From the UK Midlands to Sanur: A Couple’s Journey of Selling Up and Retiring in Bali
Have you ever considered the idea of retiring in Bali? That’s precisely what Fiona and Nick did earlier this year, in May. They’ve been lucky enough to visit Bali many times for holidays from their home in the UK, and after thorough research and contemplation of other countries, they couldn’t resist Bali’s charm, culture, and laid-back lifestyle. It simply felt like the perfect spot to live out their retirement dream. Now, as they wake up every morning in their new home in Sanur, they cant believe how fortunate they are to be living in a perpetual dream come true.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
We are Fiona and Nick from the east Midlands, UK. Nick is 60, I am 59. Both of us were business owners back at home but our passion has always been travel. I was born abroad, in Cyprus as my dad was in the Royal Air Force and spent a lot of my childhood living abroad including Singapore. Nick travelled a lot when he was in his late teens, working his way across Europe until he got to Israel where he spent some time on a kibbutz.
We got together in our thirties and considered emigrating to Australia but we were a second marriage and Nicks children were still young so we didn’t go. Probably a decision that we have since regretted.
What motivated you to retire in Bali, and how did you go about making the decision to do so?
We had spoken for a long time about moving abroad for retirement and I had been on the internet looking at possibilities. We always thought we would leave it until our mid sixties but Covid changed all that. Not only did we not know if our businesses would survive after the lockdowns it gave us plenty of time to talk and plan. We also realised that we could spend all that time together and still like each other! We had originally thought of going to Malaysia as they offer a ten year visa but after Covid they changed their parameters which made it untenable. At that time I didn’t know that Bali offered visas until I went and did more research. After that it was a no brainer. We had been to Bali many times on holiday and I can honestly say it is one of my favourite places on earth. We decided that it was now or never. The lease was going to be up on my business premises and I either got out or signed up for another 6 years. We decided to go for it.
How did you prepare for your retirement and the move to Bali? Did you encounter any challenges during the process?
Selling up and moving from the UK was not easy and took us about 18 months to do it. We had a large house which we had lived in for 25 years so we had to gradually declutter, lots of garage sales, and Facebook marketplace became my best friend. We put our house on the market and that was extremely stressful, we had three sales that fell through and eventually sold on the fourth. At the same time Nick was in the process of selling his engineering business, I had not been successful at that point of selling mine and thought I was just going to close up but at the last minute I got an offer. We had moved by this time into an Airbnb which we stayed in for four months. By this time most of our furniture was sold or donated to family members, the rest of our belongings in storage.
Where in Bali do you live, and what made you choose that location?
We had been out to Bali in January to sort out our visas and make a decision where to live. We knew we wanted to live by the beach so didn’t want to settle in Ubud. Seminyak is fun but we felt it was expensive and a bit full on so we came to Sanur as we heard it was quieter. We fell in love with it straight away. It has everything we need so we moved over in May 2023 with four suitcases between us and two weeks accommodation booked. We have not once regretted it. We have rented a beautiful house with a pool, five minutes walk from the beach. Its what dreams are made of and I still pinch myself every day.
What activities or hobbies have you pursued since retiring in Bali? How do they differ from the ones you had in the UK?
My husband is a well qualified scuba diver and I snorkel so we are looking forward to exploring the islands off Bali. I have also taken up Qi Gong and go to a class every week. I have an online subscription with a workout company so it is a joy that I have time to work out daily as I only managed twice a week at home. We have also taken up Padel which we are really enjoying as we live close to Sanur Padel Club. It is in my mind to take some SUP lessons too. So far I haven’t had time!
A typical day for us is get up and exercise, have a swim then breakfast. We then do errands. We tend to food shop every few days as fruit and veg goes off quite quickly and we mostly eat at home but go out a couple of times a week for dinner or down to the local warungs on the beach for a Nasi Goring lunch. Nick invested in a great barbecue so we can mostly cook outside. Afternoons are spent exploring or relaxing. I have read so many books since I have been here. We have a lovely pool area so its beautiful to just be there. We love to go to the local spas for a massage on a regular basis too.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about Bali, and how would you correct them?
The biggest misconceptions about Bali I think is people thinking its not a developed country. So many people back in the UK thought we were moving out to the jungle to live in a house on stilts! I love the way that Bali had embraced tech. Everything done at the touch of a button online and fantastic customer service. I have been very pleasantly surprised how efficient everything is, Visas, Driving Licence, Wifi installation, delivery of anything. The only issues we have had since we got here has been with our UK companies.
How have you adapted to the local customs and traditions in Bali, and what have you learned from the experience?
We are loving the local customs. We have got to know local people and have been invited to ceremonies which has been delightful. I have been on the internet a lot looking up information on what we have seen. I love seeing the offerings everywhere and the smell of incense. We are also having language lessons which we are really enjoying. The local people seem to love it when you try to converse, even badly and are really happy to help you along.
How have you built a social network and made friends in Bali? Are there any expat communities or groups that you’ve connected with?
We are still trying to meet new friends. I think it takes a little while when you first arrive in a new place and its always wise to take your time. We have a local friend who we have known for 10 years who has been such a help to us. Everything was bewildering when we got here and he has been great in taking us to the right places to get things sorted. Expat communities I have found so far have been a little more challenging although we found a church recently that was very friendly. I think the best advice a friend gave me recently was not to jump in too quickly, find your feet first. Of course we are really lucky that we have each other.
Are there any challenges you’ve faced with healthcare or medical services in Bali? How do they compare to what you were accustomed to in the UK?
Healthcare so far has been amazing. Nick had to go to the dentist for an extraction and his care has been incredible, all for a fraction of the price at home. The healthcare system is on its knees in the UK so our expectation is quite low anyway. I have to take medication which I have found I can just buy over the counter here. My HRT will be a challenge. There is no such thing in Bali so I will have to go to Singapore or Australia to get a prescription. We have found a really good agent who is sorting out our health insurance and he has been very professional.
How do you stay connected with family and friends back in the UK? Are there any challenges you’ve faced in maintaining those relationships?
Our families were very supportive of our decision to come to Bali. My mum lived abroad for much of her life and particularly loves the far east. I think she would love to come and visit but at 86 it might be too much. We video call every week though and chat with messages so I have been able to give her a guided tour of our house and garden. Both our sisters will come and visit and our children who are grown up with their own lives. The only challenge we have really for keeping in touch is the time difference. I believe that true friends wherever you are will stay just that, despite the miles in between us.
Has your perspective on life and retirement changed since moving to Bali? If so, in what ways?
Moving to Bali has been incredible for us. Its been a dream that we have been working towards for a long time. I don’t think we realised until recently how burnt out we were from running businesses for so long particularly in the aftermath of Covid. We are both calmer and happier since we have been here. Neither of us miss working which is actually a surprise. I thought we would struggle to fill our days but that has not been the case. We are probably both the fittest and healthiest we have been since our twenties. We decided to grasp life and made a monumental decision to come to Bali which some people didn’t understand but it has been worth every minute of the challenges we faced to get here.
What advice would you give to someone considering retiring in Bali? Are there any key factors they should consider before making such a move?
If I was to give anyone advice on coming here to retire I woulds say “Just go for it”. Its not the same as being on holiday but real life never is. We have just made sure that should we need to go home for any reason we can but at the moment I can’t see any reason why we would. The climate is lovely, the food is fresher, the people are welcoming and we have everything here we need to live a lovely life.
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