Skip to main content

From a Teaching Career in Vietnam to Thriving as a Solo Female Expat in Sanur, Bali

Kim, an Canadian expat, scheduled a call with me last October to discuss her intentions of relocating to Bali following eleven years of teaching in Vietnam. Shortly after the call she became a client and purchased the Silver package. It was a delightful experience to enjoy a dinner together in Sanur a few weeks after her arrival in August.

Kim shared these kind words:

“I found Simone and Our Year In Bali while doing some self research that I was finding difficult and stressful. Simone’s passion and enthusiasm were evident in the call and the package allowed me to have all the information I needed organized and easily accessible. She also provided some invaluable connections that I couldn’t have made on my own. It took a lot of the stress out of what’s going to be an exciting next chapter for my dog and I. I’m so excited- and thanks to Simone- prepared!”

In her interview, Kim discusses her initial experiences during the first few months of settling into a long-term relocation in Sanur with her dog.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where are you originally from?

I am in my mid forties, single, and from Canada -but it’s been over two decades and nearly half my life since I lived there! 1 spent 9 years in the UK, working as a nanny, a year volunteering in Africa and Sri Lanka, and 11 teaching in Vietnam.

When did you first arrive in Bali, and what brought you here?

The first time I came to Bali was 9 years ago on a solo surf and yoga retreat in Canggu. It was one of the most peaceful holidays I’ve ever had. There’s just something about this island! I thought to myself then, ‘one day I will live here.’ And 6 other holidays and 9 years later -in August 2023 I made the move.

Kim in rice fields Our Year in Bali

How did you hear about Our Year in Bali, and what was your experience like with Simone’s assistance?

I started researching the idea of moving here in November 2022. It was difficult and stressful to do along side my work. So many different things I needed to consider. Then I stumbled across our Year in Bali in my searches. When I had the consultation call with Simone, and figured out that she had all the information I needed already sourced, it seemed like an easy decision.

What motivated you to move to Bali, and how did you go about making the decision to do so?

I think Covid made a lot of people rethink their priorities. I definitely did. Covid was pretty stressful times as a teacher. During my last Bali holiday at a wellness retreat I had a moment. One of the things that I did on the retreat was have a SUP lesson and I remember being so at ease paddling around this bay. I saw this foreign lady on the beach, walking her dog and I thought to myself… I want that. When I got back from that trip is when I started the research.  I don’t want to work hard and wait until later to enjoy my life. I want to love it now! I also decided a break from work was in order and I wanted to go back to school.

Where in Bali do you live, and what made you choose that location?

Simone also helped me consider where might be the best place for me to live according to my requirements. I ended up choosing Sanur. Bali is growing fast. Sanur isn’t quite so intense and full on as some of the more popular places, but still offers enough western amenities and conveniences that I wanted. (Cafes, grocery stores, some aircon places etc).

I spent a month in a guest house which didn’t really suit me, or my dog. Too busy, not sufficient kitchen, and not quiet or private enough. I chose to move into a local style open living 2 bed house, in a more local location west of the bypass but walkable to the beach. For my budget limitations, It’s not fancy, with no pool, but it’s clean and quiet. Most of my neighbours are local. And they are lovely. And the touristy part is a quick grab bike ride away. I committed to, and paid for a year. It’s a good balance between convenience and privacy.  I might choose to stay longer, or check out another area next year. Too early to tell!

You are a seasoned expat, living in Vietnam for 11 years, so how has the settling in period been for you? What should people consider when moving over?

I guess pretty straight forward. Change is hard though. And I quit my job, and moved countries, and started a Masters program all at the same time. I have no friends here. I had some moments in the beginning. But- I knew that would happen so was prepared for that adjustment period. I’m settling in now, 3 months in. I have this policy with travel and expat living. Commit to a year. Anything less is not long enough to really know.

