Meet Sheila and her family living in Echo Beach, Canggu
So who am I talking to?
Profile: Sheila, husband Sasha and Daughter Luna 4 and Son Phoenix 15 months
Originally from: Sydney, Australia
Arrived in Bali: February 2016
Home in Bali is: Echo Beach
How long do you plan to stay: Not sure but we have at least a 3 year plan
What made you move to Bali?
We have been here 5 times before and we always loved Bali. So we thought lets do it when we are young and the kids are young because otherwise time will pass and it will just get harder. Sasha and I are both travellers and we always decided we were going to live here. We knew we were going to do this move about 4-5 years before.
What do you normally do back in Australia and how has that changed now living in Bali?
My husband is an English teacher and I had a jewellery label.
My husband is still teaching but now he is teaching online rather than face-to-face and I have changed careers completely and I am not doing jewelry anymore and I have started something else.
I started a website called Bali Interiors (www.bali-interiors.com ) and it is an interior design website based in Bali so its about exploring and seeing all the beautiful interiors that you can find in Bali such as in restaurants, hotels and houses.
What inspired you to create Bali Interiors?
I saw a gap in the market and there was so many stunning places and I asked why is no one documenting this and showing this. People have put in so much effort into creating these amazing spaces and no one is documenting it and I thought I am going to do that.
What is a typical day here for you with your two children?
There is no typical day, for example yesterday my daughter didn’t feel like going to school so we said ok lets not go and we went to the beach instead with her little brother and four of us in the morning. Then we came home and hung out all afternoon and then a night I went out for dinner which was a work meeting.
So everyday is different, on Monday morning we went surfing with a group of friends but then on Tuesday and Wednesday we sat on the computer.
Usually weekends are centered around family and sometimes we go to the beach with some friends on Saturday morning and then Saturday afternoon can depend if we have a birthday party or hang out at home. Sunday we have friends come over morning and afternoon and its all about keeping the kids entertained!
Tell us about your food experiences living here
My consumption of meat has reduced dramatically, it happened organically.
I think you have to be a bit careful with some foods like fish (Mahi Mahi and Tuna), even if you eat from the best restaurants you still have to be careful.
Meat is not a big thing in Bali, its more about vegetables. We eat amazing food everyday in Bali. We eat both western and local. We eat local everyday and it costs us between $2-3. Lots of rice, vegetables and some chicken. We hardly cook at home because it is so cheap to eat out.
What do you think about the locals?
We have had some really good experiences so far and I know that there are some some people who haven’t.
We live in a street where it is basically full of locals and we feel very safe in that respect. We know if there has been a problem in the past we can go and ask for help and they would react accordingly. We have some help at home and they both have been amazing and are like our family. We can trust them 100% and they are family to us and we are family to them. So our experience has been very positive so far.
What are you enjoying most whilst living here?
Life! The life here is just phenomenal. However, Bali is not as cheap, it can be expensive so if you come here for the cheap life you are in the wrong place. Its cheaper than in Australia but it is still expensive. I think a lot of friends and foreigners who come here don’t realize it does take a lot of money to live in Bali.
Saying that, the lifestyle you get for the money is phenomenal to what you would get back in Australia for that money. It is expensive, but you live simpler, you don’t buy and consume as much as you would in Australia but you gain other things like quality with family and friends and being in nature and relaxing and not stressing. You stop worrying about things and focus on the good things in life.
What have you least enjoyed so far?
I don’t enjoy the smoke and the burning, that really bothers me sometimes. I am not a very fussy person, I can live with a bit of dirt! The other thing is you just have to careful with traffic and be more aware but other than that nothing really bothers me here. I am very happy.
In Australia there was road rage all the time and that bothered me and scared me and I have not once experienced it here. I used to be scared back in Australia even driving to the shops because some people can be so aggressive.
What do you miss back home?
I miss my friends. I do miss sometimes the pristine clean streets, the “civilized” way of life. I miss maybe going to a shopping mall sometimes but then I do it once or twice and then I am bored of it. I miss a little bit about the city life like going to an exhibition etc not that I did it a lot but here culturally there is not a lot to do.
Have you experienced any “culture shock’?
I travelled to Asia for first time when I was 22 and we travelled to Thailand and that was a culture shock. But after travelling all over South East Asia and India, Bali was actually that in between western and eastern and it fitted our life perfectly. It wasn’t such an extreme so no we haven’t experienced any culture shock.
How has it been being part of an expat community?
It is easy. I am originally from Argentina so I moved to Australia and was an outsider so I am kind of used to being an outsider. It doesn’t bother me being different. So for me it doesn’t matter where people are from.
What is the best thing you have done while you have lived here?
The best thing we have done is to move here!
The biggest and best thing for my sanity as I think I would have struggled with two kids in Australia by myself. Obviously with my husband but we don’t have help in Australia and it was the right decision for me. Especially as my second child needs a lot of one-on-one attention and I don’t think I would have been able to be as good a mum if I was in Australia.
If you had to describe Bali in three words what would it be?
Yummy – “Hakuna matata”/no worries – be ready!
What tips do you have for people looking at making the move to Bali?
You have to be ready for Bali, its not for everybody and you have to be mentally ready and your heart has to be open because some people think they know what its like and its not what they thought. I think it’s not for some people.
As blissful as it can be for some it can be hell for others. You need to first make sure you have the money. Bali is the land of opportunities and you can do so much if you have the ingenuity and the sense of adventure and being an entrepreneur and you can achieve great things.
Also spiritually it is a strong place here and so there are very high highs and very low lows and you can be very happy and then can get down.
It is not for everybody and I cant describe it any other way. You have to give it a try. If you have been here before and you had a good time then it’s a good start but if you have never been try for a bit as there is so much to think about. For example, like how am I going to get from place to place? Lots of people get scooters so get scooter license before you come. How are you going to manage your money, have your income. It is possible to have a kitas (working) visa but then that means working full time. You have to think rationally about Bali not emotionally and how are you going to make an income.
I really think its amazing place and through my website I have met such talented people and they are doing the most incredible things and living in the most amazing ways. You can do those things here which you cant always do in Australia or other western places due to government regulations and bureaucracy.
It can make your dreams come true but it can also sink you. Be aware who you trust and you do have to follow the law here. I think respect is the number one thing and a lot of people don’t resect the locals and the way of life in all different ways. Once you start respecting then the doors open up for you.
Follow Sheila’s Bali interior discoveries on www.bali-interiors.com