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Meet this European family living in Sanur Bali since 2019

I came across this awesome Bali mama on Instagram and instantly fell in love with her great sense of humour! OMG please read her Instagram posts and you can find her blog here This Scottish mum living in Sanur shares her Bali expat life raising two young children with her husband who often travels for work.

Meet: Kirsty Pardede

Originally from: Scotland

Arrived in Bali: 2019 with a toddler and a 10-week old

Home in Bail is: Sanur

What made you move to Bali? 

My husband works in oil and gas inspection and had business opportunities in Asia.  He travels for work so Bali was an easy choice as a base to raise our family since we have a little family here already. He was born and brought up in Indonesia so returning “home” wasn’t a difficult choice or particularly long conversation! I was already pregnant with Eia (our second child) when he said “I might have work in Indonesia, do you want to move to Bali?” without missing a beat, I said “hell yeh I do!” That was the February.  We moved in September just after I had Eia!

How long do you plan to stay? 

I honestly have no idea.  We’re not much for solid plans in our flakey family!  We said we’d stay for at least 3-5 years but right now this is home and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.  Even thinking about leaving makes my heart hurt.  But I know we won’t stay in Bali forever.  We used to live in the South of France and Europe has a special place in our heart so maybe when the kids are older we’ll go back but who knows what the future holds!  While the kids are still so small, there’s no better place for them to grow up so we’re not thinking about going anywhere anytime soon. 


Where is home in Bali and why have you decided to live there? 

We live in Sanur about 100m from the beach.  The lagoon created by the reef offshore makes it the perfect beach for small kids and the path along the beachfront, dotted with warungs, hotels and restaurants is great for cycling and eating out with friends and family.  I love the beach town vibe and its got a quieter feel than some of the other towns on the west side of the island, like Seminyak and Canggu.

Was it difficult to find a villa? 

To start off, yes because we looked at so many that looked amazing from the pictures but the reality wasn’t as sweet.  But we got crazy lucky with our house because a friend mentioned her neighbours place was coming on the market before it did and we snapped it up ahead of anyone!

Financially, how do you live in Bali?

I’m a stay at home mum and can’t work in Indonesia even if I wanted to because my visa doesn’t allow it.  So hubby earns the crust while I raise the kids at home!

What was a typical Bali day for you and your family before COVID? 

We’re usually up with the sun about 6am.  I get the kids fed, washed and dressed and then Ibu and Pak Ketut arrive at 8.30am.  They are the lovely couple that work in our home in the mornings and I’d be lost without them!!!  Mornings are usually slow in our house.  If we’ve got boring life stuff to do – shopping etc – we try to get it done in the morning while its still cool-ish.  Other than that I usually squeeze in a surf most days.  Then we have lunch and Eia naps for an hour after.  Its more hassle than its worth now to try to get Arlo to nap (he’s a threenager) so we just have “quiet time” – watch some tv, bake something, do puzzles etc – while Eia sleeps.  In the afternoons, we usually play in the pool or head to the beach with Marley (our dog) for a walk, cycle or swim – anything to tire them all out for a good nights sleep!

How has COVID affected you and how is Bali currently living with it?

When the pandemic first started, Hardin stopped work and stayed home for about 6 months so we had no income for all that time which was pretty stressful.  We were lucky he could return to work in July last year but he used to travel for work in the week and return home on weekends, but with the pandemic that’s not feasible anymore so he has to work away for longer stretches which isn’t so much fun for everyone.  But other than that, we’ve been extremely fortunate in our little bubble here.  However, Bali is struggling without tourism.  Many places have closed temporarily or gone under with the lack of tourists.  Most Balinese have returned to the land where they can, fishing and farming in their home villages where possible but its still dire here.  The sense of community is strong and many Balinese and expats are banding together to help the less fortunate with care packages of food etc through the many charities that have popped up to help those in need while the economy is at a standstill.  People can donate from outside Bali to organisations such as Crisis Kitchen and Scholars for Sustenance and a whole lot more online.

What have you decided to do for education in Bali? 

