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Exploring Bali: Insights on Relocating and Embracing Tropical Living – Featured Guest on Where Next? Travel Podcast

I had the pleasure of being a guest on Where Next? Travel with Kirsten and Carol podcast. This fantastic show from the US features interviews with expats and travellers from around the globe, exploring their ideal destinations for remote work, visits, retirement, or simply gaining more knowledge.

During my interview, we delved into my personal journey of relocating with my family from Sydney to Bali, as well as my fascinating interviews with fellow expats for our website. I also had the chance to share how I assist individuals in their Bali relocations. Our discussion encompassed a wide array of captivating topics, such as the allure of Bali’s tropical climate, the abundance of fresh fruits and delectable local cuisine, the diverse communities thriving on the island, the cost of living, and practical tips for navigating the intricate cultural nuances.

I invite you to tune in and listen to the episode, or if you prefer, you can read the podcast transcript below. It’s a great opportunity to gain insights into exciting destinations and discover the possibilities they hold.

Podcast Transcript:

Hi, welcome to our podcast Where Next? Travel with Kristen and Carol. I am Kristen.

Carol 0:21

And I am Carol.

Kristen  0:22

And we’re two longtime friends with a passion for travel and adventure.

Carol  0:26

Each episode, we interview people around the globe to help us decide where to go next. In this episode, we are meeting with Simone, a relocation expert that helps families and individuals looking to move short term or long term to Bali. If you enjoy our interviews, can you please follow us and give us a review? It’s a super easy, quick task that really helps the podcast. Enjoy the show. Welcome, Simone. Thank you for joining us from Australia to talk about Bali. That’s right today.

Simone  0:59

Yes, that’s right.

Kristen  1:01

Where are you right now?

Simone  1:02

Originally a Sydney girl, then Bali and now in Queensland, Australia.

Kristen  1:42

We are very excited to learn about what you did. I just briefly glance but I had a lot of questions and actually, me and my kids were in Bali for a very short three days, unfortunately. Quite a trip to go all the way but it was so worth it. We went to South Korea and then we popped on over to Bali. One of my friends that lives in South Korea has some Rip Curl pro friends that live in Bali so we stayed with them.

Carol  3:00

Was trying to see how big Bali is because Bali’s an island right? And then I’ve been to Hawaii.  I’m just wondering, is it like size of Maui now? Looks like it’s the size of the island of Hawaii.

Can you drive around it?

Yes, you can. Absolutely. I mean obviously, it’s not beautiful freeways and easy to get around. Some people even scoot around the whole island! It could be about six to seven many hours top to bottom I would say. But obviously, it’s not straightforward. And it’s not one easy freeway all the way through. There’s no public transport or anything like that. It is not like you can do a hop on and hop off and explore the entire island tours. It takes some time to get around to all the areas.

How did Our Year in Bali start? What’s your background? What do you do as a living? It seemed like you had a family and then what made you go to Bali?

Simone  4:13

Yeah, that’s right. So I’m originally from Sydney, and I was working. My children at the time they were ages five, six. Quite young. Just working full time, my husband was working for himself and I always gave the idea to him. Let’s have an experience with the family overseas somewhere in the world. And we actually talked about Hawaii strangely enough because we had reminisced on our 10 year wedding anniversary. We went without the kids to Kauai and the mainland. And we were just like why don’t we do this with the kids? This is possible. And we started researching schools and bases and found this is going to be not as easy as we thought. So we got rid of the Hawaii idea but it was definitely on the cards. And then we looked at Singapore and some other ideas. These are all places we’d been to before. And we thought, Well, maybe it’s a livable place where we can do a gap year away. Sao Paulo we research. Again, it was quite expensive to live. We love going there as a holidaymaker and just when we started speaking to people, it just ended up being not as affordable as what we thought it might be. And we looked at Europe and a few different places.

And then one day, my husband actually recommended Bali. We’ve been there a few times on a holiday. Let’s start looking into that. I was like, Okay, that’s a great idea. So we did start looking. We saw there was an Australian school at the time we thought worked and is a nice tick, we’ll take that one. My husband could continue his work because he worked for himself and it was pretty much the same time zone and a couple hour difference. We knew the quality of living would be a bit lower than what we’re used to in Australia, we knew that the kids would have an amazing cultural experience, as well as us. And it started to tick all the boxes and we’re like, Okay, this is a doable gap year experience. We actually got my husband who did a bit of a Reiki and went for about 10 days by himself and explored the hot spots and where the expats would probably live, went to a couple of different schools. And just to get a bit of a feel for it and give us a bit of a report back. Is this doable? And yes, he said, Yep, it is doable, we can definitely make it happen. Let’s put an application into the school. So as soon as we did that, we’re like, this is really getting a bit more serious. This is hopefully going to happen. And when they did say, Yes, we had a whitelist, I think for one of the children and then when it all came through, we’re like, wow, this is going to happen.

We kept it a bit of a secret to be honest with all of our family and friends because we thought they were going to be nuts, going and doing a gap year in Indonesia? We don’t do that sort of stuff. And for us to do it is quite brave as well. We’re living in Sydney  5 to 10 minute drive from Bondi Beach. The famous Bondi Beach in Sydney, lovely area, but again, like everybody else working very hard, looking at what’s happening on the weekend, it was very scheduled very timetabled with young kids. And we were like week to week to week going, what’s going on here? Let’s take a break. And that’s what Bali gave us. It gave us that break, but also gave us a lot more family time as well, and things that we took for granted or just had to do back in Sydney. It just stopped all of that.

