If you’ve ever thought of just packing up your life and moving to Bali, you wouldn’t be the first. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to live in a tropical island paradise? The weather is great, things are cheap compared to many other countries, the people are lovely and the living is laid back and easy. But how easy is it to find a job in Bali? The truth is, Bali can be a tough place to find employment, even for those with heaps of experience and skills.
Unlike many other countries in Southeast Asia, Indonesia has very strict rules about foreigners working in the country. To legally work in Indonesia, you must have a special work permit called a KITAS. To get a KITAS, you must find an Indonesian company willing to hire and sponsor you. Sounds easy enough, but the main problem is that the KITAS ain’t cheap. All up, a KITAS costs about $2,000 USD, which is a huge deterrent for most companies and individuals.
Then there is the fact that Indonesia has scads of highly skilled people who can fill pretty much any position out there. Educated Indonesians from all corners of the archipelago flock to Bali to take advantage of the work opportunities that tourism provides here. For a foreigner, this is stiff competition, especially considering that many locals will work for local wages. If you think about it, why would a company incur the KITAS costs and pay Western wages for a foreigner when they can find a local who can do the job just as well and for cheaper?
So is it impossible to find a job in Bali? Well, nothing is ever truly impossible. There are a few companies in Bali that will take on foreigners. Many of the larger hotels and restaurants will hire foreigners for managerial positions, as chefs and marketing and PR reps, but the positions are few and far between. Teaching English is another option, but the wages are pitifully low and there are only a handful of schools that hire foreign teachers.
Then there is under the table work, but we really wouldn’t suggest it. If you get caught working without a KITAS, you could be looking at huge fines and deportation. If you’re deported, the government will most likely add you to Indonesia’s blacklist, which means you can never enter the country again. And trust us, the government is constantly on the lookout for illegal workers and has no qualms about making examples of those who break the rules.
The truth is, most expats in Bali create their own employment either through setting up a business (mainly clothing and jewelry design, hotels and restaurants and importing/exporting) or doing freelance work like web design, writing or photography. If you really want to live in Bali, you have to think outside the box, be creative and tap into your skills to forge your own way here. It may not be easy, and you probably won’t get rich (although again—nothing is impossible), but it’s worth the effort if you really want to live in paradise.