Bali Digital Nomad: Remote working in Ubud

Always wondered how to be a Bali Digital Nomad? This is everything we’ve learnt.

Ubud was the first stop on our remote working adventure. Having never remote worked before, we decided to visit a place we’d already been to and knew we loved. We wanted something straightforward and pain free – and that’s exactly what it was.

We absolutely adore Ubud and would recommend everyone and anyone to go there (remote working or not). There is a peace and solitude juxtaposed with the crazy tight and busy roads. Somewhere between the rice fields and the thousands of scooters a person might find a serenity they’ve never found before. We don’t want to get too Eat, Pray, Love on you, but there is a relaxing and inspiring quality about Ubud that cannot be explained, it must be experienced.

Have a book you’ve always wanted to write? Want to start a podcast? Been meaning to start painting again?

Ubud attracts artists, writers and creatives the world over for a reason – there is a creative energy that gets under your skin and asks, why can’t I?

Suffice to say, Ubud is the perfect place for remote working. It’s the type of place, unlike Canggu, where you truly can be productive, creative and inspired.

Here is our guide to remote working in Ubud:

Cost of living:

According to Nomad List the average cost of living is around US$1600 per month. It’s not the cheapest city to live in by South East Asian standards, but it’s much cheaper than most western spots and for those of us coming from the likes of New Zealand, Australia, the UK and USA it’s cheap!

A general guide on costs: (In US dollars)

  • Accomodation for a month: $813 room and breakfast with balcony overlooking rice fields and access to a pool. (split between two people)
  • An average meal: $4pp
  • 1 fresh coconut: $1
  • Taxi’s: USD $27 for a half day or airport transfer

Visas:

Most remote workers in Bali are on tourist visas. This is all well and good if your work is entirely based in another country (or countries) and you’re not working for any Balinese companies or taking working for services in Bali, otherwise you’ll need a business visa.

For most countries a free 30-day visa is granted on arrival. After you get off the plane you can go straight through immigration and get your 30-day stamp granted. You’ll likely be asked how you’re staying in Bali and whether you’ve been before. The immigration officers are generally friendly and the process is normally painless besides often a large line.

If, however, you’d like to stay for 60 days, then you’ll need to visit the immigration counter before immigration and purchase a $35 visa, which can later be extended. Since we only stayed in Bali for the 30 days, we didn’t need to do the extension. For information on extending check out this useful resource.

WiFi:

The key thing for all Bali digital nomads: Wifi! Good WiFi is available in most places in Ubud and, we’re happy to confirm, at 17mbps it’s more than fast enough to work, Skype and watch movies. Almost any cafe you choose will have free unlimited WIFI, same goes for your hotel, Airbnb or resort.

We didn’t have a single Wifi issue during our trip and never managed to locate a cafe that didn’t have free WIFI.

Phone data:

The best and least expensive way to have data on the go is to purchase a local SIM card. In Bali you can get a lot of data very cheaply (which will probably make you wonder why they can’t do that in your home country). We purchased 7MB for around AUS $17, but I’m sure even better deals exist.

When you buy a SIM card in Bali you need to register it in order to make and receive calls and text messages. We found this out the hard way when we were in Canggu and couldn’t call our taxi driver to pick us up. Since data works right away without registration we never did bother going to register our phones after that and just did everything with data.

Bali digital nomads (working from cafes)
There are endless possibilities for remote working in Ubud

Co-working spaces:

There are two main coworking hubs in Ubud – The Outpost and Hubud, there are others, but these two are the most popular. Bali digital nomads tend to be spoilt for choice as Ubud and Canggu both have plenty of options for working. We personally prefer to work from cafes or our Airbnb, and haven’t seen the benefit in paying for a desk space, so we can’t review either of them for you, but we will say, on our first trip to Ubud we stayed near The Outpost and found the area to be lovely, serene and relaxed. It also has Sage, one of our favourite restaurants in Ubud, right across the road.

Cafes to remote work from:

We love working from cafes. It means that our horizon changes everyday – that was the whole point of leaving office life in the first place. We go where we feel like each day, at the time that works for us and because we’re in a different place each day, we always feel productive and inspired.