Then I just started documenting it. I’ve got this website, which is, and that’s what the name was originally was a gap year, it was our year in Bali. And I was just blogging and having lots of fun and saying the kids and I went to this amazing village one day, next minute we’re teaching English to another little village, next minute we volunteered at a Baby Orphanage, we’re trying this food, what’s your new school like? It was just a fun way of documenting it. And then what I did decide to do was I started to speak to other expats. So I started making friends with other experts from all around the world with other kids, for example, some retirees, and I said, What’s your story, and I just had a love of interviewing people like you guys are interviewing people. Back in Sydney, my job before that was working in the council, the local area, actually, I had a project to interview immigrants that moved to Bondi Beach. And what was this story of journey? It was after the war, and it was a very special story, spoke to about 100 different people, and why they made Australia their home. So I was like, well, that sort of inspired me to ask questions. And then I started asking questions, and I thought, I’m going to add this to my blog. I’m going to add interviews of other people, and what’s their journey to my blog. Now I think I’ve got about 80 interviews on my website. So that’s one of my loves. I just love finding out, you know, what did you think? what was your challenge? Questioning, and people love that. They get inspired by that. They see what might happen, what might go wrong. What worked for them, and there are like-minded people, they’re not just alone in their little dream world. So yes.

Kristen 9:06

No, that’s great.

Carol 9:07

So the interviews, are those all people that have been to Bali in this one year? Okay.

Simone  9:13

Yes, yes. And all the other situations

Kristen  9:15

You met them in your one year there.

Simone  9:18

It’s a mix of everything. So I met them when I was living there. I was actually living more than one year and Bali. It was two years. That’s another story. It’s a mix from all of the years. From meeting them, friends of friends, it could be my clients that I’ve successfully helped move over and everyone’s on a different journey. Some people might be there for three to six months. Some people might be moving there to retire. Some people are testing the waters or they might come back again. Some people have set up businesses. So it’s a very good mix of people who have come for work, for example. So a gentleman from Denver, Colorado, I helped. He’d never been to Indonesia or Bali before. He got a job as a principal in One of the schools in Bali. reached out to me and said, You know, I have no idea what I’m about to get into. Can you please help me? And I’ve since met him a couple of times in Bali as well. And he’s one of my stories, for example. So it’s a big mix.

Kristen  10:14

Now what do you do professionally?

Simone  10:16

So I used to work up until recently as the Marketing Manager of a law firm. That was up until recently because now I’m actually going into this concept of Bali relocation full time. So I’m going into my own business and being my own business owner, and just enjoying helping people from all around the world have an experience like I did, and sort of try and fast track their settling in time and trying to navigate what the culture is like, and what the cost of living might be and how things work and good spots to pick families or schools. And so yeah, I try and coach everyone through that experience, I wanted them to enjoy what I’ve gone through.

Carol  10:56

Is there a mix of always families, is this like this one gentleman out of Denver?

Simone  11:01

Yes, I think I would probably say, because I’ve got so much content on there about the schools and there is a lot of family interviews, I’d probably say maybe 60% families 70%. And then the others might be a couple or it might be a solo, also might be a single mum, for example. Yeah, it could be just retired couples. A bit of a mix on the other 20% – 30%.

Kristen  11:24

I was curious, also, how old were your boys? Do you have two boys is that right?

Simone 11:28

A boy and a girl

Kristen 11:29

A boy and a girl. And how were they about the adventure? And what was it like to take a gap year? Is that a common thing?

Simone 11:38

Common in Australia?

Kristen 11:39


Simone  11:40

No, to be honest, it isn’t. Some of the culture now obviously, with COVID changing, there are people that are taking families and doing a caravanning trip all around Australia and let’s homeschool, just anyone who’s under that eight and under age bracket, they’re not caring about school as much, we can do it on our own, that has, I suppose, become a popular thing to do. But otherwise, it’s really, I think, a rite of passage for Australians when they’re just finishing school or university, to do a gap year, and it would be maybe like I, for example, do with my husband. We saw, I think, 18 countries in Europe for six months. So that’s what we tried and do. We try and tick it all off and go right, let’s go to as many countries as we can. So that would be common. It wouldn’t be common as such for families from Australia, giving it a gap year.

Kristen  12:29

And how are your kids about doing this for a year leaving their friends leaving what they knew?

Simone  12:35

Yeah, I think because of the age group, they were young, and they were like, wherever mum and dad take us, it’s going to be home, it’s going to be awesome. Yes, we sort of tried to do in postcards and make up, keep in touch with family, and so forth. But I think they were just so busy and so absorbed into a whole new culture and everything was just explored, explore and discover every single day. We were never homesick. We literally were never homesick in one year or two, which became two years. It was one of those things where you can get sucked into a Bali bubble where you stay stuck going, Oh, this is really different and it’s working and it’s successful, and everyone’s happy. This gap year very quickly turned into it a second year and it was just something where we were renting out our house in Sydney, and the person wanted to stay longer and it gave us the chance to keep on going financially as well.

Kristen  13:27

What grades were they in while they were there?

Simone  13:29

Yeah, they were in the K two and three. So the early primary years was what we called that. I don’t think they missed out on anything. They fit back into Australia very well. And still, to this day, it feels like it’s defined them and that they’ve had a really amazing cultural experience that maybe some of their other friends in Australia may not have had the opportunity to do so. They’re very positive about the whole experience.

Kristen  13:55

Do you have any transfers of high school students?

Simone  13:59

Yeah, actually, I do. Like all the time, every week I’ve got a 14 year old or a 16 year old. I get that pretty much every week as well.

Kristen  14:08

How about a 16 year old? Where would you sit?

Simone  14:12

Yeah. Are you looking at one whole year, or just as a year experience?

Kristen 14:18

One, two, or three, I don’t know.

