We moved to Bali without a place to live.
Usually when you move, you know where you are going. Prior to packing up your stuff, you know where it’s going to be unpacked.
Not so for us this time.
The past two times that we’ve moved internationally, we have rented our homes site unseen from the internet. This is a risk that has some advantages.
- We had a place to land and put our bags down when we got there
- It saved us house hunting time, which allowed us to start exploring right away.
Without seeing the actual house in person we’ve flown on blind faith that the houses were truthfully represented online and the price was justified. So far, we’ve been pleasantly surprised both in Costa Rica and Belize.
But in this move to Bali we felt we should get here first and then find a place to live. And since we had friends that offered to host us in their luxurious home for a week, we waited until we got here to begin our search.
And we were so glad we did!
We toured several furnished homes and were surprised at the prices, variety of design and location.
We thought that since this is Asia (read: cheap) that finding a home that fit into our lifestyle and budget was going to be easy, but the rental home market in Ubud, Bali is pricey. $2,000/month will get you a 2-3 bedroom home up to western living standards with a pool, but not necessarily a view or any yard space. We wanted it all, but for half that.
We scoured message boards at local cafes, the library and restaurants for houses available to rent. Usually locally advertised homes are much less expensive than those advertised on the internet, which are specifically marketed toward rich Americans, Europeans and Australians. We also spent hours on the internet. We toured a few houses with a very professional real estate firm, UbudProperty, which gave us a great perspective on the variety of upscale houses available and their cost.
We were ready to commit to living here for 6 months and wanted a home that was comfortable, inspiring and had a pool with a yard for the kids to play in and explore. Oh, and we wanted to be within walking distance to restaurants, shops and yoga. Is that too much to ask? Oh, and near some rice fields. After all, this is Bali and the rice fields are famous, so we should be near those as well.
Mr. King has incredible intuition when it comes to our living space. He just knows it when we sees it, either online or in person. He found the home we eventually settled on both the BaliSpirit website and UbudProperty. He loved it so much that he committed us to stay here for one year. I’m not complaining.
Open Air Living
The weather in Bali is superb! Pleasantly warm all year, enough humidity to not bother blow drying your hair but not too much to make you sweat while staying still and rain sprinkled every few days to keep everything green and lush. It also allows for open air living. There is no reason to have a fully enclosed house in this weather. So we joke that we’ve rented a huge covered patio, because essentially that is what it is. We were surprised at how natural living outside felt.
It’s nice not to have bars on the windows like in Costa Rica. Hey, wait…we don’t have any windows.
Our new Bali home is beautiful! It has nearly everything we wanted: 2 bedrooms and 1 bath, close to rice fields, a pool and a great side yard for playing. It’s within walking distance to restaurants, shops and yoga and comes with 2 staff (a housekeeper and a night watchman). Our bedrooms are enclosed, sort of. There are walls, but they don’t reach all the way to the ceilings. There are large sliding doors that open to the yard spaces and we sleep with those open under our mosquito nets.
Upon entering the gates to our home, the front yard opens to reveal 2 koi ponds on either side of the pathway. Our housekeeper/gardener takes great care in maintaining the gardens. Walking past the house, we have a side yard on the left, which is perfect for playing soccer, badminton or we’re thinking of having a little garden there as well. The back of the property has our perfect temperature pool.
We knew we made the right decision for us. Upon moving in with our five suitcases, we were greeted with 2 beautiful water lilies in full bloom in one of the ponds on the property. Made (pronounced “Mah-day”) had rolled towels with flowers on them in the bathroom and flowers all over the house. He continues to place flowers around the house everyday. Night Made (our watchman, even though I really don’t think it’s necessary) lights oils lamps around the property every night. It’s romantic. If we can get the kids to sleep in their own beds, it’ll be really romantic.
In the morning we hear roosters crowing, temple music playing and occasionally coconuts falling from the trees. It’s a quiet and peaceful retreat from the activity of the town. The place was marketed as Coconut Villa, but I think we just may rename it to be “The King’s Temple”. To us, it’s our serene retreat full of lush greenery and flowers that have insanely intoxicating fragrances. Oh, Bali…we have arrived!
The house was listed at $2,000 per month, which was more than we were comfortable with. We stick to a $3,000 monthly budget and that would put a serious dent in our discretionary spending. After negotiating directly with the owner we were able to agree on a $1,200 monthly rent including 2 full time staff. A great deal, especially compared to everything we had seen!
A Tour of Our Bali Home
Our Advice on finding a home in Bali
If you are planning on renting for a longer period of time, spend a week or two in a hotel and tour homes. They are all so very, very different. You’ll get a good feel on the location you want to be in, what you get for money (there are several properties that are way overpriced, IMHO), and what type of house you want. It’ll be worth it.