I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again – you’ve got to keep travelin’ to be a Travelin’ Fool. We will officially hit our 8 month mark in Bali in a few weeks, and have decided to move to our fourth destination soon after.
Bali has been a wild experience, in both good and bad ways, and I’m glad we ripped the metaphorical travel band-aid and did it, because Indonesia had never really been high on our list of places to live, honestly. Not that it’s not a beautiful and fascinating country – it is, and we haven’t even explored a tenth of it – but it always seemed so remote, so foreign, and somewhat of a wildcard, especially coming from America.
Despite a majorly unglamorous introduction to the weight-loss plan that is Bali Belly, along with an adjustment to the intense heat, crowds, insane scooter riding and zero weed smoking, I’m pumped to say we’ve come to dig Bali for all it is, and even all it isn’t. But like everywhere else, we never intended Bali to be a permanent home, so on we go.
Why We’re Leaving Bali
The main reason we’ve decided to leave Bali is that it’s nearly impossible for Peter to make money, and it’s not super clear whether I’m doing it legally either. Unfortunately, neither of us are in the financial position to live strictly off of our savings, or at least not for very long. And although Bali is cheaper than anywhere else we’ve lived, even the cheapest places become expensive when you’re not making money.
While we knew that finding a Balinese employer to sponsor Peter for a job (and the very expensive visa that is required to make it legal) would be extremely difficult, we did not account for how difficult it would be for him to make money through his own business, primarily through surf and underwater photo shoots, or selling his photography prints to people around the island.
As of late, immigration officials in Bali have become extremely proactive (and successful) in their tactics to catch foreigners working illegally in Bali, even going so far as to track down people advertising their services on social media, deporting photographers for shooting without a proper work permit, attending local markets to search for foreigners selling their handmade products, and even raiding coworking offices to detain ‘digital nomads’ found to be making money illegally within Indonesia. Yikes! As if that weren’t enough of a deterrent, there are also plenty of local residents who will gladly turn you into immigration if they find out you’re working (and thus taking a job away from a local resident), as they’re often financially rewarded for doing so.
If Peter had decided to pursue his photography business, with or without this knowledge, it is distinctly possible he would have been caught, arrested, heavily fined, and even deported, something we can’t risk if we want to keep living the slow travel lifestyle we currently do. The risk is simply not worth the reward, and we highly encourage anyone moving here with the intention of finding work, even small opportunities to be paid under the table, to reconsider.
The Next Destination
After 3 years of traveling, and countless adventures moving from Texas to Costa Rica to Maui to Bali, we’ve decided to go somewhere that not only allows us both to work legally, but is also fairly painless to reach from Bali on a limited budget.
That place is AUSTRALIA, y’all.
Why Australia? Isn’t it Expensive?
Well, yeah. It damn sure is.
However, both Australia and New Zealand have a wonderful thing called a Work & Holiday Visa for U.S. residents under 30 years old, which permits us to live, work and travel anywhere in the country for a total of up to one year. The best part – they don’t limit what kind of job you can have, so there is absolutely no ruling against Peter doing his own private photo shoots, selling prints, getting a job as a tour guide, surf school photographer, or generally anything else he might want to do. And even though I already have a job writing remotely about Maui and Bali, I’ll probably get a part time job bartending just to make some extra spending money. Dolla dolla bills for my wine bottle fills, ya dig?
Another perk is that since we’re moving directly from Bali to Australia, one way flights to most of Australia’s biggest cities cost no more than around $200 each, and much less if you can find a good deal. The Visa certainly wasn’t free – I’ll write more about that process and its specific costs later – but it’s still probably cheaper to fly to Australia than back to the United States to work and save up money for a while. Plus, we get to explore somewhere totally new, and that’s always kind of the point.
We’ll be leaving Bali as soon as our Social Visas expire in early June, and have yet to buy our plane tickets because it turns out Australia is friggin’ huge and we have no clue what or where anything is. So if you’ve been there and have tips, suggestions, distant family members in need of a house-sitter, friends with boats slash wine cellars, or generally anyone who can be of assistance in helping us not immediately suck at life, we’d very much appreciate all the help we can get.
Cheers, and here’s to seeing y’all down under.
Woo! Bummed I didn’t get a chance to visit you in Bali, but maybe I’ll make it to Australia! I’ll be working 100% remote starting next week, just renewed my passport, and am going to spend all summer planning digital nomad adventures. Let me know where in AUS you end up!
Jesse! Awesome, I am so excited for you! I’m sure we’ll meet up somewhere glorious (wherever that may be) and be sure to keep me posted on where you end up, too. So far we’re looking at the Gold Coast for living, though that could easily change at any moment since we are relatively clueless. Miss ya, and wishing you all the luck on your soon-to-be-kickass nomad adventures!
AWESOME!!! You’ve help me confirm that Australia will be my next visa run! I may not stay that long, but I can stay as long as I like!! By the way, how long is that!!??…with the cheapest visa, I mean! !! See you soon! Safe travels!…and enjoy, of course!!
Woohoo! I’m not sure what the options are for U.S. residents just traveling, but I think they’re generally pretty easygoing for anyone staying under a month. I’ll keep you posted, and hope to see you soon! We’ll be back in Ubud in a couple weeks.
Thanks for the tips! Most articles make Bali look like it’s some sort of perfect haven for the digital nomad. Glad to see the real, on-the-ground scoop. Safe flight!
Most articles I read about places we’ve lived make it sound like a dreamland. Most aren’t telling the whole truth, or are maybe just written by people with much larger savings accounts 😉 either way, thank you for reading! Safe travels to you, good sir.
Aw bummer, we get to Bali July 28th and was looking forward to seeing yet another form Mauian there. We connect through Sydney (cheap flights on Virgin Australia ATM), which will be our first time stepping on Austrialiian soil, but only for a few hours.
Really enjoyed your writing on your time in Bali, look forward to hearing about Oz, if it doesn’t prove prohibitively expensive we might spend some time there next year.
Aww dangit, so sad we’re going to miss y’all! I’m sure you’ll be glad to be back in Bali, though.
Yes, I’ll have to keep you posted on the expense part. Compared to Maui it may not be so bad. Compared to Bali it will be a kick in the money hole (wherever that may be). Say hi to your lady and looking forward to reading more about your adventures too!
Yayyy so excited for you guys this is awesome 🙂
Thank ya ma’am, pretty stoked to explore!
I have a friend from Perth. Her family is there. She was living in Bali and now lives in Japan temporarily. She’s a wanderer too. I can connect you if you’re interested.
Sure, that’d be great Nikki. Thank you!