We gave up city life and moved to Bali. It was a lot more challenging than we expected.

microsoft, we gave up city life and moved to bali. it was a lot more challenging than we expected.

Steve Willis and Nadia Rose gave up city life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to move to Bali, Indonesia. Lena Steinke

  • Nadia Rose and her partner, Steve Willis, left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2022 to move to Bali, Indonesia.
  • One of the biggest struggles they faced was giving up big city comforts for island living.
  • Over time, they learned to be more fluid and embraced the island's slower pace of life.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Nadia Rose, a 31-year-old feminine embodiment guide and creative director in Bali. She also runs a YouTube channel with her partner, Steve Willis, about their life on the island. This essay has been edited for length and clarity.

My partner, Steve, and I moved to Bali two years ago, in July 2022.

I grew up in Malaysia and started my career working in fashion in Kuala Lumpur. While living in the capital, I met Steve, who had moved over from Sydney to work in education in 2015.

After dating for a month, we decided to live together. We started in his apartment and found a better-located one-bedroom service apartment six months later. We were in the heart of the city, near the botanical garden, and happily called it home for six years.

That's when I suggested the move to Bali. I had been running my own digital content business on the side for 8 years and working at a women's retreat company. I've always been passionate about empowering women, and those retreats opened up a whole new world to me.

I wanted to meet like-minded women and build a community with coaches who I could learn from. I wanted a new challenge, and Bali seemed like a place ripe with creative opportunities.

We were drawn to Bali because it was an international hub between Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, where our families lived. We also really wanted to connect with nature, especially after the pandemic.

Since Steve was also looking to make a career switch, it felt like the right time for us to start the next phase of our lives.

So we took the plunge. Looking back, it was a quick process: We made the decision in January 2022, and six months later, we were in Bali.

The possibilities ahead of us felt boundless, and we couldn't wait to explore new sides of ourselves. In hindsight, it took us longer to find our footing than we expected.

We jumped in and tried to learn how things worked

The bureaucratic stuff was tough, and we soon realized there was no how-to manual. We ended up learning everything the hard way.

For instance, we were used to having our bill payments automated. In Bali, we paid them in person for a few months before we finally learned how to do it online.

We missed the convenience of our service apartment, which had an amazing gym and easy access to public transport.

In Australia, it's easy to walk everywhere. In Malaysia, we could also jump into a car, but here, although it looks like you can walk to your destination, there are hardly any sidewalks. You have to hop on a motorbike to get around, and it took us 10 months before we could get our own.

The challenges we faced trying to get used to our new lives started adding up.

We even had health concerns because mold was growing in the house we leased. After three doctor visits and one hospital visit, we had to travel back to KL before we finally got a diagnosis.

Being surrounded by overwhelming change daily was draining and distracted us from enjoying the process. It didn't help that we were our own biggest critics.

We didn't celebrate ourselves enough for the milestones we achieved during our move

Looking back, we were too focused on getting our lives in Bali started right away. Quitting our jobs and leaving our homes were huge risks, and we were determined to ensure that we'd made the right decision.

But slowly, over the last two years, living in Bali has taught us to go with the flow more.

Coming from cities, we're used to efficiency and getting things done quickly. But here, you just have to lean back and allow things to unravel in their own time. Even the never-ending traffic.

We've also realized that we weren't alone.

Many others I've spoken to in Bali are experiencing similar challenges of building a life and career here while transitioning from a 9-to-5 schedule. After all, having a routine was a huge part of life in the city.

Life in Bali constantly challenges us to grow. It feels like we're different people every quarter. And at the end of each day, we're glad we made the move.

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