Simone 14:21

That’s common as well. There are small schools, there’s all international schools, there’s IB schools, It’s a great range of different schools. It depends on where you want to live. For example, in Ubud in the jungle part, which is further away from the beach, they’ve got a high school there, which is very small. There’s a lot of these little schools that are growing into that high school years and going 14, 15,16. Then if you go to, for example, Sanur there’s an international IB school, which is fabulous. There’s another school in the Canggu area. There’s a couple of schools that do high school right through as well. There’s a few different options and I’m helping teenagers all the time, depending on where they want to go.  Very common. Yeah, lots of options.

Carol  15:07

Okay, so where are the common places that people would end up living? What cities? Some people like a lot of action and festivals, other people want it quieter if it is a family, are there a few places that you could recommend in both spectrums?

Simone  15:29

There are obviously pockets of Bali North Valley, which is super quiet. But really the main four areas I would say that expats are gravitating to, because there’s facilities, there’s co working places, other expats are living there, they’re living their long term, businesses and so forth, would be the one that you mentioned before, which is that sort of beautiful beach area, that Uluwatu area. That is a mix of different beaches, it’s a pretty big surf culture. There are some young families there, there are some preschools and schools there as well. So people wouldn’t go there necessarily to retire, they would maybe be one of those digital nomads that just love surfing, enjoying Bali life. Culturally, it’s not as diverse. It’s very children and that surf culture side of things.

Kristen  16:19

And how did you say that? What was the town that you’re talking about? Uluwatu?

Simone  16:23

The actual Peninsula. Yes, Uluwatu would be one of those suburbs. And that’s just one of the main areas in that bottom part that definitely families and young couples are gravitating to. It’s a little bit harder to get around to navigate around there because it’s all very separated from the cliffs and the beaches.

So for example, a young family wouldn’t go there because there are necessarily so many stairs to go up and down to the beautiful beaches and it could be a bit frustrating. They would have to drive a bit further to another family friendly beach but it’s a beautiful area, it’s an up and coming area. Lots of pros and cons for this area. People do absolutely love it. It is gorgeous. There’s a few lovely temples there as well. Yeah. So each area has its pros and cons and different landscapes and different things to do. And each expat community is a good hour, hour and a half, two hours between each other. So you have to make that distinction and say, Okay, I’m living here. And I’m not going to be that close to another expat community, I suppose. That area is very beautiful. Yeah, I would say very popular for the surfing style of a person that really loves to go surfing every day

Then the next one would probably be the Sanur area. S A N U R. It’s just one of those popular areas for retirees, as well as families, and sometimes it could be a fly in fly out worker because it’s closer to the airport. This is just the main area. There’s obviously areas on the outskirts of that, but if we just called Sanur and Sanur beach area that is very popular for lots of different reasons. There’s one beautiful seven-kilometer walkway, which is quite unusual for Bali to have a well-established dedicated walkway along the beach, where you can ride a bike and go for a run. There’s beautiful rooms, and you can catch the cat fresh fish and people have lots of fun, there’s a few little playgrounds, so it’s a mix of everybody there. It’s really fun for all ages, it’s close to the hospitals, the airport, and a shopping center. So that’s a quite popular place. And it’s growing. It’s definitely grown with more buildings and entertainment and so forth. So Sanur is getting very popular.

And I was going to say could or would be more of a holiday destination rather than someone to live yeah. Be to hotels and cafes, restaurants and shops and markets and things like that, and a lot of traffic. So you wouldn’t want to be living there as such. I’m really avoiding the main tourist areas. So I mean, obviously tourists go to Sanur and Uluwatu as well but if you wanted to live there because that’s the sort of what I advise people is to have that gap year or six months or whatever it is. The next one would be the Canggu region so the Canggu area and there are lots of little extra areas around that area. I could name 10 little extra suburbs or neighborhoods or however regions you want to call it, Canggu is really, really popular, very full of traffic at the moment. It’s just on steroids. It’s got every restaurant and cafe you can imagine, some great co-working, there are clubs, there are schools, there are beaches, there’s a lot going on

Carol  19:50

That’s spelled with a “C”? C A N G?

Simone  19:55

Yes, that’s it. So it’s getting very busy. There are beach clubs, there are lots of things going on. And people do love that vibe. It’s got a great energy, but it’s got a lot of traffic at the moment. So some people are getting frustrated, where they love to go between the gym versus yoga and then going over to a cafe. It may take time. So that’s the only I suppose downfall. But you can enjoy the outskirts of Canggu and it’s just growing and growing and growing. So popular.

Carol  20:27

And is it super hard to get around? Just because of the mass amount of people or like in Costa Rica here, like the roads are really bad? So you can only go like 20 miles an hour? Or is it a combination?

Simone  20:37

A combination. Some of the roads are getting built much better and shortcuts are being improved. But you are never getting rice fields you’re never getting the odd ceremony that might happen, the weather, you’ve got maybe a stray dog running across the road you’re navigating, lots of other motorbikes and cars and everything around you. So there’s a lot going on. Yeah, so it’s a slow speed and everyone does tend to go on a scooter, as opposed to a car for ease of getting around, and they’re shortcuts.

Kristen  21:14

There are a lot of dogs, and they’re so friendly and I’m just shocked that none of them get hit by cars

Simone  21:20

That’s right. They’re very well looked after in that respect. Then the last one, I suppose would be Ubud which is the jungle part that everyone knows. They have a famous school called the Green School that a lot of Americans and other people from around the world have learned about that’s been going on for well over a decade now, and they’ve got other schools around the world now. That would be a draw card in Ubud. But Ubud is just very spiritual, it’s super cultural, their inner people go there for the yoga, the meditation, the spiritual side of Bali, lots more, rice fields, and waterfalls, it’s very, very different. It’s got a very different feel to the other areas. It’s a good 30, 40 minutes, at least, if not more to a beach. So you’re in that heart and soul of more of a lush jungle experience. There are a lot of beautiful things there as well. So wherever you go in Bali, there are similarities with the beautiful food and the cuisines and the fresh produce, the cultural experiences, the villages, the ceremonies, and everything around you every day is amazing. It’s just very different feels in each area, and pros and cons.

