Pensions And The Cost Of Retirement Living In Bali

Continuing on from my article 29 Reasons To Consider Bali As A Retirement Destination, today we will investigate how a government pension entitlement can enable a retiree to live a very comfortable lifestyle in Bali.

Australian Pension Recipients

Depending upon your current circumstances, it’s likely your purchasing power will be doubled, even tripled by relocating to Bali. One of the benefits being that you will no longer put your focus on all things monetary, such as where the money to pay the electricity bill will come from. Your focus instead be upon your newly acquired quality of life.


It's worth noting if you are the recipient of social security benefit in Australia and are living overseas, pension rates and thresholds are reassessed every January, March, July and September of each year. The below rates are current as at June 2017 and offer a guide to the rates and thresholds of Australian residents living overseas. To get a better understanding of how doubling or tripling your income is indeed possible, refer to the sections below.

For further information visit the Australian Department of Human Services website here

United States Pension Recipients

Many US citizens remain blissfully unaware they have an entitlement to receive their social security payments outside of the United States. Information brochures are issued by the US Social Security Administration which outlines the criteria for those considering living overseas. Further information can be found here.

United Kingdom Pension Recipients

UK nationals may be able to claim some benefits if they travel or move overseas. Depending upon the individuals circumstances, an entitlement can vary. The link to the UK Government website here provides a range of information for those considering relocation overseas.

Cost Of Living In Bali - A Guide

It’s entirely possible for a single person to live in Bali for under AUD$1,000 / USD$790 / GPB$607 per month by avoiding the pitfalls of living like an expat such as eating western food and drinking wine and spirits (which are heavily taxed).


Don’t get caught up bringing your old habits into your new life. The time to reinvent yourself has arrived so take the time to consider designing your best life as you transition into a new world of opportunity. There is no doubt a mix of lifestyles from which to choose including avoiding the touristy areas, making it entirely possible to live a comfortable lifestyle.

Exchange rates are of course fluid by their very nature however at the time of writing the following rates apply.

  • AUD$1.00 = IDR 10,089
  • USD$1.00 = IDR 13,289
  • GBP$1.00 = IDR 16,951

As a guide, the following schedule provides an idea of overall costs to live monthly in Bali.

Cheap And Cheerful Charlie:

  • AUD$ 800.00 - $ 1,000
  • USD$ 609.00 – $ 761.00
  • GBP$ 477.00 - $ 597.00

Mid Range Lifestyle:

  • AUD$ 1,000.00 – $ 2,000.00
  • USD$ 761.00 - $ 1,523.00
  • GBP$ 597.00 - $ 1,195.00

Living Large:

  • AUD$ 2,000.00+
  • USD$ 1,523.00+
  • GBP$ 1,195.00+


Getting Your Possessions To Bali

While it’s possible to have your worldly possessions shipped to Indonesia, Surabaya specifically then transported to Bali, aside from being an expensive exercise the whole process is fraught with nothing but pain and suffering for the most part.

Notoriously corrupt customs agents who will take the opportunity to exploit the little or no knowledge you have of the ever-changing customs and import laws of Indonesia. If you choose to take your possessions with you to Bali, ensure you engage an agent with experience in this area. Even then, there is no guarantee your possessions will arrive in the condition in which the way they were sent.

Thing about it - Do you really need to bring all that baggage with you anyway? Many properties are rented and sold fully furnished, which then may leave you with a storage problem. Balinese furniture is practical and can handle the environmental conditions of the climate, whereas your leather lounge may not last the distance. Some of the things you should consider bringing with you on a move to Bali include an e-reader or any of your favorite electronics.


Being the most expensive monthly outlay, the cost of renting property can vary significantly depending upon the location and lifestyle you envision. There are many styles of accommodation available of which is generally paid up front in the full amount on an annual lease arrangement.

It’s worth noting monthly rentals are rare in Bali as property owners prefer to secure a one year lease, however some villa owners may agree to payments being paid quarterly in advance, however generally speaking the price may be increased on order to accommodate the request.

One bedroom fully furnished villas are available in popular areas like Sanur from IDR47.500.000 (AUD$4,709/USD$3,574/GBP$2,804) per year, fully furnished with a shared swimming pool.


A two bedroom fully furnished house in Canggu featuring 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, bathtub, swimming pool, closed space living room, storage room and kitchen within 5 minutes’ drive to Canggu Club and 10 minutes to Brawa Beach is available for IDR85.000.000 (AUD$8,426.00/USD$6,396/GBP$5,017).

