Austrian family move to Bali for a spiritual life
Profile: Steffi and Tom and their two kids, Mia 9 years old and Luis 8 years old.
Originally from: Exciting question! Neither of us can answer that easily without going into the details. I was born in
Buenos Aires, my father was German and my mother is Austrian. But I actually lived in Austria for most
of my life. Steffi was born and raised in Germany. After we fell in love, she moved to Austria. We got
married 2 weeks before Mia was born. So, the children were born in Austria. The two of them speak
German but no Austrian dialect.
Arrived in Bali: February 2019
What made you decide to MOVE TO Bali?
Access to an education for our kids that is very different to back home in Austria, which we found in Skywalker Academy. Also the possibility to surf every day and still have a family life. The cultural tradition of Bali and the friendliness of the people. Winters in Austria are long and depending on the altitude rather cold, so the weather is a plus too.
I have to admit I was afraid of our first long-distance trip to Bali with children. The children were 4 and 5 years old. The long flight, the change. Oh, Mummy imagined all kind of problems. But in the end, only one thing really counts for children: mom and dad. Home is where the family is, no matter where in the world. And I can only recommend it to everyone. Whether on vacation, a longer break or a year. It is an experience that no one can take away from you. Whether during pregnancy, with a newborn, toddler or teen. Come to Bali. Bali is the most child-friendly place I have seen and experienced so far, even during the pandemic. With children you get a smile and a warm hey. Apa kabar? (how are you?)
You come into contact with the locals. And thus, easier immerse into real Bali life.
Where is home in Bali and why did you decide to live there?
We live in Kedungu, a little village which is in the immediate vicinity of Tanah Lot. It is a beautiful dwelling to slow down from everyday life such as work, school, afterschool activities and the traffic. Lots of rice fields. Fresh air from the sea. Balinese traditions up close. And surfers. The waves in Kedungu are notorious. And Tom is a passionate surfer. Surfing is the start of the day for him. When there are no waves, something is missing. Yes, surfing is like a drug. Our international school is only 10 minutes away. Which comes in pretty handy. If we want to go to Canggu in the buzz, we only need 18 minutes and it’s not far to the mountains either. The perfect location for us.
HOw long do you plan to stay in Bali?
The plan was 6 months. Mia was already attending first grade in Austria. Luis was supposed to start school in Austria in September 2019. The principal of the school in Austria supported us a lot, because she saw the advantage to offer children this opportunity to get to know another school, to meet international children, to learn a new language, to get to know another culture and tradition. The condition was that the children have to attend school in Bali and that the loan curriculum of the first grade was given to Mia. We also got the learning material from Austria. The first lockdown came 3 weeks after our arrival in March. We basically started with homeschooling. Which is of course not so easy if you don’t speak English yet. But the learning apps we got from Skywalker Academy helped the children to learn a new language in a playful way.
Our plan was to stay 6 months in Bali. We have been surprised by the pandemic in all areas of life. In the beginning we could postpone the flights. And we continued to monitor the situation in Austria and Bali. Then again lockdown in Austria and on Bali. At some point we decided to stay here and also de-registered the children from school in Austria. Today the 6 months in February have turned into 2 years.
please share the ONLINE BUSINESS OPPoRTUNITIES you and your husband have created.
Before COVID, we tried to build our business in tourism for several years. In order to realize our dream of being able to live as a family in Bali for a few months a year. Because we didn’t want to give up our life in Austria at first. Summertime in Austria is wonderful. Our business concept in Bali worked. But then Corona came. Airport and borders closed. No tourists. Lockdowns and no guests. We all believed that everything would soon return to normal. That didn’t happen. We had to reorient ourselves. We started Spiritual Punk and Fairway Media.