Our kids aren’t school age yet so its not something we’ve given much thought too yet!  All of our expat friends send their kids to private schools or international schools but the idea of homeschooling or world schooling is attractive to me if the world opens up again soon and a bit of travel is possible again.  But ask me in a couple of years – I may have run out of the patience required for it by then!

How was it being part of an expat community? 

I’ve never really thought of us being part of an expat community since we have Indonesian family and friends etc but I guess we are!  And come to think of it, its nice.  The kids have a good balance of Indonesian and Western in their lives and so do we.  I’ve got some really lovely Balinese friends but its also cool that some of my best mates are also expats because we’re going through much the same stuff at the same time.  Some of them have been here longer and can give me pointers for where to find stuff at the best price or best services (doctors etc) and when things are challenging, its easiest to talk to them as they can relate better to our life here than friends and family back in Europe cause they’re living it too.

What is the best kept secret/hidden gem in Bali you’ve discovered? 

There aren’t too many hidden gems left in Bali nowadays with the rise of instagram, hehehe!  But I think Candidasa is often overlooked by people on their way to Padang Bai or Amed but its got some of the most beautiful beaches and turquoise water of any of the beaches here on the island.  Its technically in the Padang Bai area just north of Candidasa but check out Pantai Bias Tugel – it’s a stunning little white sand bay with local warungs etc.  It feels like old Bali – not a resort in sight. Its not a secret but Nusa Lembongan is an absolute gem.  Its like Bali 30 years ago.  Its got fab surf and snorkelling around Jungut Batu and its great for the kids!  Also if you’re in Sanur theres a little seafood warung right on the beach at Pantai Sindhu called Warung Amphibia next to the turtle rescue place.  It doesn’t look like much but they cook up fresh seafood caught in the lagoon and its amazing and super cheap!  You pick your fish from the tank/counter and they cook it up for you in a style that suits the meat.  So good!

What have you struggled with the most in Bali? 

I found the language tough at first.  I’ve been with my Indonesian husband for 16 years and shamefully only started really learning Indonesian when we moved here and had the kids.  Most people speak English but I hate relying on that (this is Indonesia after all and people should at least try speak Indonesian I think!) and the kids are being raised bilingual so I got stuck in too.  With Hardin away at work it was a baptism of fire out and about but also at home since Ibu and Pak Ketut don’t speak too much english.  I’ve made a lot of embarrassing mistakes! Heads up, don’t confuse kotor and kontol – they are NOT the same and shouting “Arlo don’t touch that, its kontol” draws the wrong type of attention! But nowadays, I can hold a decent conversation and get what I need in Indonesian.  Mostly because I’ve had to find my voice too.  The Balinese are among some of the kindest, most open minded people you’ll ever meet but like anywhere, there are the odd people that will take advantage of your foreign naivety so you gotta be savvy and not afraid to speak up for yourself.

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

Get a good, reputable agent.  Dealing with immigration is a ball ache!  And visit first at least once before you make the move.  Bali is absolutely INCREDIBLE and insanely beautiful but its not quite the clean, quiet, unspoilt paradise the travel blogging instafluencers make it out to be.  So come here and experience it for yourself.  Spend some time in the different areas to find out where you’d be most happy living and how far it is from places you need to go or want to see.

Our Year in Bali expat family interview

Is there anything else you would like to share?

If you plan on driving in Bali, you’ll need an international drivers licence and a cool head, a helmet and good health insurance.  Also while I can’t get up on my soap box and wax lyrical about being super green – my husband commutes by plane to work – Bali has a massive problem with plastic waste, its clogging waterways and beaches all across the island.  We all need to do our bit, locals and visitors, to help matters by reusing and recycling where we can and participating in beach clean ups if possible.  But a lesser known problem is that the island is running out of fresh ground water.  I’m not really sure what the long term solution to that is but it definitely starts with awareness and making good choices around the home in our use of water and pushing the big resorts to do the same.

Thank you Kirsty so much for sharing your Bali life with the Our Year in Bali community!

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