Before we get into this awesome interview I must let you know it comes with a lovely story of how small our world is and how you can make your dreams come true. Rachel Zubak contacted me back when we were still living in Bali and we started a delightful friendship.
I didn’t realise at the time of our email exchanges that of all places in the world Rachel was living in the Sunshine Coast, a place where we were planning to relocate to!!!
A few months later, Rachel and her family met up with us in Bali when they were on holidays and we were in our final month living there. We then continued our friendship on the Sunshine Coast where we live only 15 mins away from each other. Fast forward nearly two years and here I am giving her lots of advice, tips and contacts on making the move to Bali for her family!
It has been wonderful talking about the move over a coffee as I normally consult over the phone. I cant wait to follow her Bali journey and wish them the best family adventure ever!
So whom am I talking to? Rachel Zubak
Profile: Outdoorsy & sporty FIFO (Fly in Fly Out) family with a health & wellness loving Mum, two active boys, Hudson aged 9 & Baxter 8 & a hardworking, fun loving Dad! My husband Chris works on an Iron Ore mine site in Brazil with a roster of 3 weeks on and 2 weeks off.
Originally from: The beautiful Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Chris & I both grew up in Melbourne as kids. Well-travelled around Australia, we have also worked & lived in Central Queensland, Darwin in the Northern Territory & The Pilbara in Western Australia!
Tell me about your love affair with Bali? Chris & I first went to Bali as a young unmarried couple, simply as the flights from Darwin were cheap!
After many, many years we finally made it back with 2 young toddlers in tow…& I must admit, I was not that keen to return with kids as I was plagued with memories of open foul smelling street drains & being chased down streets by pushy sellers, feeling completely bothered by this pressured haggling environment.
Fast forward 20 years & how pleasantly surprised I was! This visit was to celebrate my 40th birthday & we had the most amazing & memorable family holiday. In 10 days, Bali stole our hearts & we then continued to return once or twice every year for the next 5 years!
Exploring different parts of Bali each visit, we love the beautiful Balinese people, the amazing landscapes & villages outside of the tourist areas, the relaxed Islands & the ease of just completely switching off & making lifelong treasured memories in paradise.
Between swimming with manta rays, being surrounded by dolphins at sunrise, indulging in the most authentic & flavoursome foods, breathing in the most vivid beach sunsets, exploring beautifully terraced villages on motor scooters & feeling so ‘at home’ by welcoming Balinese smiles… Bali offers us a sense of freedom & complete bliss which we are all addicted to!
When will you arrive in Bali? I will fly with Hudson & Baxter on 16th December 2019, Chris will meet us there flying in from Brazil just in time for Christmas on 22nd December.
Where do you plan to live and why? We prefer to live along the West coast of Bali simply because of the large open stretch of surf beaches & those sunsets over the water. North of Seminyak, a little away from the hustle & bustle but still accessible to the fun & attractions of the tourist areas, we feel offers us the best of both worlds.
Together with lifestyle preferences, our main considerations in choosing a location was schooling options & also the distance from the airport as Chris will still be FIFO & need to be reasonably close to the airport for travel.
What school will your children go to and why? Researching three International Schools & also a Home School option located in Canggu. We decided to enrol Hudson & Baxter into the Canggu Community School (CCS). Located in our preferred region to live, it is also within our achievable price range for school fees & I just had a really good vibe about the school, its curriculum & facilities from its website & social media.
The primary school section is also currently going through an exciting expansion, which I feel is another great sign of the school’s management systems.
Knowing two Australian families whose children go to CCS was also very reassuring, as they both reported very positive feedback which assisted our decision.
How long do you plan to stay? Our intended time in Bali is really open & unknown! We will give it 12 months & reassess our life, with the potential for us also to move to South America, a closer commute for Chris working in Brazil. However, if everyone is settled & super happy with Bali life, then we will stay until such time that this changes!
Do you have any apprehensions on moving there? We would all often joke about ‘when we move to Bali’ on every visit there for the past 2 years!
Although this is a massive move for our family, we are not apprehensive about living in Bali. Because we know it so well & feel so comfortable in Bali, it feels like a really great opportunity & our planets have just aligned to allow this to happen.
Any apprehensions are purely related to us relocating overseas, away from current support networks & solo parenting in a foreign country with Chris 2 days travel away! This of course brings many unknowns & underlying uncertainties; however, it purely relates to our unique FIFO situation & not directly a reflection of living in Bali.
What do you normally do back in the Sunshine Coast? Our life is very outdoorsy & beachy! Both boys are quite sporty & love playing AFL for their local club & being a part of our local Surf Life Saving club at Alexandra Headlands we are a Nippers family in the summer months.
I am a gym lover & avid runner, which helps my sanity with keeping up with busy boys but we also enjoy entering little events together & keeping fit as a family! My career background is in Beauty / Dermal Therapy & I have held numerous roles in clinics over my years living here.
Chris has been working in mining roles for the past 20 years & FIFO for the past 10 years. As Chris is routinely away for work, family time when he is home is almost sacred! We all enjoy family bike rides, the beach/surfing/boarding in summer, bush walking & climbing mountains, family movie dates & planning our next Bali holiday!