Kristen  22:38

I was curious, also, with that huge temples, and then those beautiful flags with the balls that have the things hanging down. And then the communities like they give these offerings. I think it’s every couple days on everybody’s porch, and then they have their own temples, and then they have the community or block temples, and then they’ve got this huge, it looks like the Statue of Liberty in the middle of the country that you just can see from far away. I was curious, I can’t remember what that was called. I was only there for a few days. What was that?

Simone  23:11

It is a Hindu culture, so it could be a different offering. But yes, it’s very peaceful, they do offerings every single day and then they do different blessings at different times of the year depending on the calendar. It’s in your face every single day in some shape or form, whether it’s an offering on the ground, whether it’s an offering in a temple, or whether they’re preparing to bless a particular thing. There are certain things that they believe in, that happen all year round, there are festivals and things that each year, you’ve got beautiful things that you see from the temples, the neighborhoods, they get dressed up and so forth. So, there’s a lot going on every day, depending on what the calendar’s like.

Kristen 1  23:56

What was that thing called the huge statue? It was on the way from Legian Beach, Kuta and we pass by it and its old, I think, I can’t remember, but it is massive. Bigger than any building and super far away.

Simone  24:15

Yeah, a few of those come into my mind. And I have asked the question before and I can’t remember what the answer is, but I do know what you’re talking about.

Kristen  24:26

Yeah, I’m going to look it up. There it is. Yep. I found it. I just did “Bali huge statue.”

Carol  24:34

Well done! good thing.

Kristen  24:37

It says here Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue also known as GWK statue. It’s 122 meters tall, located in the cultural park and then GWK cultural park, but yeah, but I remember driving and our driver was showing it to us and I didn’t get a chance. It was such a tight schedule? I would just like wow, and then just keep on going

Carol  25:08

Yeah, it’s called the giant some people call it the giant. Is there ever a bad time to go, I would just assume the weather is always very mild and very comfortable and hot, and it rains a bunch. But you do a whole year so you’re going to get everything

Simone  25:27

That’s right. So I always feel like it’s Groundhog Day every single day. I’ve never checked the weather whatsoever. I knew it was going to be hot, I knew I’d be wearing flip flops and just T-shirt, shorts, like that every single day. But there’s obviously the wet season and the dry season. So around November, it starts to get wet again in November for quite a few months, and then back again. We’re in the dry season now, for example, and even if it rains, it could be a short little outburst of just 10 minutes of downpour and then we’re great again. Then it could rain for days and days. It’s really unpredictable, I guess, but you’d be swimming in the rain and it will be hot in the rain and as I said every single day in the whole year, I would never check the weather.

Kristen  26:16

There was a tempo on the water that was almost like when the tide was down, you could walk across it and the tide would go up and the island was sunny. And then we went to the mountains and then it was super cloudy and misty. So it’s even if the weather is sunny in one area, you can go to the mountains and it’s drizzly, rainy, and the other.

Simone  26:41

Yeah, that’s true. And most of it is because it’s hot all year round, and it’s the same all year round. Some areas where temperatures can drop a little bit. They’ll never be things like snow or anything like that. But some people get excited and go, well, I can wear a jumper, I can wear jeans because you don’t wear that every other day of the year. So if you do go to that sort of mountain area, the temperature is definitely cooler and fresher, and they promote that, come and stay with us, where there might be fireplaces and things like that. But very minimal to what you guys go through.

Carol  27:19

And if you went to one of those places, are they pretty remote? Or would they be like, you could actually work there and has reliable internet in some of the cooler places if you needed a break?

Simone  27:32

If you need a break, I would definitely say the internet’s reliable. Again, it would be more of a holiday destination, like a couple of days or something like that. You wouldn’t be like, oh, let’s write a book in the mountains. This is really like that. There’ll be more holiday rentals or hotels or something like that.

Kristen  27:52

I remember being in the mountains and we also had a fruit smoothie, but we went into the mountains and saw strawberries, or they were grown strawberries. Here in California, the strawberries are very sweet. Very yummy. I’m Swedish. They’re sweet and yummy there. The strawberries in Bali are sour and not good. I mean, I guess I wouldn’t say not good. But from what I’m used to, it’s a sour strawberry

Simone  28:22

They’re not really quite right. But maybe not as temperate tasting, but I would say the tropical fruit. It’s a shame. Did you try other fruits?

Kristen  28:34

Oh, they were amazing. Yeah, everything we got was just amazing. The fruits were amazing, and then we saw strawberries and we’re like, oh, let’s try strawberry. And then we were like, oh, no, no. That’s not what we get there

Simone  28:48

Yeah, not as good. Yeah, I mean, obviously you’ve got coconuts like everywhere in many tropical climates around the world. Mangosteens are really yummy. They’ve got their Mangoes and their Pineapple. They’ve got Rambutans.

Kristen 29:08

What’s that?

Simone 29:09

I think you guys maybe call it something different like Lychee probably. Then the Mangosteens are like loose little purple things that you just sort of peel open and it’s a little white. It’s a white colored fruit with some pips in it. That is super tasty. Super, super tasty. We got dragon fruit. Dragon Fruit smoothies are so popular. Yeah, dragon fruit everywhere is just incredible.

Carol  29:41

Like so cool. They just look like little sequins.

Kristen 29:45

Yes! Then the guava was big and I was really impressed. They have these bowls, smoothie bowls, and fresh just sliced fruit and oh my god, it was amazing. We were in Kuta and I was staying with this family and I was like, Oh, we want something like fresh fruit healthy for breakfast, and yeah

Simone 30:06

Everywhere fresh food


Kristen 30:08

What are some of your favorite meals or what people eat?


