Bali Property Trends: The Digital Nomad Magnet

We live in a hi-tech digital savvy reality. The Internet-of-Things is very much science fact so my refrigerator talks to the grocer, my lights talk to the electricity company and my TV watches everyone and everything even when it’s not switched on. No, really!

Trends, in this world of megabytes and megabucks, seem to come and go quicker than a browser can refresh, except for Internet Explorer of course, and BizNet, which still takes an age, and what was yesterday’s hottest potato can easily be today’s toad-in-the-hole.

To call a trend that’s even remotely connected to things techie is a risky call, I know that. Just look at what happened to much smarter people than me with Smart Watches and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 before catching fire became an issue. Both were slated to revolutionize our lives and make them easier, remember? But did they? Answers on a postcard please.

So what’s this trend all about?

Digital Nomads is what it is.

Actually, it’s more about how the movement is growing, what it’s trying to do and how Bali has all the potential to drive it home.

Wikipedia and Investopedia both define digital nomads as people who are location independent and use telecommunication technologies to perform their jobs. Basically they work remotely to keep in contact with clients and employers. This isn’t exactly breaking news. They were identified in 2012 apparently, but I’m sure the species has been around for a lot longer than that … and called a lot worse than digital nomad.

You could argue that most business men and women use telecommunication technologies to perform their jobs anyway right? I know I do. I was on a trip to Singapore recently and almost everyone I saw had their heads buried in some sort of digital device. Sure, not everyone’s doing business, but a lot of people are keeping up to speed via email, chats and social media platforms.

So, are they digital nomads too?

Short answer is ‘no’ because the key is in location independence. Not being tied to any one place makes a huge difference in lifestyle. You get to choose where to be rather than what to do.

That’s a game changer.

In a 2015 Huffington Post article, Hannah Lamarque summed it up like this … “I want to be able to work wherever I want, whenever I want. I want to be able to pick up my laptop and venture off into the sunset, knowing that the work will get done and I will get to see some of the world’s most amazing places.”

But there are a lot of amazing places to choose from when your young, foot loose and fancy free; the world’s your oyster.

If you’re a cool millennial and you’re going to pick a cool place to do some cool digital stuff, you’d be thinking of how you can get your cool nomad ass off to somewhere nice and warm and tropical, right?

Hubud centre in Ubud
Rice field views to enjoy from Hubud.

Cate Hogan from the UK’s Daily Telegraph wrote a couple of years ago that ‘the original digital nomads were enticed to idyllic destinations such as Bali, Chiang Mai or Hanoi by the lifestyle: exotic surroundings, the low cost of living, great food, warm weather, the dream of getting healthy on yoga and coconut water.’

So why choose Bali?

If we’re brutally honest we’d have to admit Bali’s honeymoon and excitement can soon wear thin, especially as internet connections can be unstable (to say the least), navigating narrow roads can be a pain in heavy traffic and immigration officers have been known to check visas in passports with frowns and many shakes of heads because working without the correct visa is a big no-no in Indonesia. Working means taxes, and for those who aren’t aware, tax is a very sensitive topic of conversation right now.

Guess, it’s time to pack up and move on to pastures new then.

Or is it?

Hubud events for digital nomads in Ubud, Bali
430 events were organised at Hubud in 2016!

There are those that see glasses half full and opportunities instead. Bali’s first co-working space called Hubud, opened its doors in 2013 and right from the get go they’ve played on an idea that’s a cornerstone of Balinese culture; community.

Bali is just one of more than 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago and it’s just been awarded the world’s best tourism destination by TripAdvisor. Even though the island and its people have been exposed to foreign cultures and influences and trends for longer than anyone can remember, the Balinese themselves have somehow managed to embrace and adapt and maintain their unique identity.

Why?

Because the concept of community actually means something here. It’s a real, living thing. Understanding and respecting that is what Hubud has successfully done and that’s why they’re ahead of the competition. Their co-working space is way more than a place for fast, reliable connections with rice field and palm tree views. If that’s all it was they’d have probably closed the coffee shop down already.

But it’s not.

At Hubud you can rub shoulders with a whole bunch of talented and creative people from around the world who want to help and share knowledge and stimulate great things from the potential we all have within. It’s this community spirit that’s the biggest draw card. They organised an incredible 430 events in 2016! That’s impressive by anyone’s standards. A round of applause for the folks at Hubud please! They could’ve gone anywhere but they chose Bali. And for good reason.

Cate Hogan argues this could be because of what’s on offer. ‘Where Hubud differs,’ she says, ‘is that professionals are now coming specifically for the accelerator programmes and mentoring sessions … which offer residential courses in everything from coding to new-business mentoring.’

Again, this isn’t breaking news. The Hubud crew have been doing this for a few years now. What is new though, is that businesses like Seven Stones Indonesia, who are in the real estate industry, also see potential and opportunities in becoming a part of and supporting these communities because they too actively encourage mentoring, training and providing access to learning and knowledge.

The difference maybe, is that Seven Stones Indonesia sees beyond the typical image of expat nomads and believes in the potential of a huge and largely untapped local market. There are literally millions of young, tech savvy, well educated, switched-on, creative and confident Indonesian entrepreneurs who are also location independent and use telecommunication technologies to perform their jobs. They need to be an active part of this community too.

We believe these guys (and girls) are the future. We know they’re actively looking for the right kinds of places and the right kinds of community support to develop new and alternative ways to do business and that includes access to home-grown venture capital.

This hi-tech digital savvy reality isn’t going away any time soon. We believe that Bali can set an example for other areas to follow, especially by creating communities of support from like-minded souls and we’d love to see more operations and initiatives like Hubud grow strong roots and blossom in all sorts of locations across the archipelago.

