I have been a big fan of The Bali Insiders podcast since it started (keeping you up to date with what’s really happening on the Island of Bali), so naturally I was super excited when they asked me to be a guest! I was interviewed for Season 3 Episode 5 and I talked about why we ended up moving to Bali, how my consulting services came about, how I can help, tips and lots more. Have a listen to the episode below or feel free to read the transcript.
Emma: Welcome to the Bali Insiders podcast. Selamat datang. I’m Emma.
Karlie: I’m Karlie, and we’re here to bring you insider tips on what’s really happening on the world’s favorite island.
Emma: Expect chats with Bali’s movers and shakers and people doing amazing things on our beautiful island home. We can’t wait to bring you today’s episode, so let’s go. This episode is brought to you by Bali buddies, your go-to website for where to eat, drink, stay, play, and relax in Bali. Head to balibuddies.com for all of the insider tips for enjoying the best of Bali.
Karlie: Welcome everyone to our next episode, and this is going to be an exciting one for all of you who have ever dreamt or planned on moving to Bali for a little while or a long while as we’re going to be talking to a Bali relocation expert.
Emma: Yes, that’s right. So this topic is obviously something that we have had so many questions about. How do we move to Bali? What do we need to do? So we are bringing you Simone from Our year in Bali to give you an insight on the types of services she offers to people wanting to make the move to Bali.
Karlie: So I first met Simone and her family, her two kids and her husband, when they set up their blog, which must have been about six or seven years ago now called Our Year in Bali. And initially their blog was just about documenting their move as a family. They decided to take a gap year from Australian life and they were moving to Bali for the year. So they started a blog just to document their process and how it went. And then fast forward, they ended up having two years in Bali instead of just one year. And then they moved back to Australia, which I think was about four or five years ago. But in the time that Simone was here, she saw a need and a gap in the market for assisting others who wanted to do the same thing as her family because it does take a lot of research to know which services to use and legalities and insurance and things like that. So even though they no longer live in Bali themselves, Simone now helps people to either make a complete sea change and relocate their life to Bali, or to be able to take a gap year or two like her family did. Welcome Simone to the Bali insiders podcast, and thank you for being with us today.
Simone Collins: Thank you for having me.
Karlie: I know you’ve been a listener of ours for a long time, so it’s great to finally get you on the pod itself.
Simone Collins: Definitely, I’ve enjoyed every episode. Well done guys.
Emma: Thank you! Well if you have listened to every episode, then you’ll know that the next part is our fast five questions, so I’m going to start. And these can just be one-word or one-sentence answers. So question number one: when did you first visit Bali?
Simone Collins: I first visited Bali in 1993. I was 16 years old and I was on the way to Japan. I was traveling with my best friend and her family, and we were spending a couple of weeks in Japan and we stopped in Bali on the way.
Karlie: Amazing stop over.
Simone Collins: It was.
Karlie: And what is your favorite area of Bali?
Simone Collins: Well that’s tough, but probably Sideman would be one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen but that is more of a travel area just to explore a few nights away. I had one of the best cooking classes in Sideman, it was the best food I’ve ever eaten, and it was the most amazing experience. And then I would say to live, of course, I’m going to be biased because I lived in Umalas for two years. I just think it’s the perfect situation where you’re close to so many beautiful restaurants and it is perfectly situated between Seminyak and Canggu where all the action is. It is a lot quieter in the Umalas so a perfect expat area to reside.
Karlie: Awesome. Very two beautiful places in Sideman come up quite a bit these days, which is good. And what is your favorite restaurant in Bali?
Simone Collins: Okay, so being a huge foodie, this is extremely hard, but I still really love all the restaurants in Seminyak so probably the real go-to would be Barbacoa. And apart from the delicious Brazilian grills and food that they offer, I really love the Toblerone liquid nitrogen ice cream.
Karlie: Oh, wow, I’ve never had that.
Simone Collins: It’s a great one. It’s one to film and share.
Emma: Oh, wow. Next time I’m having that on the list.
Simone Collins: Good.
Emma: And what is your favorite local food?
