👋 Hi, I'm James.


I occasionally write about lessons learned on the journey to live a healthier, happier and more intentional life. 


📍 Austin, TX 

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  • James von der Lieth

The Unfathomable Lifestyle $500/Week Can Buy a Digital Nomad in Canggu, Bali

Updated: Feb 27, 2020

The Promised Land

Since reading about Canggu on Nomadlist in 2014, I've wanted to come experience the promised land first hand. Let me tell you, it has exceeded even my lofty expectations.

Canggu, Bali is a mecca for yogis, surfers, Australian vacationers, digital nomads, and Instagram Influencers alike. The vibe is health-conscious, active, chill, and friendly. The waves are consistently enormous, but you can also find beginning waves to learn on.

It has all the benefits of living on an island paradise, but is also crawling with interesting entrepreneurs, creatives, digital nomads, and health-conscious vacationing elites frequenting fitness studios, co-working spaces, and surf spots.

It's not a place where the locals are here to party all the time. Yes, they let loose, but it's more of a work hard, workout hard, health-conscious lifestyle. Partying may happen but it's not the focus of their lives.

Canggu is the Nantucket for Australians for One Tenth the Price

I've heard people describe Bali as the "Mexico for Australians". Maybe that's true in other parts of the island (haven't been anywhere else yet), but I wouldn't describe Canggu to that way. I'd describe it as "Nantucket for Australians." Most of the people walking around are beautiful, fit and radiant. The tourists that just want to party and take obligatory photos with monkeys at waterfalls find other spots in Bali to flock to.

The locals and vacationers in Canggu embody the discipline = freedom mindset.

It's also dirt cheap.

For $500/week you can live an incredible lifestyle that would cost 4-5x as much in any major US city.

In other words, it's my personal version of heaven on earth at this stage of my life. You can live like a king and not blow through savings while figuring out your life and following creative pursuits. What could be better?!

What $500 USD can buy you in one week in Canggu

  • Rent for a week in a private room with a pool, Wifi, hot water, A/C, and daily housekeeping ($200 USD)

  • Healthy, delicious food for a week ($150)

  • Membership to one the nicest luxury gyms you've ever seen with yoga, boxing and functional fitness classes ($55)

  • Daily green juice & pour over coffee ($35)

  • Daily grass-fed whey protein shake after working out ($25)

  • Beach lounge chair rental for the day ($7)

  • Some co-working membership hours to network, meet other likeminded people, and work by a pool. (~$15)

  • One of the best one-hour massages you will ever have plus tip ($7)

  • Rent a surf board ($3)

  • Laundry washed and folded ($3)

The drawbacks of Canggu

Someone asked me if there are any drawbacks to this magical place. The answer is, yes of course there are. Nowhere is perfect. However to me these are just details and none of them are dealbreakers.

  • You have to drink bottled water because the tap water is contaminated. The easiest way is to buy an enormous water jug to keep at your Airbnb. They sell them everywhere and unless you go to a really shady restaurant, most places use bottled water.

  • The wet season is between October and April. Its very rainy during this time

  • The main method of transportation is motorcycling which is extremely dangerous. It actually scares me more than going in 10 foot waves. Chickens, stray dogs, cows, people, and other bikes can jump out at you at any moment and wreck you. I've grown to love motorbiking here though.

  • The traffic can be annoying if you're going somewhere at peak times. It's a good idea to wear a face mask so you don't suck in all the motorbike and car exhaust.

  • Some people get Bali belly, which is essentially food poisoning if they eat food that's been left out in the sun. This hasn't happened to me yet, and honestly people report it happens more frequently in Ubud. However, If you're really trying to be cheap on your food, it's definitely a factor.

  • If you want to live in Canggu long term, it's supposedly a pain in the neck dealing with the government bureaucracy.

My Future in Canggu

To put things in perspective, doing all of these same activities in one of my other favorite places on earth, Folly Beach, SC, would cost $2500+ for the week. Plus the waves wouldn't be nearly as good and you wouldn't meet as many interesting people. The lifestyle hacking opportunity is truly tempting.

I wasn't sure where I was going to go after Canggu or how long I'd want to stay. I came to Bali with a one-way ticket and the only plan of staying one week in an Airbnb in Canggu. 8 minutes before my flight from South Korea to Bali was taking off, I was told this wasn't allowed and I needed to buy a flight out of Bali to be allowed on the flight! I called my friend Taylor in China to see where he wanted to meet up on his vacation. I told him he had one minute to decide, and he chose Cambodia. I booked the ticket as quickly as I could and made the flight. This little excursion will work out perfectly because in order to have free visa in Bali you have to leave the country every 30 days.

I've decided that after the brief Cambodia trip, I'm going to come back to Canggu for another 30 days. I love being in the routine of writing in the morning, going to my gym, seeing familiar faces, surfing, going to the co-working place for networking events, meeting new people and just living healthy. Plus if you stay for a longer period of time, everything including rent, co-working, and gym time becomes even cheaper.

I have so many thoughts to explore, get out of my head and organized right now. I don't feel the need to explore other countries, chase waterfalls, or even leave the confines of this little beach town right now. I've experienced that type of travel in Europe, and I know that's not the right move at this point. Instead, I want to explore my writing, surfing and build relationships with cool people! After a year of not spending more than a week in one place, this feels truly refreshing and restorative.

I'm already thinking I could even see myself spending at least a few months of next year in this magical place. Who knows what the future will hold next year, but I could see myself making Canggu a part of my lifestyle for the next few years. Of course, there is wet season to consider. But one of the locals I met said that wet season, there is still sun and everything is even cheaper. Late August - early October seems like the perfect time to be here because its still dry season, but most of the tourists are back at school.

Questions about living in Canggu as a digital nomad? Tweet me with a link to this article at @jamesvdl

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