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Meet the American family on sabbatical living in ubud

Meet: Caitlin, Andy, Wes and Elodie

Originally from: Berkeley, California

Arrived in Bali: July 2019

Home in Bail is: Ubud

What made you move to Bali?

I went through breast cancer treatment in 2017. For me, this presented a unique opportunity to reassess how I wanted to live my life. As so many of us experience on a daily basis, I got caught up in the stress and busyness of every day life and wanted to make significant changes to how I lived. Bali called to me in the summer of 2018 and we all visited for the first time as a family and fell completely smitten with the island’s beauty, people and culture and healing energy. My husband had been pushing for us to try living abroad, an idea that was totally foreign and scary to me. But the more I researched and met families via social media who’d done it, the more it seemed like a real possibility. A year later, we packed our bags, rented out our house back home for a year!

How long do you plan to stay?
Originally we had planned on staying for one year but then covid happened. So now we are here a bit indefinitely. It just feels like the healthiest, safest place to be in the world with everything going on. I would like to return home in the next year as I miss my parents and my work (real estate agent) but the US is going through a very difficult time so we won’t return until things settle quite a bit.

Where is home is Bali and why did you decide to live there?
We live in the Ubud area, about a 12 minute scooter ride from Ubud center. We originally chose it because of its proximity to the Green School, where my kids went the first year we lived here. We found our amazing villa through a former Green School family who had built it for themselves and its been heaven. We are in a tiny Balinese village, no other foreigners around with lots of area for the kids to roam, all open air (except for the bedrooms where we thankfully have AC!) and views of the rice fields. I just love it.

Was it difficult to find a villa?

We got very lucky as I know there are landlord horror stories and I previewed some pretty sad villas before finding ours through friends of friends of the family. We were shocked at how expensive villas are in Bali given how affordable it is to live here. Thats changed now though with Covid – many rents have reduced 50-60%!

How are you able to live in Bali?

I am on sabbatical so not working currently and my husband is a lawyer who works on a consulting basis on UpWork. We also have income from our rented house back home as well an income property that help support us. There is such entrepreneurial spirit in Bali, though, so we’ve talked about starting a business here which we may end up doing if we stay into 2021.

Balinese offering temple

What was a typical Bali day for you and children?

Our children go to school Monday through Friday. They have various after school activities like soccer, art, and other after school activities or play dates. My husband works every morning and I usually go to some sort of yoga or fitness class every day. Ill then go to the produce stands to pick up fresh vegetables for that evening’s dinner (which is often prepared by our amazing general manager). There are loads of classes in Ubud, whether its language, making a mala, jewelry, sound healing, etc and Ill usually do one of those. Then Ill come home and bake something (not much of a cook but I love to bake). Then its time to scoop up the kids, have dinner and we all either play board games or take walks in the rice fields with our adopted Bali Dog Daisy. Weekends are reserved for gatherings with friends or exploring the island.

Walking through Ubud to school

What did you decide to do for education in Bali?

Our children went to Green School our first year and we loved it, its a beautiful community. But many things changed after Covid with so many leaving Bali and schools shutting down. Many learning pods have popped up and are children are each trying these out. Too early to say how they’re going but we are hopeful!

Green School Mud Pit

What did you enjoy most about living in Bali?

The Balinese. They are just beautiful – kind, gentle, smiling. I love seeing the ceremony dress, the rituals, the offerings, smelling the incense – its really quite magical.

What visas are you on?

We are in the process of figuring this out as Indonesia recently changed their visa policy. But the good news is it sounds like we can stay!

How was it being part of an expat community?

Just amazing. Its so easy to meet expats here, especially when your kids are in an international school. Green School, especially, was excellent at creating an inviting community for its parents. We’ve made many long term friends from all over the world, some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met.

Bali Smoothie bowls

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

Just go for it! Don’t overthink things. Everything you could possibly ever want is available here, whether its healing, lifestyle, community, eating well, shopping, luxury, fitness. Yes, there will be frustrations along the way – its a third world country after all. But its an incredibly rewarding experience and you can live so well here on not much. And many of our friends who have expatted all over the world say Bali is as good as it gets for expat families!

Kite flying and riding motorbike in Bali


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