Simone  30:12

Yeah. I 100% agree that the fresh fruits, always get the fresh smoothie bowls, the fresh smoothies, whatever it is, that’s great. And then the local food’s pretty tasty and delicious. I tried to cook it and you get such an appreciation for how many spices and how long it takes. Nasi, Nasi means rice, goreng means fried. So like a fried rice type dish. Noodles, so you’ve got a fried noodle dish, but then they’re good with tempeh, small amounts of meat anyways, in their diet. So it’s not a huge meat-eating culture. They’re very with their vegetables, and then the rice and things like that.

And then you’ve got a dish called, for example, Nasi Campur, which is nasi, which would be brown rice, red rice, white rice, yellow rice, whatever there’s happening, and then Campur was a little bit of everything. So I really love that. So it might be a little bit of tempeh or tofu, it might be some really interesting beans and veggies. It could be a little bit of chicken.  They’ve got Beef Rendang, which is a lovely beef curry. So it’s a bit of a mix.

And then they love their chili and the Sambal, which I never touched. I’m not a chili person. Anyway, that’s hugely popular. It’s always chili, and Sambal, which is like a crushed-up chili sauce if you want to call it that, They put that on everything. Yeah, eggs as well good with the eggs. So it’s a nice mix that’s obviously local food. But then the cuisines are amazing. That’s what’s great. You can go really cheap and quite local with a nasi grain, maybe a couple of US dollars, but then you can go to a five-star amazing restaurant on the same day. and everything in between. So you’ve got lots of options when it comes to choice and affordability with food.

Carol  31:59


Kristen 32:01

Then you also talked about Mu belly. So Australians that were there because they were having a bigger winter and so it was very packed. We got there around midnight or 1 am and the whole airport was just packed. And then I met some folks too and they were saying, Oh, watch out. And so the water or something, we didn’t get affected, but they called it Mu beli.

Simone  32:24

Yeah, everyone’s known of Bali Belly. For us, obviously, you have to be careful with whether it’s hand sanitizer, washing your hand, seeing how it’s cooked, where you’re buying it from, you can go from very local place that just uses the water on the street, so to speak. So these buxom men who sort of super, obviously wouldn’t advise that local. And then you go to a cafe restaurant, where they’re always serving for expats or holidaymakers. So that there’s quality and you should not be getting Bali Belly in that situation. However, they have great remedies and things like that, if you ever needed them. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. In our two years, believe it or not, I would be buying fruit, veggies from the local market where there would be kept selling around the flies, and we will just do a quick wash and we didn’t get sick. There are things you can just avoid and yes, it’s hard sometimes if you have to drink bottled water all the time and not from the tap, and just be belligerent over what you’re going to do and so forth. But yes, Bali belly can happen anytime, anywhere and some people say I think I got it from a five-star Beach Resort. So you never know where you could get it from, unfortunately, but it’s definitely one thing that’s there.

Carol  33:45

And so do you feel that once you’ve been there for three, four months, they’re less likely to get it? Or literally, it could happen just depending on where you go? Or there’s acclamation?

Simone 33:55

A bit of both. I think you do get used to it. Some people do start brushing their teeth with the local water a little bit. So introduce it slowly, in some little bits of ways. As you said, the longer you’re there, you should be immune to the bugs and the local way of food, how to prepare them what’s happening. But yeah, it’s a bit of a mix. I recommend a cholera drink before you. I don’t know if that helps in any shape or form. But I was advised by my doctor to take that so that may have helped us was like a little bit of a learning for the tummy, and just being sensible as much as you possibly can.

Kristen  34:39

What was the drink?

Simone  34:41

It’s called Dukoral. D U K O R A L Dukoral.

Carol  34:47

Okay, yes. Kind of getting ready for different environments.

Simone  34:53

That’s right. Exactly right.

Carol  34:55

Oh, yeah. I was curious. Cost wise, if someone wanted to live there, how much should they anticipate spending or saving to spend on rent and food and just costs in general?

Simone  35:09

Yes. Okay. That’s a big question. I’m like, oh my gosh, how am I going to answer this point? So are we talking a family of four, for example? Again, it depends on where you live. So for example, Ubud would be probably one of the cheaper ones. Ubud and Uluwatu may be the cheaper areas to live for rent, for example, versus Sanur. Sanur was also quite reasonable, Canggu as I said is getting very, very busy and getting very expensive. Things have changed, the inflation prices, a lot of different things are going on at the moment to push prices up no matter what. Wherever you are, it’s just not best when it comes to rent, and that would be the biggest cost. For a year, for example, it’s a hard question.

Bali housing is also very different. You can have an enclosed one, which is what we’re used to in our Western world. And then you can have a tropical open one, which is a lot cheaper. So you will come to Bali with you wanting a fully furnished house, of course because you’re not bringing any furniture with you. Then you’ve got a choice of do I want it half open or all open, or just for example everything else enclosed, that’s going to change your price as well. For example, in Ubud, because it’s a big color being in the jungle, things can happen, if it’s closed. There might be more mold opportunities. So, for example, the bedrooms might just be closed with some aircon. And then you might have your kitchen and your lounge room and other areas, even the bathroom open, believe it or not. So that’s something you either happy to get used to or you’re like no, I still want that Western experience because I’m nervous about mosquitoes and other things that might happen, and it’s unavoidable. It could be $10,000 to $15,000 a year, for example, in Ubud, versus if you want something more luxurious and amazing in Canggu, it could be $35,000 plus. Some people come from monthly, and it could be $1,000 a month, versus $3000 – $3500 a month. So there was a huge range, to be honest on accommodation. Ubud would be the cheapest option Canggu would be super expensive. So let’s use those two as examples.