If you’re interested in finding a perfect location for your already existing business or in learning more about how to set up a new one we’d love to chat. We’re just a click away!

UPDATE: JUNE 2019. Since we first posted this blog the digital nomad scene in Bali has mushroomed and parts of Canggu have become almost unrecognizable. It seems the romantic idea of living (and working) in a sun-kissed tropical island like Bali is one more and more people are catching on to. And you can’t really blame them!

If being a digital nomad sounds like something you’d like to be doing, then have a read of Jordan Ring’s great blog “How to Become a Digital Nomad in 8 Steps (by a Digital Nomad)”


Andy writes on a variety of topics related to property, real estate, the customer experience, mindset training and local/international trends for Seven Stones Indonesia.

You can read some of his blogs here: http://sevenstonesindonesia.com/blog/  and on Medium.

Seven Stones Indonesia is a property company headquartered in Bali, Indonesia, with a mission to help people who are interested in buying and selling residential and commercial real estate.

If you’re thinking about property, ROI, capital gains or lifestyle investments in Bali, Jakarta, Surabaya, and Indonesian’s Eastern Islands and need some friendly advice and guidance then why not email hello@sevenstonesindonesia.com or check out Seven Stones Website | Seven Stones Linkedin | Seven Stones Facebook

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Andrzej Barski

Director of Seven Stones Indonesia

Andrzej is Co-owner/ Founder and Director of Seven Stones Indonesia. He was born in the UK to Polish parents and has been living in Indonesia for more than 33-years. He is a skilled writer, trainer and marketer with a deep understanding of Indonesia and its many cultures after spending many years travelling across the archipelago from North Sumatra to Irian Jaya.

His experience covers Marketing, Branding, Advertising, Publishing, Real Estate and Training for 5-Star Hotels and Resorts in Bali and Jakarta, which has given him a passion for the customer experience. He’s a published author and a regular contributor to local and regional publications. His interests include conservation, eco-conscious initiatives, spirituality and motorcycles. Andrzej speaks English and Indonesian.

Terje H. Nilsen

Director of Seven Stones Indonesia

Terje is from Norway and has been living in Indonesia for over 20-years. He first came to Indonesia as a child and after earning his degree in Business Administration from the University of Agder in Norway, he moved to Indonesia in 1993, where he has worked in leading positions in education and the fitness/ wellness industries all over Indonesia including Jakarta, Banjarmasin, Medan and Bali.

He was Co-owner and CEO of the Paradise Property Group for 10-years and led the company to great success. He is now Co-owner/ Founder and Director of Seven Stones Indonesia offering market entry services for foreign investors, legal advice, sourcing of investments and in particular real estate investments. He has a soft spot for eco-friendly and socially sustainable projects and investments, while his personal business strengths are in property law, tourism trends, macroeconomics, Indonesian government and regulations. His personal interests are in sport, adventure, history and spiritual experiences.

Terje’s leadership, drive and knowledge are recognised across many industries and his unrivalled network of high level contacts in government and business spans the globe. He believes you do good and do well but always in that order. Terje speaks English, Indonesian and Norwegian.

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Ridwan Jasin Zachrie

CFO of Seven Stones Indonesia, Jakarta

Ridwan is one of Indonesia’s top executives with a long and illustrious career in the financial world. He holds several professional certifications including being a Certified Business Valuer (CBV) issued by the Australian Academy of Finance and Management; Broker-Dealer Representative (WPPE); and The Directorship Certification for Directors and Commissioners, issued by the Indonesian Institute of Commissioners and Directors.

His experience includes being the Managing Director at one of the top investment banking groups in the region, the Recapital Group, the CFO at State-owned enterprises in fishery industry and the CEO at Tanri Abeng & Son Holding. He’s also been an Independent Commissioner in several Financial Service companies and on the Audit and Risk Committee at Bank BTPN Tbk, Berau Coal Energy Tbk, Aetra Air Jakarta as well as working for Citibank, Bank Mandiri and HSBC. His last position was as CFO at PT Citra Putra Mandiri – OSO Group.

Ridwan has won a number of prestigious awards including the Best CFO Awards 2019 (Institute of Certified Management Accountant Australia-Indonesia); Asia Pacific Young Business Leader awarded by Asia 21 Network New York USA (Tokyo 2008); UK Alumni Business Awards 2008 awarded by the British Council; and The Most Inspiring Human Resources Practitioners’ version of Human Capital Magazine 2010.

He’s a member of the Board of Trustees of the Alumni Association of the Faculty of Law, Trisakti University, Co-Founder of the Paramadina Public Policy Institute and actively writes books, publications and articles in the mass media. He co-authored “Korupsi Mengorupsi Indonesia” in 2009, which helps those with an interest in understanding governance in Indonesia and the critical issue of corruption. Ridwan speaks Indonesian and English.

Per Fredrik Ecker

Managing Director of Seven Stones Indonesia, Jakarta

Per is the Managing Director of the Seven Stones Indonesia (SSI) Jakarta office and has more than 25-years’ experience in Indonesia, China, and Western Europe. He previously worked in senior management positions with Q-Free ASA, Siemens AG, and other companies in the telecom sector. Over the last six years, he has been the Chairman of the Indonesia-Norway Business Council (INBC) and recently become elected to be on the board of EuroCham Indonesia.

His most recent experience is within Intelligent Transport Solutions (ITS), Telecom, and other sectors within the Indonesian market. He is today through his position in SSI and by representing Norway Connect, promoting Nordic and European companies that would like to explore business opportunities in the Indonesian market. He’s also playing an active role to help create the Nordic House concept in Jakarta that will provide an excellent platform for Nordic companies entering Indonesia, where they’ll find a community that can offer support with trusted information and affordable services to enter this market.