They come with a one-way ticket, lured by the affordable luxury lifestyle, in hope of finding creative nirvana or simply soul-searching, however cliched it may be. Among the estimated 20,000 Australian expats in Bali, there are stories to tell that take all shapes. Bali has been abuzz since its hippie heyday 35 years ago and, surprisingly considering the robust island has had its fair share of setbacks, it’s hotter than ever.
Canggu, tucked away on Bali’s west coast, is expat home base. It’s a short taxi ride from the party towns of Seminyak and Kuta, and yet thanks to kilometres of undeveloped beachfront, stretches of undulating rice paddies and its decidedly bohemian vibe, it offers the laid-back lifestyle for which expats are searching.
Emily O’Neill and her husband, Justin, quit their high-paid Melbourne executive jobs seven years ago in search of an expat adventure.
“We’d travelled all over but really loved Bali. It’s close to home, it’s easy, it wasn’t forever to us,’’ Emily says.
The couple live in Canggu with their three children and run a villa rental company, which evolved after Emily’s turn at wedding planning.
“Expats either work in fashion or villas, or they have an international income. A lot of families have a husband who works in Singapore who comes home to Bali on the weekends,’’ she says.
So what are the expat secrets to the island? Kelly Beckwith, who moved to Bali with her husband a year ago from Singapore in search of new adventure, says there isn’t really a secret