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Meet Kendall and her family living in Echo Beach, Canggu

Who am I talking to?
Profile: Kendall, husband Dave and daughters Frankie (10) and Lyla (14)
Originally from:  Bondi – Sydney, Australia
Arrived in Bali:  July 2015
Home in Bali: Echo Beach, Canggu

What made you move to Bali?

We were looking for an adventure for our family – to move away from the fast pace of Sydney city life, and also to explore a different schooling option for our young daughters who were 5 and 9 at the time. The criteria for us included a lower cost of living, warm (preferably tropical) climate, and to live at a slower pace, with a more minimalist lifestyle.

How long do you plan to stay?

We planned to stay for one year, and we’re now about to finish our 5th year!

Where is home in Bali and why have you decided to live there?

We have always lived in the Canggu area, close to the beach. We love the relaxed, coastal vibe, the great shops, cafes and restaurants, long stretches of beach, and surf for my husband. 

When we first moved to Bali, Canggu was still a quiet, up and coming area where a small percentage of the school community were living. We loved the combination of a beachside vibe, with other young families, watching local farmers tend their rice fields, with just enough western style cafes and shops scattered amongst the local warungs (cafes).

Canggu has changed dramatically over the last 4 years – it is actually one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world right now – and with that has come positives and negatives. Ultimately though, we still love the feel of our home “village”. It’s a really fun and beautiful place to live. 

Was it difficult to find a villa?

Not “back then”! It has become increasingly difficult to find houses that tick all the boxes most ex-pat families are looking for, however depending on your circumstances and budget, there is always an opportunity if you know where (and how!) to look. Real estate is one of my “passions”, so after living here for two years and watching rents in our area start to climb, I made a choice to lock in a long term contract on a “local house” at a much lower rent than the current market was asking. We enjoyed putting our time and energy into some minor renovations that have made our little house a beautiful home. 

What was a typical day for you prior to COVID19?

To be honest my days haven’t changed much at all because I’ve always been a real homebody, and continue to work from home! 

I used to go to my daughter’s school a couple of times a week, as I was very involved as a parent representative, and we would also meet with friends several evenings a week, either on the beach at sunset, or at a favourite local restaurant.

School is currently online, and looks like it will remain that way until the “summer break” ends and campus will hopefully reopen in August.

The main things I’m missing are my regular beach walks, and swims at the local fitness club. But I’ve replaced those with home-based workouts with my eldest daughter, and the occasional family walk around our local area, now that the streets are so much quieter!

Life is definitely more centred around the home right now, and we’ve all settled into a calm, relaxed rhythm. 

Your daughters go to the Green School. Can you share with us some of your favourite experiences in this unique learning environment!

Where to start?!

I mentioned that one of the reasons we moved to Bali was for our daughters to experience a different style of education. They have certainly received that. Visually and physically the Green School campus is like no other! It’s a village of wall-less, bamboo structures in the middle of the jungle, with edible gardens, chickens, cows, pigs, ducks, and mud. Lots of mud – especially in the rainy season! My girls have a beautiful combination of international and Indonesian educators, with a high teacher : student ratio, and are learning via an experiential model, with a high component of critical thinking and social emotional awareness. There is also a strong focus on the environment and entrepreneurialism.

I am so grateful for the education my daughters have received, and I have loved watching them grow in confidence, all within an international community in a beautiful, wild, natural setting. 

And then there’s everything that I love about what the school has given ME!

What an incredible international community of amazing people from all walks of life! It is impossible to step foot on campus and not feel inspired every day, whether it be simply bumping into a parent on the way to the carpark, or taking part in one of many “Green School for Parents” educational activities.

What keeps you busy and financially assists your life in Bali?

Since 2005 we have owned a vegan health food restaurant – Iku Wholefood in Sydney. Since living in Bali I’ve trained as a Spinal Flow Practitioner, and I work as a Healing Coach, on retreats and online.

What visas are you on? How is it working for you?

My daughters each have a student visa arranged via the school, which allows them to stay in Bali for a year at a time. My husband and I are on social visas, which means we have to leave Indonesia every 60 days. This sounds like a lot of travel, but when you work your “visa runs” around school holidays, and our work commitments, it becomes surprisingly doable. Not ideal, but it’s been the best option for us so far.

How is it being part of an expat community?