What research have you done prior to making the move? Did you always want to go to Bali or considered other countries? We had a choice to live in any country as Chris can fly to any part of the world. We did look into other countries in South East Asia such as Thailand (Chris’ brother actually lives in Thailand), Malaysia & Vietnam. South American countries were also explored such as Panama, Chile & Columbia as well as Canada!
Essentially, we had to weigh up the cost of living, any language barriers, VISA requirements, lifestyle opportunities, the level & availability of International Schools & the accessibility to an International Airport.
Ultimately, we were trying to find our piece of Bali paradise in another location! So, in the end we decided to just move to Bali, as it ticked all the boxes, we all know it well & feel so familiar & at home there.
Tell us a bit about your life in the last few months leading up to the move? Life has been quite manic & hectic over the past few months. We are all very excited for this new life opportunity, but it is equally quite overwhelming with so much to do to make sure it happens smoothly.
I’m very thankful for being told about a very good business team planning App, which I live by & know has me well organized!
With a heavy load of initial research to best prepare ourselves for our move, I became active on expat focused social media groups & explored everything from VISAS to schools, overseas insurance options, short term & longterm Bali accommodation, removalists, contents storage, flights & new sporting/social activities for our family.
Chris & I both have undergone the necessary courses to gain our motorbike license, have had numerous financial & accountant based meetings & also made the necessary steps to sell our cars & rent our house…which meant also organizing & completing the outdoor renovations that we were partway through in readiness for tenants to enjoy!! Argh!
How did your boys take the idea about moving to Bali? We are both so proud of how trusting & accepting both boys are of this massive life change for them!
They were quite shocked at first, as we had not discussed with them that this might even be a possibility, until we knew for sure that it was a definite plan for our family.
Amongst fist pumps from Hudson there were faces of disbelief & elation but also some tears from Baxter.
Having all the expected concerns such as ‘what about my friends?, what if my new school can’t understand me?(language), what about my special things?, what about our house?’…. but within a night’s sleep both boys were 100% onboard & super excited in anticipation.
On telling them, I showed them the website & videos of their new school, that at that stage I had waitlisted them for. Between being so familiar on where they were actually moving to & then seeing online school images: the facilities, other students being interviewed, the teachers, all their fears & hesitations were answered which resulted in them being really excited for the new adventures ahead. Baxter actually woke the next morning asking if we can move to Bali right now & can we live there forever?!!
What are you looking forward to most? Not having winter & cold weather is certainly my personal favourite gain! AND…. those dreamy beach sunsets on tap!
But we had this discussion as a family recently & interestingly we are all anticipating & most looking forward to Bali offering us more quality family time together, to just be freer with our time, to enjoy the new culture & paradise we have come to love.
Living in Bali also means we can easily explore other parts of Indonesia & South East Asia more readily, which we are all really looking forward to as we love travel & adventure!
No house maintenance, no lawn mowing / gardening, no cars to wash or service & with affordable home help / nanny to assist us with the daily grind… we hope this all equates to increased quality of life, to really live, explore & enjoy family time together.
When Chris is on his work breaks in Bali, with less daily responsibilities we hope to also have more ‘date days’. Unable to work on my current entry VISA, allows us opportunity to have a lot more valuable adult time to enjoy our new active & beachy Bali lifestyle while the boys are in school.
If you ask the boys that direct question though, you would probably also hear the words water park, motor scooters, surfing & Mrs Sippy a few times!
What do you think you will miss back home? In a nutshell… FOOD! Bali has some amazing cafes & restaurants, with beautiful freshly sourced dishes on offer. We really enjoy a lot of the local Indonesian dishes.
However, there are so many food staples that we enjoy in Australia that I know will be either quite expensive to buy or very difficult to find. We can’t eat out or order in every day & I really enjoy cooking & baking nourishing foods for my family. Living in Bali will require some adjustments to our preferred diets undoubtedly, but it’s all part of the adventure & I’ve made it my challenge to seek out alternatives & do some Indonesian cooking classes!
Australia is also such an unspoilt & environmentally respected country, with clean air & a very anti-smoking culture. I think over time we may all really notice & become increasingly frustrated by those stark differences living in Bali.
What tips do you have to those looking at making the move to Bali: Making contact with Simone on this website (OYIB) is definitely a huge help for anyone considering the move & I have shared this website with a few people considering a Bali move already. Her information builds links of known & trusted contacts & provides such valuable ground level information, the content provided is really very reassuring.
Research, research, research! Join online expat groups & forums, go to trusted websites like immigration websites, talk with your friends as it seems everyone has a ‘friend who lives in Bali’! Contact these people & ask questions. The more informed you can be, the easier, more prepared & smoother the transition will be. Expats who have recently lived in Bali or are still living in Bali are your best resource, so seek them out & embrace them!
Make lists & use any Apps to help you manage your tasks, timeframes & planning.
Engage a trustworthy VISA agent to assist in your VISA application, it will help you greatly before you leave home but also will be hugely beneficial to assist in VISA renewal/extension processing once you are living in Bali. This VISA agent was another contact from Simone and we were grateful to get it organised so easily.
One of the best tips I learned from the OYIB information was to choose your school before you chose your location to live! Many international schools have waitlists, so there is no guarantee you will be accepted into your preferred school of choice & we all know what that Bali traffic is like…