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Tensions Rise Over Increasing Villa Rates For Tourists In Bali

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Bali is famous for being an international hotspot for digital nomads.

With good WiFi speeds, a buzzing community, and plenty of opportunities to network, it’s not hard to see why thousands of people have relocated to the island, if even for a few months.

But, there is a flip side to the story, which is impacting local communities, tourists, and other remote workers. 

Joglo Style Villa.jpg

Private rental villas, or private vacation homes, are one of the most popular accommodation types in Bali. Whether staying on the island for just a few nights, a few weeks, or even a few months, visitors of every kind love to feel like they’re at home.

Holiday homes and private rental villas in Bali cover a huge spectrum of size, cost, and quality. One thing is the same across the board right now, however, is the rising cost of these private rental spaces. 

While a portion of the rising costs of private vacation and long-stay villas in Bali can be attributed to it being the high season, the rising cost of living and inflation, and the post-pandemic economic recovery period, some people feel that increasing rental rates are feeling disproportionate to the size and quality of the spaces on offer.

Balinese entrepreneur and social justice advocate Ni Luh Djelantik has joined the trending conversation online where local residents are facing criticism from short and longer-stay international visitors in Bali who feel like rental rates are spiraling. 

In a post on Instagram, Djelantik shared screen grabs from the Ubud Community Facebook group. The group is just one of dozens of social media groups and WhatsApp chats dedicated to sharing available rental homes on the island.

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@hayleycherepak

villa mangooo🥭🧡

♬ Makeba – Jain

The images so a listing by local resident Made Erik Hart, who is renting out a newly built traditional joglo-style home close to the heart of Ubud.

The one-bedroom rental property is compact but complete with a fully equipped kitchen, bathroom with bathtub, garden, A/C, water heater, and internet speeds of up to 100 Mbps. The monthly rental rate is IDR 13 million (USD 850), inclusive of water, electricity, and WiFi.  

Comments on the post suggest the price is “totally crazy” and “uber expensive,” and one netizen compared the newly built teakwood home to a dilapidated garden shed.

Dejlantik, often praised for her dedication to a balanced and forthright approach to mitigating conflicts between local people and foreigners, has weighed in on the situation.

In her post, she called on people to “think before mocking” and gave a breakdown of approximate costings involved in buying land, building a home, furnishing, and running the property long term. 

@sooondubu Super dreamy & reasonably priced – amazing location as well, highly recommend 😙 📍Bali Vilaasee #baliaccomodation ♬ Makeba – Jain

The community leader noted that equivalent properties in European nations, where many potential renters hail from, cost considerably more.

Dejlantik wrote, “Maybe in Portugal, Italy, France in a small town when we rent a 2 bedroom house/apartment for at least 1.8 million/night. It’s also sometimes going up 3-4 floors.”

She added, “Nowadays, many [foreign tourists] rent rooms in villa/houses they rent under the sharing room. He gets his rent and at least can finally “live” for free. Permission? And god knows the taxes? Paying the taxes a lot. And when a local citizen tries in the field, they are laughed at, mocked?”

Modern-Villa-With-Pool-And-Grass-Garden-In-Bali

Conversely, many longer-stay foreigners in Bali feel that the recent hike in rental prices is disproportionate compared to the quality of the property they are renting and that rental prices should remain in reasonable alignment with costs locally, not be increased to match the European, Australian or North American equivalents. 

View-Of-Bali-Canggu-Villa-Holiday-Home-For-Tourists

Private villa rental rates in Bali have always fluctuated dramatically.

During the pandemic, properties that were once rented out at a monthly rate between IDR 8-12 million dropped to IDR 2-4 million just so local landlords could cover basic costs.

Similarly, after the volcano eruptions between 2017-19, rates dropped once again when the tourism industry was in turmoil.

Villa-in-Bali

Officials in Bali have announced that they will be cracking down on informal and illegal rental property agreements on the island.

