Yeah yeah its cheap. So what? Why live on an island somewhere in the Indian Ocean?
Because of the… “vibe.” This may be a hippie-dippy answer, but there’s something about Bali that’s unlike the rest of Indonesia, as well as the rest of Southeast Asia.
Photo courtesy of NOW Bali
Before I moved to Bali I spent a month in Thailand, and then the following year I spent a month in Vietnam & Cambodia (mostly Vietnam). The third year I spent a month in Bali. It was during this trip that I realized Bali was the place for me.
To take one example, lets focus on food for a moment. Here are two links to food options in Bali:
The list covers many Balinese and Indonesian favorites, although #9 Spring Rolls are from China (but who’s counting).
The food is exotic enough to be interesting, and it’s what you might expect when visiting an Asian country: rice and noodle dishes.
Now here’s the next link:
Admittedly this list is about restaurants and not a list of dishes, but notice there’s not a grain of rice or a single wet noodle in any of the photos. You might as well be in a hipster neighborhood in Portland, Oregon.
Bali has an extraordinary amount of food options (unlike most developing countries).
And you will most assuredly utilize this food bonanza if you retire here. I mostly eat rice and noodle dishes, as my wife is Indonesian, but man am I glad to have access to a change of pace.
Over 15 years ago I was fortunate enough to spend a month in a country whose cuisine (and people) I dearly love: Italy.
It’s hard to beat this setting in Ravello, Italy. But prepare yourself for Italian food morning, noon and night. If you do not love Italian food ALL of the time, do not retire in Italy. This is not as true in the big cities, but in general Italy is pretty limited if your orientation tends towards a large variety of foods.
Why does Bali have so many food options?
Because its been a world class international destination for decades. It’s very common to walk along the beach and hear half a dozen different languages from folks strolling by. The benefits are reflected not only in food choices, but in entrepreneurial endeavors of all kinds.
This beachside day club in Seminyak by the Jakarta-based Potato Head Family is so whimsical that it took my breath away:
The exterior is cladded with over 1,000 vintage wooden shutters from the Indonesian archipelago:
In 2018 the Four Seasons Bali at Sayan was voted the best hotel in the world:
The focal element at Four Seasons Bali at Sayan is the dramatic upside-down main public building, crowned with its Oskar Niemeyer-style rice bowl. The site is nothing if not dramatic and this is obviously not accidental, as the sense of theatre is actively cultivated by the resort’s London based architect John Heah, who cites Carlo Scarpa and Frank Lloyd Wright as influences. A preoccupation with the experiential perspective of the visitor is central to Heah’s work and this concern is consistently applied throughout the resort.
The incredible Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park statue is 121 meters tall:
It took twenty-eight years and around $100 million to build the statue. The groundbreaking event of the statue’s construction took place 1997. In the late 1990s, the project was brought to a sudden halt by the combining force of the global economic crisis.
Construction resumed in 2013 after a sixteen year hiatus. The idea for the monument was not without controversy; religious authorities on the island complained that its massive size might disrupt the spiritual balance of the island.
And of course there's the local temples, which number in the thousands, throughout Bali.
Now hold on. Back up. I thought we were on a budget! What’s going on? The Four Seasons!!!
I’m not recommending you sleep at the Four Seasons. Just go for a tour and have a drink at the bar. Most tourist and cultural sites throughout Bali are either free or are very reasonable priced.
Finally, lets talk about friendliness.
When considering a life abroad we will undoubtedly need (and want) to mingle with the local culture. What are the Balinese like?
For one they’re remarkably creative.
It's amazing what some styrofoam and paint can be transformed into, in the hands of local artisans. This Ogoh-ogoh sculpture even has a motor so that its head can move.
And what about the Balinese style?
Pretty snazzy, eh?
Perhaps their spiritual orientation gives the Balinese a friendliness that’s so refreshing. I’m not really sure. But their everyday offerings to the gods (which are placed everywhere) are reminders to be grateful. To be humble. To be kind. To walk softly on this precious planet.