One of the most important things to consider for your life in Bali is how to make a living here. Finding a job in Bali is not easy, as the Indonesian government would rather give jobs to locals whenever possible. For the jobs that they will allow foreigners to do, it can be hard to find an open position as so many people want to be here. Don’t get discouraged though, because it is possible, even more so if you are willing to think outside of the box.
Since the government really only likes to grant working permits (RPTKA and IMTA) for jobs that Indonesians are not capable of performing, you have very few options to consider. Do not ever work without a visa in Bali, it puts your entire life here at risk. Immigration is known to do random checks and even those with proper documents can get fined for unknown reasons. The most popular options are as follows…
General Manager of a 5 star hotel or similar – This job is commonly occupied by foreigners in the hotel industry. General managers usually work on a rotational basis, meaning they commit to 1-2 years at one hotel and then they’re moved to the next city or country where they’re needed. Experience in this field is a general requirement, so unless this is your current field of work, you’d likely struggle to step into a position of this nature.
Teaching English – If you are from a native English speaking country then it could be easy to find yourself a job in Bali. Pay scales vary from school to school, with international schools paying the most, national plus schools being the runner up and English institutes like English First coming in last. The pay comes along with your experience and credentials, meaning you will need a much higher degree to teach at an international school and less so with places like English First and English Town. The latter places should handle your visa, although their pay is barely enough for a newcomer to Bali to survive on. Having a TEFL or CELTA is highly recommended. These jobs can sometimes be arranged before coming to Bali.
Over the past decade these jobs have become incredibly more competitive, as teachers with an abundance of experience deciding to move to Bali immediately make the top of the shortlist. Schools are, after all, a business, a thriving business. Regularly check for new schools opening, you might just get lucky.
Special Skilled Work – If you have special skills, such as interior design or real estate marketing, you might be able to find a place that will hire you in Bali. Try submitting an ad in the Bali Advertiser to see you get a bite. Some larger restaurants and bars, The Forge as an example, will often hire foreigners for positions such as general manager, head chef, and marketing director.
Working Online – There is a common misconception, a grey area, a sort of ambiguity with this type of work.
Legally, if you live in Indonesia for more than 180 days out of the year, you’re considered a resident and obligated to report income and pay tax on it, regardless of where it’s earned.
We don’t have to assume that many people blatantly disregard this law and very few of them, if any, are actually caught. But if you’re planning on building something bigger with larger amounts of capital, you should consider setting up a formal company such as a PT PMA (foreign investment firm).
The Digital Nomad Visa has been a topic of discussion since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Although nothing has officially happened with it yet, it’s nice to know that it’s at least on their radar. Southeast Asia is becoming an increasingly popular destination for living abroad. It seems likely that within the next year or two this option may become a reality so that Indonesia can stay an attractive place to stay for tourists and location independent entrepreneurs alike.
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