Tourists in Bali are only legally permitted to stay in specific accommodations; these must be properties that must be formally registered businesses that have the correct licenses for hosting tourists.

Police and immigration officials have been conducting raids and spot checks across Badung Regency to check that tourists and longer-stay visitors are staying at legally operated places of accommodation, including private rental villas, guesthouses, and B&Bs. 

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Aussie Nyoman

Tuesday 26th of September 2023

I've had the privilege of visiting Bali numerous times from Australia over the years. What initially drew me to this enchanting island were its picturesque landscapes and the exceptional value it offered compared to my home country. However, it saddens me to admit that Bali has undergone a significant transformation, prompting me to explore alternative destinations like Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea, and Japan, all of which now offer more compelling value propositions.

For instance, a stay at a 4-star establishment such as the Marriott in Seminyak now commands a staggering $220 AUD per night. This pricing seems exorbitant, especially when I can secure equivalent or even superior accommodations in Australia for a similar cost. The proliferation of social media, coupled with the often questionable influence of 'influencers,' has exacerbated the situation. An influx of individuals with limited financial acumen has driven up prices to levels far beyond historical norms, greatly benefiting business owners and accommodation providers at the expense of the average traveller.

One of the unique aspects of Bali has always been the harmonious relationship between Australians and the Balinese people. Proximity has fostered a sense of kinship, and for the most part, both parties have exhibited mutual respect. While it's true that some Australians have caused issues, overall, our interactions with the locals have been respectful and cordial. Regrettably, the same cannot be said for visitors from other regions, such as Russia and parts of Europe, who often display a lack of consideration and respect for the Balinese community.

I firmly believe that Indonesia and Bali, like the rest of the world, should have exercised more caution in extending such leniency to Russian citizens after their invasion of Ukraine. It is imperative that Indonesian leaders prioritize the welfare of their people and the Balinese residents over foreign tourists and investments.

Moreover, it's worth noting that tipping is not a significant part of Australian culture, yet many of us choose to tip when in Bali as a gesture of respect. It's disheartening to witness European tourists arguing over small change (IDR) with local vendors, demonstrating a lack of appreciation for the hard work put in by these individuals.

In conclusion, I hope that Bali can revert to a more authentic and harmonious state, unburdened by excessive commercialization, greed, and the negative aspects of global tourism. Bali's unique charm lies in its culture and the warmth of its people, and it would be a shame to see these qualities eroded by economic interests and avarice.

Dion

Thursday 27th of July 2023

What do they think Bali is Europe? Seriously over commercialised nothing special these people have rocks in their heads.

Firechef

Tuesday 8th of August 2023

@Suki, Very well said and Bali is my home. Maybe time to move to Switzerland, a bit more expensive, but a lot more safer and peaceful! Also my money is safer and the Adriatic is not far away and neither is snow skiing.

Suki

Sunday 30th of July 2023

@Dion, 100% They think they can ask western prices, while have no civil services, deeply rooted corruption, legal system that only targets foreigners and does nothing for actually enforcing laws for locals, horrendous infrastructure, pollution, noise, lawlessness, etc etc.

It's 1/10 of western quality and civil development and education. Rocks in their head think that it should be equal price. Unbelievable.

Dion

Thursday 27th of July 2023

Not worth it go Thailand ten times beautiful

Anonymous

Thursday 27th of July 2023

Bali is a sezpit of pollution and two faced scamming people...even the law are extorting tourists on the streets ..why the hell would you want to go there...👎👎👎👎

Tom Moorcroft

Thursday 27th of July 2023

Rubbish everywhere, half finished buildings everywhere, all half finished building sites end up being rubbish dumps. RATS, dengue fever, The reality of Bali is nothing like the spin.

William

Saturday 29th of July 2023

@Tom Moorcroft,

I notice the same in Ubud. Most construction projects have stopped or have come to an almost hypnotizing stall. What's the gig?