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Digital Nomads Are Living Comfortably In Indonesia While Locals Struggle

By Kelsey Marie

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Canggu, a small village located on the Indonesian island of Bali is the top destination for digital nomads.

You can’t go to many places in Canggu without seeing people on their laptops while crowding coffee shops or co-working spaces

From entrepreneurs, bloggers, writers, and marketers — if you can do your job solely on the internet, then Canggu is the hot spot for you.

The cost of living, quality of life and WiFi speeds are desirable: for example, you can live and eat very comfortably on $1,500 per month.

There is just one problem: the Indonesian population.

A 2017 report from Oxfam states that the top 1% of Indonesia’s population controls 49% of the wealth.

In comparison, 8% of the population lives in extreme poverty while making less than $1.90 per day.

Although Indonesia’s economy is doing well, there is a huge disparity.

The general manager of the Taman Nauli Boutique Rooms hotel, Gonan Nasution, grew up in Canggu and witnessed the area change from rice fields into a tourist destination.

He tells OneZero, “first the surfers came and then the yogis came and after the yogis, the fitness people came” — now it’s the digital nomads.

There are new restaurants, coffee shops and hotels opening almost every month with former farmers now leasing their properties to businesses.

Many of the businesses are owned by wealthy Indonesians and foreign investors.

Businesses and digital nomads are flourishing in Canggu but the workers for the businesses (that the digital nomads are frequenting) are making next to nothing.

A large number of digital nomads in Canggu are living tax-free. They usually work from Indonesia while on a tourist visa and renew their visas by visiting surrounding countries before the expiration date.

These digital nomads live and work in Indonesia but declare taxes in their home countries.

Indonesian workers may not earn much but without digital nomads and the more than 5 million tourists who visit Bali each year; they would be worse off.

Digital nomads living comfortably in Canggu annoys many locals.

“These digital nomads are on tourist visas and they just have to leave the country every month or two. It’s just not fair for the locals. It’s so hard for us to get a visa to travel and it’s so easy for them to come here. It’s not fair to us who are working. We’re paying taxes.”, says Nasution.

Nasution believes that there should be an expensive visa with background checks for digital nomads living in Canggu.

Indonesia is the fourth most populated country in the world and is currently going through economic and social development — which is why digital nomads are able to work and live in Canggu only on a tourist visa, for now.

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Kelsey Marie

Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie

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