Retire in Bali, Indonesia

Bali has captivated Western travellers, artists and writers for over 100 years.  In more recent times who hasn’t read or watched ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and seen themselves as Julia Roberts or Javier Bardem. 

No surprise then that Bali is attracting retirees in their thousands. The livin’ is easy and the cost of living is low.  There are no great visa obstacles to retiring in Indonesia. Health care though is a concern. It is third world in Indonesia. Singapore and Malaysia though are just a hop away.   


'The Island of the Gods' has become the default destination for thousands of expats, tourists and adventurous retirees. The only Hindu dominated island of the over 17,500 islands that make up Indonesia it is, no question, a tropical paradise.  With 4.2 million locals, over 3 million foreign tourists and 7 million Indonesian tourists (largely from Java and the capital Jakarta) it is one busy place. Here you will find some of the best dining options in Asia, both at the high and low end. Over a thousand hotels and many thousands of stunning villas for rent or sale. The weather is awesome most of the year with a monsoon that can occasionally play havoc with Christmas/New Year but an August, September, October that can be moderately hot with lovely breezes off the stunning beaches. Steeped in tradition and highly spiritual it is also the go to spot for endemic government corruption, a vicious drug trade and a building spree that is draining natural resources (like water) and the ubiquitous rice paddies have disappeared from all but the remote areas to the north. Medical care questionable, property ownership troublesome. Magical yes, problems yes. Fixable, maybe. Still, a must see if not the perfect choice for a Canadian or Australian retiree.


Population:  4.2 million residents (10 million tourists)

Capital city:  Denpasar

Largest city:  Denpasar (population 850,000)

Political system:  Presidential Democratic Republic of Indonesia.  Bali administered by a Jakarta appointed Governor.

Language:  Bahasa Indonesian, Bahasa Bali variant, English (widely spoken due to huge tourist trade)

Main religion:  85.5 % Hindu, 13.3 % Muslim, 1.7% Christian

Time:  GMT + 8


Bali is a wonderful destination year round. It is an island of almost incorruptible beauty and charming local people.  However, it can be busy and expensive in the peak seasons: Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year.  Costs for hotels and villa rentals soar as occupancy jumps.  Plus, along with terrible traffic, December through February are often the rainiest months of the year.  Some years not so bad, some years are simply awful. The dry season is March to October with July and August usually the nicest months to visit. Keep in mind that, even if it rains torrentially one minute, the sun can come out the next, any time of the year.


You can’t fly direct from Canada to Bali.  For around $2500 USD you can fly Air Canada connect through Hong Kong (outbound), then onto Denpasar (Bali) or connect through Narita (Tokyo) on the inbound flight.  Every major Asian and many European capitals have direct flights to Bali.

Canadians no longer need a visa on arrival in Bali.  There is a Departure tax of 200,00 Rupiah ( $19.35 CAD )


Direct flights to Denpasar’s new Ngurah Rai airport are available from major Australian cities such as Sydney and Perth. Virgin Australia and Jetstar offer the most flights. ‘One stop’ in Singapore via Quantas, Singapore Airlines, Cathay and Garuda provide a chance to ‘go see’ another destination on your trip.  

Australians still need a visa on arrival in Bali.  We have read that visas were to be waived for Australians since late in 2014 but that promise was not kept as Indonesia felt their efforts were not being reciprocated by Australia.  The cost of the visa is $35 USD and there is also a departure tax of 200,000 Rupiah, about $15.75 USD.