Carol  37:43

Yeah, I’m looking at some of these open homes. It’s insane

Simone  37:49

Yeah. Certain times a year it’d be great. But once the rain starts coming and be like,

Kristen  37:53

Yeah, so the room itself was enclosed, and then the bathroom had a door. And it was enclosed in everything. But in the shower area, there was a space in the roof, so it wasn’t raining in it but it was like an open roof concept. I don’t remember what the wall was, but it looked like a rock wall. Then there was just like a space. So it was partially open. When I was in Costa Rica it was open. I was showering and I was watching those construction guys cutting down some trees, and there’s a monkey swinging and I was like washing my hair out.

Simone  38:31

So yeah, that’s pretty similar. Exactly right, that sort of tropical open plan. Sometimes it’s great, but then getting frustrated with the kitchen and lounge room in the outdoors, and the heat and the elements and things that might happen at night, and then everyone gravitates to their bedrooms and doesn’t speak to anybody. So it could be a bit of a frustrating way of living but some people absolutely love it or they’ve just got a different budget and they’re like this is going to work for me for a year. This is how I’m going to live and I’m going to get used to it. So it does take time to get used to I think with the heat.

Carol  39:04

Yeah, I landed on this site and it has like 29 Nights $900 for one of these homes. And then the next listing is $4,000 for 29 nights. So I can see this going to someone like you okay, what are the pros and cons of this area? Versus that would be huge. Another one is $690 for a month Sweet Escape entire Villa one bedroom one bath and a queen bed but since we took it to be true, maybe it’s a really difficult place to get to and then maybe it’s all open and there are bugs

Simone  39:40

It didn’t say rough location?

Carol  39:48

Well, I was in Veluvana Bali, that might have been the place, I just searched open air.

Simone  39:56

Yes. Accommodation there is very, very varied. But, obviously, I always recommend fully furnished, and then we’ll start from there. And then you’ve got where and then the type of style and all these sorts of things. and kitchens are usually quite small because most people eat out a lot, it’s very affordable. So you don’t want a big modern, huge kitchen you can be used to back in the States, for example. There are lots of little elements per home that changes things up. Then what I actually do offer clients is that I have a cost of living Excel spreadsheet, because there is so much involved. For example, even the electricity bill could be quite expensive if you’re running a pool pump and air conditioning units all day, every day, that’s going to be different to someone saying Canggu again, versus someone in Ubud who may not be doing the same with their air conditioning and electricity. So electricity prices. There are even things like council fees. Very small, but these are just item ideas that I list. These are things that you have to just commit to every month. Like recycling, garbage, those types of things. I really itemized everything for you. It could be the gas, electricity, the van drops fees, recycling fees, and all sorts of different fees, including staff, because that’s what’s great about Bali is that you can afford a housekeeper to clean your house every week, maybe even do your washing for you, maybe cook a meal every now and then. So there are lots of little extras that you need to know, how much do things cost, so I itemize that for everybody because there’s a huge range

Carol  41:34

Are there a lot of services like this? This seems like such a great thing that you’re doing. Is this common or? We don’t need to mention competitors obviously

Simone  41:44

That’s a really good question. I believe, after speaking to lots of different people, there isn’t anyone specifically for Bali. So I’m sure there is definitely for around the world. But no, you’re right, Carol, there’s nothing. It just came to me from a natural love of me doing all my research and my organization, my husband loves his spreadsheets and budgeting and we wanted to make sure that we weren’t going to come back to Sydney in debt. The whole reason for this gap year was to have a good quality of life, live really well, and have a beautiful experience for the family and the kids, but also not come back in debt. So that’s where I think it takes time. Someone actually said to me, who lives in Bali for quite a few years, she’s an expat. She said I’ve gone to so many different countries around the world, but I found living in Bali was really hard to get into the swing of things. It’s great that you offer that sort of stuff. So for me, it was just more I’ve been there done that I just want to share that love and I just keep updating it and wanting to basically help that you’ve been there living there a couple of years before you even land in the in Bali. So yeah, it’s just spread that love and that service, I guess.

Carol 42:47

How often do you go back to Bali?

Simone 43:50

Every couple of months, maybe three to six months because I’m not far. So I’m only five hours, five and a half hours, so I do try and go a couple of times a year if I can. That’s the goal.

Kristen  43:02

What’s your service cost?

Simone  43:06

Yeah, good question. I’ve got how I’ve tried to package it up, I’ve got two different costs. I’ve got a basic cost and a more advanced cost if you want to call it that. I’ve got a package, which is $375 and it includes about an 85-page eBook, if you want to call it that. It’s like a guide. From I’ve never been there before, tell me about snakes, tell me about vases. Tell me about housing, what can go wrong, all that sort of stuff, pros, cons challenges, you’re not going to be able to walk around, give me the realistic parts about money. So always give you the good and the bad as well, just to be prepared. So I’ve got a lovely book and then I’ve got a lot of checklists and planning lists. What to bring, what not to bring, what’s there, what can’t you get. As I said, housing is a big one to understand. There are all these little things to understand. You’re not going to be able to drink the water, do you want to get a water purifying system added to your home for the year and rent that? What does it mean to commute in this particular area? I have got a lot of tips and tricks and resources to get you through. I’ve gotten Bahasa language guide as well. Yes, you can grab an app and do whatever you need to, but I’ll give you a lovely list of the great words to understand and have a great little conversation and understand what things mean both culturally and just general conversation as well, and how things work culturally, the staff practices and the customs and all that sort of stuff. I’m just trying to think what else I’ve got and the cost of living Excel spreadsheet. I’ll give you a good spreadsheet so you can start plugging in making your own budget but getting an idea okay, this is how much it’s going to cost to rent a car versus even hiring a driver. So for example, we budgeted that we had a full-time driver for two years and we did not drive once in two years ourselves.