If you’re considering a move think about what you’re looking for from your Bali experience. What city would best suit your style. Do you like the hustle and bustle, or prefer remote, or in the middle. Expat/ local life? Do you want to be near ocean, yoga, rice terraces, temples, mountains, lakes, waterfalls? What city, your budget, your visa, work options, will you drive/bike?

For me for example, my priority was beach / ocean walking distance (I think the whole island is better off if I don’t drive a bike) and some amenities but not too full on. And I also wanted an authentic Bali experience and opportunities to be part of a community. Sanur suited. If anything it might be getting a bit too touristy/busy. (The jury’s out on that one!) Is it too much to ask to have the beach to myself! Budget mattered too. It’s higher rent here than I thought.  Later, when I work, there are international schools near. I unfortunately can’t afford to not work for the duration of my Masters. But I can for the first year!

What are the new hobbies or activities you are excited to try or looking forward to discovering in Bali?

I’ve started yoga three times a week, and am also starting paddling in the ocean with my dog a couple times a week. Apart from my studies

I spend 3 hours each day walking my dog mainly on the beach. I love that I see lots of the same local people everyday and they know our names and are super friendly. I’m also learning Bahasa, but so far just online.

Expat dog on Sanur Beach

How have you adapted to the local customs and traditions in Bali, and what are your learning and enjoying from the experience?

I love the vibrant culture here. People are constantly celebrating and having festivals and ceremonies. The traditional dress is beautiful. And it makes me happy seeing the daily offerings. The people are generally so happy, peaceful and content. We can learn from that- with our too fast-paced, constant worrying western culture!

Balinese dancing

How has living in Bali influenced your personal and professional life, and what opportunities have you found here?

I was probably a bit burned out when I arrived. But also felt a bit guilty relaxing and not being busy. It hasn’t been a natural part of my life with (self prescribed) high expectations and demands to be productive.  Bali is helping me learn to relax and just be. And that taking care of myself and listening to my body can be productive enough! Simone has helped me make some contacts for future job opportunities though I’ve not explored extensively as of yet.

Can you walk us through what a typical day looks like for you in Bali?

I still feel a bit guilty about it when I think too much. It’s pretty chill. My dog gets up at 6:30. I let her out into the open living area, before I return to slowly waking up. I leave by 7:30/8 for a two hour (usually beach) walk with my dog. I always have a cappuccino/ sometimes breakfast  and shade break as part of that time. And calls home to family and friends.

[It is a bit difficult to meet people so I don’t have many friends here. That will take time and be easier when I work. I’m considering joining BIWA to meet some people.]

I find beach walking very meditative, as well as sitting on the beach watching the sea. When we get back I feed my dog and we head to my office 11-4. I read or study for the majority of the afternoon.  I sometimes hit a cafe for lunch and three times a week- pool/ yoga! Once a week we go to a doggy drop in place. Occasionally there’s a nap!  I have another dog walk before dinner. Maybe some tv or language learning before bed.

I don’t cook often (it’s not cheaper!) but about once a week I might make a dish that will give me 4/5 meals. My kitchen is stocked with granola and bread, cheese, yogurt and cold drinks! Otherwise it’s deliveries or collecting takeout. I do my own cleaning because my dog doesn’t like strangers. But getting people to cook and clean is easy and cleaning can be something that comes with your rent.

Kim near temple in Sanur

What would you say is the best thing about living in Bali?

I really love the peaceful vibe I get when I go about my day.

As a solo female expat who has made the move to Sanur for the next few years, what advice do you wish to share for other single females looking to do the same?

Just do it! You won’t regret it. And if you don’t like it you can leave. It isn’t always easy, but that’s life anywhere! Why not have an adventure?

Kim and her dog BB in Bali

Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience living in Bali that we haven’t covered ?

Sure! You can follow my dog on instagram! @bbinbali

Ready to get started?

Book a free discovery call to learn more about how we can help you feel confident about a move to Bali.

Leave a Reply