Simone Collins: I would have to say my go-to is always nasi campur because I’m a bit greedy, I want a bit of everything. So I love a little bit of the vegetables, the tempe, the meat, whatever it is. I just absolutely love it. So I would say a nasi campur followed by maybe a beef rendang.
Karlie: Yum, nice. And what do you love most about Bali?
Simone Collins: I would have to say it’s just got this unique energy that you can’t explain unless you’ve been there and experienced it yourself. So it’s a bit hard to explain this very special energy, obviously it’s the spirituality of the place, but it’s just this vibe and energy that it’s like no other.
Karlie: Yes, nice work of the fast five. So in our intro, we told the listeners a little bit about your story and how you were coming over for a gap year and it turned into two years and what you’re doing now. But if you can take us back to that decision, I know you were living in Sydney at the time with your family, what made you decide to come to Bali for that gap year or years to start with?
Simone Collins: Sure, so my children were quite young. I think they’re about four and five years of age. And we were, as you said in Sydney, and I like to say we were churning and burning. I suppose, even keeping up with the Joneses, it was extremely scheduled and routine, timetabled with appointments, and just running around – full-time work and so forth. So it got to a point where I was dreaming of a gap year, wherever that may be in the world and Bali wasn’t even in my radar at the time. I did mention to my husband that I’d just love to experience and challenge us as a family and individuals and live somewhere around the world, wherever that may be, and he originally said no. He just was like, you know what, I really love our Sydney life, I’m not interested at all. And I am a Taurean, so I’m quite stubborn and won’t give up! So after a very long time of convincing over and over and over again, it got to the point where I did give up and maybe that is where reverse psychology comes in because, he was the one that decided, you know what, I actually can work wherever I want. I can work online, and I think this gap year is a great idea for our young family. So he was the one that started to consider a different place around the world.
So it was quite clever of me, I suppose! But yeah, he was actually suggesting other places at the time, like I was. We were looking at maybe Singapore and Hawaii which was a bit of a dream, even New York because that was exciting when we went for a week. But apart from that, we weren’t sure where to live, but the idea was there. So we did discuss that, we did want one year away and the children were at the right age. So a little bit further down the track, my husband, I won’t forget, one day as I was walking out the door, said to me, well, what about Bali? And at first, to be honest, I was like that is a very strange place to go for a gap year. It really was. And I just thought, hmm, that’s a brave idea, and definitely in hindsight I have to say if we could do it, anyone can do it, that’s for sure. But the reason why he came up with that idea was his sister who is living in Melbourne, she worked for a furniture styling business and was often going to Bali to get furniture. And her boss had recently moved from Melbourne to Bali and he was raving about it and said that he would never move back to Melbourne, and it was just amazing.
So we decided to give him a call and to find out a bit more about the expat life, and he obviously sold us pretty quickly. And when my husband actually explained to me, you know what, this is really what we’re after, we’re after a change of pace, we’re on a similar time zone for work purposes, you know, we’re going to live a really special, different life. It’s gonna be great for our kids. And I’ve written obviously about how Bali ticks all the boxes for us that we decided yes, it’s a great idea. And we literally spent one whole year planning this move.
Karlie: Ah, well that is so inspiring.
Emma: And also interesting as well, I guess, initially considering all those kinds of developed and Western countries. And then having to change your thought process around, moving to a more developing place, particularly at that time, that would’ve been a daunting process.
Simone Collins: It definitely was. As I said, if we can do it, I think anyone can do it because as you said, there’s a lot more variables involved. It’s a little bit harder. Just all of those things made us probably so passionate about the research side of things and making sure we were organized as best as we could. But as we know, the expectations have to be a little bit different and just to be realistic about what Bali will offer you is just something to understand. And it’s obviously all very positive though.
Karlie: And so you moved over, you did all your research and arrived in Bali and then obviously now you have your business. So how did your consulting services come about?
