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Retiring from Switzerland to Sanur – embracing the island life and reconnecting with Australian family

In July 2023, Christianne and I had a Zoom call regarding the ideal way to retire in Bali. Our discussion encompassed topics such as insurance, housing, banking, retirement visas and so forth. Christianne had a clear preference for Sanur, where she had been to before and had friends already residing. It was truly gratifying to assist her in this transition, and a few days after her arrival in Bali, we reunited in Sanur to enjoy a delicious Nasi Campur lunch together.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where are you originally from?

Born in Switzerland and left to go to England to learn English and loved England so much I started a family and stayed there for several years. When my daughter left home, I left England for the South of France where I lived for almost 20 years while continuing to work and travel.  When I retired, I wanted to come closer to my daughter and her family who emigrated to Australia and Bali was the perfect country for me.

I didn’t prepare anything and the decision to move here was done on an impulse! Originally, I came alone for a month, where I stayed in the North and in the South and visited several regions. Then when I arrived to retire, I came to Sanur in the South.

What motivated you to move to Bali, and how did you go about making the decision to do so?

For many people COVID triggered a tsunami in their life, but for me, it made me realize that Australia where my daughter and my grandchildren live, was very far from Europe and I had to get closer before it was too late.

Looking at the world map and which country was the closest to Australia, I saw that Bali in Indonesia was very well located so that was enough for me. In November 2022, I packed my suitcase and took my one way ticket to Denpasar to start my new adventure. I arrived one evening in Bali, direction to Ubud. Why Ubud? No idea, but I had decided not to do any research on Bali as I had to see for myself how I could possibly live in this country.

My luck was meeting Henni my taxi driver, during the journey from the airport to Ubud of almost 2 hours.  We exchanged a lot when she left me later that night and said “Now you will never be alone in Bali, you have now a new friend”. This gave me some good vibes.  Ubud was nice and inspiring but not suitable for me, so I went back to the south and again it was a big no for me becuase I found it is for young people who want activities night and day – especially at night.

So I continued the search for my little place which is not only in my dreams as I am very optimistic. I chose my next place without looking at the internet for information, just my instinct who guided me. I arrived in Sanur and it was love at first sight. I finally liked everything from the beaches to the restaurants, shops and especially the people. Sanur is a wonderful place to witness the sunrise and the sunset, the beach is safe for swimming – bearing in mind I cannot swim but that is what I have been told. December arrived very quicky and it was time to go to Australia to spend Christmas with the family but I already knew that I would come back and that I had found my little paradise. Since then I have not changed my mind and now I’m waiting for my European friends who, after calling me crazy, I have lost my mind, say that I’m lucky and they want to come to visit this little island full of surprises!

I still have lots of adventures waiting for me and especially seeing my grandchildren in Sanur, enjoying what I have every day will be the icing on the cake.

sanur beach

How do you plan to adapt to Bali’s tropical climate? What activities and hobbies are you looking forward to pursuing in your retirement?

Living in South of France I am used to hot countries so that is not a problem and of course everywhere you have air conditioning. For activities, there are yoga classes, meditations, lots of walking and site visits and letting yourself live.  Bali is the ideal place for a retreat we can enjoy little luxuries like massages and for us women beauty salons of all kinds that in Europe we won’t be able to afford time for me to look after myself.

How do you stay connected with family and friends? Are there any challenges you’ve faced in maintaining those relationships?

Internet in Bali is everywhere and works very well so it is very easy to stay connected with the rest of the world thanks to WhatsApp and others free apps.  In fact, I am more in contact with my friends now than when we were in the same country!

Has your perspective on life and retirement changed since moving to Bali? If so, in what ways?

The first thing is that life here is much more economical which allows us to live better. The population is very welcoming, pleasant and so nice. I also feel safe.

How have you adapted to the local customs and traditions in Bali, and what have you learned from the experience?

I was lucky to very quickly meet Balinese people who taught me what their culture and their beliefs.  I love their spirituality and their beliefs and I found their traditions very enriching. I attended several celebrations, visited families in villages, and shared meals with local families.

Expat at Balinese water temple

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about Bali, and how would you correct them?

Thinking that Bali is an underdeveloped country and everybody lives at the primitive society level. However,  civilization here is everywhere – you can find anything your want it. The people are very smart and very aware of the latest technologies. Internet is everywhere and everyone offers free internet for their customers.

Swiss retiree on motorbike

What steps are you taking to meet people and build a social circle in Bali? Are you joining expat communities or local clubs?

The plan is to do volunteer work but for now i’m watching and looking for what works for me for the first time. I am not rushing – I trust life.

What advice would you give to someone considering retiring in Bali? Are there any key factors they should consider before making such a move?

For me English is important because it is the language most used by the Balinese so if you can not communicate it can become complicated.

Don’t give up everything right away, especially if you haven’t had an experience in another country, it requires a little adjustment and if the adventure doesn’t go the way you want and if you want to return home, it will be less complicated.

You have to adapt to a new way of living, a new mentality and accept that we are only guests. Above all, not to judge or compare with your life in our own country, we must adapt to their life and not impose ours on them.

Balinese are very curious and they ask questions about our system, what is different from theirs, what is a pension, what is unemployment benefit, why does the government give money to the poorest, how does it all work? Speaking to them, we see how lucky we are. The most striking example was the COVID period where in Europe the government helped the companies, here nothing, they had to continue to live with no activities and no more tourists.  They had no help, but they are resilient and they helped each other I have a lot of respect for that.

Sanur sunset

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