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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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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