How expensive is it to live in Bali?

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Are the prices for living, eating and exploring in Bali as expensive as in Europe?

My last month as a student in Bali is about to start, and I have already seen so much of this beautiful island. When choosing the destination for my semester abroad, living costs were an important factor for me. Before coming here, I heard different stories about prices in Bali. Some people said it is “insanely cheap,” while others told me it has gotten more expensive over the years. I did some research on the pricing of rentals and transportation but didn’t really know what to expect. 

After three months, I can say that I spent more than expected, but it truly depends on your way of living. It is up to you whether Bali is cheap or not. It depends on the area you live in, the food you eat, and the trips you plan. Compared to Europe, it is definitely cheaper, but small things add up. Here are five questions you should ask yourself before heading to Bali:

temples in bali How expensive is it to live in Bali as a student? Photo by Jeremy Bishop

1. Where do I want to live?

Renting a place in Bali is definitely one of the biggest expenses. Like every other city or country, this island has “places to be” with high rental costs and other areas that are less expensive. You need to decide if you want to rent a fancy villa with a big pool or stay in a smaller homestay. Most students live in Jimbaran, close to the university, or Kerobokan, which is next to Canggu and Seminyak (the busier places with nice cafes, beach clubs, and parties). These areas have several villas and apartment complexes, and the prices are between 200 and 500 euros per month.

2. How often do I want to party?

The good thing is that most of the day and night clubs in Bali have free entrance. So you can hop from one club to the next without wasting money on entries. The bad thing is that alcohol in Bali is not as cheap as you might expect, especially when you’re out at bars and clubs. However, if you love beer, you’re on the safe side. The most popular is the Indonesian beer called Bintang, which is quite cheap to buy both in bars and in local supermarkets. A bottle of liquor, on the other hand, starts at about 10 euros, and well-known brands cost up to 20 euros and more. A cocktail in the club is usually around 6 euros.

beach club in Bali during sunset The best beach clubs are located in Canggu and Seminyak. Photo by Cassie Gallegos

3. What do I want to eat?

The more touristy places, such as Canggu, are full of super fancy, Instagram-friendly restaurants and bars. Nothing is impossible to obtain here. From acai bowls and exotic smoothies to vegan burgers or classic pizzas, you will find every food trend that exists. With around 10 euros for a full meal, it is not cheap but still cheaper than in most European countries. Next to all these places, you will also find local Indonesian restaurants called Warungs. There you will get a full meal like Nasi Goreng, Mi Goreng and countless other delicious options for less than 3 euros. The prices also vary depending on the location. If you live in a touristy place, you can expect higher prices.

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4. How do I want to spend my days?

A lot of people that come to Bali dream of yoga lessons in the morning, followed by an afternoon surf and a cocktail for sunset at the beach. You can easily live like this, but yoga classes, surf lessons, and gym memberships have equal prices to the ones at home. Although, if you do some research, you can find free yoga classes in some of the beach clubs or buy a used surfboard on one of the Facebook groups to save a lot of money.

yoga in Bali during sunrise Yoga classes in Bali are a bit pricey. Joining a class might be as expensive as it is in Europe. Photo byWesley Tingey

5. Where do I want to travel?

Traveling in Indonesia is super easy. Bali is not as big as you might think; it is possible to reach most places within a two-hour drive. You will most likely rent a motorbike or “scooter,” which gives you the freedom to drive wherever and whenever you want to. It is also easy to find cheap accommodations for the night at the very last minute.

Bali is surrounded by countless other beautiful islands that are worth a weekend trip. To reach most islands, you can take the public ferry, which leaves twice a day and only costs 2 euros. Speedboats and airplanes are faster options. Depending on your destination, it will cost around 20 to 30 euros one way. So trips are generally cheap, and with only three days of classes, you have a lot of time to explore. It’s very tempting to go on an adventure every weekend!

So all in all, most things are cheaper here in Bali, but the small prices also add up. It is up to you if you choose to live here like a local or spend your time in the more touristy and expensive places. One last tip: learn Bahasa Indonesia and communicate with the locals in their language. You will get better prices and a big smile everywhere!

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This article was written by our Bali student Sarah!

Check out more stuff from Sarah on her Instagram: @hers_sarah