There are so many incredible places in Ubud to work from and many we’ve been able to find are well away from the typical tourist trail. We’ll share our favourites in a separate post on cafes for Bali digital nomads.

Where to stay:

As a Bali digital nomad, you’re not just any traveller, which means location is more important. Figuring out the best location to stay in Ubud has been slightly challenging. We love the quieter places south of the monkey forest (near The Outpost) and we love being up in the rice fields well away from the crowds, however those places require a fair bit of travel into the main town.

While remote working we opted to stay on Bisma road which balanced our needs of finding a fairly quiet place, but being able to easily walk everywhere like the market, town center, rice fields for a more chilled vibe and plenty of dinner and lunch places. We haven’t decided whether we’ll stay on Bisma next time, or whether we will go more remote.

Do your research and decide on a place that ticks all the boxes for you. Keep in mind that if you’d rather not hire scooters, like us, then you want to be close to avoid long walks to pick up groceries or go to chemists etc.

Bali digital nomads spoilt for choice on cafes.
Ubud’s cafe scene is next level

Food:

Food glorious food. Eats in Bali are unlike anywhere else in the world. There are fresh vegan and vegetarian options galore, as well as local Indonesian eats, western food and basically anything else you’d like.

While eating out is cheap in Bali, it’s even cheaper to eat at home and since most of us digital nomads are on budgets it makes sense to do this some of the time. Try to book a place with a kitchen and, if it’s not well equipped, make sure you ask your hosts for what you need. When we arrived our kitchen had no plates, mugs, cups or cutlery – so it was essentially unusable. We asked for what we needed and later that day it all arrived. In Ubud we cooked at home around 30% of the time and it definitely saved us some money.

Water:

Tap water in Bali unfortunately is not drinkable. Plastic bottles, as we all know, are one of the least environmentally friendly products on our planet. To avoid using a tonne of them, buy a big reusable bottle at the beginning of your stay – they can be purchased from most convenience stores. Then fill your own reusable water bottle each day (we recommend you bring one with you).

Bali Digital Nomad (Tegalalang Rice Terraces)
Tegalalang Rice Terraces

Sustainable travel:

Being a Bali digital nomad comes with some responsibility. There is a major plastic problem in Bali, so, along with buying a large water bottle, rather than lots of little ones, there are plenty of other things you can do.

Bring with you:

  • Reusable straws: take these everywhere with you. Some places serve bamboo straws, some metal and some even serve straws made from green plants – sadly though, there are still plenty of places that will give you plastic straws. Always let them know that you have your own straw.
  • Bags for life: the Ubud market hasn’t caught up with eco friendly bags just yet. If you’re shopping in the market expect any and every shop owner to try to throw your goods into a plastic bag. Politely decline and let them know you have your reuseable bag with you.
  • Drink bottles: as above – bring your own water bottle and refill it. Don’t be that guy with a plastic bottle.
  • Eat a plant-based diet: this is the biggest and most awesome thing you can do for the planet. Fun fact: by eating a plant-based diet you can reduce your impact on the planet more than taking less flights or by buying an electric car. So simply by eating plant-based meals (and vegan food is everywhere in Bali) you’re doing your bit to be a sustainable traveller. High five!

Fun:

What is there to do in Ubud? Ubud, is known, globally for yoga retreats, meditation, rice fields and creative spaces. There are all of those things and so many more to do in Ubud.

In one day you can do meditation and yoga at sunrise, take a trip to the rice fields, visit temples, shop in Ubud market, sit in a cafe and read a book, eat the most incredible food you’d ever imagine and top it all off by drinking a Bintang, or a mocktail at sunset.

In Ubud there is a sense of freedom. There’s a relaxed vibe to the area, which means it doesn’t attract a lot of binge drinkers or parties. This, to us, is a huge plus and part of the reason we love it so much. We get up early in the morning to be the most productive we can be. We work hard on our business and like that Ubud gives us the perfect conditions to do so.

Learn how to start your own remote business here.

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