14 years in Bali and still in the honeymoon stage
Meet: Janine, Trent, Indii and Talullah
Originally from: New Zealand
Arrived in Bali: 2008
Where is Home in Bali and Why did you Decide to live there?
Home in Bali is near the beach in Canggu. I moved away from Seminyak about 9 years ago to what was then a very quiet, rice paddy fringed surf beach called Echo Beach, Canggu. Even though it has changed a lot over the years, I still love it here for its facilities, community and soul. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family.
How long do you plan to stay in BALI?
Until the honeymoon feeling ends! Its been 14 years and I’m still madly in love with my life here. Arriving single, and now having a husband and 2 children, it does change my priorities though. So, realistically, we have talked about potentially leaving when the kids are in high school – which is another 9 years away though! Bali is changing so much that it is hard to predict what it will feel like then.
What made you move to Bali?
To set up my business, Escape Haven. I came as a wide eyed, naive 34 year old with a dream to create a luxurious women’s retreats for burnt out successful corporate women and mums, who needed a place to decompress from the busyness of life. I had lost almost all my life savings on a failed business venture in Brazil so came to Bali with only $10K in my pocket not knowing a soul. I knew this would last me approx 2 months with what I had to spend on my business and I didn’t have another plan after that! Bali wasn’t actually in my original plan funnily enough.
HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO LIVE IN BALI FINANCIALLY? Tell us more about your retreat business.
We are very fortunate to have a number of businesses here. I own a number of retreat locations here including Escape Haven and Palm Tree House which are boutique luxury retreats exclusively for women around Canggu. 14 years ago, I left the corporate life disillusioned and burnt out. I wanted to create a space for women who were also on that success treadmill that needed some time out to reconnect with themselves. Bali is the perfect place for this so our retreats have an amazing team that look after them from chauffeurs to whisk them around the best sights of Bali, to a large spa team that offer unlimited spa treatments, Some of Bali’s best healers to allow their stress to dissolve, a full activities team across fitness, boxing, yoga, surfing, meditation and a team of chefs to whip up our delicious retreat cuisine and gorgeous luxurious properties to enjoy and sip coconuts or cocktails by the pool while meeting other like minded women. My passion is being able to offer a dose of the magic of Bali coupled with wellness with thousands of women each year. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to borders being open again!
What is the best part about living in Bali with young children?
It’s an amazing place to be able to bring up children. We are so grateful to have our Balinese family, that can help us juggle a busy business and family life. For the children to grow up amongst the magic and kind nature of the Balinese that adore them is priceless. Children are so revered here and they can feel the love that envelopes them.
It’s the simple pleasures of having so much time to get lost in the little adventures – whether that’s the jungle, the beach, the rockpools at low tide, the rice paddy fields with the dogs, or the exploring the ancient temples and hidden waterfalls.
What have you decided to do for school in bali?
They both go to a great daycare called The Garden. Its all about play, creativity and fun. The teachers are wonderful there, its so well run and has a great community of other families that we do a lot with too. They learn to speak Indonesian there too – so they are more fluent than we are, lol! They also have access to cool activities like dancing, singing and even surfing.
Please tell us what it is like living in Bali during COVID19?
It’s been a blessing. We actually got the last flight out of New Zealand to return to Bali when everything was shutting down. We were back in New Zealand for our summer holidays when news came that New Zealand and Bali were going into lockdown. So we packed up our house within a day and drove straight to the airport, getting the last flight out. We wanted to be home in Bali and with our team.
It’s been a very moving time being here over this period and hard to put into words. On one hand our retreat business was devastated almost overnight with all bookings drying up completely.
In terms of the wider community in Bali, seeing the desperation, confusion and stress of so many Balinese wondering how they were going to be put food on the table and mass job losses was hard.
So many have slipped below the poverty line, unemployment is huge on an island that relies on tourism for 80% of its GDP – its devastated businesses and those that work for them.
We made a decision to continue to employ all our staff (60 people) no matter what, as chance of reemployment is next to none and they have been with us for so long. So instead, we created a ‘mini tourism uni’ for all our staff and have daily english lessons, butler training, spa training, food development, driver training. Our team has had 18 months of training so we are all hanging out for guests to return!
Community wise, this past 18 months has been amazing. The families that stayed or moved here, have grown closer and its really deepened our sense of community as we have the gift of time and space to come together through this time. The island has been a lot less busy so has opened up slow living and the ability to explore more easily without the trappings of traffic and pace.
There have been so many wonderful creative events, projects and ideas that have been born in Bali over this time. We used the time to create online retreats and coaching and created a new arm to our business.
The Balinese continue to have me in awe of their strong will and resilience, no matter what life throws at them. I guess you never know how strong you are until your will is really tested and seeing so many rise and thrive was amazing to witness and be part of.
What advice can you give to Families making the move to bali?
I think have an honest look at your family values and what gives you comfort in how you live first.
Bali tests people.
If you value freedom, fun, flexibility, the blessing of having so much more time on your hands that you can spend with your family, then do it.
It is unstructured so if you value structure, control, compliance, rules and regulations and things being black and white – this probably isn’t the best choice for you.
Make sure you have some decent savings before you come as rent is paid annually and up front. Join some of the family facebook groups to get a feel for where you want to live, schooling etc. Bali isn’t as cheap as many think it is. Particularly if you wish to live in Canggu or around one of the popular areas so come with enough cash so you aren’t feeling the pressure of finances whilst you are here.
Bali has a great way of testing people. A long time ago, we promised ourselves that we wouldn’t build our frustration muscle. So we focus on the things that go right vs the thigs that go wrong.
Having lived here for so long, we have more of a sense of when we need a plan B in place, so are rarely surprised these days as our expectations are more realistic of the way things get done here.
That came over time as I realised having western expectations was a one way ticket to feeling stressed so now we measure everything against, well, everyone is healthy so that’s’ good!
Is there anything else you would like to share that I haven’t asked?
Right now, Bali needs help. If you are considering living here and would like to help this island, please contact one of these charities:
Every little bit counts.
Thank you Janine for taking the time to share your story and your love affair with Bali! Your tips and insights are very valuable and I love the idea of a doing a virtual retreat! Click here for more information.
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