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How much does it really cost to live in Bali?

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

Any expat will tell you over the past few years that Bali has got more expensive but that’s perhaps because a lot of us have lived in Bali for quite a while and in the real picture of things when comparing to our home countries, in fact Bali is still cheaper for most things.

When we say most things….. there are some things that are more expensive (or comparable) and some of those things are the ones that we like to most indulge in like cheese and wine!

Depending on the lifestyle you choose to lead when you retire to Bali, the cost of living in Bali overall is more favourable. Bali can be as expensive or as cheap as you want to make it depending on how you choose to live. A good quality Nasi Goreng in a local warung (local café) might set you back no more than Rp30,000 whereas in a five star hotel it might cost you as much as Rp200,000.

For the locals in Bali it is very much an “eating out” culture. The majority of the local population are attracted to the southern tourist areas from their villages to work in the tourist industry. These locals normally live in small rooms (known as a “Kost”) which have limited cooking facilities and therefore they are forced to eat out for every meal making the local warungs affordable.

We conducted a survey of a medium range restaurant in Bali which would be frequented by expats (not a warung) with a similar ranked restaurant in Melbourne and Bali ranked a staggering 48% cheaper despite the alcohol.

With the emergence of Gojek and Grab online apps (similar to Uber Eats) even delivery meals have become increasingly popular and more affordable. Affordable to the extent that if you order online it can work out much cheaper than you physically buying the ingredients in a local supermarket and cooking the same at home.

Twenty years ago, basic needs like cheese and milk were hard to come by, but with the emergence of international standard supermarkets selling imported products as well as specialist delicatessens, most things can be bought in Bali, but some come with a heavier price tag.

For comparison purposes we conducted an analysis of the “basic needs” and compared perhaps what we would consider a standard shop in a Coles supermarket in Australia with the same purchases in a supermarket here in Bali selling both local and imported products.

Our chart below shows the comparison and we can see “dairy” products such as cheese and butter are substantially higher than in Australia however the other items, many of which are “non-import” and produced locally on the farms in the mountains of north Bali are substantially less.

If you choose to live in Bali for your retirement then of course as well as eating there is also the cost of your utilities and internet. The weather can be hot and humid at certain times of the year and therefore Air conditioning is a necessity however overall when we conducted a survey comparing Australia national standard and Bali we identified that Bali would cost 21% less.

Cars are expensive to buy in Indonesia, but with the variety of cheap transport options available and transport hailing apps, a car is not really necessary to get around. Fuel is considerably cheaper around 45% less.

The comparisons could be endless from the cost of a tennis lesson to the cost of hiring home help, which are all so much cheaper, ensuring your money goes further and you can enjoy your retirement in Bali without having to be too frugal or budget conscious. We concluded that Bali is certainly a lower cost of living when comparing to Australia and makes it the perfect place to live and retire to and enjoy a far superior lifestyle.

Bali Insight Living has been established to give potential retirees the opportunity to trial the Bali Lifestyle and see if it is for them before making any firm commitment. We act as your "personal assistant" by assisting you every step of the way in making the most of your extended stay in Bali.

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