Empowering the Freelance Economy

Bali soon to be tax-free for freelancers

Bali could fast become a freelancer's paradise/.Photo by Ibadah Mimpi via Pexels
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Indonesia’s tourism minister Sandiaga Uno has said the country, including islands like Bali, will soon start to issue five-year ‘digital nomad visas’ to attract up to 3.6 million overseas travellers and create one million jobs for Indonesians. The best part? Freelancers under the visa programme will be able to live tax-free as long as their earnings come from outside Indonesia.

Uno told the South China Morning Post he wants Indonesia’s tourism to shift from a ‘sun, sea and sand’ approach and instead focus on ‘serenity, spirituality and sustainability.’

“This way we’re getting better quality and better impact on the local economy,” he explained. 

There are a variety of visas available to remote workers wanting to visit Indonesia, including the Visa on Arrival (VoA), Tourist or Cultural Visa and the country’s Free Visa, but these only last between 30 and 183 days, according to reports. Anyone staying over this amount technically becomes a resident which means you are taxed on your global total income.

But some people are keen to learn if the 5-year visa can be renewed. This has yet to be reported, but you can keep updated on developments here and here.

How much does it cost to live in Bali?

Market food shopping and eating out in Indonesia is considerably lower than the UK/ Photo by Tom Fisk via Pexels

Understanding the cost of living is equally as important as tax rates for freelancers. Sites like Numbeo can offer you a guide for comparison. Below are a few comparisons, but there are some other additional costs, such as school fees that have to be taken into consideration if you have a young family. For example, Numbeo has said that annual fees for an international primary school for one child could run you £5,295 in Indonesia, compared to £13,150 in the UK.

But if you want to understand what you are getting for your money, this article is a starting point with a list of international schools.

Consumer Prices in Indonesia are 47.21% lower than in United Kingdom (without rent)
Consumer Prices Including Rent in Indonesia are 55.91% lower than in United Kingdom
Rent Prices in Indonesia are 74.34% lower than in United Kingdom
Restaurant Prices in Indonesia are 74.09% lower than in United Kingdom
Groceries Prices in Indonesia are 28.87% lower than in United Kingdom
Local Purchasing Power in Indonesia is 72.11% lower than in United Kingdom
Source Numbeo

Considering comparing Bali with other digital nomad markets?

It’s good to understand which markets offer the best tax incentives, cost of living, education and quality of life. However, some nomad visas don’t come cheap.

According to VisaGuide, a digital nomad visa can cost from $200 up to $2,000. Some Caribbean countries like Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda have the highest application fees for digital nomad visas, up to $3,000 for family applications. 

Some countries, like Georgia, offer digital nomad visas free of charge to attract more applicants, according to VisaGuide.

VisaGuide for example lists a total of 26 countries that currently accept digital nomad visas, and those are: Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cabo Verde, Cayman Islands, Croatia, Curaçao, Dominica, Dubai, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Montserrat, Norway, Seychelles, Spain, Taiwan, and The Czech Republic.

Regardless of how beautiful a place may be, you must understand the ins and outs of living in a country. Sites, such as GoVisa Free offer some useful tips in this regard.

Take Greece as an example:

  • For a digital nomad, Athens is the most exciting place in Greece, simultaneously the most expensive. Besides, during summer it’s scorching, and some parts of the city are really dirty and shabby.
  • If you decide to live on an island, note that you might not get a good internet connection over there. Not to mention, a digital nomad cannot work in a no-internet-zone.
  • Greeks like to deal in cash more than digitally. Therefore, chances are your credit cards might not work everywhere.
  • Almost half of the population smokes in Greece. So, you will have to avoid coughing or raising your eyebrow while stuck in a place full of smokers. If you just can’t stand it, request politely for the person to move aside.
  • No matter where you belong, you need valid health insurance as long as you are in Greece.

Knowing these tips in advance should make the transition to a new country easier. The sooner you understand the local market the sooner you can mingle like a local.

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