Having a vacation and living long-term in Bali are two very different things. While we usually treat ourselves on holidays, a similar long-term lifestyle will cost you a lot of money in Bali. Life on this tropical island can be very affordable but also easily very expensive.
The cheapest place to live in Bali is Ubud. Ubud is the most comfortable and least expensive place to live as a digital nomad or expat on the island. Other affordable locations in Bali include Sanur and Denpasar.
Expats can see a mix of lifestyles in Bali. Some have luxurious lives in private villas and others rent a room and live on a budget. The costs of living in various parts of the island differ. Hence, you want to know what are the cheapest places in Bali if your budget is limited. The truth is, living on a budget in Bali can be challenging. The rule is always to stay away from overrun touristy spots.
Cheapest Places To Live in Bali
Currency: Indonesian Rupiah: roughly 1: 14,000 with the US dollar
Lovina, on the northern coast, is by far the cheapest place to live in Bali.
A two-bedroom, two-bathroom pool villa in Ubud will cost about $760, but the same monthly rental in Lovina will cost about $300.
BUT Lovina is located far away from any known place on the island, and you might be the only expat there. Hence, in this article, we will be looking at other, more suitable Balinese cities for foreigners.
Wherever you go in Bali expect to spend $720 to $2,600 per month as a single person. And it’s possible to spend even more on a higher-end lifestyle. Here are the average prices for renting a room in a homestay. Hostels tend to be cheaper.
- Ubud ($300+)
- Denpasar ($250)
- Badung ($200+)
Here are a few more affordable neighborhoods in Bali to check out:
When it comes to the cost of living, rent is the biggest part of the budget. By getting a cheaper place to live you will significantly reduce the overall expenditure.
The rent in Bali largely depends on the location, the number of bedrooms, type of place you want (private room in a shared house, an entire house, studio with a kitchen, studio without a kitchen).
For instance, particularly few neighborhoods in Seminyak, Kuta, and Canggu are prohibitively expensive. These areas are popular tourist hotspots and landlords will dramatically increase your rent and utility bill.
Ubud isn’t your typical Bali destination. It’s located inland, far away from beaches.
Ubud is green, hilly, and a bit of a spiritual hub of Bali. It has a solid community of retirees, expats, and location-independent professionals.
Ubud has many different neighborhoods to meet all your needs. This place is particularly great for someone into yoga, meditation, spirituality. Yet, it has a great share of places to eat, drink, and go out. Coffee shops and healthy cafes fill the city.
You can generally find a good and affordable rental in Ubud. They are much cheaper than other places near the beach. Also, Ubud attracts less of the party vibe and more of those living there for the culture and with long-term lifestyle goals.
Cost of living in Ubud
You can comfortably live on a budget of under $1,000 a month as a single person or $1,500 as a couple.
Some expats were able to rent a 2 bedroom – 2 bathroom open villa just 10 minutes from the center of Ubud for $267 a month including air conditioning, electricity, cable, and gas.
The scooter rental to get to your villa and back to the town will cost you another $42 a month and fuel is less than $2 a tank. Here is an example of a typical expat cost of living in Ubud, Bali:
- Cost of living total: $900
- Rent: $400
- Food: $300
- Transportation: $50
- Phone: $10
- Internet: $15
- Gym: $35
- Housekeeping: $90
Pros and cons living in Ubud
There are indeed pros and cons of living in one of the cheapest places in Bali – Ubud.
Ubud is green, full of natural beauty, and very environmentally friendly. Plus, most of the villages and towns that surround Ubud are beautiful.
In the city’s surroundings, you will find bright green rice terraces, palm trees, coffee plantations, temples, and kind Balinese locals. Ubud has many amazing restaurants, bars, boutique shops, spas, and villas, and quite a few notable events, including the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, Bali Spirit Festival, and more.
There is a thriving yoga, spiritual, health food, and expat scene, and a few great coworking spaces.
