17 November 2016

Simone Collins - Expat in Bali, Indonesia

Simone Collins - Expat in Bali, Indonesia

We’ve had the chance to talk to Simone Collins, 39, an Australian expat who has moved to Indonesia with her family. Mrs. Simone Collins who has been living there for almost a year, now works in marketing/communications.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: Sydney, Australia.


Q: What made you move out of Australia?

A: For many years, my husband and I talked about the idea of getting away from it all and experiencing life overseas. So our move was a very slow, calculated and organised. It came down to good timing for us – we personally felt our kids were at a good age in school (not too old and not too young), my work contract was going to finish and my husband had successfully been able to work from home on his own online market research business for the last seven years. My husband went to Bali by himself to look at schools and properties about five months before we all packed up and went which helped with the move.


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

A: We live in Kerobokan, Bali Indonesia. After deciding we wanted to live overseas for a year we started to research and talk to different people. We were in a situation where we could choose basically anywhere in the world because we had flexibility with my husband owning his own online business and we were relocated for a job. 

We looked at quality of life, schooling, time zones, cultural experiences. We didn’t want to come home in debt and the kids behind in school. For example, we chatted to friends who lived in Singapore who said unless you are being sponsored by a company it was too expensive to live. After coming to Bali on a holiday and loving it, my husband suggested living there. At first it was a big surprise to me but then it all made sense – it ticked all the boxes. We wanted a great quality of life, the kids could attend an Australian school, it wasn’t too far from home and the people and culture was amazing!


Q: How long have you been living in Indonesia?

A: This is our 11 month. We plan to stay here until January 2018.


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

A: I live with my husband and two children (age 7 and 9). I won’t lie, in the beginning there was a lot to get used to. I have never been homesick but they all have. It is very different to being here on holidays and I think it takes about 6 months to settle in. We could all see the great benefits of living here but there was still some culture shock, frustrations and major changes to get used to.


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

A: I personally am not homesick, I really thought I would be but surprisingly I haven’t been at all. I guess I am busy focussing on the kids and enjoying all the new life has to offer. There is nothing from home that I miss except of course family and friends which we connect with on whatsapp, do facetime calls and update our blog/FB/Instgram family blog. Living away makes you reassess your friendships and relationships.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: It has been fascinating to see the dedication in Hindu life everyday. It has been wonderful to be surrounded by this culture and religious way of life. Sometimes things that they do surprise or frustrate you as you aren’t used to the same thing back home. We all love the people we meet and their customs and traditions. It has been a huge eye opener for the kids to understand how other people live and what they believe too.


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

A: The main place we have made friends has been through our children’s school and by nature it is expats usually from Australia. You can also meet others through social media and just seeing people around the area.


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

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: Between $2.5 - $3.50 depends if you go to a touristy place!

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

A: This can be as cheap as $2-$3 for local dishes but on average about $5 - $7.

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

A: $14-$22.

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

A: No idea – I don’t drink or smoke!


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

A: It is great to get a Permata bank account and you can transfer AUD into it. It can also help get you discounts at places.


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

A: Indonesia is notoriously known for having frustrating visa laws. There are so many different options. We didn’t need a work permit as we aren’t doing any work locally. Our children have been sponsored by the school so can hold a Kitas visa which is the best option for long term stay. They don’t have to leave the country for 12 months. My husband and I are on social visas and this means many updates and having to leave the country every six months. All of the visas are costly and need to be budgeted for when living here.


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

A: We use International Travel Insurance. We have been told the two major local hospitals are very good for expats but can be pricey. We were recommended a dentist for our yearly checkup and we all had a fine experience. Not like home at all but was clean and acceptable and not expensive.


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

A: Yes we secured health and travel insurance back in Sydney. Living in a country that is not first world it is important to have access to top health cover and know that we can do a quick fight to Singapore if needed.


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

A: We documented our moves on our blog (ouryearinbali) which was fun. The kids never saw our house empty before so we made a time lapse video! It got exciting and real when my hubby started bring home moving boxing and we constantly were selling small items on Facebook. I hate packing and can’t even pack my suitcase for a two day getaway so this was a bit stressful but it made us become more minimalist and appreciate what you really need. We wanted to store our major household items so we chose Apple removals and found them to be efficient and professional at a reasonable monthly cost.


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

A: Deciding early on that we were not going to drive so we face lack of independence and haven’t driven for 11 months! This is not a typical challenge. I guess also that is such as cash society and always needing a lot of cash as the largest note is equivalent to $10.


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

A: So many positives – low cost of living, small school community, meeting like minded people, access to travelling around Asia, trying new things and experiencing things we normally wouldn’t do. Negatives, lack of independence (our choice), traffic, rubbish, safety, paying rentals a year upfront, visas and many smokers.


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

A: I think it is best to check out our blog, FB and Instagram as we post all the fun things and recommendations we get up to on that! Choosing where to live in relation or work or school is very important as traffic is a major factor.


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

A: Now that we have had a feel for what it is like to live away from home and meet like minded people it does make you think there could be other countries and opportunities. Originally we thought we would only stay here for one year and it has become two so that might an indication!


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

A: From a family perspective I would say choose your school and then try and find a villa about 15 mins from school in a quiet and safe area. Join the many FB groups as they are a great source of information. Learn a little bit of the local language to show your interest when talking with locals. Be aware there will be some culture shock and things are done very differently here, it takes time. Things are generally a slower pace here. The heat here is hard to get used to! I am still sweating all the time.


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

A: I think local Facebook groups are very helpful. I enjoy also Instagram profiles that highlight Bali. There are other news style website like Coconuts Bali, Gu Guide and www.bali-interiors.com/ is fun to look at. Of course our blog www.ouryearinbali.com.