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From London to Bali: Lisa and Her Family’s Bold Move and Exciting New Life Adventure

Lisa and I first spoke in early 2023, when I assisted her family in planning a 10-week adventure to Bali in June. This trip included home-schooling support provided by TutorMe Bali. Fast forward to today and Lisa is sharing her long term relocation to Bali where along with her husband Chris and their three children, embarked on a life-changing journey from bustling London to the serene shores of Bali. In this interview, Lisa shares their motivations, challenges, and the profound impact of Bali on their family dynamics and personal growth. Join us as we delve into their inspiring story of courage, adaptation, and embracing new horizons in the Island of the Gods.

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

I’m Lisa, aged 43 from the UK. My husband is Chris, and we have three children aged 13, 11 and 6. We love to travel but have always lived in the UK. My husband and I spent many years working in London. I work in market research and he’s a sales director in IT.

Lisa Cowie

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

We came to Bali in June 2023 for an extended holiday of 10 weeks, but we ended up cancelling our return flight and staying! A year later, we’re still here.

The context… I was made redundant from a long-term job, and that gave us the push we needed to have an adventure. So, my husband left his job too and off we went. We had in the back of our minds that we’d like to live somewhere else for a while and Bali just had this appeal… so whilst we intended it to be a holiday, we were open to moving away from the UK.

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

I was Googling for information about living in Bali and came across OYIB. I’m so glad that I did the free consultation call. In those 30 minutes, Simone was incredibly helpful and gave me lots to think about and consider. I purchased the bronze package and spent many weeks before our trip reading over all the information. It made me feel so much more prepared and in the know, and this meant our transition to Bali life was smooth and quick because we’d figured a lot of things out already. Simone was also on hand to answer questions I had along the way.

UK expat family living Bali - Our Year in Bali

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

The original decision to come to Bali for an extended stay (and then to move here) was because there is so much to do, concentrated into a small ish area. You get beach, countryside/jungle, an active lifestyle, a relaxing lifestyle, kids activities, a great food scene, sports, wellness and more.

Shortly after arriving we felt so comfortable and at home. It’s a special place and Bali captured our hearts immediately. We decided to stay long-term because our children were so happy here. We wanted them to experience a different way of living, to open their minds to different cultures and to gain a broader perspective of the world. Even though Bali is a small place, it totally enables all that. We also wanted to be somewhere with better weather than England (!), to be outdoors a lot, and to have new experiences.

British family living in Bali

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

We live in Umalas, which is nestled between Canggu and Seminyak. We chose this location because it’s close to the school we decided upon (Pro Education), but also because it’s very convenient for being able to get around with easy access to lots of places. I really love Umalas because it’s quieter than the centres of Canggu and Seminyak, but is only 10-15 mins away and has all the amenities I need close by like grocery shops, wholefood stores, salons, co-working spaces, etc. It’s also very close to the Bali Bulldogs football arena… and we’re there a lot!

UK school kids expat family living Bali - Our Year in Bali

What has the schooling experience been like? How was it meeting other parents and the kids making friends?

My children have made some special friendships in the short time we’ve lived here, and I love that they’re mixing with children from all around the world. Schooling has been fantastic for them, especially for my primary age kids. It’s different enough to give them a new experience, but familiar enough that it was easy to settle in. We’ve met lots of parents and formed some great friendships too. I really love that school puts emphasis on wellbeing and enrichment activities. Academics are important but I like that it’s not all centred around testing and assessments. This is so pertinent to younger kids, where play and social development is just as important (IMO!) so it feels very well-rounded. Whilst the school has been positive for our 13-year-old, we have decided to home school him going forward with a network of tutors and online learning. He does so much sport and has a strong social life outside of school, so I’m not worried about him missing out on this, and he’s excited to focus on some subjects he really likes for a while, as well as do lots of wakeboarding!

British family living in Umalas

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced when moving to Bali?

On the whole Bali is quite an easy place to relocate to. The challenges are quite small-scale really. One thing is not being able to always get what you need and delivery times for products often taking a long time. But that’s just because I’m used to living in the UK – an Amazon next day delivery culture!

Having to pay a full year rent in advance is a challenge (this is normal practice for most villa rentals). Learning to ride a motorbike was a personal challenge, but I felt that to live here I really needed the freedom having my own bike would give. Also, even though I love the heat, in the hottest part of the year it can be difficult just doing daily jobs and school runs. Of course, we also miss our families and friends back in the UK.

British family living in Bali

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

I have deprioritised my career by moving, but I am totally fine with that. My husband and I are both freelancing and finding enough work with UK companies to keep living here. With working less hours, I’ve been able to put time into wellness, fitness and just being present with my kids after school.

I have found a work contract with an expat here in Bali who has a consultancy business, which is fantastic for me. It’s so true that freelancing opportunities come your way quite randomly and it really is about networking and meeting lots of people to open up potential work. Living here has really cemented the need for work/life balance.

UK expat family living Bali - Our Year in Bali

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

A typical weekday starts with getting the kids to school around 8.15am. Then I often do yoga/gym before working (I have a set of co-working spaces/cafes that I alternate between). Mid-afternoon is school pick up and then it’s activities/playdates/just hanging at home. For dinner, we do a mix of cooking / ordering food in (because it’s so cheap and easy, with endless healthy options). My days sometimes involve going from place to place to get groceries as you need to visit different types of stores for different products. I also order a lot online too.

At weekends, it’s mostly football, wake-boarding, beach/pool, seeing friends, chilling at beach clubs or restaurants with pools/play areas… or taking trips – I love to visit places a little further afield so we’ve done tons of short stays across different parts of Bali. In school holidays, we’ve travelled further afield to the Komodo Islands, Kuala Lumpur, West Bali National Park, Kintamani.

UK school kids expat family living Bali - Our Year in Bali

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

The pace of life being slower. Wellness opportunities (which are a fraction of the cost vs. the UK). The array of stuff to do with kids (and less social pressure on them). The food. The evening warmth. The dependable weather (mostly). Local people who are so kind and calm. Massages. Being near the beach. Sunsets.

So there are lots! But overall, being here opens so many opportunities to do new things and travel.

UK expat family living Bali - Our Year in Bali

What are some factors that families looking to live in Bali should consider?

Location – There are lots of options on where to live, so spend time in a few places and see what ‘feels’ right and where you have amenities or activities that are important to you. Even in the Canggu area it’s important to know the road network before choosing a villa because certain areas can be so difficult to drive in and around.

Transport – You don’t have to ride a motorbike, but it certainly helps. Related to the point above on where to locate, a bike is vital in certain areas. You’ll be stuck in lots of traffic if you only rely on cars, but GoJek moto taxis are also brilliant, so you can certainly get by without your own bike.

Insects – It’s not nearly as bad as we thought, but you are often living among creatures – mosquitoes, frogs, geckos, ants, caterpillars, spiders. You get used to it, and it’s not really that bad!

UK school kids expat family living Bali - Our Year in Bali

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

Just that if anyone is thinking about it and not sure whether to take the plunge and move / travel… well just to do it. I used to feel that everything had to be worked out, or that we needed a long-term plan, or that moving would be disrupting for the kids, etc etc. But I’ve realised that nothing is permanent, life carries on at ‘home’ and money/stuff isn’t as important. I miss my house in the UK, but I also like living somewhere that is temporary. I like the feeling of not knowing what’s next and what next year will look like. Kids are resilient and so adaptable – we’ve spent so much time together this past year and whilst at times my kids drive me crazy, just like all parents (!), it’s also created bonds and experiences that we’ll never lose and forget.

British family living in Umalas

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