Ubud is still crowded (almost to the same degree as Seminyak, on many of its main streets), touristy, and hot.
Another big disadvantage of Ubud is its remote location, you are at least an hour’s drive from the ocean. Although wild nature and rain forests can sound inviting, in reality, you will be living in the jungle.
That also means more rain, more spiders, more lizards, and more mosquitoes than most coastal towns.
Ubud is the right choice for someone looking for jungle life with the convenience of city life. As touristy as it is, Ubud is still a Bali must-visit place. There are many places which will make an amazing day trip.
Other cheap places to live in Bali
Besides Ubud there are other cheap places to live in Bali, some might not be perfect for expats but some might be a good choice, depending on what you’re looking for.
Other cities with some of the cheapest cost of living in Bali:
Denpasar and Sanur have very cheap accommodations.
Located in the South of Bali, Sanur is known for many family-friendly activities, great schools, and a beautiful white-sand beach. Unlike popular Uluwatu, Sanur is a less digital nomad and surfing-focused. However, you can find many expats who decided to stay for a long time in this town.
Therefore, prices are also rising as more foreigners move there. Sanur isn’t as cheap as other remote parts of Bali but still on the affordable side. You can also find plenty of great accommodation options here.
On the other hand, it offers better infrastructure and safety. Plus, it’s only a 30 min drive away from Kuta and Legian. Sanur is also where you can find the harbor that connects Bali to the other Indonesian Islands.
Pros of living in Sanur
Sanur is located half an hour drive away from Kuta and Legian and is a hugely popular town for expats, with a slightly older population than in South Bali and Ubud.
In Sanur, you can enjoy calm beaches, a lively art scene, various restaurants, cafes, bars, and lots of local markets. There isn’t much traffic and crowds as in larger towns like Kuta and Jimbaran.
Cons of living in Sanur
Life on Bali’s quieter east coast often means giving up some amenities and smaller luxuries you may be used to having. The beaches aren’t as nice as those in the Bukit Peninsula, and Candidasa.
As far as living in Sanur in the long-term, your choices for dining and entertainment get more limited the further east you go. Despite accommodations being cheaper, you might have fewer options to choose from. Amenities might be less of the Western standard and internet connection is less reliable too.
Sanur is a great place, if you’re moving to Bali to retire, or relocating your family and want your kids to have a calm, safe place to swim while still enjoying beautiful views. Most of your activity will happen in the daytime since there isn’t much going on in terms of nightlife.
Sanur has a real authentic feel to this side of the island, and it’s a good meeting point between the jungle and the ocean.
Bali’s largest city Denpasar offers some of the lowest prices on accommodations among other well-known locations. Both long and short-term rentals are affordable.
Pros of living in Denpasar
Living in Denpasar is quite simple since it has the best infrastructure on the island. You will be surrounded by tons of businesses, restaurants, shops, and offices. Denpasar is a good place to do your shopping, banking, and administrative tasks.
It’s an easy place to get things done, buy something or get a haircut for example. Transportation is easily accessible, and there are many shops, supermarkets, malls, and local markets. If you want to live like a local and for an affordable price – Denpasar is the place.
Cons of living in Denpasar
The biggest city’s drawback is horrible traffic. Denpasar is densely populated, so you will be struggling to ride a bike there.
Along with that, all disadvantages of a big city come into play. There aren’t particularly beautiful or scenic places, which you usually would move to Bali for. In the end, most visitors pass through Denpasar and don’t stay there for long.
Life in Denpasar is suitable for someone made for the hustle and bustle of the city. One can live very inexpensively in Denpasar, while still being relatively close to the beach and more popular & overpriced areas of Seminyak, Legian, and Kuta.
Problems you might face while living in Bali long-term
High-speed internet isn’t common throughout Bali and is hard to find. Although you will have an internet connection in every corner of the island, Ubud is the best choice for a solid, reliable connection.
Bali’s time zone is 12 hours ahead of Washington, DC, or GMT +8, which makes it very hard to work for North American companies or with North American clients.
