We’ve all read about flexible freelancers working from dream locations. But how easy is it with a family in tow? I’ve spent the last 8 months testing this out in Bali with my 6 year old. The daily practicalities of ‘Why isn’t it charging?’ mixed with another daily wail…’WHY didn’t we do this sooner!’
Here’s what I learnt about the reality of living and working in Ubud for 6 months (followed by 2 months travelling round S.E Asia in the summer hols)…
Top 5 Bali Positives:
- Co-working opportunities. Ubud has 3 great co-working spaces and plenty of Facebook events/communities for networking and collaborating. Wifi is generally good too.
- Travelling with children is extra-easy in S.E Asia. The locals absolutely adore them and will go out their way to welcome, entertain and help.
- English-speaking schools. There’s a great choice of schools in Ubud that are flexible, inexpensive and provide an instant eco-community. Welcome to the world of digital nomads with kids & alternative energy!
- ‘No more housework’. It’s no surprise that the quality of life for families is so much better in Bali. Most property rentals come with a housekeeper, and your own swimming pool in the garden will also add to the millionaire feeling.
- ‘Nothing tried to bite us’ The local snakes and dogs are much friendlier than you think!..(and local health care is excellent).
Top 5 Bali Negatives:
- Visa Hassles. Expats must extend their visa each month and leave Indonesia every 2 months. Remember to factor in the expense and hassle of doing this; the novelty of visa-runs to Singapore quickly wears off.
- ‘Why isn’t it charging?’ Getting laptops & phones to charge can be a daily battle, and my EU laptop was instantly killed by a power-surge. Do use an Asian power converter for Western devices.
- ‘Who has right of way?’ There is very little public transport in Bali and the congested roads are dangerous to walk or cycle along. So you will need a scooter/car/driver while you’re there
- ‘Where are the walls?’ Its all about outdoor living in Bali but this can really limit the number of family homes suitable for long-term living. Do look at house-sitting instead for other expat families through your school.
- Your bank card WILL be skimmed, scammed and blocked. Indonesia is fraud central so take different bank cards & regularly check bank statements.
Co-Working Spaces for Chilled Creatives
If like me, you’re a laptop freelancer, there’s always that tantalizing thought..’I could do this anywhere’. Ubud is full of international freelancers hanging out in cool co-working spaces such as Outpost, Hubud and Roam. Or in comfy cafes offering great wifi, coffee & views. ‘We are the future’ I think, as I send finished copy back to a client in Amsterdam, seven hours ahead of time.
But this life-change wasn’t just about me, I was also moving with our 6 year-old daughter, as a family. Which again is a reason why Ubud scores so highly. Not only is there a inspiring choice of international schools, this town also has a friendly mix of local & expat inhabitants doing colourful creative things. Along with the obvious yoga and healing classes, there’s a packed programme of interesting events for all ages, such as music gigs held in paddy fields and pyramids!
International Schools with a Difference
Rather than being posh expat enclaves, the 3 English-speaking schools here are totally different. The laid-back international mix of parents and teachers are more interested in raising caring, consciencious kids than scoring test results. The famous Green School is the ultimate in holistic learning, set in a bamboo village deep in the jungle. Pelanghi School is also a good option and closest to Ubud. We eventually chose a smaller (and cheaper) alternative called The Wood School 4 km East of Ubud.
The conservation-based lessons include obvious fluffy stuff like yoga, singing, gardening & goat-keeping. But it also helped our daughter progress instantly with her 3 ‘R’s’ due to being in class of just 7 kids. It’s a world away from the huge classes and concrete playgrounds back home, and a bargain compared to private schools there too.
Want to share your own experiences or ask questions? I’d love to hear from you!