Simone Collins: I think it was just something that came very naturally, very organically. Before we even began the move over to Bali, we created the Our Year in Bali blog and it was purely just to document our journey before we even got to Bali, and what preparations we made. It could have been as simple as applying for schools and researching areas. Also, what we had to do to leave our Sydney life, whether it be to rent out our house or sell our car or do a garage sale, all these sorts of things. So we love documenting our journey and we actually were keeping it a secret from our family and friends. So we started blogging and no one knew about it because we didn’t actually tell our family and friends until six months before we left. This was our idea and this is what we were gonna do.
The website was a great place to also write stories and articles. And it was all about documenting our journey and especially living a school life in Bali. And for my children to read back on and for our family to enjoy. And then from there, I actually started getting really interested in other expat stories. And I started to interview friends that were living on the island from all backgrounds, different schools, different areas in the island that we’d come across, and even retirees as well. I would love to sit down and spend an hour with somebody. And I just made up some questions and wanted to know their journey – what their challenges might have been, how long they were going to stay on the island, their routines and way of life. And that was just where the website grew.
So it grew from sort of documenting to family stories. And then a few friends actually said, you know, you guys have prepared so well for this move, I can see you’re extremely organized and you’re really thorough in your research. You put together some really great ideas, so why don’t you actually create a service out of this because you can definitely help others do what you did. And it was a passion for us to help others and to also learn from others. Hope others learn from our mistakes, not make our mistakes, and just give lots of tips and tricks and advice and share our experiences. So it was just sort of a natural thing that grew from our own love and passion of documenting life in Bali and hoping others will enjoy the same.
Karlie: And so the inquiries came through organically, did you know anybody else doing anything similar to that before you actually turned it into a business?
Simone Collins: Good question. I actually didn’t do that much research to see what was out there. I might have done a little bit of a Google search, but I didn’t really know of anyone doing that. So definitely expat services for other countries out there in the world, but nothing in particular for Bali. I was also across a lot of Instagram accounts in Bali, but never came across a very specific service in helping other expats move. No, I didn’t come across that.
Karlie: Oh, so you found your own little niche there, which is great. So now you’re past the living in Bali side and you’re back living in Australia, but you’re still helping people to set up their lives over here. Who are you helping mostly? Who are the people that we are seeing move over here? Are they families, or retirees, which countries are they from?
Simone Collins: So definitely being a family myself and having a passion about all things for a family like schooling – that obviously attracts a lot of families coming to the site. So I definitely speak to young families, but predominantly families that are in that primary school age bracket. And then couples are looking for a move for a couple of years. And also as you mentioned, retirees, so definitely enquiries from retirees for sure. So it’s actually quite a mix, but I would probably say first and foremost, it’s obviously the family market and then it is followed by retirees and couples. And interestingly, the amount of countries that I have had inquiries from is just absolutely phenomenal. It keeps growing. And the other day I actually did a little bit of a checklist and I am up to 53 countries that have inquired about a move to Bali.
Karlie: Wow. Old mama Bali is calling everyone from all over the world!
Simone Collins: Definitely is. There’s not one particular area. Obviously you’ve got Australia, New Zealand, but so many from all around Europe and Asia and USA and Canada. So anywhere and everywhere that you can imagine, there is someone interested in moving to Bali.
Karlie: Wow, that is great insight.
Simone Collins: Yes, and also I was just going to mention what I love is that there’s a lot of people that haven’t been to Bali before that are reaching out. So not just the typical Bali fans that have been numerous times and I guess understand that being on a holiday and living there are two different things. It’s a lot of families that have never been before and are just willing to give it a go. So I spoke to many from the USA, and from Europe – a lot of those countries that obviously are much further away and have never had the opportunity to get to Bali. And they are just happy to give it a go for a year and just change things up.
Karlie: Wow, that’s super interesting to have never been here.
Emma: Yeah, that’s a big adventure.
Karlie: I was going to say a big challenge.
Emma: And Simone, what are some of the specifics that you help with. And I guess also some of the first big things that people need to consider when planning their moves?
