8 May 2018

Mike Henry - Expat in Indonesia

Mike Henry - Expat in Indonesia

We’ve had the chance to talk to Mike Henry, 45, an Australian expat who has moved to Indonesia alone and now lives there with his family. Mr Henry, who has been living there for over eight years works as a writer. Read more about his experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: Australia


Q: What made you move out of Australia?

A: I have lived most of my life overseas. Much to the disappointment of my mum, I started travelling and working abroad as soon as I graduated from university. I think I was just interested in discovering new places, cultures and learning another language.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I am living in north Bali, Indonesia. I happened to be travelling in Indonesia, and I met my lovely wife here, so decided to make this my home.


Q: How long have you been living in Bali, Indonesia?

A: Over 8 years.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I live here with my wife who is Indonesian. My kids were born here, so I am the only one who had to ‘adjust’.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: I miss my family of course. I now consider Indonesia to be my home, so I don’t have a feeling of ‘homesickness’. I often talk to my family in Australia on the internet with them and meet up where possible. There is no doubt though that I have missed out on a great deal of experiences by living away from my family. 


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: In a word, ‘resourceful’. Living and trying to make a living in a developing country has certainly made me thankful for the upbringing and education I was able to receive. The general population gets by on very little monetarily speaking, but what they make up for in financial wealth, they have a great family, religious and community life.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Bali, Indonesia? How did you manage to find a social circle there?

A: I live in an area which is fairly small population wise. It is still popular though with expats. It is not difficult to meet locals or expats, you literally just need to step outside your door, and you will meet people ready to have a chat. We have a mixture of local and expat friends. We are generally busy with our business and taking care of our kids, so we don’t have such an active social life. There are groups of expats however that do get together like a Rotary club and a tennis club.


Q: How does the cost of living in Bali, Indonesia compare to your home?



Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: 8,000 rupiah for a cup of coffee I go to at a bakery. A cafe late is about 30,000 rupiah.


Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: 30-40,000 rupiah for a main dish.


Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: Maybe around 400-500,000 rupiah.


Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: Wine is expensive because of the import duties. Maybe around 150,000 rupiahs for the cheapest bottle of wine. Cigarettes are conversely very cheap, maybe about 20,000 rupiahs a pack.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Bali, Indonesia?

A: Theoretically you need a residency permit to open a bank account, but there are banks which allow foreigners to open an account even if they are just visiting on a tourist visa.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: The situation, at least for foreigners married to Indonesians is that visas have been easier to obtain than before. The government is not welcoming however to foreigners looking to work in Indonesia, so working visas are difficult and expensive to get. Fortunately, my wife is a lawyer and seems to enjoy dealing with bureaucratic tasks, so I just leave this to her.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in Bali, Indonesia is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: Healthcare is still a problem in Indonesia. It has certainly improved in recent years, but any serious problems need to be treated in nearby Singapore or Australia. There are a couple of hospitals such as BIMC and Siloam which provide a higher level of care.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in Australia or Bali, Indonesia? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: In my host country. It is important for expats to be properly insured, with coverage that includes medical evacuation. Motorbikes are a popular way to get around Indonesia. It is important to make sure your insurance covers you for this in case of having an accident.


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Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to Bali, Indonesia? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: I basically moved to Indonesia with a backpack of clothes, some books and a laptop, so I don’t have any advice for dealing with movers.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Probably trying to earn an income. I live in a place where there are practically no job opportunities for foreigners. You have to have an established income such as investments, start a business or work online.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Bali, Indonesia?

A: The positives include: a warm tropical climate, friendly laid back people and an easygoing, relaxed way of life. The negatives are the changing regulations and the difficulties foreigners sometimes face trying to make a living.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: Bali is a small island, but quite diverse from stunning beaches to active mountains. This lends itself to a wide range of outdoor activities such as surfing, diving, treking and exploring waterfalls. Indonesia has over 15,000 islands, so you could spend a lifetime trying to explore the country.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: Not at present.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Indonesia is quite a religious country. It is illegal for example to identify as an atheist. You need to be the same religion as your spouse to get married. Regardless of their own beliefs, they need to respect locals’ beliefs, traditions and customs. Foreigners should be respectful to the government and institutions in Indonesia. Libel and defamation laws are quite strong in Indonesia, which people need to be mindful of.

Like living anywhere, you need to be fairly secure financially. While it can be a cheap place to live, the cost of visas, insurance and education if you have kids, does add up and needs to be budgeted for.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Bali, Indonesia?

A: You can check out my own blog: https://www.baliexpat.com and forum: https://balipod.com The long running http://www.expat.or.id/ has a wealth of information and http://indonesiaexpat.biz/ is a traditional print magazine and website which have a number of timely articles on living in the country.