For Elizabeth, a 60-year-old, single Australian woman, the lower cost of living has been critical to her moving to and staying in Bali. Bali offered a solution to what was a financial catastrophe in Australia. Elizabeth lost everything, even her house, due to the collapse of Storm Financial, a financial advisory group, in 2009.
Ritual bathing at Puru Tirtha Empul Hindu temple
Before the disaster struck, Elizabeth said she had a great life. She’d spent part of her growing-up years in Papua New Guinea back in the 1960s and early 1970s, then moved to Penang, then on to Queensland. She married, had three children and lived in a wonderful home on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Although she divorced in 1995, she remained in the family house and it was a trouble-free split.
But the Storm Financial crisis stripped her of everything. Storm Financial was a Townsville based financial advice and management company that specialised in highly leveraged stock market investments (funded by margin loans). At its peak, Storm Financial had 13,000 clients and $4.5 billion in funds under management. Its business model came under intense pressure during the global financial crisis when bank funding dried up. It was placed in liquidation in March 2009 and many of its clients lost everything, including their family homes.
Elizabeth said she was naive but shocked at what had been done to her. Elizabeth trusted people in an area that wasn’t her game. And there were a lot of others who suffered a similar fate. The outlook is grim for Elizabeth—she does not expect to get anything back, although a class action against Storm Financial is underway. Fortunately, the move to Bali for Elizabeth was not that traumatic. Elizabeth had always planned to leave Australia at some stage. After a cancer scare a few years earlier, she decided to ease back on her work at the University in Queensland anyway and part of that plan involved a move away from Australia to Ubud.
Traditional Balinese Puppets
She had already made contacts in Bali. In late 2007 Elizabeth had moved to Bali, briefly, deciding a change of scene would be interesting. She loved Southeast Asia. “We had always travelled to Singapore, Sumatra, Java, Lombok and we would stop off in Ubud on the way home. Bali was never a place I had wanted to visit until I came to Ubud. I am very definitely not a fan of the south coast areas.”
After the Storm Financial catastrophe she realized life in a cheaper country would in fact be a lot easier and it would be a challenge as well. She was provided some financial support from her former boyfriend. She had already organised with friends in Bali to help out in a restaurant business and that came with some accommodation. But she could not be paid due to restrictions imposed on working in Bali under the visa she had.
Elizabeth said she can live on around $500 a month and that is because she doesn’t pay for her accommodation and she owns her own car. ‘But I certainly don't go shopping for anything unnecessary’, said Elizabeth.
‘My biggest treat is cafe latte a couple of mornings a week and a cocktail or two a couple of nights a week at Bar Luna or Mingle, both places owned by friends that have the two for one offer. Wine is a rare offering.’
Elizabeth has since established a cat refuge centre called Villa Kitty. It does great work. Elizabeth has indeed a new and constructive life. She manages the centre and lives there now.