Simone Collins: It depends. As I mentioned, if they’ve never been to Bali before, it could be back to basics and just explaining all the different sort of key expat areas, the pros and cons of the areas. If it’s a family that might be looking at schooling or if homeschooling, they’ve got more flexibility, but they might also be looking at schooling in that area, then I help people with all sorts of different things. So definitely, finding the perfect school, helping them with looking at accomodation that they might need. It could be anything from medical to everyday challenges, vaccinations you need before you go, technology, transport, or the pre-planning beforehand. Giving them a bit more insight into cost of living. So anything and everything that you would need to set up and live your best Bali life is what I hope to achieve. And give, I suppose, people confidence and reassurance that their ideas are gonna come into fruition and just give them lots of advice and support along the way.
Karlie: And so what’s one of the main questions or concerns you get asked? You know, everybody in a business has a repeating question or a repeating concern, what’s the one that you get?
Simone Collins: Safety would probably be one of the big ones. So safety in all sorts of different ways, whether it be just generally a safe area with regards to crime, or medical, or safety in regards to natural disasters or could be with creepy-crawlies you find in Bali. And then of course visas, trying to work out what the best ways to live there legally, and then obviously choosing the right school. And how much does it cost to live in Bali? How expensive is it? So trying to work their way through a budget and cost of living. And then interestingly, a lot of people also ask how hard is it to make friends? And I appreciate that, so I always try to connect people with other families that are on the same journey that are like-minded and they might be even going to the same school. So it’s just so exciting for me to start connecting clients with maybe similar age children and they really appreciate that. So they’ve got a friend to arrive in Bali.
Karlie: So it’s almost like friendship Tinder as well?
Simone Collins: That’s so true and funny.
Emma: And have you seen an increase in wanting to move over to Bali since post pandemic?
Simone Collins: Definitely. I mean there’s some people that had planned pre COVID and their plans were put on hold. So they were definitely going to come to Bali before and they’ve just literally been waiting and waiting. And then there’s others that are just saying you know what, I wanna create my own journey, I wanna change things up. I don’t want to wait around. And there’s a lot of people that are even looking for just a three and six month stay. There is also definitely the gap year market or even beyond. And obviously now through the pandemic, we know we can homeschool and we can work remotely. So there are a lot of people that are very happy to do homeschooling and especially short term. So like doing a three to six month stay and even giving it a trial. So a lot of people say look, I just wanna do six months and then I’ll trial it and see how it goes. And as we know, most people probably stayed, just like myself, I thought oh, I’m only doing a gap year and it ended up being two. So I think with that trial, we will hopefully be successful and it will continue for them.
Karlie: And so what have been your personal biggest takeaways or learnings from your own experience living in Bali, not just visiting as a tourist?
Simone Collins: Living in Bali has been an extremely special adventure and chapter in my personal life, and in my family’s life. And just before we were heading back to Australia, I wrote an article saying the 101 lessons I’ve learned living in Bali. So I won’t go through the 101 for you guys if that’s right, but I mean, there’s so many! I always think you know, you’re braver than you are and you can live outside your comfort zone. You’re going to teach your children so many wonderful experiences, no matter where you live outside of your regular home, but obviously Bali takes it to the next degree. You’re learning so much from the Balinese people and everyday life in that environment. There are other things, like you’d be surprised how adaptable your children are.
Karlie: I always say that when people ask me and they’re worried about the kids, and I said the kids are the last people you should be worried about because they are the most adaptable and they can adapt to the change way easier than the adults can. So in saying that, on your big adventure of two years, did it change you? Do you think it changed you as a family, or as a person?
Simone Collins: A hundred percent without a doubt. So there are so many ways it changed us and it’s something that will be within us forever. I think the children have definitely had a different appreciation in life, you know, just being outside of Australia, being amongst the Balinese and looking at all the sorts of aspects of life that you can learn from them. It has changed us without a doubt. To the point, actually, that we decided that we don’t need to live in a city anymore. We were Sydneysiders all our life, and as a result of living two years on the beautiful island of Bali, we decided to move to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, and that was a direct result of living in Bali.
Karlie: So it definitely changed you from a New South Wales person to a Queensland person.
Simone Collins: That’s right. I never thought I would live in Queensland, but that’s what Bali did to us. It made us realize we wanted a different life and had we not gone to Bali, we would never have left Sydney.
Karlie: There we go.
