Nadia lives her dream, 10,000 miles from home
Bermudian Nadia Laws has become a night owl ever since moving to Bali four months ago.
The Indonesian nation is 12 hours ahead of Bermuda and she has to keep pace with the clients of her communications firm, Media Maven.
“Night is day and day is night,” she joked. “Staring at screens late into the night is not good for sleep, but it is a small price to pay for living my dream.”
She has wanted to move to another country since reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir Eat Pray Love, 15 years ago. The writer travelled around the world to “find herself”, after getting a divorce.
“I loved my family and friends in Bermuda but I wanted adventure and I wanted to experience life in a different culture and community,” Ms Laws said.
Eight years ago she married Markez Laws. It took some convincing before her husband came on board the idea of living abroad.
They started planning and saving in 2019. Ms Laws thought it was best to go with six months to a year’s savings in case work did not immediately flow in.
The couple looked at Malaysia, Mexico, Kenya and Thailand before deciding on Bali.
”We first had to consider countries where our dollar would go further so that we could enjoy a better quality of life for our family,“ Ms Laws said. “We also factored in things such as weather, language, accessibility to other countries and education for our son.”
They had loved their trip to Bali in 2017, so it was top of their list. Still, it was not until early this year that they committed to it.
“With the pandemic, travel to, and getting visas, had become a lot more challenging for countries in Asia, which largely closed their borders during Covid-19,” she said.
Indonesia has since been working hard to attract wealthy foreigners. It now offers long-stay visas to skilled workers, pensioners and other non-nationals. In 2023 it will offer ten-year visas to people who have at least $130,000.
The Laws family chose Canggu, a seaside town of 30,000 people, because of its digital nomad infrastructure and numerous co-working spaces.
They have made friends with people from around the world; the Balinese are warm and hospitable.
“No matter what you are interested in, you will find a community here,” said Ms Laws, 35. “You find people of all different stripes and there are lots of different Facebook groups to help you.”
She and her son Zaccheus, 4, moved first. Her husband, a business intelligence analyst, followed six weeks later.
It took a while for Zaccheus to adapt; the time change made him clingy and tired. He now attends an international school where English is the primary language.
“When he gets to school all the other children yell his name and give him hugs,” Ms Laws said. “And he has four or five really good friends that he sees every day. We are part of a recreation club that has a gym and stuff. We go there after school, and all the other kids are there as well.”
Like Bermuda, people in Bali ride around on scooters and motorbikes. However, the roads are busy and there can be air pollution. Ms Laws believes Bermuda’s beaches are more beautiful. There are also no real seasons in Bali, just a rainy or a dry period.
“Right now is considered the wet season but some days it does not rain and some days it rains for a couple of hours,” she said.
“The ocean is a little rough so we tend to do most of our swimming in pools. Surfing is pretty big over here.”
They have more family time in Bali.
“In Bermuda, my husband worked multiple jobs and we were building a house. We did not have much family time on the weekend. Here, on weekends, we are visiting different areas in Bali. There are lots of tourist attractions like the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud. Every area has its own vibes and attributes.
“After a season of so much hustling to set up and grow my public relations and communications consulting business, where I was always setting goals and new ambitions, it finally feels as though I’m chasing a different kind of success – one that balances health and also prioritises family and self-care.”
As a business owner, she was nervous about what the move might mean for her client base in Bermuda.
“Thankfully many forward-thinking businesses have become more agile in the way they do business,” she said. “They realise the same quality of work can be done no matter where you are in the world. This has allowed me to create a 100 per cent remote and location independent business. That was always my hope from Day One of becoming an entrepreneur in August 2016.”
Another worry was that as Black people, they would not be welcomed in Bali, a predominantly Asian and White, expatriate country.
A Facebook group called Black In Bali Community has helped.
“Thankfully, it only took me a couple of months to start building meaningful relationships with other travellers and parents within our community,” Ms Laws said.
One thing the relocation has taught her is that there is no perfect place to live.
“Still, we can find a place where daily life is exciting and enjoyable for us individually,” she said. “Living in Bali has afforded me the opportunity to experience new adventures, meet new people and grow into the best version of myself. I’m grateful that after years of praying, hoping and wishing for this chance, I’m finally here living it.”