Living in Bali on a budget can still be a very enjoyable experience and doesn’t mean you’ll have to live on the side of the road. It is very possible to live comfortably on $650 a month which is about €590 or 8,300,000 Rupiah. To give a good idea of Bali’s living expenses on a monthly basis, I’ve made a breakdown of my costs for the past month. I have categorized them in monthly, weekly and daily expenses.
It helps a lot to know your way around Bali as you’ll know where to get things the cheapest. Most tourists will never get to this phase because they are only visiting for a short time or they just don’t feel the need to do everything the cheap way. For anyone who wants to stay in Bali on a cheap budget for a couple of months, here’s an impression of what things will cost around here.
Apartments in Bali are available in all price ranges, going from about $60 per month all the way up to 5 digits for the fancier accommodations. The apartment I’m currently staying in costs 2,000,000 Rupiah per month. It’s not extremely luxurious but it offers great value for the money and it has air-conditioning and free WiFi. Definitely not a bad place to stay and the price would be at least 3 times higher if it was located somewhere in Europe.
It’s almost impossible to get by in Bali without renting a scooter. It could be done if you live in the busy Kuta area where everyone is a stone’s throw away but it’s very noisy and crowded out there. Another option is to take taxi’s all the time but this is much more expensive.
Most scooter rentals charge about 700,000 to 900,000 Rupiah per month for a reasonable secondhand scooter. New scooters are mostly rented out starting from 1,000,000 Rupiah per month. Bringing a local person for the negotiation gives you the best chances of getting a cheap deal.
Now that you’ve rented a scooter, you will have to get a driving license to avoid getting stopped over and fined all the time. If you’re a foreigner with a white skin, police are on the lookout for you. They know that most foreigners don’t have a proper driving license but will have a lot of money, so they stop over as many white tourists as they can. Having a driving license for the scooter saves you bribing money and a lot of negotiation time.
I bought my Indonesian driving license at the license station in Denpasar for 250,000 Rupiah. It’s valid for a month (the duration of the visa you’re currently on). The prices here are not set in stone though and depends on the person you talk to and if you want to pay more to cut in line. It can also get cheaper if you bring a local person with you. No driving test or theory test is required at any point in the process.
An international driving license that can be obtained in your home country, will also be sufficient to drive a motorbike in Bali. This would be valid for a longer time so you won’t have the monthly recurring costs of getting it renewed.
When staying longer than a month in Bali, visa costs will get relatively high. I’m using the Visa On Arrival which allows me to stay 30 days and it can be extended with another 30 days. After this, a flight out of the country will be required to get a new VOA. The price of a VOA is currently just under 500,000 Rupiah and the extension is 350,000 Rupiah.
Keeping in mind that after the 2 months are over I have to buy a ticket to fly out the country and back, my average visa costs per month are about 1,500,000 Rupiah. A tourist visa would be slightly cheaper and more convenient but it requires to stay a couple of days abroad during the processing time.
Going to the gym in Bali doesn’t have to be expensive. The gym I’m going to has most of the equipment you could ask for and is quite well maintained. A membership for a month here is only 200,000 Rupiah. There are cheaper gym options around but most of the time they are not very pleasant workout spots and have ages old equipment.
The apartment I’m staying at has a laundry service included, so I don’t have to do much effort to get my clothes cleaned. They charge about 150,000 Rupiah per week, depending how much stuff you bring in. There are cheap laundry services like this all over Bali and some of them charge by the kilo, which is a little cheaper.
After being in Bali for a while the money spent on sightseeing will drop, because you’ve already seen most of the things you wanted to see. On average though, it shouldn’t cost more than 150,000 Rupiah per week to pay for entrance tickets. Most tourist attractions are not that that expensive anyway so you don’t need a lot of money for this.
Water from the tap is not an option in Bali, or in any other Asian country, but water can be bought cheaply. A big water jug holding 19 liters of water, can be bought at most supermarkets for about 20,000 Rupiah. This jug will last for about a week, if you drink slightly under 3 liters per day.
The Indonesian cuisine is very cheap and by visiting the local ‘warungs’ instead of the western restaurants, you can save a lot of money on food expenses. Meals like Nasi Goreng or Fu Yung Hai can be bought starting at about 8,000 Rupiah. If you just occasionally eat at the more expensive restaurants, an average budget of 60,000 Rupiah should be enough to have decent meals throughout the day.
Because the petrol is so cheap in Bali, it only costs about 20,000 Rupiah to fill up your fuel tank. This should be enough to drive for at least 70 kilometers, which is a long way because the island isn’t that big. Spending 15,000 Rupiah a day on petrol should be sufficient to get to most places you want to go.
So that’s about all the money you will need to spend when living in Bali. Travel insurance is not covered in this so you might want to add another $100 per month for that.
The area you’re staying at in Bali, has a big influence on your cost of living. The cheapest way to go is to stay in a backpacker hostel in the center of Kuta. If you only like to enjoy the beach, the bars and the restaurants in this area and don’t care about the rest of the island, you could also skip out on renting a scooter.
Just slightly north of Kuta is the Seminyak area, which is the most expensive place to stay in Bali. A budget of $650 a month probably isn’t going to be enough if you stay here.
I’m currently staying on the south side of Bali in Jimbaran. This area has many cheap studio apartment options and is more quiet than Kuta. There are still a large amount of warungs, restaurants and supermarkets around here and Kuta can be reached in just 20 minutes on the motorbike.
This area also has many beautiful things to explore, like the Uluwatu Temple and there are beaches all over the place.
Living in Jimbaran, and many other areas in Bali, can easily be done on a budget of $650 a month without too much problems and you will still be able to enjoy the great weather everyday and an overall high quality of living.