I LOVE it! It has opened my eyes to so many more possibilities than what I previously thought were available. Even though I have done a lot of traveling throughout my life, it really does provide an expanded view of the world … We now also have friends from pretty much every continent!

People’s lifestyles here are usually totally different to those in their home countries. We are more available for each other and very easily and quickly become like extended family.

What do you still miss back in Australia?

I miss being closer to my family and old friends, but to be honest I do get to see them several times per year in blocks of solid, quality time – one of the advantages of being quite close to Australia, and having a few work commitments there each year. 

I’m actually struggling to find anything that I miss so much that I haven’t replaced with equal or better here in Bali!

Living in a foreign country during a pandemic can be extra stressful, how have all you managed living in Bali during COVID19?

To me, it’s all about perception. I have never perceived COVID19 to be a major stress, and have always felt very confident about my family’s health, and our ability to continue our lives here in a respectful, conscious way.  We never once considered moving back to Australia during this period, and are very happy with our choice. We have always felt very safe here in Bali, and there was a part of us that also felt a sense of responsibility – to stay and continue to interact and support the local community. This is our home. We have a simple, beautiful lifestyle here, and we didn’t feel that that returning to Australia, without a home to live in, would be a good option for us.

How are the Balinese coping?  Do you have any concerns for their welfare?

The Balinese are beautiful, open hearted, resourceful people. They have incredible community and family structures and really pull together in difficult times. However yes, I absolutely have concerns for the welfare of the Balinese. This situation has impacted people worldwide, in varying degrees – from being mildly annoying and disruptive, to being absolutely financially and emotionally devastating. Living in a country that relies so heavily on tourism, people’s livelihoods have literally been taken away overnight, with very little government support. We are aware that so many people were struggling even before COVID, and life has now become even harder.

We have also witnessed many incredible local support initiatives here, operated by the village banjars – similar to a local councils – as well as many expat initiatives to support a variety of fundraisers.

Bali Street Mums has recently created the first safe house for Mothers and Children at risk. They are asking for help to provide refuge for the mums and kids, nutrition, medical aid and schooling for the children .

Several expat businesses have joined forces to provide meals for Balinese who have lost their incomes.

For the animals: a few streets away from me, a small horse stable owner left his horses and workers after not having enough money to feed them so a gofundme page has been set up.

What do you think will happen to Bali when COVID19 settles down?

I believe that Bali will be one of the places that will experience a relatively quick recovery post-COVID19, as it has always been such a popular destination for travellers and families like ours. I don’t imagine it will bounce back immediately, and some areas will continue to suffer the downturn more than others, but ultimately I believe people will want to travel again, as soon as possible.

I also think it’s going to be very interesting to see how people’s experiences of working and schooling from home might change their perspectives on how they may be able to work in the future. Who knows, maybe many people will now see a new possibility of working from a beautiful tropical island?!

What is the vibe at the moment in Bali? It must be very strange to see such a busy tourist destination so quiet!

It is so peaceful and calm and quiet here.

It feels like the Canggu that we arrived at in 2015. So in many ways it feels beautiful. However the difference is that there are SO MANY more shops and restaurants now who’s doors are closed, or who are struggling to maintain some sort of minimum trade. That is very sad to see. The beaches have also been closed for about a month now, with no official re-opening date yet … that’s been pretty tough to deal with, as so much of our daily life centred around activities on or near the beach.

What advice do you have for other families making the move to Bali?

Don’t think too much about it! If it’s been on your radar for a while now, just do it! Life is too short and life here is too beautiful to live in fear and wait for “the perfect time”. 

There are thousands of people here to support you and answer any and every question you could possibly try to think up. 

It’s such a beautiful island, with the most humble and respectful people, and they need our support now more than ever! 

Know that you will face challenges here – it is a place of polarities and having the extra time to reflect on life, the universe and everything can throw up some major growth opportunities – but that is the beauty of this place. The opportunity to grow and connect to yourself and your family on a deeper level than is often afforded us in our busy lives in the west. If that is what you choose, there is an abundance of learning opportunities here for you. Alternatively, you can continue to work and keep busy with so many incredible activities, whilst enjoying the best weather, an incredibly high standard of living, great surf, inexpensive dining, and a new and incredible community.

All photos provided by Kendall.

Follow Kendall on her Instagram page @naturallykendall

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