For more information visit One of the best ways to find accommodation at a great price is through word of mouth, so it’s worth considering arranging temporary accommodation on arrival in Bali.

Always ensure the terms are agreed upon between yourself and your landlord, ensuring the arrangement is formally recognized and documented by a notary (notaris), who has no affiliation with the landlord. Driving around the area too can provide you with not only an understanding of the area, but allows you to source property for rent which have signage placed out front of the residence. Signs in English are priced with a western wallet in mind, however rentals with signage in the local language are a sure way to save some money.

Much like in your home country, newspaper advertisements are abbreviated to save on cost, Bali is no different, so included below are a list of common abbreviations which are found in the classified section when looking for a rental property.

  • kmr - kamar – room
  • lt – lantai – floor (level)
  • kt – kamar tidur – bedroom
  • km – kamar mandi – bathroom
  • rt – ruang tamu – guest room
  • dpr – dapur – kitchen
  • tmn – taman – yard
  • kbn – kebun – garden
  • listrik – electricity
  • garase – garage
  • dkt – dekat – near
  • dpn – depan – front
  • blkng – belakang – back or rear
  • lebar – wide
  • hub – hubungi – contact
  • bs – bisa – can
  • dgn – dengan – with
  • byr – bayar – pay
  • jl – jalan – street
  • hrg – harga – price
  • hrg bs nego – harga bisa nego – price is negotiable
  • lengkap – complete
  • jt – juta – million
  • thn – tahun – year
  • rmh- rumah – house
  • prmhn – perumahan – housing complex or compound
  • lokasi – location
  • hp – handphone – cellphone (given as a contact number)

Electricity Costs

The use of electricity can be minimized by limiting the use of air conditioning to night time hours. Swimming pools too are expensive to run, so only run the filter for a few hours at night time. Typically a home with no swimming pool where the air conditioner is operating for a few hours per night comes in at between IDR 500.000 – 600.000 per month. In contrast daytime air conditioner use, coupled with a home with a swimming pools costs on average IDR 1.000.000 per month.

In the course of your research you may notice a number of properties which include a pre-paid electricity plan which comprises a service requiring the topping up of your electricity, making it possible to run out of credit at night, or outside of business hours, potentially leaving you without electricity for a whole weekend.

Banjar Payments

Every area of Bali is run by the local Banjar, with the male head of each family as representative. Meeting twice a year, meetings are held where adjudications of traditional law and dates for religious events are scheduled with monies collected for temple maintenance and ceremonies.

Expats are expected to pay an annual Banjar payment when they become resident of the area. Representatives visit the homes to collect the payment which can vary. However, a good estimate to budget per month for banjar payment would be in the range of IDR 50.000 – IDR 170.000 / AUD$4.95 / USD$3.75 / GBP$2.95

Garbage Collection

Payment of a fee for the collection of household waste varies between IDR 50.000-100.000 per month. However in some instances this fee may be covered in the Banjar payment. Bali has a big problem with waste disposal due the high visitor numbers who visit the island. The government are currently considering a number of options to implement a recycling program on the island.

Styles Of Accommodation

It can be said; most people feel comfortable arranging their housing before arriving at their destination. However, the housing market in Bali remains offline for the most part. If you do secure property over the internet, there’s a high probability you will be paying far more than what the market pays when on the ground.


Many people traveling or those living on their own opt for Kos accommodation. Also known as Kost, or Kos-Kosan, they are likened to a studio type apartment. Basic Kos accommodation is just a simple furnished room, relying on shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. Costing from between IDR 300.000 – 800.000 per month depending upon the location and facilities.

More recently Kos accommodation has become more upmarket as some are catering to the western market providing studio apartment facilities including fully furnished, with a bed, fridge, air conditioning, kitchen, bathroom and WiFi.


Again, depending upon location and included comforts, one can expect to pay approximately IDR 1.000.000 – 3.000.000 per month AUD$98.00 - $296.00/USD$75.00- $225.00 / GBP$59.00 - $177.00


Apartments are readily available in most areas of the island with prices varying significantly based upon location, inclusions and duration of the lease. Any and all budgets are catered for, so hit the ground running by scheduling a range of inspections to accurately assess the market in the areas in which you are looking.


A very popular form of housing is villa accommodation. Some villas are stand alone, with many situated inside compounds which provide a gated estate atmosphere with security guards and gatehouses. Those seeking property in the mid to high range may prefer a villa lifestyle, which may include domestic maid services as part of the lease agreement.


