Bali on A Budget

How to Live in Bali for Less Than $650 a Month

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.

Monthly Expenses 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.

Studio Apartment Bali BudgetMy 2,000,000 Rupiah p/m studio apartment

 

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.

Weekly Expenses

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.

Daily Expenses

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.

 

Conclusion

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.

Seminyak BeachDouble Six Beach in Seminyak

 

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.

6 thoughts on “How to Live in Bali for Less Than $650 a Month

  1. I says:

    Cool information, but do you think you could also let me know where I could get info of studio apartments or affordable apartments which are located not far from the beach, any websites maybe or at your apartment maybe there will be something available?

    Looking for a price which you were paying (which you mentioned above) or a bit more, but if possible less than 5 million for a month. I hope you are willing to share more information. Thanks in advance for helping out.

    1. Eric says:

      It would be harder to find a place under 5 million on the internet as the low budget places don’t usually have websites. If you are looking for a place like that it would really be best to rent something for a couple of days first, rent a motorbike and ask around in areas you like. Look for signs that say terima kost. This is how you get the best deals. The website for the place I stayed at is They might be a little more expensive now than 2 million as they have been expanding. Several beaches can be accessed from here in about 20 minutes with the motorbike.

  2. Sam says:

    Hey Eric, thanks for the writeup. Have you been to North Bali? Just wondering if you know where I can find an apartment for about $100 per month up there? Cheers, Sam – Australia

    1. Eric says:

      I have been to North Bali but I’m not familiar with the apartments there. If you want to find something cheap you shouldn’t search online for a place and you should also stay away from the places close to the beach and tourist areas. Just stay in a hotel first and rent a scooter, then just drive around looking for rental signs. It’s best to bring an Indonesian person with you to get the best deal.

  3. Gabrielle says:

    Hi, Eric. I would be so glad if you could answer me few question as I am about to go on the internship to Bali starting in September. From your experience is it more exciting to stay for 5 months in North Kuta or Singaraja ? The opinions on the Internet are very mixed. I would like to see the most exotic places during my stay so I would really like to know your opinion. Also, are you sure there is no test for the scooter license? I have seen some blogs saying you have theory and practical test as well as doctors appointment. Finally, is it possible and convenient to ride a bike instead of scooter? (I heard people are driving like crazy!). I will be super thankful for your reply.
    Big cheer!

    1. Eric says:

      Hello Gabrielle, I left Bali in June of 2015 so my information might not be correct on all points but I can tell you about my experiences at the time I was there. I wouldn’t like to live in Singaraja or somewhere else in the North, personally. Although it’s a very beautiful area with not that many tourists it would be boring to live there for as long as 5 months. There are not many shops around and you can’t really communicate very well with the locals there. However, if you’re the type of person who likes a very quiet lifestyle and spend much time on the beach, it might be a great place for you.

      I preferred just to go on daytrips to the northern parts of Bali and spend the rest of the time in southern Bali. If you do prefer a more quiet area, you might also like the small town of Amed. It’s an exotic place that’s becoming more popular now with tourists but nowhere near what you will see in Kuta. Ubud is a more centrally located city of the island, from where you can easily go on daytrips to other parts. Very laidback and interesting city to live in.

      When I stayed in Bali, I just bought a license at an office in Denpasar where you only need to fill out some papers and no test is needed. You don’t even have to get a license necessarily because you can just bribe any officer that will stop you on the streets. They will offer the bribe themselves. I wrote about this in my scooter guide with also a map of the places where police have a checkpoint. If this information is still all up to date I can’t really say. The level of police corruption in Bali is quite amazing.

      The people are driving very crazy indeed and I’ve seen several accidents when I was there. Riding a bike could be a good option but you don’t really get to see much of the island that way. On the bike you do still have the risk of people crashing into you and it’s safer if you drive at the same speed of everyone else. If you’ve living in Kuta though, you’ll have everything nearby so a bike would be sufficient.

      Enjoy your time in Bali!

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