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From Beijing to Bali: A Canadian Family’s Year-Long Remote Work Adventure

Libby and her family initially embarked on a plan to work remotely for a period of six months to a year. During this journey, they discovered Our Year in Bali online, and although they have recently bid farewell to Bali to return to Beijing, they are eager to share their unforgettable experiences in the following interview.

Additionally, Libby expressed her gratitude for the support they received when they first arrived in Bali, saying, “We are now in beautiful Bali… and finding our way… so much to do at the beginning. But we definitely felt better equipped to cope with it all thanks to your support. We’re constantly referring to all the documents you sent – so THANK YOU. Getting in touch with you was the BEST thing we could do prior to our move to Bali!”

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

Both myself and my husband are from Canada.  We lived in Beijing for 3 years prior to moving to Bali.  My son and daughter were born in London, where we lived before Beijing.

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

2022 was a challenging year for us in Beijing.  We had online schooling and long lasting travel restrictions etc due to covid.  My husband was given the opportunity to work remotely so we thought why not base ourselves in Bali!  We had visited when we first met and fell in love with the island but that was over 20 years ago…so obviously a lot has changed!

How long did you stay in Bali? When did you arrive?

We arrived August 2022 and left a few months ago… so ended up staying nearly a year.  We originally thought the remote gig would only last 6 months so the entire year was a gift.  It was such a fast process from decision to moving (and consulting with Simone was the ONLY way we could have made that happen- having information upfront was so reassuring).

expat kids in Bali hiking

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

We lived in Canggu which we mainly chose because we had decided to enrol our kids at Canggu Community School.

What was school life like for your children?

For me, as a parent, the school was one of the highlights of our time in Bali.  Everything from the teachers to the curriculum to the school grounds were beyond our wildest expectations.  We all met such good friends and made memories with other expat friends that we’ll never forget.

Expat kids playing at beach in Bali

What were some of the challenges you faced living in Bali?

Setting up life in a new place always takes time- even when that place is paradise!  I had to remind myself to be patient when it came to dealing with life admin.

Can you walk us through what a typical day looked like for the family living in Bali?

My husband drove my son and daughter to school on the scooter every morning… which they loved!  We were lucky to have the school located next to Finn’s Recreation Club so my husband could work remotely from there after drop off.  After a work out and swim, I would generally run errands while the kids were at school but at a more relaxed pace than I would have done in Beijing!  And it was so easy to have time for a massage in Bali… I will definitely miss that.  After school the kids had activities at the school or at Finn’s.  Or would meet up with friends to swim and play at the water park.  One of the great aspects of living in Canggu was the amazing restaurants.  We generally ordered dinner or would eat out.  I loved all of the super healthy (and delicious) options available.

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

Living in Bali taught me so much.  As an expat, you meet such a wide range of individuals and families with so many different experiences… the opportunities for our own family felt endless.  I also loved how we learned to live with so little compared to “normal” life.  Living almost outdoors felt like freedom.  I really cherish memories made playing at the beach or exploring different parts of the island.

Child at Balinese temple

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about Bali, and how would you correct them?

It is different to live in a “holiday” destination.  And definitely requires a mindset adjustment at times.  Just because you’re living an island lifestyle doesn’t mean that daily life is always perfect.

How have you adapted to the local customs and traditions in Bali, and what have you learned from the experience?

We loved to smell the incense and see the daily offerings being put out each day.  It was such a peaceful ritual to mark the day.  My son and daughter were fortunate to study Bahasa at school as well as learned about Indonesian culture and history which really made us feel more like a part of the island rather than “vacation-ers”.  Personally, I felt living so close to nature was a beautiful lesson in itself.

Amercian expat kids wearing Balinese costumes

What would you say was the best thing and favourite memories about living in Bali?

There are SO many good things about living in Bali.  For me, there are very few places as special as Bali in the world.  The people and the beauty of the island are magic.  We loved exploring different areas of Bali- snorkelling, hiking, surfing- there are so many adventures to have with your family… and these memories will last forever.

American expats exploring Bali waterfalls

What advice would you give to other families who are considering a move to Bali?

Absolutely do it!  Yes, there will be challenges but there will also be endless rewards.  For our family, it was the adventure of a lifetime.

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

Consulting with Simone was so useful for us to prepare for the year ahead.  And we used her information throughout the year!  Its such a useful tool. Like any new adventure, go into Bali with an open mind and open heart.  The experience definitely changed me… for the better!

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