As many of you know, I’ve been blissfully living in beautiful Bali for the last 3 months.
In my search for the best place for my personal and professional life, I stumbled upon Ubud, a tropical paradise surrounded by lush green paddy fields and tranquility.
When I first landed in Bali, I thought I would only be staying for about a month or two. Needless to say, this magical place swept me off my feet, and my search for the perfect place presented itself to me without much looking.
When I first started looking for a location, I knew that it had to be affordable, warm, peaceful, and accessible to things like internet and good food. With my keen sense of budgeting and bartering (yes, this is purely in my Asian blood), I wanted to make sure that I really was getting good value for living out in Asia.
So when I could tick all the boxes of my requirements after landing in Ubud, I was ecstatic that I managed to find this place so quickly.
Firstly, let me talk about what I was spending on my life in Vancouver, Canada. As much as I absolutely adore my home there, life was just getting way too expensive with increasing prices to my cost of living.
Here’s a brief overview of what I was spending on, even with a very strict budget and hunting for the best value in everything:
Food: $500 (groceries and the occasional eating out)
Entertainment: $700 (movies, cost of doing things out of the house)
Car: $600 (car payments, insurance, gas)
Food: $350 (ALL eating out, and good organic food)
Entertainment: $200 (that’s going all out like spa days, events, trips, yoga)
Scooter: $70 (rental, insurance, gas)
Living in Bali literally helped me spend three times less than I would’ve spent in North America. And let me tell you, I’ve been doing more activities, workshops, and spa days than I ever have done.
Here’s an idea of some costs in Bali if I was to break it down:
Healthy organic food for lunch/dinner: $3.00
1 hour massage: $7.00
Full day tour: $18.00
Full tank of gas for scooter: $1.40
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Here are some of the tips I give people that have asked me on how they can budget properly so that their wallet doesn’t hate their guts:
Tip #1: Eliminate “beer me” out of your vocabulary
One of the top reasons why you may go over your budget will probably be due to alcohol or feeding yourself “liquid courage”. Step away from that beer (or whatever your poison)…..slowly.
Alcohol is almost the same price as a meal in Asia! This is not to say that you can’t treat yourself to a glass of wine here and there. Plus do I really need to go into the benefits a day without a hangover or doing the walk of shame in the morning?
Tip #2: Learn to barter like a pro
Assume everything is negotiable. Everything. And don’t forget to put your game face on. Walk away when what you want is overpriced or over budget, and more times than not, you’ll be able to agree on a price that you’re comfortable with.
If you are in Asia, experiment with being in a night market or any market, and get friendly with the storekeeper. Don’t act all in love with something you see, or you’ve just become an easy target as the next tourist bait.
Tip #3: Make friends with the expats
The best way to know the cheapest place to eat, or the best bang for buck for food, entertainment, or shopping in town, get to know the foreigners or expats that live in that city. They’ve been there awhile, and know things you may not know when you are new.
They will be able to help you sort out the best place to find a home, or how to renew your visa properly through the right agent. The great thing is that most expats will be quite multicultural from countries all over the world, so it’ll be interesting times to hang out with them as well.
Tip #4: Stop eating that burger and fries
You’re in a foreign country, so you’ll probably want to eat the local food anyway. Step out of your comfort zone of what you think will taste good. You don’t have to be eating cow eyeballs or sheep intestines, but try eating more local food than western food, as it’ll be much cheaper for you.
In Bali, I can eat organic and vegetarian meals quite inexpensively, so even though I’m not a vegetarian, my taste buds are loving it anyway!
Tip #5: Stick to your budget
It can be very tempting to throw in that extra massage, or buy an extra dress, especially when prices are $7 for a massage and $5-10 for a dress. However, all these little purchases can add up. Have a daily or weekly budget, so if you do end up not spending it all, you can then treat yourself to a full spa day.
Tip #6: Explore the country and local area
One of the best things about living in Asia is that flights can be cheap and going from country to country doesn’t take too long. However, before booking tickets for other tempting countries, consider exploring the country you have now called home, and take that scooter out and explore even the local area.
There are probably many islands or other cities that are quite different from the one you are in, so why not save some money and visit local places first? Your money will go further when you don’t have to pay for flights or visa fees to other countries, so you’ll also be able to explore more often.
Now I’m sure you’ll be able to see why living in Bali was the right choice for me and my bank account! Is this a possible lifestyle and location for you? Maybe. Maybe not. Could you experiment with it? Absolutely.
With your next vacation days or holiday time, try to check out some places that you may consider living in. Spend a couple of weeks in Asia or Latin America. Talk to people that have lived abroad and find out what their living expenses are.
The world is bigger than just where you are currently located in and things may not seem as inaccessible as you think. You may just be able to have it all…a lifestyle that you truly enjoy and you don’t have to pay big bucks for it.
So here comes the next big question I’m sure you’re asking. How the heck am I going to be able to work in places like these? Can I make a living and still be comfortable with the expenses, even if it’s much less than what I am paying at the moment?
Lucky for you, that will all be revealed in my next post so stay tuned!
PS: Comment below if you have some burning questions that you’ll like me to answer in my next blog about living and working in a tropical paradise 🙂
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