For Don Meredith, retiring to Bali was something he wanted to do since his very first visit. That was in 1979 and back then, many of the island’s roads were nothing more than dirt tracks and there was barely a high-rise hotel in sight, but the culture and the people made an instant impact on him. “I fell in love with the place,” he says.
Over the years Don brought his children with him to Bali and they’ve grown to appreciate the Balinese culture too. “We holidayed here a lot as a family,” says Don. “My kids grew up watching Balinese ceremonies and learning a different way of life—they now have lifelong friends here in Bali.”
Don, 61, now lives on a family compound in Sanur, on land he acquired on leasehold for 30 years. The local family were known to Don, as their son, Kadek, has been a driver for him over the years.
Buying and building in Bali is complicated so most expats opt to rent as it offers more flexibility and less headaches. But, as Don’s example shows, with the correct research and due diligence, it can work out great.
Using local builders, Don built himself a one-bedroom villa on 150 square metres of land, with an enclosed living area, fully-equipped kitchen and a good-sized pool attached. It’s down a quiet and private laneway and the beach is only a five-minute walk away.
“My one-bedroom villa is enough for me,” says Don. “I didn’t need much space and the garden is easily maintained.” At a cost of around $80,000, including furniture and whitegoods, it’s proved a very economical way to retire in Bali. “My days are now much more relaxed; living close to the beach and nearby restaurants makes it easy to catch up with friends.” Don says. “It’s nice having the local family nearby too.”
When Don first relocated to Bali, he did so on a social visa—the only way to begin your long-term stay in Bali. He now has a retirement visa. “The retirement visa saves me time and money, I renew once a year and I only leave Bali when I want to,” he says. A retirement visa allows a visitor to remain in Indonesia for five years.
“I used a visa agent and once I got together all the necessary documents, the whole application process was easy,” says Don. “For a relatively small fee, an agent saved me the hassle of long immigration queues and wasted days.”
It’s fairly easy to find an agent. The best process is to ask around. Every expat has their own experience to share and it’s good to use an agent who comes recommended. A reputable agent will not suggest shortcuts and you should be wary of any that do. The initial cost of the retirement visa is around $1,000 and it’s about $800 to renew.
For Don, life in Bali is much simpler and less stressful than at home in Australia, where an online business kept him busy day and night. His days now include watching his beloved Roosters play Rugby League every week at his local beach bar or taking a drive along Bali’s coastline to explore more of the island.
His family are regular visitors. “It’s great being able to catch up with my children and the grandchildren. The beaches here are calm enough for the little ones to play on the sand and we have numerous choices for dinner or we sometimes do a barbecue at home,” says Don.
For now, Don is happy with his new life. He has the freedom to come and go, visit family when he needs to and return to a simple life in Bali. “Life is pretty good,” says Don. “A few beers, a catch up with friends—it’s a life I enjoy.”