How a Beer Led to a Part-time Life in Bali

Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

“Three years ago, I was sitting with my mate in the yard enjoying a beer when we looked at each other and said, ‘Why not go to Bali?’ We checked the airline schedule and realised we could be sitting on the beach in four hours. Neither of us had been abroad before, we didn’t even have passports,” says Bill Sauer.

“The idea came to us like a bolt of lightning,” says Bill. “We got our passports in a couple of weeks and just like that, off we went.”

From his first trip, Bill, in his 50s, fell in love with the slow pace, beautiful beaches, relaxing lifestyle and friendliness of the Balinese people.

He says, “I lead a very simple life in Bali, spending a lot of time at the beach and strolling around the restaurants and cafes near my apartment. Everything moves at a slow and relaxed pace; my stress level goes down by the time I walk out of the airport. I also spend time with mates that I’ve made here. The local people are so laidback and pleasant to be around; every day is a pleasure for me,” he says.

Bill rents a furnished studio apartment in Legian, on the west coast of Bali, which is right in the centre of shopping, dining and entertainment and only five minutes to the beach by motorbike. “I rent my apartment by the year. It’s in a perfect location on a quiet lane so it’s like I’m in a lush countryside setting. My apartment has air-conditioning, Pay TV, a terrace, fridge and kitchen. When I factor in electricity, bottom line rental is only $300 per month. I have all my clothes and personal belongings with me, so I just jump on the airplane with my backpack and off I go.

“I purposely took what we call a FIFO (Fly In, Fly Out) two years ago so I could start the transition to retirement. I supervise the transportation of diesel fuel for mines in various locations around Port Hedland. The job is tough but it allows me to spend about half my time enjoying life in Bali.”

“Usually I work eight days on, then have six days off. I also have gaps between assignments every few months that allow me to go back to Bali for longer periods. I know my schedule in advance, so usually I can book direct flights from Port Hedland with Virgin Australia Airlines for $300 to $350 for the round trip.

“Upon arrival in Bali, the feeling is always the same, just like a switch is turned off and relaxation takes over when I walk into my apartment. By the time I hit the beach with a cold beer, I’m in another world,” Bill says.

“Once in Bali, I save a lot because the cost of food, entertainment and beer is a fraction of the cost of Australia. For example, I can find my favourite local dish, mie goreng seafood (stir-fried egg noodles with seafood and vegetables), anywhere for $3, my beloved avocado juice for $1 and beer for $2.50. It’s hard to give an exact figure, but I save hundreds of dollars each month by being in Bali half the time,” he says.

It took about eight months and cost about $1,300 per year, but Bill now has a temporary residence card which costs more or less the same as his tourist visas on arrival, but without the hassle of queuing up and paying at the airport. “The ITAS (temporary resident status) is a renewable annual visa that formally establishes my presence in Bali so that when I start to live full time here, everything I need will already be in place,” says Bill.

Bill enjoys exploring his new surroundings. He says, “I also travel a lot inside Indonesia. I’ve been to Jakarta, Makassar on the island of Sulawesi several times, all three of the adjacent Gili Islands (Air, Trawangan and Meno), Lombok and Sumatra. All these are fascinating destinations and they provide a change of pace. After all, I can’t sit on the beach all the time.

“When I arrive at full-time retirement there will be almost no adjustment necessary. I’ll just get on the airplane with my backpack like I always do but I won’t return anymore.”

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