Bali – Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport, located in Denpasar (a town on the island).
- There are two main seasons in Bali: dry season (April to September) and wet season (late October to March).
- Don’t drink the tap water.
- There are geckos, mosquitos, bugs everywhere. Welcome to Island Living!
- You don’t need a car.
- Traffic is horrible 90% of the time. Most people get around using bikes/scooters. You can rent one for USD 30 – 200 a month, depending on the type of bike you get.
- Most travel insurance companies don’t cover bike/scooter accidents if you don’t have a bike/scooter driving license.
Visa Options for Foreigners in Bali
Visas for living in Bali are different. It’s highly recommended that you visit the Indonesian embassy in your country so they can confirm which Indonesian visa you may be eligible for:
KITAS and Work Permit
Foreigners are not allowed to work or volunteer in Indonesia unless they have a work permit (KITAS).
The Indonesian KITAS is a permanent stay permit for foreigners who have already lived in Indonesia with a temporary stay KITAS for a few years. The KITAS is issued for a period of five years, which you can renew as needed.
When you become eligible for permanent residence depends on your KITAS type. Spouses of Indonesian citizens can receive a KITAS after two years of living in Indonesia consecutively, whereas retirees and international workers can only apply for a KITAS after four years.
Once you are eligible for an Indonesian KITAS, you get benefits similar to those of Indonesian citizens such as opening a bank account, getting a loan, and getting a five-year driving license.
If you wish to live in Bali and open a business or get employed by a company you need a KITAS and a work permit.
Business Visa (Multiple and Single Entry)
If you’re considering starting a business in Bali then setting up a company would be the best way. There are two types of companies in Bali, Foreign-owned companies (PT PMA) and Locally-owned companies (PT).
It’s important to remember that In Indonesia, companies that have even 1% of foreign shareholders are already considered foreign companies. Both types of companies have a minimum investment of IDR 10 billion, different compliance regulations and foreign-owned companies can issue kitas while locally owned companies need to pay a fee for every foreigner they employ.
There are pros and cons to having a business visa.
Retirement Visa for Bali
If you plan on retiring in Bali then you’ll need a retirement visa in Indonesia. This visa is initially only valid for one year, but it can be extended annually to a total of 5 years. After this, you can apply for a permanent stay permit KITAS. Keep in mind that you cannot work in Bali with a retirement visa.
General requirements for a retirement visa:
- Minimum age 55 years
- Copy of your passport that will be valid for at least 18 months
- Health insurance
- Lease agreement valid for one year and the documents related to the leased property
- Having an Indonesian maid
Social and Cultural Visa (B -211)
A B-211 is a single entry visa that enables you to stay in Indonesia for 2 months (60 days) with the option of extending your stay 4 times (an additional 4 months). After your first two months in the country, you will need to go to the immigration office to pay for a visa extension every 30 days. There are also many visa agencies that offer this service, they come to you, collect your passport, get it stamped and return it for a fee. This is one of the most common visas that Bali expats use to move to Bali.
With a B-211 visa, you are NOT ALLOWED to work in Bali nor are you allowed to earn money in the country. The issue with this visa is that although some expats don’t earn money from Indonesian companies, they are still “working” from Indonesia and not paying tax to the government. So this is a big issue and causes a lot of debates.
Visa on Arrival (VoA)
The Visa on Arrival is mostly used by tourists. Indonesia allows most nationalities to visit for 30 days visa-free, with a Visa on Arrival you can extend and stay for up to 60 days. You can apply for this visa in advance or at the airport when you arrive in Bali.
Buying Property in Bali as a foreigner
Buying land or property in Bali as a foreigner is not only expensive but a lengthy process. Firstly, in order to rent property in Bali, foreigners must have a KITAS. Some foreign investors opt to use a local individual nominee to buy real estate in Bali, this means they are buying/renting with someone’s name and this person charges a fee or gets paid a commission if the real estate is used for business purposes.
This is risky and I personally don’t recommend it unless you understand Bali laws and you’ve spoken to an attorney in Indonesia. The best and safest way to buy property in Bali is by setting up a 100% foreign-owned PT PMA. This way, you can acquire the Right to Build (Hak Guna Bangunan) and the Right to Use (Hak Pakai).
How much money do I need to move to Bali?
I’ve shared my costs for living in Bali for 3 months. In a nutshell, living in Bali can be as expensive as you want it to be. You can find accommodation for $300 or even $1000 or more per month. You can buy groceries at the markets or normal supermarkets or you can shop at the organic stores. You can rent a normal scooter or a fancy bike. You can choose to eat out every day or cook some meals. It really depends on you!
Moving from South Africa to Bali
Where to apply for Bali Visa in South Africa
The Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia is located at 949 Francis Baard Street, Hatfield, Pretoria, South Africa.
Tips for moving to Bali
Can you just move to Bali?
No, you can’t move to Bali, Indonesia without the correct visa. If you move without the right documentation you can face deportation or jail time.
Travel Insurance for Bali
Use travel insurance while visiting Bali so you are covered for theft and medical expenses. There are a lot of adventurous Bali activities, and it’s best to have peace of mind while diving, hiking, and trying some of the best food in the world.
Find out why I recommend World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance Review.
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