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Meet the Cummins family living in Sanur and homeschooling in Bali

So who am I talking to? Karlie from Bali Buddies

Profile: Karlie, husband Brady, Krista (13) and Kameron (9)

Originally from: Queensland, Australia

Arrived in Bali: I’ve been travelling to Bali for the last 25 years. 7 years ago I decided to set up a Bali specific travel agency to help first time travellers ensure they had planned and booked a Bali holiday that was going to show them the best of the Island and give them a tailored experience to the type of holiday they were looking for (rather than the cookie cutter holidays we continued to see out of the big commercial travel agencies).

When my husband was finishing his role in Australia 18 months ago we decided it was time to hit the road and do some travelling with the kids. We sold up everything we owned and got ourselves some plane tickets. It was the most freeing feeling ever to not have any “stuff” anymore. We rented a long term villa in Bali and we’ve used Bali as a base to explore South East Asia ever since.

Home in Bali is: In Sanur, we love the seaside serenity, easygoing traffic and the calmer, family vibe in this area. It’s also a great central area so it’s never too far to head to Ubud or Seminyak for a day or even dinner.

How long do you plan to stay in Bali? Who knows! Our children study through distance education out of Australia so we are not bound to any one place physically. Last week the kids were doing school from Queensland while we were back visiting friends and family and today they are schooling in Sanur. We love the freedom of not having to be in any one place at certain times. For now we love our base in Bali and enjoy the low cost travel to other Asian countries.

What made you move to Bali? Like many Australians we’ve always thought of Bali as our second home, the Island and it’s people have that affect on people. Over the past 25 years we’ve spent a lot of time holidaying on the Island and made lots of friends. We certainly feel connected to the Island and the people of Bali. When we didn’t HAVE to be in Australia for jobs we decided it was the perfect chance to spend more time in Bali, explore Asia and make the most of the kids while they were still with us. Nothing beats exploring and discovering new places with your children and seeing them easily adapt into new situations. Children really are far more adaptable than most adults.

What do you normally do back in Australia? I used to be a school teacher for many years. Being a little jaded with the Education system and it’s constant need for data made me want to choose a different path for my kids. Now they get the best of both worlds. They get their “Aussie Education” still, but in reality I believe they learn far more from the travelling they get to do than they do from the school curriculum.  

What is a typical day here for you with your two children? When we are in Bali a typical day is up at 5.30am for the kids to login to class by 6am (which is 8am in Queensland when school starts). Their schooling area is set up in our back living room with a view of the pool. School goes until between 10am-12pm depending on the day of the week. On some days we have an Indonesian teacher then come to the villa to give us private Indonesian lessons.

We all have lunch together (sometimes we make it, sometimes we order in and sometimes we head out….it generally all costs the same!). After lunch depending the day of the week the kids have lots on with acrobatics, jujitsu and we all play netball with a group that live in Sanur. Some days it’s a family bike ride down the beach. We do something outdoors generally every afternoon.

School night’s we cook or order in, have a swim and head to bed. Weekends we like to make the most of and head to different areas of Bali or take a boat over to Lembongan to explore and swim.  We’ve seen so much of Bali – more than most but there is still so much to explore. We love getting off the beaten track and exploring a new area.

Tell us about your food experiences living here: We love the food in Bali, you really can get whatever you like. We have a favourite local family warung that we order from at least three times a week. All of the local dishes like Capcay Ayum (like a chicken stir fry), Nasi Goreng (like fried rice) and Sate Ayam (chicken satay sticks and rice)….for the four of us to order a dish we spend less than $10 AUD and they deliver it to us!!

When we want to be fancy we love to indulge in a Sunday Brunch….stay tuned to Bali Buddies we are currently writing a blog on our favourite brunches around the Island. We also love to cook a chicken roast or tacos at home too.

What do you think about the locals? The locals are a huge reason as to why we choose to spend so much time in Bali. We love their laid back nature and dedication to their families. I think we can all learn a lot from the Balinese people, spending a lot of time with the locals definitely has made us reassess what is important to us.  We have just as many local friends as we do expat friends on the Island.

What are you enjoying most whilst living here? Being able to spend so much time with my family. When we were living full time in QLD it was all rush, rush, rush – rush to school, to afternoon activities, to get the grocery shopping done, cooking dinner etc. All of that doesn’t exist for us in Bali.

We have a housekeeper who we treat as part of our family, it is a real treat to not have to clean, wash and iron (and only cook when I choose to) and the reality of that means that I get so much more time to do so many more fun things with the kids. Also having them do Distance Education means as a family unit we spend way more time together than we ever did in Australia…that is not without it’s own challenges hahahaha….but for us it works and we all love it.

What have you least enjoyed so far? Not having my family just around the corner like I used to in Australia. I lived very close to my mum and sister and my daughters are super close with their cousins. Them being far away is definitely what I least enjoy….luckily though we live in the age of the internet and we video message all of the time. One of my daughters even taught her 4 year old cousin to write different words across their video chats!

What do you miss back home? As above and not being able to drink water straight from the tap!

Have you experienced any “culture shock’? Not really, I think we’d spent so much time in Bali already nothing has really shocked us to be honest. To look back and compare just how different our lives are now to how they were 2 years ago it’s actually surprising that we’ve never had a moment where we’ve felt we’d made the wrong choice or that we went into it blindly.

How has it been being part of an expat community?  We love being part of the expat community. I love meeting other people and learning their story that lead them to Bali. There are many different reasons why expats end up in a different country and I find it fascinating to learn the stories of each them.  Expats can also be very transient so you end up with friends all over the world!

What is the best thing you have done while you have lived here? Wow that is a very hard question to answer as we’ve been lucky enough to experience so much since being here. Maybe the best would be one of the most recent – when I celebrated my 40th birthday in Bali. I had a heap of my Aussie friends come over to Bali and some of my family. For a week they got to see what life was like for us over in Bali – where we live, how we get around, where we eat etc. On the day of my actual birthday I had a big party where all of my Bali friends got to meet my Aussie friends/family and that was super special to see our two worlds combine.

If you had to describe Bali in three words what would it be? That is also super tricky to narrow down to three words: It’s crazy yet calm at the same time – so those two words both work but are the total opposite to each other. I’m going with Spiritual, Welcoming and Fun.

What tips do you have to those looking at making the move to Bali: Firstly know what you are getting into. You will get so many conflicting stories from different people about moving here it’s hard to know what to believe. Try and speak to people who have moved from your country and are currently living in Bali. Take time to choose the right area that suits you – this is very important. Be careful with your money – it can disappear quickly if you overspend on accommodation and food/entertainment. If you have kids sort our your schooling plan before you make any decision to move – different options suit different people – be clear on your options and which one will suit you.

Sort out your insurance in advance – do no come over without expat or travel insurance. Learn about Visas and which one you can legally come over on and how long you can stay and what it allows you to do. Know where your money is coming from…..many people dream about living in Bali and want to pack up and come over and get a job. The reality is that there are not so many jobs (legal ones anyway) for expats on the Island.

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