Meet the Dillon family living in the Umalas, Bali
So who am I talking to ?
Profile: Nikki, husband Matt and daughter Mia (11).
Originally from: Perth, Western Australia
Arrived in Bali: July 2015. We made sure we settled in a few weeks before the school year started in August.
Home in Bali is: For the last three years we have been in Canggu in a lovely small open villa with closed bedrooms, a pool and front yard. We are not beach side of Canggu but in the quieter local area that is not built up and is amongst small warungs and rice fields.
We also have a rescue dog called Milo and another dog we call ‘Pub Dog’. The story behind Pub dog is that one day he wondered into the Australian expat pub we own (James Cook Sports Bar & Restaurant) and never left!
How long do you plan to stay?
Originally one year. We based ourselves near Mia’s school and was ready for a year of rest and relaxation. But early on we knew we didn’t want to go home. Our local pub where we loved going to watch the footy and eat a meal at was up for sale and this gave us the perfect reason and opportunity to stay so we bought the pub!
What made you move to Bali?
Back in the 2014 Christmas holidays, I took Mia travelling around S.E. Asia for four months and Bali was the last stop before coming back home to Perth. When we were in Bali, we decided to check out some schools and areas to live. The Montessori school made sense as Mia was already at Montessori in Perth so we knew it was an easy transition. It also made perfect sense to live here due to its proximity to Perth and we could easily stay close to family.
What is a typical day here for you and the family?
We have breakfast altogether at 7am and then Matt usually takes Mia on the scooter to school and then goes to the gym. I will be at home on the computer. Then after the gym he will go to the pub to work as we open at 11am. Then either of us do the school pick up at 3pm and go to some of her after school activities like swimming, tennis and footy.
Mia doesn’t have homework so the afternoon can also be very relaxing like swimming and chilling out reading or watching a movie together. Then Matt usually comes back home around 5pm for dinner together. Occasionally I cook Western food or we go back to the pub for dinner, get delivery or go out with friends.
Tell us about your food experiences living here:
We are happy to try anything and everything! We only draw the line by not having a local Baxo soup from a street vendor. So we are happy eating at a beach warung, local friend chicken store and then favourites like La Mexicana.
Mia also loves breakfast out and trying new smoothie bowls which there is no shortage of here! I dont buy too much food but will shop from a mix of places like local stores to expat supermarkets. I do enjoy the Samadi markets on a Sunday at Echo beach.
What are you enjoying most whilst living here?
An easier lifestyle where I can be more relaxed and not look the part. The pressure is off and we can spend more time as a family. By living here, you also realise how little stuff you need and what is important.
It is also such a great cultural experience for our daughter which she lives everyday.
What have you least enjoyed so far?
I know a lot of people complain about the traffic but being on a motorbike makes a huge difference and I wouldn’t live here if I was restricted to a car.
I do find it frustrating when you cant get a straight answer from the locals. It is in their culture to not say no or disappoint you. The time it takes to get simple tasks done can be a lot longer than we are normally used to – but that is the Bali way of life!
There is a lot to be learnt when it comes to rubbish and there is a real lack of education for the locals. Expats are trying their best to make it better and are doing wonderful things for the environment. Mia’s school gets involved in lots of great projects about sustainability, food waste and new concepts. It is now getting hard to find plastic straws here which is a great improvement.
What do you miss back home?
Live music, live sport, wine and cheese.
Have you experienced any ‘culture shock’?
Not really because Matt and I have travelled around Asia for the last 25 years and we feel very comfortable in Bali and Asian countries.
How is it being part of an expat community?
We have made friends mainly through our pub, school and sport. These are friends from all over the world who come and go but are always a great support to each other. I sometimes wonder if we are missing out on not being more into the Balinese community. But we like to help the local community and do lots of fundraising for charities and local NGO’s.
What is the best thing you have done while you have lived here?
It would have to be our trip to Flores and the neighbouring islands. We sailed with friends and slept on a boat for 4 nights/5 days and went fishing, swimming, snorkelling and eating the local food.
A holiday filled with amazing beaches, crystal clear water and visits to the local villages. We also went to Komodo Island which was great. There are still lots of different parts of Indonesia we would love to explore as we wouldn’t go back to these areas if we weren’t so close like we are now.
If you had to describe Bali in three words what would it be?
Well it wouldn’t be eat, pray, love! More like tropical, relaxing and challenging.
What tips do you have to those looking at making the move to Bali:
You need more money than you think! But getting really basic, if you do holiday here before moving, try and buy a SIM card and change your phone number before arriving in Bali.
Get a ATM Card that has no International fees like a Citibank card.
Dont rush and take your time. Don’t rent a villa prior to coming to Bali, make sure you find a landing pad from places like Airbnb for the first 3 months. You will also be surprised what little you need to live comfortable in a villa. Generally I find the longer you stay the least amount of things you need. Yes you will need air conditioning as an option and a fast internet connection. Knock on neighbours doors and ask about the Internet connection.
Once you are here, work out the roads you need to take to get to school etc Consider if you are a family of four that you will need usually a car to get around.
Also go to expat places like the James Cook Sport Bar and Restaurant, where there is always someone there to help. Chat to other expats and get recommendations on the best plumber, pembantu, Laundromat, Chinese restaurant and so on.
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