Graduation season just rolled around again, reminding us 20-somethings desperately trying to “adult” how screwed we are. I graduated in 2015, and in the past year I kept on landing and quitting corporate jobs with no clear direction. All I wanted during this whole excruciating 9-to-5 grind was to escape to an island and have some time to gather my thoughts and prioritize my goals.
Tough luck doing that if you work your ass off just to pay your expensive Boston rent and student loans, while trying to allow yourself the single margarita splurge on Taco Tuesday. I knew I wasn’t alone in this mess, so I did a bunch of research (aka long nights spent eating cookies and browsing the Internet) on a better life alternative. Then I found it.
Picture this: What if you could live in a spacious, cozy studio on a picturesque island for only $600 a month? What if an Instagram-worthy brunch cost only $5? What if you could tan on pristine beaches for free and have the freedom to go anywhere you please with your own scooter for $6 a day? Welcome to Bali.
Bali is the ultimate backpacker’s paradise. With the exchange rate weighing heavily in our favor ($1 is equivalent to 12,400 IDR), it’s one of the cheapest places to live in Asia, while still reveling in comfort and good eating. I quit my banking job and came to the island on a one-way ticket with only 200 USD in my pocket to spend for the following two weeks.
I arranged accommodation through Agoda and Airbnb, and was nicely surprised to find I could still have a private studio with hot water, a king size bed, air conditioning and a kitchen for $25 a night. And that was me splurging. I also stayed at a hotel with a swimming pool for $10 per night.
If you come to Bali, chances are you’d never have to do anything for yourself again. I get four pounds worth of laundry washed, dried and folded for $2.50, and a one-hour rejuvenating massage for $7. Can you get that in the US? I don’t think so.
With my student loan putting pressure on my allowance, I still manage to live here very well. Here’s the trick: Whatever skill you have (writing, photography or the mere fact that you speak English), you can monetize on the Internet through websites like Upwork.
Have a nice Instagram page? Get a gig working as an “influencer” (apparently that’s a thing nowadays), where you get paid per post to promote various products. If you managed to make just $250 a week, you’d be ballin’ in Bali. I wake up every morning to homemade Balinese cake and coffee served on my little porch by the landlord’s mom, hop on my scooter to the beach and spend the day swimming, tanning, jogging and drinking Bintang.
“So, what does Bali have to offer,” you ask?
There are four major areas of the island worth exploring:
1. Uluwatu, which is a surfer’s paradise and nestled within the jungles of the Balinese south.
2. Seminyak is a posh vacation resort where wealthy Australians come to party on the cheap and go boutique shopping.
3. Ubud is where Julia Roberts found herself in “Eat, Pray, Love,” and is a vibrant, hipster town surrounded by lush rice fields.
4. Canggu, a hip, sexy town inhabited by bronzed surfers, where food is good, parties are bumping and the beach offers a beyond gorgeous sunset with four different shades of pink.
Ready to live it up? Come give Bali a shot and you’ll never want to leave. I’ll treat you to dinner when you come over, so we can talk about how much our desk jobs sucked.
This article was originally published on Elite Daily