Residences are available from one to five or more bedrooms and are best suited to those in the mid to high range budget. Much like villa accommodation, a lease may encompass the inclusion of staff to undertake domestic, pool and or gardening services.


You can easily spend as much or as little as you like at meal time. Indonesian food including mei goreng can cost from as little as IDR40.000. Western type foods can vary significantly depending on where you choose to dine. The key here folks is to eat like a local, and if you feel so inclined indulge in a little western food once or twice a week.

Preparing your own food can go a long way to keeping your budget on track. Shop at the local market for fresh fruit, vegetables and meat ensuring you will gain all the benefits from your hips to your hip pocket, your health and wellbeing.

Beer, Wine And Spirits

Alcohol is freely available in Bali with prices varying according to what you drink and where. Local beer is inexpensive, however for those who prefer wine or spirits prepare to be penalized heavily for the indulgence as the taxes imposed on these products are as high as 200% - 300%.

Imported bottles of wine can cost from AUD$25.00 upwards, with bottled spirits such as Johnny Walker Red coming in at around AUD$70.00 per bottle and Jack Daniels at $80.00 Locally brewed beer is reasonably cheap with brands including Bintang, Anker Beer and Bali Hai which can be purchased from around AUD$1.50 per bottle, even cheaper if purchased from the supermarket by the carton.

Local Spirits, Wines And Liqueurs

Many have heard of Arak, a distilled alcoholic drink blended from a range of different ingredients including coconut palm flower or rice. Be cautious when consuming this product as Arak can contain up to 70% alcohol. Tuak is a rice wine make from rice, yeast and sugar with a sharp taste that is to be acquired. Bali Moon is a liqueur which comes in a range of flavors including pineapple, coconut, banana, melon and coffee.

Internet Services

Depending upon where you are situated on the island can determine the speed and availability of an internet connection. If you are located on the southern part of the island – Denpasar, Kuta, Sanur then your chances of a decent connection are quite good, however those looking to relocate to the north or central parts of the island the news isn’t that good.

My advice here is to avoid if possible having a fixed internet connection installed at home. WiFi, including line of sight antenna, ADSL or mobile broadband provide fairly average or below speeds which are inconsistent and drop out often. In the spirit of living a simple lifestyle, why not take advantage of the below suggestions for connecting with the outside world.

Funnily enough, one of the fastest internet connections can be found at Ngurah Rai Airport where it recently ranked 6th fastest in the world, which can even be accessed from outside the terminal building. If you desperately need a fast and free connection head over to the airport, order and coffee and get to work.

Many restaurants and coffee shops offer free WiFi internet connections at their premises making it easy to combine business and pleasure at the same time.

Mobile Phone Services

Staying connected by phone or internet is a must for almost everyone these days. Whether for business or leisure your smartphone puts the world in your hands literally. For those who holiday to Bali access to free WiFi is available in most hotels, restaurants and coffee shops however connection speeds are generally lower.

Of concern to is the vulnerability of your device by those seeking to skim or access your information through stealthy means. Having a dedicated connection provided by obtaining a local sim card which offer a range of internet and call plans is considered the best most cost-effective option over the long term.


Over the last several years, mobile and data services have improved in Bali although not all areas though offer superfast connections, but it is possible to stay connected online using the available 3G network which is available in most areas.

Before considering which provider and plan to switch to, connect with expats in the area to determine the best coverage, as the key takeaway here is depending on which area of Bali you intend to settle will be the provider offering the most stable service.

One great blogsite provides a comprehensive list of mobile and internet providers including plans and operators in the market here and here.

Co-Working Spaces

Another option for those who spend a lot of time online for business, or if you are one of the many digital nomads who spend their days online developing their blogs and websites (such as myself) a co-working space may be just the alternative for those who spend many hours in the virtual world.

Co-working spaces are an option for those who consume large amounts of data regularly. One example of a co-working space in Ubud is Hubud, the first co-working space created in Bali. Named as one of the top 10 co-working spaces by Forbes Magazine in 2016, Hubud offers access to a range of co-working, co-living, events and programs for those who like to combine work and lifestyle.

A range of packages and memberships are available providing access to as little or as much of the facilities you require. From around IDR 800.000 per month you can have access to a creative environment and meet people with a rich and diverse range of experiences from around the world. In Sanur, you could try out Sanur Space, or Dojo in Canggu. Outpost in Ubud is also an option.

My next article in the series tackles Choosing A Retirement Location In Bali so click on the link to read on.

Sandra Hawkins

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