In the 10 months, that Cass and her family lived in Bali, she found it be a catalyst for creativity and personal growth. The artistic ambiance of Bali fueled her inspiration on a daily basis. However, what truly distinguished their time in Bali was the strong sense of community fostered through connections with both locals and expats.
The family relished in the familiarity of knowing their neighbors by name and witnessing the close-knit interactions among the locals. These encounters provided valuable insights into the prioritization of family, traditions, and ceremonies in Balinese culture. By making even the smallest attempt to communicate in Bahasa, they were rewarded with boundless kindness and generosity from their local friends.
Meet: Dylan 39, Cass 35 and Elkie 4
From: Sunny east coast of Queensland, Australia
Arrived in Bali: May 4, 2022
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where are you originally from?
Dylan is a draftsperson, I am Cass, a fashion photographer (@rama.visuals) and we have 4 year old daughter Elkie. We are from the sunny east coast of Queensland, Australia.
How did you hear about Our Year in Bali, and how was your discovery call with Simone?
I had been following Simone on Instagram for some time. It was Dylan’s and my dream to one day make a move to Bali so I read all the expat interviews and the stories of people making the leap and going for it – they were so inspiring. When we had our discovery call with Simone, we already had our flights booked, we were a little nervous and still had a couple of questions that Simone addressed for us. It was nice to have a positive, encouraging voice. Especially from someone who had done it before with kids in tow.
What motivated you to move to Bali, and how did you go about making the decision to do so?
I know for me (Cass) I had always dreamed of moving to Bali. I had visited many times and it’s a place where when I land in the airport I feel like I’m home. Dylan and I had our daughter Elkie in 2019. I never thought we would be living there with a little one but it made it all the more special. People say ‘oh now is the time to do it – before Elkie starts school’ but really it was just a leap of faith and the timing seemed right. We wanted to experience living there – and so we did!
Tell us about how you found a home and an area to settle.
We moved to Bali thinking that it was going to be easy to find somewhere to live. To be honest, we had a very hard time finding a place for our family. It seemed that a lot of people had decided to move to Bali at the same time as we did. Properties were going so fast and people were paying straight away when viewing. We would be on our way to view a place and would get a message that it was no longer available. We had a month of pretty stressful searching. It made us start to think we would have to go back to Australia.
We are so very lucky to have a local friend Nyoman who we had met a few years ago that had some friends of friends who had just built a villa. We went to view it and it was perfect. Being a family with a young one there were certain things we needed in a home that perhaps people who are solo or coupled could do without. But we finally found our home in Babakan, Canggu. We hadn’t visited this area on previous travels. It didn’t take long for us to fall in love with Babakan. It’s only 5/10 mins from Canggu but it was a quieter area filled with locals and expats. For us it was a great base to go exploring and it was only 10/15 mins to Elkies school – Matahari Canggu.
How long did you stay in Bali?
We were there for 10 months.
What was Bali like for your daughter Elkie?
Elkie loved Bali. It was an excellent age for her to experience something like this. She was almost three when we left and had her third birthday over there. Developmentally it was amazing. She had her first school experience at the most lovely school called Matahari. The teachers were so patient, kind, supportive of Elkie feeling safe there.
In Bali, she made friends, ate amazing food, swam in the pool everyday and really found her confidence through these experiences. She also loved all the ceremonies especially with the Barong.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced living in Bali?
In Bali, you have the good and the bad, the Yin and the Yang. It is like anywhere but when you aren’t in your home country sometimes the challenges are a little trickier. We had been before so Dylan and I were use to things taking more time. I think if you respect their religions and culture, then you will understand what is the most important thing to the locals. I think it is something that foreigners sometimes don’t understand and find challenging but there is a great lesson in this for people to slow down and to not expect everything to be done immediately.
Elkie did get sick a few times. It was wet season and she was going to daycare so it is to be expected but was al little scarier another country. Going to the doctors we would sometimes feel frustrated when their answer was ‘it must be the weather’. We ended up finding a regular doctor who was excellent.
Elkie ended up getting pneumonia at the end of our stay and that was pretty scary for us. We had never dealt with the hospital before but we can say that we had great care at Kasih Ibu. It can be challenging communicating about what was happening with her but we felt like we were in great hands.
At the end of our stay it was wet season, and the rubbish that would get washed up from the ocean was confronting to see. Obviously we had seen it before and people talk about the pollution and the rubbish but to not want to go in the ocean because of this was pretty sad for us. A huge problem that will only change with education around the whole island and hopefully with a new generation.
Can you walk us through what a typical day looked like for you living in Bali?
That’s the beauty of it. There is no typical day in Bali. Everyday you leave your house you experience something new and beautiful.
On the days Elk would go to school Dylan and I would take off on an adventure and scooter around exploring. We’d go somewhere for lunch and then come home and all go out for Sunset and dinner on the beach.
On the days Elkie was with us we would usually stay at home in the middle of the day when it was too hot but we’d always go out in the morning to the beach or go out somewhere in the afternoon. There are so many family friendly places to go – Elkie got very use to most restaurants having a play area for kids.
What would you say was the best thing and favourite memories about living in Bali?
For me personally, I got to be creative and invest in myself. I am a photographer and I ended up doing a bootcamp over there to kick start my business, Rama Visuals @rama.visuals. This was an amazing experience. Bali is the most inspiring place creatively, I would see something everyday that would motivate me.
What advice would you give to other families who are considering a move to Bali?
It’s easy to say do it. It’s harder to do it but once you do, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
It’s not a Bali holiday. Visiting and living are two different things. I would say go in accepting that Bali has a magic and the way it is will not adapt to you. You have to adapt and go with it. Embrace the people, respect their culture and traditions. Observe it and learn something. Smile and greet people and treat all that are looking after you with kindness. The level of care the locals provide for expats is genuine and for that to disappear would be terrible.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience living in Bali that we haven’t covered yet?
It’s really easy to build a support network here. The expats really help each other out and are so supportive, if you’re looking for a community I think this is a wonderful way to meet like-minded people.