How To Expatriate

If the other guy wins the election, how will you escape?

Mikala Jones, enjoying his change of address. Photo: Noyle

No matter who wins the presidential election today, some folks are going to be bitter. Hell, some might even pack up and bail. But whether your motives for moving abroad are politically based or you’re just ready to see another side of the world, there are some things you should know before buying a ticket and selling the house. Mikala Jones left the United States for warm water barrels on Bali. Here are some things he recommends considering before you do the same.

Cost of Living:
If you’re planning on packing up ship and starting anew in a foreign country, factoring in your cost of living should be paramount. “Living in Bali is definitely a lot cheaper than living in Hawaii,” says Mikala. “You can stretch your dollar a lot further. Over the past few years, the price of a lot of things has gone up a lot over here, but it’s still way cheaper than living in the U.S.” The current exchange rate for the American dollar and the Indonesian rupiah is around $1 USD to $9,600 IDR. The price of housing obviously differs from each location, but you can expect to pay much less per month to post up in plush pad. (Editor’s Note: Many homes in Bali rent on a yearly basis and require a year’s deposit up front.) You can also expect to pay between 60 to 70 percent less for a nice dinner out than you would in the U.S.

From playful ramps to daunting barrels, Bali checks all the boxes. Photo: Noyle

Show Me Your Papers:
When you’re planning your move, make sure you do your homework prior to getting to customs. “Before you move to Bali, or any other foreign country, make sure you have all of your visas and stuff filled out,” says Mikala. “Remember, you’re not in the U.S. anymore and have to live within the rules of the country you’re in. For Bali, depending on how long you’re planning on living here, you’ll need to get the proper visa and paperwork filled out before you arrive. It can also be a real pain to extend your visa, but you can always pay someone to do it for you.” In Indo, you can obtain a 30-day visa on arrival for $25, but if you’re planning on living and possibly working there, you’ll need a work visa, or “limited stay visa.” If you’re caught working without the proper paperwork, you could end up with a major headache. You’d also be wise to make copies of all forms of important paperwork and register with the U.S. Embassy in case the shit hits the fan.

Cash Is King:
In the U.S., electronic transactions (credit cards and online banking) have come to dominate the way we do business. The same isn’t always true abroad. “One of the most difficult things to adjust to here in Bali was always having to go to the ATM,” says Mikala. “Almost everything here is done in cash and its rare for a place to accept credit cards.”

Embrace the Culture:
When you’re living abroad, there will invariably be things you’re going to miss about your home country, but don’t let that dissuade you from enjoying the culture where you are. “It’s funny, a lot of the expats over here in Bali tend to hang together and have their own cliques,” says Mikala. “To me, it kind of defeats the purpose of living in another country. By all means, get out there. Learn the language, eat the food, surf some different spots and really try to embrace the culture. That’s what brought you here in the first place, right?”

Mikala Jones, home sweet home. Photo: Noyle