Working in Bali

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.




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.

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.