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Foreign retirees discover Bali

Reinhard Hohler, eTN Chiang Mai  May 26, 2009

The Indonesian island of Bali is already a long time well-known as one of the best and most exciting tourist destination of the world. The latest piece of tourism news this month shows that even the number of Chinese tourists surged some 88% in March compared to the number in February, as they spend their vacations here and enjoy sand, sun and sea.

What is not so well-known is the fact that more and more foreign retirees are choosing Bali to spend their valuable time here by going back and forth between this tropical island paradise and their home countries, such as U.S.A., Canada, Australia, Singapore, Japan and many European countries.

According to the energetic Managing Director of PT. Bali Affordable Lifestyles International, Mr. Lawrence Bellefontaine, ‚Äúmost of the foreign retirees are now the new tourists flocking to Bali.‚ÄĚ Born in Halifax, Canada, he came to Bali 12 years ago and became one of the pioneer developers of Bali Luxury Villas at Sanur, which is just 15 minutes from Denpasar, the capital.

Starting with the building of a villa for his mother, there are now some 55 large, luxurious villas, which are all neatly spread out as Golden Villas, Emerald Villas, and Jade Villas. These villas, which are normally rented out to tourists, are now increasingly being occupied by foreign retirees for months or years at a time.

Because of the looming financial crisis, the occupancies of all these villas dropped from 60% to 45% within the last year, but foreign retirees still keep coming in. Also, it seems that the Government is considering a new law that no more villa properties can't be built in the future. The market is certainly saturated enough.

Interesting to note is that there is a generous retirement visa rule by the Indonesian Government to allow foreign retirees to stay 5 years in a row, just renewing the visa every year. After 5 years, the foreign retirees have to leave the country - to be able to return for another 5 years.

Asking the 85-years old mother of Lawrence, Mrs. Elsie Millington, why she preferred to stay in Bali and not in Canada, she emphasized the favorable costs of living, which are some 50% less than back home, as well as the friendliness and hospitality of the Balinese people. Furthermore, the all year long lasting warm weather is good for her health, so old people can naturally enjoy a high quality of life. When it comes to have the services of hospitals and doctors, the medical bills are much cheaper here in Bali than in the developed countries overseas.

The phenomenon that villa properties prosper at Sanur is not at all surprising. Some famous painters lived here in the past, just to mention the late Theo Meier from Switzerland, who described the place as ‚Äúa dreamland and paradise lost.‚ÄĚ

Actually, Sanur was the first beach resort on Bali and - since decades ago - has developed into a wealthy community of boutique hotels, restaurants, souvenir stores and shopping malls. Top hotels in Sanur, such as the centrally-located Bali Hyatt, own long white beaches for swimming and water sports. Recently, the new ‚ÄúIntercontinental‚ÄĚ has begun construction. Further south, the new beach developments of Bali in Kuta and Nusa Dua are also easy to reach by passing the Bali International Airport, which is only some 30 minutes away.

From Sanur, there is a new bypass going east to reach the newly developed Bali Safari & Marine Park, where you can dine with lions, and Mount Agung, the holy mountain of Bali, passing terraced rice fields and traditional villages.

Bali is the last living showcase of a Hindu society and culture, which is unique to experience in the whole of Southeast Asia. Thus, if planning to retire in Bali, just buy a one way ticket to discover paradise.

Foreign retirees discover Bali

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