[Bali life] Reality of Digital Nomads in Bali



Since the corona pandemic, Bali's tourist industry has been hit hard, with a 99% drop on tourists abroad. However, where I live in Canggu, I still see more foreigners than locals. If you go to a café, I see young people working on their computers, and if the waves are good, many foreigners come to surf, although not as many as before. Looking at the languages they speak and the level of surfing, it seems that there are significantly fewer Australian tourists and more Russians and other Europeans. Many of them are digital nomads such as influencers, bloggers and others who work online, using only computers and the internet.


Canggu is consistently ranked among the top nomad's destination globally (currently no2), so perhaps it's the Southeast Asian nomads who are flocking to the island. I found an academic journal article that did a survey of digital nomad living in Bali, so I wrote some interesting statistics. Although it was published recently, the data was actually taken in 2019, as publishing a paper can take over a year to revise. The current situation is, therefore, somewhat different from that time. Also, 150 people are not that many in the sample.









The digital nomad tourist motivation in Bali: exploratory research based on push and pull theory


Statistics show that half of the sample is in their twenties, and if you include those in their thirties, it is 80%. The education level is surprisingly high, with 9% not having been to university, and 33% have done a Masters and PhD. However, as we expected, about half of them earn their income as bloggers, tubers, influencers, or digital marketers. Only a few per cent seemed to be creative illustrators or people with start-up businesses. The term 'digital nomad' may sound like a cool thing to do, but the reality is that it's just a run-of-the-mill activity that relies on social media. In fact, when I go to the beach, I often see girls posing in the surf. On the other hand, they earn more than many in their own countries in the same generation from their social media activities. Nearly 27% of digital nomads earn between $3,000 and $5,000 and 35% earning between $1,000 and $3,000 a month in Bali.


And they live in Bali, where the cost of living is much lower than in their country of origin, and they probably don't pay income taxes. So these digital nomads are probably wealthier and more luxurious than you might think if you've never been to Bali and seen this scene. The problem is that there is no formal acceptance of these digital nomads in Indonesia. Since they are working on an internet platform, they are not considered working in Indonesia. And since they are not officially resident in the country, there is no mechanism for them to pay taxes.


An American woman who brought this situation to light was forced to leave the country. What she wrote is partly true, and the current situation of digital nomads may have been upsetting to some locals who are struggling to even afford food due to the Corona pandemic. The American woman's social media post seems to have sparked an outpouring of criticism, which eventually lead her deported from the country. How a US woman's 'elevated lifestyle' tweet showed what Bali really thinks of privileged Western tourists


As you can see from these statistics, the digital nomads surveyed here are not the kind of people who use programming or advanced illustrator apps. They are instead the kind of people who make money amount young people envy in the developed world on social media platforms. It's an activity that doesn't seem to have much to do with an academic background, and there doesn't seem to require much technical ability. So I think young people in Indonesia can follow this trend. There are people who don't have computers, but I don't see young people who don't have smartphones. You need the internet enough for photography and communicate with English, but why not you start something? The new economy is turning. I think Corona has taken us a little bit further into the future.


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