Emma: We’ve always said the same thing. If we ever moved back again, back to Australia, we would definitely consider Queensland as our number one option – I could not do another Melbourne winter!
Simone Collins: Well – come and visit! We always can do a house swap if you like!
Karlie: Yeah, that’s a great idea. That was one of the things when we got the Villa we’re living in now as well, like we’re definitely putting that on the house swapping side so we can travel more. Do you think Bali would ever be on your radar again, or was that just a chapter of your family’s life, and it will just be a place to visit again now?
Simone Collins: Good question. I think definitely a month-long visit, for sure. But maybe we’ve got Bali calling us I think when we’re empty nesters. So when the children have got a couple more years of school, then we will be able to have a lot more flexibility, and I think Bali might be calling us again. You never know.
Karlie: There we go. Still on the radar.
Simone Collins: That’s right.
Emma: And if our listeners are keen to get in touch and have a chat, or they’ve been thinking about a Bali move, what’s the best way for them to get in touch with you?
Simone Collins: Sure. So what I’m offering at the moment is a free 30-minute Zoom call. So just to talk through their plans and ideas, and I can give them some feedback and advice. Get to know them a little bit more, understand what their expectations and goals are and their timeframe. So absolutely love to chat, to anybody listening, please jump on and book a Zoom call with me. I’ve got a newsletter that I send out every week or two, so join the newsletter mailing list, and in that I always feature expat interviews. Everyone loves to read that, it’s all very inspirational stories about people’s journeys and how they’re living in Bali. And obviously on socials Facebook and Instagram and the website, it’s pretty much all the main ways to get in touch.
Emma: Amazing. And we will, of course, always list all those details for anybody that is looking to get in touch. And so we love to wrap up as you would know, being one of our very first listeners, with giving us your very best Bali insider tip for people visiting the island. What’s your best Bali tip?
Simone Collins: Oh no, that’s hard because I do give everyone hundreds of tips, but if I had to choose, I could talk about two different things. So one, if you are a family and you are not going to do homeschooling, I would say definitely take your time and choose your school wisely because it really does shape your experience. The school community that’s there, the friendships that are made, not only with the children, but the parents are really important. And then if it’s not school and just generally, this will be for anyone moving to Bali, I’ll probably say don’t underestimate the time it takes to find your perfect home. And as you know, anyone can be an agent, anyone can rent their house to you, so it’s a bit of a mind field and there are a billion factors to consider. So definitely have a landing pad and work your way through that and have a realistic expectation. It’s not going happen straight away, and there are a lot of factors to consider, so it does take time to find your home.
Karlie: Yes, we completely agree with that one. Well that has been an awesome interview Simone. I think you will have inspired a lot of people who have had a little itch to maybe dig a little further into pursuing their Bali dream, so thank you so much for sharing that with us. And I’m sure you’ll be hearing from people who are listening in right now.
Simone Collins: Well thank you, I’m so excited. It’s definitely a passion of mine, and because I’ve been there, done that, I know all the pain points and all the fun times ahead. So I look forward to speaking to people and I’m super excited to have been on this amazing podcast. Thank you so much.
Karlie: So hopefully that interview has answered some of your questions about moving to Bali. And of course you can head to Simone’s website. We’ve got a link to it in the show notes for more information. And she’s got so many interviews on there from different people who call Bali home, and you can read all of their stories as well.
Emma: So really there’s nothing stopping you. If you decide you want to make the move to Bali, it’s become a lot more accessible. And I really wish there were some services like this when we moved over, it would’ve been really helpful.
Karlie: It would’ve made it a lot easier, right? Then having to text all your friends who live over there. So we hope you’re enjoying our regular episodes. So we’re trying to bring in guests that are covering the questions that a lot of you are sending us in any way. We get heaps of repeated questions, so even if we can’t get back to you in detail on our socials from the questions you’re sending, we’re definitely reading them all and we’re trying to bring you in guests or cover topics that we keep getting asked. So keep sending them in.
Thanks for listening to this episode of Bali Insiders. If you love the show as much as we loved making it, please subscribe and give us a review.
Sampai jumpa Lagi!