Kristen  44:56

I actually had a driver as well.

Simone  44:59

Yeah. I think it helped. It’s slower to get around but I’ll give you the pros and cons about that as well.

Carol  45:09

How much was it again? How much was it for the driver?

Kristen 45:12

It was really reasonable.

Simon  45:13

If you’re just doing an eight hour day, probably about $50 a day, something like that, maybe a bit less. That’s just per day

Kristen  45:23

I’m going to just say $30 to $35 days.

Simone  45:29

It depends on the car, size, and if you’ve been transporting a big family, gas, all that sort of stuff. But approximately probably about $35 to $50 a day. Depends on where you’re going, what you’re doing, and how long.

Kristen  45:46

I heard some quick things that are funny about driving. So first off the drinking age is 14. And then, so my son was very excited being 15 to have a beer at the surfing contest that they offered him. You can drive drunk and that they’re very good drunk drivers. I guess that’s what the family that we stayed told us it was, but I thought that was really fun.

Simone  46:12

They are having problems with expense driving, and accidents and thinking then I had to drive on the scooters as well, always a problem, always a discussion, always in the news, how things are going on, that’s a big one. But yeah, that’s my basic package.

Then the other one is $650 and that actually includes all my really lovely suppliers and contacts and introductions and recommendations. That’s a big list. It’s like a nice directory if you need to get your visa done, if you need to open a bank account, if you need to find a house, if you want to get introduced your principal at a school, if you want to find a doctor, if you want to get a nanny, if you want to get a dentist, all these Bahasa tutor, and language tutor. You name it. It’s like a lovely list of things. You can open a business. I’ve just put years and years of trusted suppliers I speak to every day in a little directory of there you go and let’s get the ball rolling. It’s all doable. It’s all possible. So

Carol  47:16

So how do you help people actually find a house? Do you go to these other services, they’re trusted or do you actually help them

Simone  47:24

I physically don’t help them but I can give them a huge amount of homework to just get your head in the game and to understand before you even get to that real estate agent that you know what you’re looking for, you’ve got a bit of a wish list, pros and cons, you know what to look out for if you do fully inspect it yourself. Then I have got the trusted people. So the people in the areas that I mentioned, for example, I’ve got a handful of people that I would introduce you to and I know from feedback and how they work that they will you know, find you something lovely. And we just start going through an introduction, bit of feedback and they take it from there, But it’s not straightforward. Housing is not straightforward in Bali

Carol  48:04

I’ve heard. I’ve you seen this woman. She lives in Bali. She was Alison in Asia.

Simone 48:12

Yes, she was a client of mine. Oh, really?

Carol  48:14

Yes. She said like why we didn’t buy a house because it doesn’t make sense to buy a house. Maybe that’s how I found you.

Simone  48:24

That’s how we’re connected. Yeah, yeah. It’s

Kristen  48:27

so funny, because we only really touched upon the bottom part and there’s so much of the island. Also that is so green on the map, but it seems like that’s where most people stay and then the other parts. Yeah, and basically had such a short window of time for me to be able to be there too. And see, it

Carol 48:45

Sounds like you got to go back, Kristen.

Kristen 48:49

We’re going to live there for a little while

Carol  48:51

Yeah, that sounds like a year. Amazing!

Simone  48:56

Maybe I’ll help you with that.

Kristen 48:58

I know. I’ve got my Rip Curl pro family and the driver guy and they’re like, oh sounds good. But I’ll definitely for sure get some tips.

Carol  49:10

Now I know my question. So I’ve heard a lot about Bali that you can get away with just English just do you find that true?

Simone  49:15

Very true. Yes. Absolutely. And it’s actually even more interesting. I have so many Europeans that come to Bali to learn English. If we want to go to that extreme. I mean, it’s crazy but yeah, English is obviously all in schools and it’s in shops and restaurants and everywhere you go so yeah, without a doubt you’ve got no problems whatsoever and signs and all that’s in English. It’s quite interesting that I have so many families that say my child has no idea how to speak English we’ve gone to Bali and they’ve just come home so confident speaking fluent English. So absolutely no problems whatsoever. Although of course, I always recommend to learn the local language and schools will at least offer language lessons two or three times a week as well.

Kristen 50:05

What’s the best time to go weatherwise? And secondly, when’s the least amount of tourists?

Simone  50:12

Yes, that’s a good question. Because high season, I was going to say August. There on the August school calendar. In Australia, we’re on a completely different calendar. It’s high season most of the year just being a tropical island and so much going on, and people going outside of school holidays, and it’s still busy all the time. You’ve obviously got the wet season and the dry season, we’re on different calendars. So for example, Australians were on a completely different calendar to you, and we’re so close. We’re always going there on holidays. There’s very few little spots to be honest on when’s that low season. Maybe February to March, and then September, October on those other sides, maybe a little bit quieter. A few months here and there on each side, but not much, because it’s just busy all the time.

Kristen 51:07

Really, there are so many more questions, but those are the bulk of them I think. I don’t know if there’s anything else in terms of culturally. I know they have their ceremonies that they do that again, that what’s the ceremony with the balls, the kind of kite things balls with the hanging pieces from it. I can’t remember what that’s called.

