For nearly a decade Bali has been one of the world’s leading destinations for digital nomads.
With good WiFi, affordable accommodation, and flexible visa options, the Island of the Gods has served tens of thousands of digital nomads very well indeed.
But some are starting to feel that post-Covid, the vibe is starting to change.
The rise of the digital nomad has been a rapid one, offering people the opportunity to work remotely from anywhere in the world, set their own schedules, and live out their dreams. The lifestyle has been irresistible to many people.
Especially during the pandemic, when remote working became the norm, even more people were able to establish a way of working online that enabled them to be anywhere in the world.
@mozzarellapapi Would you be a digital nomad? 👀 #digitalnomad #balilife #sgtiktok ♬ original sound – Eddie – Edo
Bali has been undergoing a serious tourism development boom. Whether in Canggu or in Uluwatu, around the rice paddies of Ubud, or even on the outlying island of Nusa Penida, tourism infrastructure has been cropping up all over the place.
With local leaders, communities, and even long-term expats on the island raising concerns about over-tourism, and as tensions have even risen on the island following a sharp increase in the number of foreigners behaving badly earlier in the year, has the vibe started to change for digital nomads in Bali?
@charlie__chang Being a digital nomad at 22 is crazy 🤯 #digitalnomad #remotework #bali ♬ original sound – Charlie Chang
It only takes a cursory glance at the Instagram stories of Bali community accounts to see that opinions are divided as to whether Bali is a digital nomad heaven or hell right now.
Some agree that digital nomads on the island, who are residing in the province, however temporarily, have no right to complain or moan about traffic queues, rising accommodation rates, construction, or even trash fires.
Others feel that their vested interest in the island as their new home means that they can voice their concerns about the lay of the land.
A series of interviews conducted by The West Australian found just a mixed bag of responses from digital nomads who were asked about whether their experience of life on the island lined up to their dream.
Dan Wisely, originally from Cape Town, told reporters about how he felt when he first arrived in Bali.
Worsely shared, “I remember coming here the first time and feeling super inspired. All my friends here were doing something really cool with their lives.”
He added,”There were artists and musicians and writers; everyone was making it work on the island by doing something creative. I think people come here and something awakens in them.”
He noted that he felt “validated” and that being free from the pressure of the 9-5 means that he could really embrace his creativity.
However, he was open about how lonely island life can feel and how difficult it can be to find the right crowd amongst the digital nomad and expat community.
For others, freedom has been something that has become a double-edged sword. Infrastructure in Bali’s biggest tourist resorts is catered towards tourism, a free, fun, and let loose kind of atmosphere structured towards people who have put their responsibilities on hold for a week or two.
But as a digital nomad, the responsibilities still follow along when the formal office is left behind.
This has led to a whole swathe of people in the expat community who are, as described, living the Peter Pan lifestyle. Toby Strauss, another digital nomad based in Bali, shared his feelings with reporters.
Strauss said, “Eighty to ninety percent of people come here with the sole intent of seeking out maximum pleasure. Surfing, eating good food, staying in nice places, partying, meeting people. It’s why there are all these clubs and bars and restaurants all popping up”.
He continued, “Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great life here. But being here long term, that pursuit of pleasure can become an addiction in a way. It’s never quite enough.”
For those with an ear on the ground, it does feel like the vibe in Bali is changing for digital nomads.
As the first and even second wave of digital nomads are seeing for themselves the impacts of tourism development on the island, some are starting to get itchy feet and are looking for the next best digital nomad hotspot for them.
But as Bali continues increasing flight availability and opening up more visa options for high-earning remote workers and investors, a new wave of digital nomads won’t be far behind.
And these newbies in town will too surely feel the creative juices start to flow and tap into all the incredible opportunities the island has to offer.
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