Skip to main content

Australian Retirees move from Canggu to Sanur in Bali

Sue and her husband Gil last spoke to me back in June 2017 when they were living in their stunning Canggu villa overlooking the ricefields.

They arrived in Bali February 2013 on a retirement visa from Perth.

Since May this year they decided to change up their Bali life and move to the South East of Bali in Sanur.

It looks quite close on a map (around 23km from Canggu) but it tends to take over an hour by car. Life is very different in Sanur and today we get to hear all about it from Sue.

Please tell us about your new home in Bali:                           

Our new home in Sanur is a 2 storey colonial style home in a very quiet little area at the back of Sanur with our neighbours once again a mix of locals and expats. We were apprehensive to take it at first as it had been vacant for 12 months and was very much in need of attention, but we loved the open plan style, the unique colonial design and beautiful timber hand carved doors. So the beautiful house design, the ricefield views and Mt Agung across in the distance won us over.

The past few months have been a lot of hard work restoring it to it’s former glory but has been enjoyable redecorating and filling it with all the lovely furniture and knick knacks you can buy here in Bali.

What made you decide to move to Sanur?

Over the past 12 months we have seen Canggu expand at a very rapid pace with so much construction going on with new restaurants, home-stays and beach clubs moving north up the coast. It is still a fabulous place with some of the most fantastic restaurants and shops in Bali but unfortunately all this progress has increased traffic to the area which can at times be a nightmare.  

Canggu has also attracted a much younger crowd now so is fast filling up with clubs playing loud boom boom music until late into the night .. we were however fortunate to only hear it way in the distance.

We had considered living in Sanur when we first moved to Bali but did think might be a bit too quiet for us, but now after 6 years in Canggu decided we were ready for a sea change to this lovely peaceful side of the island. You have the best of both worlds here .. the beach on the east side of the main Bypass road and the open spaces and ricefields on the west side where we are.

How long do you plan to stay?  

This is a question you never really have an answer for when living here in Bali as circumstances can always change. For now we do know will be quite a few more years as we have our 2 very much loved pooches and would never leave them behind. As Sophie is only 5 ½ and Lua 6 ½ to live out their normal life span will be a while yet.

So I guess the decision what to do, whether to stay on or leave will depend on what’s going on in our lives when they are dearly departed. We will also be quite a few years older ourselves too but hopefully still fighting fit and healthy .. fingers crossed!

What is a typical day here for you and Gill? 

We are both up at 6am for sunrise beach walk with pooches except sleep in Sunday! This time is so lovely as you can see some amazing sunrises and is always so peaceful and calm whether the tide is in or out. Then home for brekkie and a bit of emailing and of course checking out Instagram which I love.

Most days Gil has a meeting to attend or appointment somewhere with Project Karma related matters. Lately I have been attending some of those too as now on board to help out with bits and pieces and arranging some fundraisers. If we have no commitments we are still getting jobs done around the house .. our latest project a new garden out the back and paving out the front as there’s a bit too much sand around and won’t be fun when the wet season arrives and we have a muddy mosh pit out the front!

We also like to take off on our scooters when we can and either go shopping or just off exploring new areas. Nights are spent upstairs chilled out on the sofas with a good movie or Netflix and maybe a wine or two!

How’s your photography going? Has it changed living in Sanur?

I still love taking pics and always on the lookout for photo opportunities. It is a little different over here as more of a beachy vibe so really enjoy the colourful fishing boats, the beautiful beach scenes and the locals enjoying their family day on Sundays.

There are also lots of really beautiful coastal places to visit not far from here and recently visited Candidasa for a few days which was just beautiful .. the blue water, palm trees and snorkelling in waters filled with colourful tropical fish.

There are still all the wonderful ceremonies to see and in August Sanur hold the annual kite festival which was so spectacular .. the camera worked overtime that day!  I also enjoy still being able to take pics of the ricefields and the rice farmers going about their business as their are so many over the west side where we live and our house is situated right next to some so we have great views from our upstairs balcony.

I used to always take my camera with me most places but recently treated myself to a new Samsung S10 plus phone and the camera is so good .. plus easier to carry.

You mentioned that Gil is very busy volunteering with Project Karma, can you tell me about this wonderful charity?

Project Karma is a not-for-profit charity comprised of Aust and foreign law enforcement officers, investigators and volunteers to combat sexual exploitation and child trafficking throughout Bali & Lombok.

It was set up by former Victorian Police officer Glen Hulley when during a 2013 holiday to Cambodia was offered a very young child for sexual services. Following this awful experience he sold everything he owned and formed Project Karma. Not many people would be aware of how dire this situation is but Bali alone ranks 3rd in SE Asia for reported incidences of child abuse which is so terrible.

Project Karma’s mission is to rescue and rehabilitate children from sexual slavery so there is a team of highly dedicated people devoted to doing this. There is a 3 pronged approach to follow .. Investigation cases of child abuse and catching the perpetrators, Aftercare and Rehabilitation to the victims in a safe environment and Awareness and Education programs currently being run in local village schools to teach the children about potential danger.

As with most charities they rely on fundraising and general donations to keep operating which is not always easy .. we would love a major sponsor to come on board so Glen and his team can continue on with this amazing work.

You can read lots more about it at

How is the expat community in Sanur compared to Canggu?

For us it’s very different but may just be because we are retirees and not involved in business or have children in schools. I have met some lovely friends in Canggu and would also meet lots of ladies through gym classes etc so was also nice to have friendly expat chats at times.

We only knew our immediate neighbours and would have a quick chat or a friendly wave when riding by.  Sanur has a large expat community and being a much smaller place we seem to see each other a lot more often. Whether we arrange a lunch or dinner or just see each while out and about and grab a coffee .. it always seems a bit more leisurely and relaxed.

And our Gang (little street) we live in has the friendliest expats so we are always popping in and out of each other’s places to say hi or take something we’ve cooked to each other .. particularly our Scottish expat neighbour John who was the chef at the Padma so we really get some delicious treats! We are truly loving it here .. a lot!

Last time you described Bali as ‘Spiritual – Fascinating – Challenging’ has this changed?
Still ‘Challenging’ (at times) .. Picturesque (photo ops everywhere) .. and ‘Ever-changing’ with so much development going on everywhere.

Would you recommend Sanur to other people looking at making a move to live in Bali?

For younger people maybe not as life is a lot quieter here and you don’t have the massive selection of restaurants, bars and clubs like on the east coast. It is a very small place so I don’t think there would be enough action going on and boredom would soon set in.

But for middle agers to elderly then yes, is just perfect for finding those fave little places to frequent, the beaches are so safe with no crashing waves and you can walk along the beachfront pathway for miles. There’s little bars and eating places all along the beachfront and you can while away the time watching the holiday makers enjoying water sports or hire a canoe or SUP. We all have a joke here saying ‘always tell people Sanur is terrible’ so not too many people migrate over and make the place too busy!

But it is terrific and we love it .. especially our evening walks along the beachfront with the pooches stopping along the way for an icy cold Bintang or two!

Thanks so much for again giving us a wonderful insight into your Bali life. We love hearing what you guys get up to and admire your beautiful photography that captures Bali so perfectly.

Ready to get started?

Book a free discovery call to learn more about how we can help you feel confident about a move to Bali.

Leave a Reply