So who am I talking to ?

Profile:   Lisa Godfery, husband Richard and James (11) and Ella (9).

Originally from:   Auckland, New Zealand       

Arrived in Bali:   January 2017.  We thought we had to arrive for the start of the school year but actually my children attend Montessori Bali which like probably half of the schools here have a school year mirroring the Northern Hemisphere starting their school year in August.  In fact any time we arrived would have been fine.            

Home in Bali is:   A 3 bedroom closed living house with a pool in Pererenan, small but walking distance to the beach.  We were in Berawa last year in an open living house which we loved but we now prefer being able to close up at night and put on the air-conditioning and keep out the bugs.  Also Pererenan, whilst further from school is much more peaceful and we love being in a village with rice fields around.  There’s still plenty of expats and the number of shops and cafes is quickly growing here.          

How long do you plan to stay?   We plan to leave at the end of the year, which will make our stay here 3 years in total.   Leaving will be bittersweet, there are so many pros and cons of both places but ultimately I think secondary schooling in New Zealand will be good for the children.

What made you move to Bali?   The decision to move to Bali was two-fold.  Before children my husband and I did lots of travelling and when you have children at school it’s difficult to continue that feeling of spontaneity and different cultures and experiencing new things that you have when you travel.  So we thought let’s move overseas and recreate a little bit of that.  The children are still at school here so we are limited to school hours but our life here is very different.  Because you have staff you don’t have to rush home and cook and clean after school, people are more likely to go to the beach or out for dinner, it less stressful in that respect.  It’s very multi-cultural at our school and the children get to experience a huge range of cultures, languages, ideas that they wouldn’t get in New Zealand.  And of course in the weekends it’s very easy just to take off for a weekend break, everything is cheaper, petrol, hotels, eating out and there are so many beautiful places to go. 

The other motive was my husband found his work environment in an IT office stressful and demotivating.  He asked his boss if he could work remotely and he was one of the lucky ones for whom this was possible.  So then we thought where do we want to go?  We’d loved our travel in Bali in 2004 and thought lets go there.  We arrived without having done any reconnaissance trips to check it out.  The biggest surprise was the huge increase in population and therefore traffic that Bali has faced in the last 20 years.  It’s pretty bad.  But the up side is that my husband gets to work from home on our terrace overlooking the rice fields and he is now one very chilled out dude which is very cool. 

For the record the internet connection is fine.   He needs it to be very good for his work.  We have fiber optic here at our house which was very easy and cheap to have installed.  When the power is out or the connection is bad then he can usually happily work over his phone, which is also super cheap.  And on the very odd occasion that isn’t good enough then he pops out to one of the beautiful beach bars and uses their connection. 

What is a typical day here for you with your two children?  We get up around 6.30 – 7 and have breakfast together.  My husband starts work at home at 7.30 which connects him to NZ for a 12.30pm NZ start.  We carpool to school with a Japanese family from up the road.  I go to the gym or have a bike ride or walk most days then I usually hang out a bit, prepare dinner and do some work on the computer.  I collect the children from school at 3.  They often have after school activities; violin, tennis, soccer, cricket, art etc so we get home around 5 or 6 some days.  If it’s late we often have dinner out.  Or if there’s nothing on we come home and the children just play.  Montessori doesn’t have homework so it’s a very relaxing afternoon.   Often on a Friday or Saturday we go to a little Japanese café on the beach and watch the sun set.  Dinner for all four of us will be about $20 NZD so nothing breaks the bank. 

At the moment I’m doing a house renovation for the next home we are about to move into.  It’s fun finding all the suppliers and working with the tradespeople.  It has also given me the impetus to start Bahasa Indonesian lessons, many tradespeople don’t speak English and it’s about time we learnt.

Tell us about your food experiences living here:  The food options are amazing.  There is an abundance of beautiful fruit and vegetables from the markets and lots of beautiful cafes serving everything you could wish for at great prices.  I have a handful of local cafes that I love going to for lunch, coffee is good, alcohol is expensive.  We sometimes treat ourselves at one of the big hotels or beach bars. 

What are you enjoying most whilst living here?  The range of cultures, the ease of having new experiences, showing the children how easy it is to travel and learning about the Balinese way of life.

What have you least enjoyed so far?  The pollution, congested traffic, male dominated society, corruption.

What do you miss back home?  Cool weather, wide roads, supermarkets and shopping centers that make it super easy to get what you want, clean beaches and environment, plastic is a huge problem here and the streams that run into the sea in Bali have everything in them.  Household waste, plastic, human faeces, detergents, oil etc, nothing is filtered – the tourists would be shocked.  Most expats here don’t swim in the sea on this south west tourist strip from Kuta to Canggu.

Have you experienced any “culture shock’?  We’ve travelled lots so not much shocks me but the treatment of animals is probably top of the list especially dogs and cats with terrible conditions that never get treated – it’s really sad.

My children are shocked by the poverty sometimes and also temple ceremonies where baby dogs or pigs or chickens are routinely sacrificed shocks them.  My daughter also finds it hard to handle some of the public toilets.

How has it been being part of an expat community?   We’ve made most of our friends through the school, I now have a solid group of about 6 families that we always catch up with and they are from many countries.  It’s fun and interesting hearing lots of different accents and languages and sharing food of many cultures.  Everybody has a different story to give and that makes for an interesting day.

What is the best thing you have done while you have lived here?  Our holidays have been the best thing.  From weekend breaks of a couple of days to parts of Bali to longer trips in holidays abroad they have all been great.  We took the children to the Komodo National Park in Flores last year for 4 days living on board a boat, snorkeling with manta rays, turtles, sharks etc and of course seeing the Komodo dragons. 

We also went backpacking in Sri Lanka and had a great trip to Singapore.  With the visa we’re on (a social visa) we have to leave Indonesia every six months to renew it so for us it’s a great excuse to go somewhere we haven’t been before and probably wouldn’t go to from NZ.  We love travelling with the children and exposing them to so many new things and Bali is a good jumping point for doing this.  Before we leave we plan to go to Kalimantan in Borneo and see the orangutans (before they all disappear) and we’ll probably go to Java and climb Mt Bromo with the children.  We also have one more overseas trip for a visa in June and we think we’ll go to Japan. 

If you had to describe Bali in three words what would it be? Tropical, spiritual and exciting.

What tips do you have to those looking at making the move to Bali:

Jump in and do it, it’s very easy to move here.  We didn’t know where we wanted to live except we knew we had to be near a school so we initially thought we’d try Sanur on the east coast and Canggu, west of Seminyak.  There are good concentrations of schools in both areas.  We chose Canggu because we thought it had more of a good vibe, Sanur is more old school and probably has less to do. 

We also googled lists of international schools and checked them all out but actually there are plenty of other schools once you get here.   There are smaller and much cheaper home schools but the numbers of attendees are much smaller and we wanted a large base to form friends from.  There are also Plus 1 government schools which are Indonesian schools with some children being taught in English, also much cheaper and we have friends who are happy at some of these.  You don’t really find out about these until you get here, so ask around.  We ended up at the Montessori because that style of education suited us, it was in a great location and the campus is beautiful and new.  We could move to a cheaper option but our friends are there now and we wouldn’t move the children from that.

Prior to moving we also searched lots of real estate websites looking at homes.  We thought to get what we needed we’d have to spend about $30 – 35,000 NZD on a home for the year.   We looked at lots and there is a huge range of amazing places.  But once you start talking to people and looking on the expat Facebook pages like Canggu FB page you’ll find a lot of cheaper places without having to go through agents.  We now currently spend $15,000 NZD and we’re very happy with where we’re living.

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