In an age where digital nomads are thriving and the idea of living abroad is becoming increasingly attractive, I have chosen to stay put. I have decided not to join the masses of people flocking to the paradise-like island of Bali to live and work remotely.
While I understand the appeal of the digital nomad lifestyle and recognize the potential for career growth and adventure, I find that there are significant drawbacks that make it difficult for me to commit to such a lifestyle. Even though I am now a 6-figure content writer, I have decided that a digital nomad lifestyle in Bali is not for me.
What digital nomads are?
Digital nomads are a new breed of worker that telecommutes from exotic locations while simultaneously pursuing their side hustle as an online influencer. This is no joke. Digital nomads are a real thing, and many young people have turned this lifestyle into a business by collaborating with like-minded entrepreneurs to form nomad tribes.
These groups typically meet once a month in different cities around the world (like Bali) to work, collaborate, and party together. In 2021, Independent news outlet reported that there are at least 5,000 digital nomads living in Bali. If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re considering becoming a digital nomad yourself. Let me give you some reasons why you shouldn’t do it:
It’s too expensive to be a digital nomad in Bali.
The cost of living in Bali is crazy. In fact, it’s one of the most expensive cities to live in in Indonesia. Many digital nomads in Bali live in coworking spaces and hostels, which are very overpriced given the quality of service. Working in a coworking space can cost an average of $300/month, whereas a hostel costs about $250/month on average. You’d also have to factor in the cost of transportation and food, which can be substantial. As an example, you’d spend a minimum of $25 per day to eat well, which is a lot of money if you’re eating at restaurants every day.
Bali is overcrowded with digital nomads.
There are way too many digital nomads in Bali for it to be a lucrative option. A quick search on Instagram reveals thousands of digital nomads in Bali, which is a clear sign that this is too saturated of a market to make a good living. Bali is a place where people go to relax, get away from their daily routine and recharge their batteries, not to surround themselves with tons of other stressed-out entrepreneurs. The overcrowded market means that it’s tough to find a place to work in Bali, let alone make new connections. It’s nearly impossible to make a name for yourself as a digital nomad in Bali given the number of aspiring online entrepreneurs already in town.
You would struggle to find a job as a digital nomad in Bali.
Finding a job as a digital nomad in Bali is virtually impossible. Many of the digital nomads in Bali are there on tourist visas that allow them to stay for a maximum of 90 days at a time. Anything beyond that would require a visa and a work permit, which is a Herculean effort.
Even if you found a remote job that paid you in U.S. dollars (more on that later), you’d still have to figure out a way to get that money into Indonesia so that you could pay taxes on it. You could open a business bank account in Indonesia, but to do so you’d have to apply for an investment visa and set up a local office that employs 10 people. That’s a lot of trouble.
The internet is slow and unreliable in Bali.
If you’re planning to run a business that relies on a strong connection to the web, you’d be setting yourself up for failure in Bali. The internet in Bali is slow and unreliable, and it’s not uncommon for the connection to go down for hours at a time.
Bali also has a high rate of natural disasters, which can cause power outages that shut down data centers for days or weeks at a time. If you rely on any type of cloud-based software, you’d have to figure out a way to host your own servers in Bali, which is an expensive and time-consuming undertaking. You’d also have to figure out a way to securely transport your data from the U.S. to Indonesia. That’s a pretty tall order.
All in all, it makes more sense for you to stay put and build your business in your hometown than to travel and try to find work in Bali. You’d have a much better chance of finding clients and earning a steady income if you were in the U.S. than in Bali.
However, I still believe that some digital nomad will still benefit from living in Bali. For example, Singapore is known as one of the most stressful country to live in, and Bali is known as one the least stressful cities in the world. So it won’t surprise me to see if there are Singaporean moving to Bali.
That’s not to say that you can’t meet people in Bali – you just have to be more targeted about it. Bali is a great place to visit, but it’s not a great place to work. The internet is unreliable, the market is too crowded, the cost of living is too high and it’s difficult to find a remote job. If you want to be a digital nomad, you’re better off finding work in a more affordable and less crowded city.
Why I Refuse to Be a Digital Nomad in Bali
If you’ve read this far, you’ve seen that Bali isn’t a great place to be a digital nomad. In my opinion, If you want to travel, go to a cheaper city that’s popular with digital nomads like Ho Chi Minh City or Bangkok. If you want to work, go to a city like Austin or San Diego that has plenty of remote work options. If you insist on going to Bali, you’re going to spend a lot of money living in an overpriced city where you have a slim chance of meeting anyone in your industry. You’d also be spending money to visit Bali every few months when you could be investing that money in building your business in your hometown.