Working in Bali

by Nick on August 12, 2006

by Nick | August 12th, 2006  

Many people dream of moving to Bali and finding a job. Legally and realistically its not hard. You can get hold of any type of visa you like simply by hiring an immigration consultant and the government does not come sniffing around individuals for tax purposes. The main problem for new arrivals is what do you do. I get emails from people on a regular basis who ask me, ‘do you know how I can make money?’, ‘what is your suggestion for me?’ My suggestion is that you figure out how to make money at home, then when you come to Bali you will know what direction to go in. The expat newspaper, The Bali Advertiser, carries ads offering jobs and requesting jobs. I see the same requests month after month.

Ways to make money in Bali
Basically Bali is a tourist island and your best chances of making money are in this industry, or serving the growing expat market in some way. Opening your own business takes money and know how, besides the fact that you are not allowed to actually work yourself (you are allowed to manage but not to work). Working for someone else (hotel manager, production manager etc. ) means that person will have to pay you western wages and you are competing with locals who can speak 3 languages and have ton of local knowledge.

Exporting is an avenue many people try. At first impression this would seem an easy way to go. You look for interesting artwork, furniture etc. and ship it overseas to sell at a massive profit, spending your down time, lounging in the hotel sipping Mai Tai’s. The reality is that its not a 3-step process (buy-ship-sell), it’s a multi-step process that has pitfalls the whole way. The last step, selling the stuff, is also the hardest. Back in Australia and the US the market for Balinese handicrafts is saturated as the ‘barrier to entry’ for this kind of activity is low. All you need is a few hundred bucks and some time on your hands to get started.

Casing the market
Bali is a strange market. You have Balinese locals, all copying the heck out of each other, Indonesians from all over the country, and foreigners from all over the world, coming as tourists and expats. Its a ‘food blender’ of ideas and styles. In order to help you figure out your ass from your elbow, when it comes to starting your new Bali business, you might consider writing a Business Plan.

Using the internet, whether it be to advertise your goods / services, widen your customer base or work totally online, is a great idea. There are many people over here who would love to charge you for making money, every step of the way. Local landlords often wait to see if business is succesful, then multiply the rent several times. An online business means you are free from outside interferences, but miss out on the face to face contact with customers. If you are planning to move to Bali and start an online business, there is no need to use the Indonesian extention, ‘.id’. Using ‘.com’, ‘.net’ are perfectly fine and simpler for your customers. Here in Bali you can find monthly web hosting as low as $10 a month. Before you sign up, ask yourself if you want a local holding the keys to the castle. I’d host overseas, and be totally sure screw ups, screw jobs and other mishaps have no chance of happening.

Tax
In Indonesia only businesses and individuals earning over 1m rp per month pay tax. A local told me its 10% for businesses. I know for fact, that many foreign owned businesses have 2 sets of books. Cheating on the taxes, is as rampant as cheating in everything else.

Visas
In order to work in Bali you need a KITAS visa. If they catch you working without one you’ll get fined heavily. There have been people who have opened shops in Seminyak, and been quickly intercepted by the immigration, who get tipped off about new openings.

Business Licences
There are 2 main types of business licence that Bali expats gets, CV and PT. A CV will allow you to open a single shop. A PT will allow you to open a larger business, with many branches under the same registration. There are also other differences. Contact Kantor Kita to arrange your business licence and learn more about the requirements.

If you are planning to run a high-visiblity business, a fashion shop on Jl. Seminyak, a nightclub in Kuta, a restaurant on Blue Ocean beach, there is no getting away from it, you’ll need all your ducks in a row, complete paperwork. Expats have told me, that as long as no one thinks you are making much money, not to worry. People around here will notice when you are though.

Medical Insurance
Living and working in Bali means you could be far from your homeland and your usual level of medical protection. Seeing as how your income will be somewhat proportional to how much effort you put in, getting ill could really be a bummer. You might do as I do and get health insurance.

Bali is a funny place, you can live cheap and well. Dealing with suppliers, employees and customers can be challenging and its a part of working in Bali.

{ 4 comments }

evan maddox August 20, 2006 at 6:19 am
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very informative page thanks .I wish to transfer my antiques business to bali in the near future ,not big pieces just collectable china,porcelain and glass etc and paintings,,things that r easy for tourists to take back with them on there return and to sell on web.i have been coming to bali regularly for the last 3 yrs and have a javanese ladyfriend who is interested also.I have the option on a shop and flat in seminyak on route from hotels etc.i notice the tourist faces r changing ,more japanese,german,dutch and others who love bargain antiques and i have not found even 1 true antique shop in my travels there ,only furniture shops,with a small amount of other antiques,i hope too fill a hole in the market,,what do u think”" i will have to find out about a CV permit. and is it as u said that i can only manage this shop and my friend can run it?. can i get a 12mths visa then if i start this business?.
i look forward to some advise from Bali Blog ..
Thanks Evan.

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andy August 22, 2006 at 2:13 am
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“You might do as I do and get health insurance.”

Thats putting it mildly Nick. This is an absolute must for everyone with half a brain. Forget terroism, the biggest danger to visitors and expats are the Indonesian hospitals, I know i’ve been there.

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Ano November 13, 2006 at 8:53 pm
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On the health Insurance side I am looking into this now, we are moving to Bali in Jan. I wanted to know which plan people took up and why. It would be great to tap into the experience of the brains trust here.

Thanks in advance

Ano

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Tanya December 23, 2006 at 11:32 am
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Just on the topic of health insurance. I strongly recommend it to everyone. There are various plans available, I find the best for myself as a single expat is for hospital and evacuation. Having unfortunately fallen ill here in Bali several years ago requiring hospitalisation, surgery and ultimately repatriation to my home country (Aust) to save my life, I cannot stress enough that having some form of health cover no matter how healthy you may appear right now is essential. I can also recommend Quantum Klinik in Sesetan Denpasar near to Sanglah Hospital for any blood tests (dengue fever, typhoid,malaria…the usual tropical diseases!!) I know that you can trust their blood test diagnosis and the charges are relatively cheap. Just wanted to add, that I found this blog site quite informative,e ven as an expat of almost 10 years now…my eyes and ears are always opening!! Thankyou. Tanya

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