Nigel Glover, 65, first arrived in Bali in 1979, “to party like all the other tourists”.
He then went off to travel the world. While working at an Austrian ski resort he met Jacqui, who was holidaying from her home in the Netherlands.
They chose Bali for their wedding in 1988 and stayed for five years until the babies arrived.
“Bali was a lot more basic then, so it made sense to go back to Australia, but we often returned for holidays with the kids,” he says.
“Then in 2014 we had an empty nest and decided to resume the dream. I’d lived outside of Australia for 25 years and we could have gone anywhere in the world, but it took us about two or three seconds to choose Bali.”
And they haven’t left.
“There are more than 100,000 expats living in Bali. They come from all over the world but there are a lot of Australians, and many of them are retirees,” Nigel says. “Indonesia is strong on senior, health and sustainable tourism.”
He points out that moving anywhere in the world is going to mean compromise – living with a different language, currency, political system, and culture.
“But to me, that is part of the charm,” he says. “You have to keep moving forward. Look for something that interests you and it’s a learning path.”
He says that in retirement it is too easy to fall into a pattern where every day is the same.
“As you get older it’s easy to slow down and your world shrinks. You know exactly what is going to happen, where you’ll go and when and what you have to do, and maybe you’ll take a cruise for a bit of spark once or twice a year,” he says.
“It’s all very predictable. But here, as soon as I step out the door to take the dog for a walk in the morning, I see something interesting. The wonder of the world is on daily display.”
Nigel finds that he is as busy, if not busier, than he was before so-called retirement.
He is now working on building Indonesia’s first retirement village on the island’s east coast and is aiming it squarely at the 55+ active retirees.
“Think lifestyle resort in Australia,” he says. “It will be fully integrated with a clubhouse, sports, dining areas and bars, library, yoga, outings and a shuttle and living with like-minded people. It’s a simple business model of a five-year lease on a villa. It will be built, there’s nothing off the plan, and it will come with a maid.”
He has an answer for everything that might be a concern for anyone considering a move to a new country – health, security, cultural change, social connection.
“Despite any reports you might have heard, as a resident during Covid it wasn’t a bigger problem than anywhere else,” he says. “Bali was comparable with, or did better than, many western countries in terms of illness and death. Protocols were followed and there were no objections to mask wearing.”
He says many concerns are based on exaggerated problems or fake ideas.
“For example, if you come off a motorbike and end up in a coma in London, New York or Amsterdam, nobody would hear about it but if it happens in Bali, it’s all over the media,” he says.
“Use basic commonsense and you don’t have to worry about bag snatching, Bali belly or any of the other fears that crop up.”
Then there is the social aspect, and technology, says Nigel, has changed everything.
“Zoom, Facebook, Whatsapp … they are all free and there is a high degree of engagement. Worst case scenario, Australia is a flight of three to eight hours depending on where you live so it’s quick, easy and cheap enough to visit.”
He and Jacqui both have an active social life and see more of their children than when they lived around the corner. And it’s always quality time.
“The kids are totally supportive of our decision,” he says. “They come here for a holiday twice a year for 10 days or a fortnight and we have a great time together.”
They have no plans to leave Bali. He says the only thing that would drive him home would be a high-end health problem, such as triple bypass surgery or cancer treatment but hastens to add that there is nothing wrong with the health system.
“It would have to be a really big problem as we get excellent medical care,” he says.
Nigel and Jacqui both recently went to see specialists, something they could do without a referral and had a wait time of 30 minutes rather than three months. Jacqui saw two cardiologists and had an ECG while Nigel had a 20-minute consult with a dermatologist. The bill was $65.
“My mate had a hip replacement here and it went very well. I’m healthy and have an active lifestyle, so I’m not too worried,” he says.
And if higher levels of care are needed, that’s not a problem either.
“You can have 24-hour care every day for about $750 a month. If you need only a bit of help it would be $200-$300 for eights hours a day six days a week, each month.”
Add in a daily routine of the services that attract tourists for a luxurious yet affordable holiday – massage for about $10, abundant dining opportunities – and it’s irresistible.
But at the end of the day, says Nigel, it’s a cold beer while watching the sun set that really makes life worthwhile.