Meet: Natasha and Justyn
Originally from: UK
Arrived in Bali: January 2017
Home in Bail: Sanur
What made you move to Bali?
After seven years living in the quaint English countryside we found that life and our jobs were becoming very repetitive and predictable. We decided to bite the bullet and go travelling for six months around Canada. However when we returned to the UK we realised that we still weren’t happy to settle back into our regular lives. So that was when we started to explore the prospect of moving to Bali. Natasha applied for a position at a well-established international school and when she was offered the job it seemed that our stars had aligned. So we sold all of our belongings and made the big move.
Natasha had spent some of her teenage years growing up in Bali during the mid 1990s, so has always had a link with the island. Bali is a very interesting place – when you first arrive the cultural differences can be very overwhelming, especially coming from the UK. But then it has this magical ability to get under your skin, and once that Bali-bug has bitten you, it is very hard to shake it off.
How long do you plan to stay?
We plan to stay for as long as Bali will have us. Justyn had only ever been to Bali for holidays, which is a very different experience to actually living somewhere. The first year was very challenging for him, as everything was the polar opposite to life in the UK. However as time went on, he became more comfortable and accepting of the Bali way of life and we are both now very happy in our new home.
Where is home in Bali and why have you decided to live there?
Home for us is the sleepy area of Sanur as it was where Natasha grew-up all those years ago and where her father still lives. Sanur is given the nickname ‘Snore’ amongst Bali expats, as nothing much happens here and it is so laidback, but that suits us perfectly.
Was it difficult to find a villa?
When we first moved out to Bali we had the luxury of being able to move in with Natasha’s dad whilst we searched for our own property to rent. We took our time and after around 5 months, found a studio apartment to move into. We were only planning to stay for a few months, however we have been so content that we’re still there three years later!
We would say that it can be more challenging to find rental property in Sanur, as there doesn’t seem to be the same variety on offer that areas like Seminyak, Uluwatu and Canggu have.
Have you ever felt unsafe whilst living in Bali? (Any tips on security etc)
Just make the same sensible decisions that you would in your home country and you will be fine. For example, always put your handbag under your scooter seat when driving and don’t leave valuables on obvious display. We have never felt unsafe in Bali, but we just make sure that we make sensible decisions and remove that temptation. We both actually feel far more safe in Bali than we do when we go back to the UK.
What was a typical day for you prior to COVID19?
We would wake-up at around 5:30am, have breakfast and a cup of tea. Natasha would leave the house at 6:30am to commute to work at her school. Justyn is currently undertaking an online computer coding course which he would work on throughout the day whilst also carrying-out the usual day-to-day jobs. Natasha usually arrived home from work at 4pm and then we would either have some dinner at home and then take a walk along Sanur beach, or head straight to Sanur beach and then stop at one of the many delicious restaurants and grab a bite to eat. Sitting by the lapping water, drinking a chilled coconut is just the tonic you need after a long day at work.
Tell us about the school you teach at in Bali?
Natasha is a primary school teacher at the Australian Independent School (AIS) which has been well-established on the island for over 20 years. Two years ago the school moved to their brand-new purpose-built campus which boasts the best school facilities on the island. The school has a wonderful, inclusive community and we are lucky to have such positive parents and students. It really is a delight going to work each day!
What is your favourite thing to do on the weekend?
On the weekends we love to go out for breakfast. The difficult part is choosing where to go as there are so many wonderful restaurants in Sanur. Weekends are also a time for relaxing, so usually a trip to the beach is on the cards or lazing around by the swimming pool. If the week hasn’t been too nectic, weekends are also a time to jump on our bikes and have a little adventure and explore the island. Places like Ubud and Uluwatu are under an hour away, and you are never that far from a beautiful waterfall or a Balinese temple to visit.
What visas are you on? How is it working for you?
Natasha is on a KITAS visa with the school and Justyn is on a Spousal KITAS visa. We feel very fortunate to have these working visas and the school has been wonderful in assisting with what can be a bit of a visa minefield.
How is it being part of an expat community?
We feel so lucky and privileged to not only call Bali home, but to have a wonderful group of friends on the island. Natasha still has friends from her teenage years spent on the island in the 1990s, who now have their own businesses in and around Indonesia. Bali can be a very transient place with regards to making connections, however we are lucky to have a growing friendship circle of people from the Sanur area and teaching community.
What do you still miss back home?
Other than family, there are the occasional home-comforts that we miss. Family members will sometimes send care-packages consisting of English teabags and English chocolate, but nowadays you can get most Western/home-comforts in Bali so there isn’t much that we do miss. Certainly not the weather!
Living in a foreign country during a pandemic can be extra stressful, how have all you managed living in Bali during COVID19?
It was difficult to decide what to do when the Covid-19 virus hit the headlines. We had quite a few discussions with friends, family and each other and decided to stay-put in Bali. We both have medical insurance and the experiences we have had with hospitals in Bali have been very positive. Also we didn’t feel that we would be any safer back in the UK. Weighing-up the 18-hour flight and having to transfer through other countries also didn’t seem like a gamble we wanted to take. However, when some of our friends did suddenly leave the island to go back to Australia and England it was quite stressful and we wondered if we had made the right decision. We isolated ourselves, only going out for food shopping and then as things started to open-up again we have just been very vigilant and followed the recommended safety guidelines. Overall we have been impressed with how Indonesia has tried to handle the unpredictable situation. They have made quick decisions and stood by them.
What advice do you have for other families making the move to Bali?
Bali is a truly wonderful place to bring up a family. It definitely has a different pace of life to what you’re most likely used to and its own quirky charm. The Balinese really are the kindest and most genuine people we have ever met, and they really make you understand and appreciate that life is not about what you have, but instead who you are.
We love Natasha’s Instagram account – how awesome are her photos! Follow her Bali adventure @ bali_tasha