Why you should consider it:
Its low operational costs, a large domestic market and plenty of tourists with cash (normally, at least) make Bali ripe for starting a business.
Who it’s good for:
Those looking for affordable cost of living, vibrant cafe culture and great surf.
Canggu is currently the dropshipping capital of the world, where western expats sell products they never come into contact with from various countries around the world to consumers they’ve never met.
Bali has been popular with expats since 1914, when the Dutch opened the small Indonesian island to tourism. Its mountainous hinterland and wild surf beaches have continued to draw people here looking for a laid-back way of life at the same time as kickstarting a business with little initial capital to begin with. And many of them end up congregating in Canggu, an area that has everything you need to earn executivelevel pay while dressed for the beach, such as excellent wifi and co-working spaces packed with like-minded people. The area today has transformed from the sleepy fishing village it once was into a global surfing spot and place to live. Bali's low cost of living also continues to be a draw.
‘Lifestyle doesn’t mean sacrifice’
David Abraham is the co-founder of Outpost, a co-working and living space based in Canggu.
What's the demographic like at Outpost?
‘When I graduated from college, if I wanted to live overseas, I had to join the Foreign Service or teach English. So I taught English. But now that choice is different. The majority of people [at Outpost] are around 30; either they’ve had experience in their careers and they’re taking time off, or they’re entrepreneurs who have been funded and are coming out here to extend their runway and get away from New York or London.’
Do people move out here for lifestyle or business?
‘It’s all for lifestyle, but lifestyle doesn’t mean sacrifice. There are people who do come over and start their own businesses here (within Canggu, it’s mainly tourist infrastructure and hospitality). But it’s for those who want to live a life of exploration, connect with others and new places. After Covid-19, people are going to feel even more stifled, and physically moving yourself is the first thing for empowerment and freedom. It’s a driving factor for many. And the fact that you can wake up and surf isn’t too bad, either.’
Quality, organic wine is now being made in Bali by people like Giotto Castiglioni. Here he reveals the process.
‘Everybody is doing the same thing. “Oh, I’ll open a restaurant, because that other one is profitable.” A lot focuses on tourism. So, as soon as you have an idea that’s outside the box – education, energy, transport – and you target the local population, you’re going to do well. The carpe diem moment is important in Bali,’ says Giotto Castiglioni, who, after several flying visits from his home in Milan, finally settled in Bali and co-founded the winery Cantine Balita in 2012.
The lack of a winemaking tradition (and, by extension, stifling regulation) appealed to him: he could shape it as he saw fit and experiment, rather than tiptoe around the costly, strict and staid industry back in Italy. Giotto, 33, found that Bali’s north coast has a suitable microclimate. What’s more, the region’s plants grow rapidly, so you can harvest twice a year as opposed to once, allowing for greater and faster production. The results have been original: a still, dry Moscato, for example, which does not exist anywhere else in the world – the wine is normally sweet and sparkling.
Although Cantine Balita has been selling its wine chiefly to luxury hotels and restaurants, the tourist market isn’t the end goal. ‘We want to convince Indonesians to drink local wine. The Italian Chianti they pay $40 for is not necessarily better than mine – one is a €2 bottle that’s travelled all over the world, while mine is an organic wine coming from your backyard. You should be proud of that.’
Find more of the top cities for starting something new in 2021.
This article was first published in Courier Issue 37, October/November 2020. To purchase the full issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.