Karlie Cummins has been living in Bali for the past four years and runs a successful online business called Bali Buddies, the ultimate Bali Travel Guide for experiencing the best of Bali.
She moved to Bali with her husband and 2 children 5 years ago and has remained there throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I had a chat with Karlie recently and she explained to me some of the interesting trends she is seeing from her Bali-loving audience during this time.
What kind of feedback have you been getting from people about future travel to Bali?
I’m seeing and hearing that many people are desperate to get back to their Bali holidays, but what has been a constant trend is people asking about longer stays in Bali…. like a gap year or two. There have been so many questions around this we are now using the term Tempat (temporary expat) for these types of travelers, people looking for more than a 2-week vacation, people looking for a 3-12 month stay.
Fun fact – ‘tempat’ in Bahasa Indonesia means ‘the place’!
Why do you think there is so much more interest in longer stays in Bali this now than there was before COVID-19?
Well for starters, you know that old saying ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’? I feel that is how people are feeling about travel. Even people who didn’t travel all that often pre-covid are feeling the urge to explore other parts of the world when we are finally able to travel again.
During 2020, many of us have also had to work and study from home, something that many people have never done before. When you figure out you can work and study from home, it opens up the possibility of calling another country home (even if it’s just for a little while).
What are your thoughts on choosing Bali for a Temporary Expat experience or Gap Year?
For me Bali makes perfect sense to base yourself/ your family for a gap year or a tempat experience. It is already well set up and well-priced for extended stays and it’s a great place to base yourself to explore Asia. There are also people here from all over the world, so not only do you get to interact with the Balinese and Indonesian culture, but you’ll get exposed to other people from all over the world, who are doing tons of different interesting things to support their lifestyles.
What are the Pros and Cons of living or having an extended stay in Bali?
Pros are certainly the cost of living – you can live very well here for far less than most western countries and the choice of different areas to suit different needs/preferences. Also, it’s close enough to the rest of Asia to take extra trips away during your stay to tick some places off your bucket list.
The cons are certainly the visas. Currently they don’t allow a lot of flexibility and if you want to enrol kids in an International school, they can be super expensive.
During this time there has been talk of a possible Digital Nomad type visa being introduced and we’ve seen great examples of this from places such as Barbados. We are all hoping this will become a reality as it will make the Tempat experience all that much easier.
When considering a Gap Year or Extended Stay in Bali, what are the most important first steps?
Number one is your finances. You won’t come to Bali to get a traditional job to work at through your gap year, the visas here don’t allow for that. Either have enough money saved or have income you can make online to support you.
Secondly figure out which type of visa will suit you best for what you plan to do and how long you plan to stay.
Thirdly sort out insurance and read your PDS carefully!
From there make your decisions about schooling, make sure you have plenty of validity on your passport and talk to other people who have been there and done that….and of course checkout the Bali Buddies website/ app and social channels for tons of useful tips, things to do and all of the latest Bali news.
Speaking of schooling, many families are concerned about Bali’s International School fees. What would you say to them?
Coming from someone who was a teacher for 15 years, I would say that your children are going to learn a whole lot more from exposing them to different cultures and travel than we could ever teach them in a classroom. There are so many options when it comes to schooling these days, traditional schools are not the only answer to getting an education.
Our kids do distance education out of Australia and they choose to do the live classes, which is super interactive and, in some ways, almost like being in a real classroom. This means that they actually start school at 6am in the morning, but they are finished between 10am-12pm.
This gives them plenty of time to pursue their hobbies, take Indonesian lessons and of course socialise (which is the main thing everyone worries about when they hear the term “home school”). In Bali there are plenty of families who do some form of alternative schooling and most areas have a community where the kids all meet up.
Our kids have also made plenty of friends from their activities too. Not to mention that they are always chatting online to the other kids in their school (some of whom are living in Australia, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and even Canada). My eldest also flies back to Australia to attend school camp with her peers each year, which she always looks forward to.
Don’t let schooling be the thing stopping you from having your Tempat experience.
Your family live and homeschool in Sanur, why have you chosen that area?
We get asked that a lot because when people think of expats in Bali a lot of them think about Canggu. For us Sanur is the perfect balance between experiencing that village vibe of Bali, along with having all of the comforts we love (like great spas and restaurants).
Sanur also has a 7km pathway along the beach that we use almost every day to take bike rides or walk along. Being able to safely ride a bicycle around isn’t something you can do in every area of Bali. We also love that we can jump on a boat to be in Lembongan in 30 minutes or jump in a car to be in Kuta/Legian/Seminyak or Ubud in 30 minutes. It is quite central to everything.
Sanur was also the original expat location in Bali. There is a lovely sense of community and it’s great for families. We have a really diverse friendship group here with a mix of locals and expats. Different areas of Bali suit different people and, for us, Sanur has been the perfect choice.
What are your plans for the future? Will you stay in Bali?
At this stage we have no plans to leave, it’s home and why we didn’t consider moving back to Australia when COVID-19 first came last year. If 2020 has taught us anything, though we never know what the future holds, I always keep an open mind about the future. For now, I’m more than happy to continue calling Sanur home.
Follow Bali Buddies @balibuddies or learn more about Karlie and her Family, expats living in Bali, here