Location-independent professionals will need to really work on their schedule to sustain the job if it’s somehow related to this continent. You will just start your day when your colleagues have finished already.
How much money do you need to live in Bali?
To live in Bali you need to be able to cover at least average monthly costs on the island which are between $1,000 for singles or $1,500 for couples. It includes:
- 1 bedroom villa $400 a month
- 2 bedroom villa about 10 mins out of tourist spots – $700 USD
- Electricity $50 a month
- Internet $40 a month
- Phone $30 a month
- Motorbike $50 a month
- Food is $10 a day to eat comfortably – but you can survive on $5 and eat very well on $20 a day.
- Visa costs – $150 a month (if needed)
Total: $720 basics plus $300 on food = $1,020 or $1,320 when renting a two bedroom villa.
You don’t need a large budget to live in Bali. Digital nomads, remote workers, expats, and even retirees can live a very comfortable life at about $1,000 – $1,500 per month.
Nevertheless, expats should keep in mind that Bali is the major holiday destination and tends to be more expensive than other parts of Indonesia. Moreover, Canggu is the most expensive area after Seminyak.
A more detailed overview of typical costs in Bali
The price range varies depending on the location, Seminyak and Canggu have the highest prices on rentals. The cost difference between different areas can be several times. Overall rent can range between $270 for a room in a guesthouse/shared villa or $1,300 for a private villa.
Bills are low in Bali. Utilities are often included in the rental price and the internet might cost you an additional $20-$30.
The price of food in Bali can vary dramatically. You could eat like a local in cheaper warungs where meals cost just between $1,50 and $3.
For that price, you can enjoy a tasty local meal of fried noodles/rice with vegetables/chicken/seafood, Gado Gado (vegetables & egg in peanut sauce), Nasi Campur (rice with a selection of local dishes), fried chicken & rice or a local creamy curry.
On another hand, you can also eat at touristy places and pay in times more.
Generally, you can find different warungs with different levels of pricing:
- Very local warung (Good Indonesian food) – 10,000 to 20,000 ($1 – $1,4)
- Cheap-level warung (Good Indonesian food and average western food) – 20,000 to 40,000 ($1,4 – $2,8)
- Mid-level warung (Good Indonesian food and good western food) – 40,000 to 60,000 ($2,8 – $4,2)
- High-level warung – (Fancy Indonesian food and fancy western food) 60,000 plus ($4,2+)
Grocery and supermarket prices also tend to vary depending on where exactly you are – areas with foreigners tend to be more costly. The local produce is generally more affordable than imported goods, which can be far more expensive than in Europe and the US.
Restaurants and western food will cost you more. A Western meal for two can cost from 120,000 IDR to 300,000 IDR ($8-$21) including one or two dishes and a fresh juice. Juices and smoothies cost from 15,000-35,000 IDR ($1-$2,50).
Here’s some prices for food you can find, as outlined in this article:
- 15,000 IDR ($1.07) for jukut arab (a Balinese vegetable salad) at Warung Bintangbali
- 29,000 IDR ($2.07) for nasi campur (red rice and seven vegetable, tofu, and tempeh dishes) at Wulan Vegetarian Warung
- 42,000 IDR ($3) for tempeh coconut noodle curry at Melting Wok
- 47,000 IDR ($3.35) for a salad bar with four toppings at Alchemy
- 55,000 IDR ($3.92) for vegan tempeh tacos at Sage
- 55,000 IDR ($3.92) for raw Mexican lasagna at Seeds of Life
- 58,000 IDR ($4.14) for 8 layer veggie burrito at Taco Casa
Since the water in Bali isn’t drinkable, you will need to buy your own. That will set you back for another $0,9 for a 1500ml bottle.
Drinking in Bali
Drinking alcohol in Bali can become quite expensive. The local beer Bintang is the cheapest bet and costs $1,50 in a supermarket and $2 – $3 in a bar or restaurant. Imported beer or cider may cost twice as much and wine is very expensive too – the imported bottle of average Australian wine will start at $20.
