As I recently announced, we are moving from Maui to Bali (with a pit stop in Texas) in a little less than three months. From our slow travel starting point in Austin to our future home on Bali, that’s approximately 39% of the way around the world. Snap!
That means a lot of things – selling the majority of our belongings, making cringe-worthy flight plans to the other side of the planet, enjoying the last of our adventure-time on Maui, and generally getting our shit together before we move to a foreign country we’ve never been to for an undetermined amount of time.
Here’s how that hot mess process looks, and some helpful moving abroad tips you may want to refer to when doing the same.
Planning a Move to Bali: Pre-Move Preparation
While we’re still living in the United States, I prepare for long-term travel by doing several things that may be much harder in a foreign country – getting a standard health check-up, having my teeth cleaned, ordering at least a year’s worth of contact lenses, making a list of subscriptions to cancel that aren’t available in Indonesia (Pandora, for example), changing my forwarding address, checking expiration dates on debit/credit cards, alerting banks of our plan to move, etc.
Also, Indonesia requires that your passport be good for at least 6 months past the date of entry. Although mine isn’t set to expire until 2016, it would be much more difficult to renew while living on Bali, so I did it early. And so it goes.
There’s also a few other helpful things you can do to connect with people and prepare for life in your next destination – join online travel forums, digital expat communities, start following travel writers and business owners for the area you’re going, and even reach out to existing friends who have connections in that place, or experience with travel in that area of the world.
This part of the moving process is tedious and time-consuming, but it’s usually the little things that make all the difference in the long-run. Prepare well before you leave and you won’t have to worry about the boring or stressful stuff once you arrive.
Visa Options for U.S. Citizens in Bali
One of the first considerations when moving abroad is the legality of you living and/or working in that country. The last thing you want is to get kicked out, fined, or deported for things that could have easily been avoided by a little googling action.
Like most other countries I’ve been to, or hell, maybe even all of them, you can’t just show up in Indonesia with a one way ticket and say “Hey! I’ve heard it rocks here. I shall stay forever!” Nope.
The good news about Bali, at least as of 2015, is that there is no limit on the number of times you can enter on a basic tourist visa. While there are other visa options for those interested in a more permanent stay – Social-Cultural Visa (single entry), Business Visa (single or multiple entry), or KITAS (resident visa) – our open-ended travels make a regular Visa On Arrival (VOA) or Social-Cultural Visa the simplest choices.
Upon arrival at Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport, we pay $35 in U.S. cash for a tourist visa – good for 30 days – which can be extended for an additional 30 days at one of the three immigration offices in Bali for an extra $33. After 60 days, we will need to leave the country (the $17 departure tax no longer applies), and can return and repeat the 30 day VOA process. If we fail to do so, or overstay our 60 days, the penalty is $25 per day.
One new piece of news – as of June 2015, Indonesia formally waived visa requirements for 45 countries, including the United States, as a way to boost tourism to the area. Under this new regulation, we will be allowed to stay on Bali for 30 days with no visa at all. The downside, however, is the option to extend our VOA to 60 days will not exist, at least if we decide to skip the fees in order to do so (approximately $68 per person for a 60 day stay).
Shit We’re Still Figuring Out
I’m still confused about three things when it comes to our best option for long-term travel on Bali – 1) if we can’t enter the country without a ticket out, but can’t extend our visa until we arrive at the airport, should our exit ticket be within 30 days or 60?, 2) is there a limit on how many times can we extend our visa to the 60 day option?, and 3) since we technically no longer need a visa on Bali, is it easier and/or cheaper to leave the country once every 30 days instead of 60?
I’ve also read that rent on Bali is considerably cheaper when paid a full year up front. If we don’t know how long we’re going to be in Bali, however, not to mention the fact that we may want to move to a different area of the island at some point, is it better to just pay more per month (approximately $250-$500) so we can change locations if needed, or just pay the larger sum amount but less overall (approximately $70-$250 per month) and not have to worry about rent for an entire year?
Since my grandpa’s hookup with American Airlines won’t get us all the way to Bali – Cathay Pacific takes over at hubs in Hong Kong, Australia, Shanghai or Singapore – where should we fly into to get the lowest rates for the rest of our journey? As with any big move, there are questions upon questions upon questions. But instead of stressing about it, I like to sit back, relax, google the shit out of stuff, ask around, and be alright with semi-winging the not-so-important parts. That’s half the fun, anyway.
For now, more beer.