Malcolm Scott on Life as an Expat in Bali


In an exclusive interview with Holiday Home Times, Australia-born Malcolm Scott talks about his journey from his native country to Indonesia, about life in Bali, his recently released book and what expats can look forward to in this resort island.

The interview…


Bali coastline
The picturesque coastline of Bali

Please tell us something about your background – personal and professional.
My Name is Malcolm Scott and I am author of the book called Bali Raw. I lived in Bali Indonesia for eight years and worked as a marketing manager for a development company. I now live in Thailand where I am writing a follow-up book to Bali Raw.

Tell us something about your newly released book Bali Raw. How much of it is fiction and how much of it is reality?
Bali Raw is all true. It is written in the first person and it maps my experiences while living in Bali. It also takes a detailed look at the seedier side of life in Kuta, Bali’s tourist hub.

Bali Raw
The front cover of the book

Where can one buy this book?
The book is available in all leading bookstores. One can also buy it online from Amazon.

When did you decide to settle in Indonesia? What went through your mind while taking this decision?
I decided to live in Bali nine years ago when I was offered a job on the holiday island. At the time I thought it would be an easy ticket. I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in a tropical paradise like Bali. With hindsight I now realize I was naive. There is a lot you have to have to be aware of when you decide to live and work in South East Asia, visa extensions, work permits, unscrupulous business people and corrupt officials to name a few. It is well worth doing your homework before you decide to live and work in a country like Indonesia.

How would you rate Bali as a tourist destination? How would you compare it with other tourist destination in Indonesia?
I would rate Bali as a great holiday destination. The island has a lot to offer a short time tourist. The people are friendly, there are a number of scenic tourist spots and the shopping is great. There is also a wonderful range of restaurants and hotels to suit all budgets.

For a visitor coming to Bali what are the places he can visit and the activities he can participate here?
There is plenty to do in Bali, but its highlight would have to be its beaches. Bali has some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. Most of these are located on the south of the island in the Bukit region of Bali. Some other activities to try while visiting Bali would be, white water rafting, Water Bomb Park and a visiting Bali’s temples.

How is the nightlife of Bali? Where do you ideally hangout during the weekends?
The nightlife of Bali is exceptional with Kuta’s Legian St being the more popular for the younger budget conscious tourists, while Seminyak’s Double Six area is popular amongst the older well-heeled tourist.

What about restaurants? Are there any good restaurants/ pubs you can recommend?
Bali has a huge number of restaurants catering to all tastes and budgets. The more upmarket and classy restaurants can be found in the Seminyak area of Bali.

Do you see a lot of expats settling in Bali? What is their average age group?
There is a very large expatriate community in Bali, on average I would estimate that the forty five upward age bracket would apply to most of these expats.

Is Bali more of a retirement destination or you get to see young working expats settling here?
Bali caters to both these groups, but it is becoming very popular with people wanting to retire and live on the island.

What is the current real estate activity in Bali? Are there good developments/ developers in the area?
There is a strong and flourishing real estate market in Bali. Laws have recently been changed to make it safer for foreigners to invest in Bali’s property market. However, I would warn that there are also a number of unscrupulous dealers operating on the island. It is always wise to have somebody in the legal profession check all paper work thoroughly before making a commitment.

Can you name some of the good vacation home/ residential projects in Bali?
There are a large number of good vacation home/ residential projects in Bali, and a large amount of real estate agents representing them. One of the better real estate agencies would be XP Property.

For an expat wanting to retire in Bali, what are the basic things he should look out for?
An expat wanting to retire in Bali should make sure he/she has all his visa paperwork in order. If he wants to work on the island he/she should also be sure they have the correct work permits. I would also be certain that all paper work, land titles, business contracts, are in order and have been checked by a legal professional, before entering into any business transaction in Bali.

Can you briefly tell our readers the rules of expats wanting settle in Indonesia?
By and large Indonesia has four types of resident visas – VITAS or VBS, Kartu Izin Tinggal Terbatas (KITAS), Kartu Izin Tinggal Tetap (KITAP), Retirement Visa – for expats to stay in the country. However I would recommend a visit to an Indonesian embassy because it would be a better way to gather this information as the laws change frequently.

Also can you please tell us about the rules of expat property ownership in Indonesia?
As with the previous answer, a visit with an Indonesian legal professional would be the best way to gather this information. The laws governing foreign ownership of property are prone to change. Ideally though foreign nationals can’t acquire ownership rights of a land, they can acquire rights to the use of land. However they can buy condos.

Any tips for expats wanting to settle in Indonesia in general and Bali in particular?
Obey the laws of Indonesia and do not do anything in Indonesia that you would not do in your own country. By this I mean, do not buy property unless all paper work land titles are checked thoroughly.