Furthermore, the price of one cocktail can be the equivalent of 3 meals at a Balinese Warung.
Generally, it’s a good idea to budget around $250-$300 for food and drinks.
In Bali, there is almost no public transportation and you probably don’t want to use it either. You will need to have your own vehicle or rent a motorbike. If you intend to stay long-term in Bali, it’s better to buy your own bike.
The cost of having a motorbike includes petrol, a helmet, daily parking costs – depending on where you go. Keep in mind if the police stop you and you don’t have a license, you will need to pay a fine in cash.
General transportation costs in Bali:
- Motorbike 1-day hire – 50,000 ($3,5)
- Motorbike 1-week hire – 300,000 ($21)
- Motorbike 1-month hire – 600,000 ($42)
- Petrol (full tank) – 20,000 ($1,4)
- Car Taxi (15 minutes) – 50,000 ($3,5)
- Bike Taxi (15 minutes) – 30,000 ($2,1)
Other expenses while living in Bali
- Laundry. There are many laundries in Ubud. On average you will pay around 25,000 IDR ($1,78) for one wash.
- Cleaning. The cleaner costs 50,000 IDR ($3,57) for two hours.
- Mobile. Internet for your phone will cost around 80,000 IDR ($5,70) for 2GB of data.
- Haircut – around 75,000 IDR for men ($5,36).
Can you live on 500-600 USD a month in Bali?
It’s possible to live on $500-$600 a month in Bali. In fact, most locals spend even less than that.
Here everything depends on your choice of lifestyle. Basic income for most entry-level working Indonesian only earns up to IDR 2.400.000 ($180) per month.
With $500-$600 you can get a basic room from $150–$200 per month including electricity. Eating at local places costs $2–$4 per meal or $8-$15 per day with water. Furthermore, you can save money by not renting a scooter. Otherwise, the scooter will cost another 50$ per month.
Total expenses for low-end budget in Bali:
- Housing: $150
- Food: $240
- Scooter: $50
- Total: $440
That leaves you room for fuel and other unexpected expenses.
Cost of living in Bali
The cost of living in Bali is comparable to other popular expat and digital nomad destinations like Chiang Mai in Thailand or Medellin, Columbia.
To save some money on accommodations, it’s recommended to rent long-term in Bali. Most landlords offer rental discounts for year-long leases.
In short, the cost of living in Bali depends on your lifestyle, and which city you choose to live in. Rent varies wildly in places like Ubud and Seminyak.
You can live a “higher-end” Bali lifestyle in a private villa with the best amenities ($1,300), private part-time cleaner ($105), eating out western food every single meal ($6), and have nice dinners ($20) three evenings in a week and riding a nicer scooter ($70).
In total such lifestyle will cost you: $2,255 per month, where food is: $6*3*30 + $20*3*4= $540 + $240 = $780.
Which is still comparatively low when looking at the Western standards. You can afford a more luxurious life for around $2,000 while living in Bali.
On the other side of the spectrum, you can rent a room, eat in local eateries and live on much less in Bali.
To rent a private homestay will cost around $293 per month, $50 will go to the scooter rental. Eating local food for dinner and occasional splurges will still come only to about $300 per month on food.
Hence, you can hold your total expenses in Bali under $1,000 and still enjoy life even in a pricey place like Canggu.
In the table below you can see average monthly expenses while living in Bali as an expat:
|Average monthly expenses in Bali||Costs|
|Rent (private guesthouse vs full villa rental)||$270 – $1,300|
|Transportation||$50 – $90|
|Food||$250 – $700|
|Activities||$70 – $200|
|Misc. (cleaner, laundry, phone, etc)||$80 – $300|
|Total||$720 to $2,590|
A baseline of $1,200 a month is reasonable for a nice life in most areas on the island.
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