Couple Living The Retirement Dream
Couple Living The Retirement Dream, At 68, they live very comfortably in this tropical paradise – on less than some pay in rent. ‘How did you find Bali?” and “What do you do all day?” are the two most common questions asked of us. I am a retired lawyer from California; my husband is a vintner (plus many other things). We’re both 68 years old, and most people can’t wrap their minds around the change we made moving to Bali, Indonesia, seven years ago.
As we approached retirement age, we kept a watchful eye for those places that were exotic, less expensive (we lived in California for 35 years) and comfortable for Americans. A top priority was warmth. We both grew up in Connecticut, and I spent four winters in Buffalo, N.Y., so we were done with cold and snow. We visited all the warm climates we could find on the globe.
It was by chance that a client/friend asked me to visit her in Ubud, Bali. When I returned, I said to my husband, “This may be it.”
What was “it”? A constant 85-degree temperature, stunning landscapes, and a warm and gracious people with smiles so perfect that seeing them every day is added sunshine. We moved to Bali in May 2005. Unless changes in our health necessitate a return to the U.S., we plan to spend the rest of our lives here.
Bali, with a population of about four million, is one of about 17,500 islands that make up Indonesia. We settled in a suburb of Ubud, which is considered the cultural and religious center of Bali. In our village, women and men wear sarongs as daily clothing, children take off their shoes and walk barefoot when the school day ends, and the entire community goes to a sacred spring to retrieve holy water.
We leased a half acre of land for 20 years for $50,000. The property overlooks a river valley with a small waterfall on the far side. We built a “villa,” as a single-family home in Bali is called. Our house has a swimming pool, furniture handmade to our specifications, and flowers everywhere. But in Balinese fashion, there is no front door. An opening, yes, but no door to shut.
When it comes to cooking-and cleaning and all of those other daily time-consumers-we hire Balinese help. Our cook, who is paid $75 a month, shops in the market at 6:30 a.m. and prepares all of our meals from scratch. It’s very healthy. Sundays we are on our own, and that is our brunch and pizza day. (We wouldn’t want to forget our roots.) A meal costs about $15 with no alcohol. Alcohol comes with a 300% customs duty. The local beer is good and keeps us looking younger.