Bali — the famed Island of the Gods, with its varied landscape of hills and mountains, rugged coastlines and sandy beaches, lush rice terraces and barren volcanic hillsides all providing a picturesque backdrop to its colourful, deeply spiritual and unique culture, stakes a serious claim to be paradise on earth. With world-class surfing and diving, a large number of cultural, historical and archaeological attractions, and an enormous range of accommodations, this is one of the world’s most popular island destinations and one which consistently wins travel awards. Bali has something to offer a very broad market of visitors from young back-packers right through to the super-rich (source: wikitravel)
Digital Nomads — people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner. Such workers typically work remotely — generally from foreign countries, coffee shops, public libraries, co-working spaces and even recreational vehicles — to accomplish tasks and goals that traditionally took place in a single, stationary workplace (source: wikipedia)
Soooo, now that we got that out of the way — why should you NEVER choose Bali as your first Digital Nomad destination?
Simply put — you will spend your life traveling around the world trying to find some resemblance of Bali…
As far as I’ve seen, you’re just not going to find it. So the entire rest of your Digital Nomad life will be a constant search and massive let down.
Now — this all being said. Bali is a PERFECT destination if you’d like to live somewhere that has all of the above-said amenities and stay put in one location. Hell — I’m currently thinking about doing just that ;)
Bali is a great place for comfortable living and has the infrastructure to handle a workaholic. If you’re interested in that, there are two main places you’ll want to go if you plan on working something along the 9–5 routine.
Ubud is the cultural center of Bali and is centrally located on the island. From Ubud you can easily take day trips to any side of the island. You’ll also find some of the nicest restaurants, spas, and Digital Nomad friendly cafes in all of Bali. Driving around Ubud, you’ll regularly find beautiful views of the rice fields, volcanoes, and beautiful local art and craftsmanship.
Because there are so many tourists and businesses to compete for them — prices are extremely reasonable for villas, meals, and weekly massages :)
Also, being the cultural center of Bali, there are a ton opportunities for spiritual experiences. Whether it be embracing the local culture or jumping into a yoga workshop at the Yoga Barn — there are plentiful resorts, retreats, and venues to dive deep into your spiritual side.
Now, if you lean more to the side of practicality and want to pound away on your next project or simply crush some freelance work, there is what some consider to be the mecca of coworking spaces — Hubud.
Hubud is THE place if you want to meet other digital nomads and learn the ways of location-independent work. They regularly hold events and various networking opportunities to both learn from and meet like-minded people.
Now, if you’re like myself and have a strong addiction to beach life and/or surfing — Canggu is your spot.
While the beaches and surf may not be the best of Bali — just about everything else is. I’ve heard it referred to as the ‘Brooklyn of Bali’ and I think that name is pretty fitting.
Very popular but not terribly overridden — there is plenty of space in the Canggu area to get a nice villa at a very reasonable price. Restaurants are some of the best in Bali and the nightlife is — plentiful but relaxed. It won’t get as crazy as neighboring towns like Seminyak, but there are always people out on vacation…doing vacation things.
My favorite place to hang out during the days was Dojo Bali. While not as famous as its neighboring Ubud coworking space, Dojo Bali may actually take the cake as my favorite of the two. It’s located a few hundred meters to Echo Beach — one of the best surfing beaches in the area. The owners turned what used to be a luxury villa into a nice atmosphere of coworking Digital Nomads.
It’s more relaxed than Hubud and seems to have more people not necessarily looking to start the ‘next thing’ but rather just want to have a nice spot to accomplish the daily grind. They do regularly host events and talks to get the community together and it’s definitely a great place to meet like-minded people (as opposed to those looking to get sloshed and surf for a couple weeks).
While Bali no doubt hosts some of THE BEST digital nomad hubs — it comes with a downside of not understanding some of the common issues you’ll run into as a digital nomad… i.e. the language barrier, bad/no internet, travel arrangements, cost of living, safety/theft concerns, etc.
You may be asking yourself…
Unless you’re looking to live in Bali long-term, it could give you the effect of settling for things. For example, settling for less money because you don’t need as much, not having to adapt to a different culture, how to deal with work when the internet is lagging, etc.
These things can set you back if you’re just starting out as a Digital Nomad and you’re next move may be extremely difficult. That’s why I’d suggest going to Nomad List and choosing a city that’s a bit more difficult. Think about the things that are most important to you like internet speeds, language, or safety and then bend on others like cost of living, travel, or weather.
After you learn the swing of things — then I suggest you go to Bali. And enjoy every single second of it’s excellence :)