Since we were in lockdown at the beach beyond the checkpoint in Kedungu it was pretty much a surfer’s dream. I intensified the routines I picked up in Austria to get out of a negativity cycle like meditation and breath work. It worked so well that I decided to write it down in an essay to make it available to other human beings – Spiritual Punk, 9 ELEMENTS OF A BETTER LIFE. Started a blog and made it available as an e-book on www.spiritualpunk.net
I consider myself a punk rock although I went to law- and business-school and come straight out of the capitalist system. My father invented the mesh potato bag with a label on it or the green shading nets with advertising on the tennis courts. Our companies held about 90 percent world market share in our niche at the peak. Thus, the approach is based on science and rational thinking however non-conformist with the mainstream.
As long as you can discipline yourself to an honest daily try, no matter how long, you are on the right path. And physical as well as mental health benefits are guaranteed. I take the cross-cultural essence of spirituality and translate it in an easy-to-incorporate practice to our daily lifestyle. If I got you interested in the elements, there are a few 1 minute reads on the blog on gratitude, yoga, nutrition, beauty etc.
My passion is to be creative. That was also the reason why I became a graphic designer and worked in the German industry for 20 years. Since we are stuck here in Bali we have already implemented a number of projects for different customers. Food packaging, web design, e-book realization, logo design, photography, social media marketing and classic print products. We deliver western quality work at an Indonesian price.
At FAIRWAY MEDIA we know about the importance of social media in marketing. We offer emotional content to reach exactly your target group. You can find some of the projects we created in Bali on Instagram @fairwaymedia_com We go logo designs, corporate design, websites, online marketing campaigns, drone flight content and more.
YOU HAVE BEEN LIVING IN BALI since the beginning of COVID, HOW DO YOU SEE THE NEXT 12 MONTHs?
I think we are really lucky with the COVID situation in Bali as it is. Compared to the measures that are now being carried out in Austria it is relaxed. In Austria children are sent to quarantine as soon as one single child tests positive. Many tests are carried out at school. Schools are closed on a regular basis. Thus, homeschooling again. No social contacts. Playdates not possible. I think Bali does a good job of living a relatively normal life without COVID being a constant constraint. Maybe it is because masks were already worn here before COVID, just because of the traffic.
I believe your children go to the Skywalker House Montessori. Please tell us what attracted you to the school and how your children are enjoying it?
Mia and Luis were at the Skywalker for the first time, when school was still in its infancy. That was in February 2018. We liked the Montessori approach. And that our children were given time. “When the children are ready, they come to our table by themselves and want to take part. No problem.” I like the approach and I know it worked. Especially since neither of them spoke English. After the first lockdown, the two did not speak a word in class for 4 months but tried to solve the tasks. Math, learning to write and to read works at this age even without being able to speak a language. Then suddenly the English words plopped out of them. And that without an accent. It was a great experience and success not only for us but also for the teachers. Skywalker has grown since. There are now twice as many students. More space for learning and for break time, a play zone for sporting activities. Space to play and work. A garden with a wooden playground and after school activities. A great learning environment.
What is it like to raise children in Bali?
It is a blessing. It means so much freedom for the kids and very close to nature. Every day the children discover and learn things that would not be possible in Austria. And we are always amazed at what we discover again. Bali simply has a very large variety of culture, nature to offer and international influence and activities. And at the end of the day they are growing. Because with children discovering and learning new things means one thing: growing up.
WHAT ARE THEIR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES?
The great thing about Bali is the wide range of activities for children. The children have already tried many things. We have after school activities during the week. Luis has already tried boxing and basketball. He likes to play soccer twice a week. But it can be something else tomorrow. Mia has always loved horses and has learned a lot here in one year and has already participated in dressage competitions. Right now she is playing basketball twice a week. And she loves to attend the Circus Academy every Friday. The magic of areal hoops.
We have done many other things with the children as well from small excursions to sightseeing. For instance, snorkelling, Water Park, Zoo, Bounce, Park Life and we’ve even been Ice Skating. We also spend a lot of time on the beach, preferably in the morning on a beach walk with our three dogs that we adopted.
Is there any advice that you have for other families that contemplate moving to Bali?
If your children have toys, stuffed animals, things that are important to the children – pack them up and bring them. There is no Playmobil or Schleich here. Some things are not that easy to come by.
If you live in Bali and would like to join our interview collection please feel free to reach out to me anytime.
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