A gentle breeze makes its way from the South China Sea. As you relax on your veranda, the scent of flowers from the frangipani trees surrounds you and a wisp of incense floats your way from the little Canang sari offering baskets your housekeeper has carefully placed to invite balance and harmony into your home. Kites fly lazily in the brilliant blue sky, while the ocean in front of you is calm and inviting. Spotted doves coo and children laugh in the distance. These are the sights, scents and sounds of Sanur, Bali's oldest seaside resort and one of the most expat-friendly towns in Indonesia.
Bali enjoys a well-deserved reputation as one of the most beautiful tropical islands in the world. The jungle is lush, with an immense variety of ferns, palms, flowering plants and trees in a thousand shades of green. Volcanoes raise their heads above the clouds and terraced rice fields cascade into the valleys. Multi-tiered temples adorn even the smallest villages. The locals are unfailingly friendly and some of the most serene and pleasant people that you are likely to find anywhere.
Living here, you would never run out of things to do. The whole of the Bali coastline is like a picture postcard, and the ocean, which is never far away, offers world-class diving, surfing, snorkeling, parasailing and other water sports. You could dine out every day, at one of the many five-star restaurants or at a mom-and-pop eatery, where a healthy and delicious meal costs a pittance. Bars, dancing and discotheques are all convenient.
Festivals and cultural events are regular, even weekly occasions. In addition, you could fill your time golfing, climbing mountains, visiting the zoo, at art galleries, talking with artists, communing with monkeys, learning yoga or meditation or cruising around the ocean.
The small town of Sanur on the southwest side of Bali is an ideal base for a retiree on the island. Sanur is an unpretentious suburb of the larger city of Denpasar. Quiet and laidback, it feels removed from the crowds of tourists who flock to Bali for vacations and honeymoons. Pronounced "san-oor," it's so peaceful here that the town is also known by the nickname of "s-nore," or "snoreville." Even at the height of the tourist season, Sanur doesn't attract much attention.
While it has managed to stay off the tourist radar, Sanur has attracted a large population of retired foreigners, and many live here part time. Most of Sanur's resident retirees are Australian and European, including many Dutch. English is spoken everywhere, meaning that, living here, you'd have no pressing need to learn the local language.
A barrier reef runs the entire length of Sanur, protecting the coast and creating calm seas. It is possible to walk all the way out to the reef at low tide without venturing into deep water. The waves break on the reef, well off the sandy shores of the mainland. Parents with children find the beach especially welcoming, as there are seldom dangerous undertows or threatening waves. The sandy beach and paved pathway that extends the length of the Sanur coastline beckons bicyclists, strollers and sun worshipers. Restaurants and bars located along the path provide cool drinks, plenty of good food and perfect views of swaying palm trees and nearby islands.
Sanur is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive lifestyle option in Bali. It's among the most appealing, however, because it offers a high quality of life and provides value for every budget. This is a classic tropical paradise, with blue skies and starry nights, far from any smoggy metropolis.
Indeed, the air quality is better in Bali than in much of Southeast Asia. The island gets little of the smoky haze that is found elsewhere in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, and the coastal breezes keep the air circulating. Water pollution and litter are bigger concerns. Although Bali has some of the finest beaches to be found anywhere in the world, the popular beaches can be trashy, and the water can be polluted. Locals and foreigners in Bali organize clean-up drives, but pollution remains an ongoing problem. Because beaches in Sanur are rarely busy, they're also cleaner.
Although foreigners are not permitted to own freehold property in Indonesia, it is legal to rent or lease apartments, houses and villas. In most cases, you'll be required to sign a lease for a minimum rental period of one or two years, and the rent is payable in full at the time you sign the agreement. It is possible to find a place with a shorter minimum stay, but the rent will be considerably higher. In general, expect to spend $1,000 to $1,500 per month to rent a comfortable place outfitted to Western standards. A total budget for retirement in Bali could be as low as $2,000 per month, but $2,500 per month is more realistic.
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