Simone  51:28

Yeah, there’s a couple of them to remind me. Two in the beginning of the year towards the end as well, but was just going to say that a beautiful thing that they offer that they have once a year is called Nyepi. And it’s usually in March. It might be the 17th of March, and then it might be 18th or 19th. But once a year, every single year, the whole island is quiet. It’s like a silent day. It’s very, very special. So the airport’s closed, there is no driving on the road, and it’s just like, let’s detox a little. It’s just a beautiful day of silence. The day before is a very noisy day where they’re actually trying to rid of evil spirits and make noise. What’s really lovely is each sort of village creates these things called Ogoh-Ogoh, which are paper mache monsters, and they parade them and then they make some noise with all their percussion instruments. And it’s a bit of a spectacle, their lead up is that they’re creating these over a couple of weeks in their home area. And then they parade them and then ended up burning them off and in the beach. It’s like this big, big deal every once a year, and it’s called Nyepi and then it’s the Day of Silence, and then you can see there’s no pollution, stars are in the sky it’s very quiet, you have to stay at home, you’re technically not meant to cook, use any electricity or make fire, all those sorts of things. It’s just very basic just 24 hours. But sometimes people don’t know about that, and then go on holidays and then they’re like what’s happening the next day? So it’s a bit like a big New Year’s celebration where people get ready for supermarkets getting their food ready. It’s a big celebration. So it’s something to look out for.

Carol  53:12

All right, rapid fire questions now. The common religion, you say it’s Buddhist?

Simone  53:17

Hindu, essentially Hindu. Yes. So all of Indonesia is actually Muslim and it’s the biggest Muslim population in the world, I believe in Indonesia. Hundreds of millions, but in Bali, it’s Hindu. So it’s like 98% Hindu, I would probably say, and then there’s a little bit of Christian, and then obviously Muslim as well. But I’d say the majority is Hindu.

Carol  53:42

It’s interesting, but you’re saying the rest of Indonesia’s Muslim. Wow. Yeah. And then we talked about foods, right? What’s a typical breakfast there?

Simone  53:51

If we’re not doing the yummy smoothie bowls. Everyone loves their smoothie bowls, that would be a typical breakfast. Otherwise, it would be a rice dish or even sweets. They do love sweets as well. So they will make with tapioca flour or something you can just pick up on the way like a little rice with some sweets. If you’re looking at traditional stuff. Would be lots of little sweet bake. They love their sugar. So you have to say Tidak Gula, which means no sugar because they’ll add sugar to a lot of different things. So yeah, so it could be little, little things that you can buy on the side of the street wrapped up, whether it be rice or sweet little baked goods.

Carol  54:36

Nice. Is there any kind of special music that’s local to the Balinese?

Simone  54:42

Yeah, I will just say that the percussions and like, the good thing is called the gallon – – I’ve forgotten the name of it, but a lot of those xylophone type thing, cut up percussion instruments. And that would be I suppose their traditional music that is played throughout the island.

Carol  55:00

All right, and then what’s the money like?

Simone  55:04

Yeah, the Indonesian Rupiah. So obviously, you guys coming from states it’s a good dollar for you guys. So yeah, the Indonesian Rupiah is the local currency and it’s a bit tricky to get your head around because it comes into the millions. So you will become a millionaire straightaway when you change over like a $10 or something like that. So it’s a lot of zeros to keep track of

Kristen  55:32

Too many I was trying to change $50. and it was like a stack or 100. It was a big amount at the time, I think two inches of just cash and dollars, and I was at the ATM at 711 Just trying to get some cash, it was pretty crazy.

Carol 55:49

And do you recommend going to the banks or ATMs or using credit cards or cash? In some places, they say it’s actually good to exchange money on the streets?

Simone 55:59

I wouldn’t recommend on the streets. There is a website that you can even google because there are little mini scams as well as there would be other places in the world. So yeah, definitely Google, because there are reputable money exchangers and of course, you just might have some ATM fees. There are even some particular ATMs that I would recommend over others that are more inside a bank that you will get, there’s security there already, just because sometimes there will be some credit card skimming and tampering with an ATM machine. So I would just say be a little bit aware, do a bit of googling on the best way to handle money when you’re in Bali. And you could turn up with a little bit yourself, just change it back home just to have something when you land, but then be aware of where you are taking money out as you said it’s not going to fit in your wallet having a big lump of cash, unfortunately. There are a lot of areas where you can tap and pay, and there are some international cards like I would recommend You’ve gone to there that you can get a credit card or credit cards or a debit card through them and then just be less on the fees and things like that. So yeah, just checking out on fees and, and things like that.

Kristen  57:13

Read your book guide book?

Simone  57:14

yeah, yeah, that’s fine.

Carol  57:16

And then best place to surf. I know that’s famous for surfing, is there more on the West Coast versus the East Coast or just surfing everywhere?

Simone  57:25

Nothing. Everywhere, depending on there is no panic sand. And then there’s just normal, beautiful white sand. So you’ve got a big range depending on what type of surfer you are, and what are you looking for. So as you mentioned before, the Uluwatu area is lovely and there’s other little pockets, there’s East, there’s pretty much everywhere. I don’t know about the top part of Bali because I know that you can go snorkeling and that wouldn’t be more of a surf thing. But everywhere else around there will be pockets of surfing and beaches everywhere.

Kristen  58:00

All right.

Simone 58:04

Lovely to meet you both

Kristen 58:06

So nice and great to learn more about it. And yeah, I’m actually very interested in the whole school thing too. I have to look into. May be emailing you and checking it out.

Carol  58:16

And where do people find you, your social channels or website?

Simone  58:22 is on Instagram. And then  the website. The two ones so Instagram. Facebook, website, and every week I keep updating it with an interesting article or an interview definitely, with someone who’s either there now or who’s come and gone and wanted to share their experience. But mostly people that are there now.

Kristen  58:48

Absolutely. Wonderful. Have a great day and enjoy your day. You’re starting yours.

Simone 58:53

That’s right.

Carol 58:55

Have a good evening

Simone 58:59

Thanks for having me. Bye.

Carol  59:03



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