How our full time traveling family does Bali on a budget
In this post I’ll break down our typical costs of living in Bali and tell you exactly what we spend in a month. Although we’ve only been here a week on this trip we are living exactly how we did when we came last October (see our blog posts on that Bali trip here) so we can easily budget as we know how much everything costs. In the last few days we’ve also found extra food stores, markets and outlets to cut our costs even further- with six months here we wanted to make sure we were being as smart as possible with our cash and show that it was possible for a large-ish family to do Bali on a budget.
What’s our Bali lifestyle like?
Blissful, and cheap. We live pretty simply, we don’t go on lots of organised day tours (actually this time we probably won’t go on any, we’ll just hire a Grab driver for the day if we need to) or have many meals at western restaurants (when we do it’s usually just a treat for the kids and we eat at the local places later). Since leaving London we’ve cut down so much on things that we used to think of as essentials. In our Bali bathroom, for example, you’ll find one bottle of shampoo and one bar of soap. This week I bought moisturiser for the first time but you won’t find special lotions and potions or three kinds of shampoo- I can’t even remember the last time I used conditioner! We cook on a two-ring hob, simple meals like pasta with fresh tomato and garlic sauce, or wholegrain porridge with cinnamon, vanilla and cardamom topped with fresh fruits. Our relaxation time is spent at our pool (free), at the beach (free), or at the gym (£5 per month for 24/7 access!) Treats are fruit juices from cafes while I’m working (as I have to buy something in order to access the WiFI) Oreos, 10p ice lollies for the kids or very occasionally a square of raw organic chocolate from a vegan confectioners in Ubud. Patrick will have the *very* occasional beer (like one 330ml can a week, and often he won’t finish it, the bad-ass rock ’n’ roller) and we are both partial to Diet Coke but really trying to cut down. The kids get to choose between Pizza Hut (£9 for the pizza they share plus ice cream each) or McDonalds (£6 for 3 Happy Meals) once every couple of weeks and they usually choose McDonalds as it has a play area.
So, what do we spend our money on? Here’s what we spend in a month:
Bali on a budget: Our monthly expenditure
Apartment rent: £400
We have a ground-floor two bedroom apartment 5 minutes’ walk from the beach. There are around 6 apartments in the complex but at the moment only ours and Mum’s have people in, which is great. The communal pool is outside our patio doors and cleaned once a week, and weekly apartment cleaning is also included in the price. There is also a cafe on-site that has decent WiFi, which is ideal for nipping across to get an hour or two of work done without traipsing down the road. The apartment also comes with a little five-year old local girl who gets on with our kids and has figured out that if she sneaks in our patio doors I’ll give her Oreos and let her watch Peppa Pig on my phone, but I’ve been told this isn’t included with all Bali accommodation.
Food: £350 approx. This breaks down to:
Jam, peanut butter etc £10
Tea & coffee £10
Crisps & biscuits £10
Drinks out (smoothies & coffee) £20
Local meals ‘out’ £100
Western meals out £35
Vegan protein powder £30
We have recently discovered a health food store and cafe nearby, which we will be frequenting and will probably push up our food bill (in direct correlation with our health and taste-bud-satisfaction, so, win).
Our usual food routine is to eat breakfast and lunch (and the standard pre-breakfast, post-breakfast, mid-morning, pre-lunch, post-lunch, mid-afternoon and pre-dinner snacks ) at home and then get takeaway nasi campur (rice, tempeh & mixed veg) from a local warung (cheap eatery). Our usual place recently gave me a complimentary dog bite with my meal via their resident pet so we’ve gone elsewhere until things are a bit calmer. If I’m out working I’ll buy a fruit smoothie from whichever cafe I’m at but generally we make our own at home now.
It costs £1 for 1kg of clothes to be washed and dried. The laundry service we use (in an abandoned garage down the road) is kind enough to throw elements of novelty into the process by melting holes in our towels, losing at least one item per load and surprising us with other people’s clothes when they return ours to us. So far we’ve gained a large red sock and a Linkin Park t-shirt, which is more than we can say for any UK laundrette. We spend £10-15 a month on laundry. We hand-wash stuff whenever possible when the weather isn’t too humid (things can stay damp for days when it is).
Transport: £40. We use the Grab app and save up to 75% on the usual taxi fares this way (which aren’t expensive to begin with). When it’s boiling we get a Grab to go to the beach- a 5 minute walk as a couple in the cool turns into what feels like a Sahara ultra-marathon when you throw in mid-30 temperatures and three kids. A 5-minute journey costs around 60p, which is approximately 1% of what I would pay for my sanity when laden with beach towels, crying children and damp swimsuits.
Miscellaneous: Around £100. Stuff like a phone registered to call the UK from Bali, data SIMs, tips, replacing broken chargers, re-fills of paints and pencils and books for the kids.
In total that comes to £1000. This is based on us knowing the area and not being in ‘holiday mode’ where we go to beachside restaurants and all have dinner there. This isn’t a budget for people coming on holiday to Bali (I’ll do a post on that too) but if you want an idea of what you will need to make living in Bali possible, it’s a pretty good overview.
Are you surprised how much living in Bali on a budget costs? Did you think it would be less or more? Is there anything that you really want to know the cost of for our upcoming post ‘the cost of living in Bali’, where we will go through the prices of commonly bought items? Let us know in the comments!
Visiting Bali? Grab the Lonely Planet guide to plan your perfect trip here: