More digital nomads have flocked to Bali than ever before — and to one TikToker, it's because living on the island is "like a life cheat code."
Thomas Manuel, a 25-year-old American digital nomad currently based in the Indonesian province, posted a video on TikTok sharing why foreigners should come live in Bali. But not everyone is happy with Manuel's advice, with some users accusing him of gentrifying the island.
In the video posted on June 6, Manuel shared how cheap the cost of living is in Bali.
"First, I pay only $300 a month for this guest house, all utilities included," Manuel said in the TikTok, adding that "it comes with a housekeeper two times a week." The video has since garnered three million views and over 608,000 likes as of June 8.
Manuel told Insider that he moved to Bali last year, and rents the villa in Kerobokan, just outside Canggu, a resort village.
The video shows Manuel's tropical-style home that's replete with a swimming pool. It's also located just 10 minutes away from the beach, Manuel said in the video.
Manuel also shared that in Bali he eats out "every single day," spending between $5 and $7 on average. On nights when he opts for more high-end dining experiences, he said that the cost is less than $50. He added that cocktails "only cost $3 to $4" and that at some bars, he can get 12 shots of alcohol for just $10.
The cherry on top? The diversity of the things you can do in Bali, Manuel said — from partying in "the best nightlife in the world", to visiting waterfalls, beaches, and snorkeling "in the clearest, most beautiful water."
"While I hate the idea of people getting uprooted from their homes as a result of someone else profiting from their loss, it's somewhat inevitable," Manuel told Insider, adding that living abroad "should be encouraged" as long as "you're mindful of the effect you have on locals."
Dozens of people showed support for Manuel's lifestyle, with one user, @ohitsjessmua, commenting: "This sounds like an amazing life... love this for you".
But several TikTokers criticized Manuel for "destroying the land" and raising prices in Bali.
"What you all are doing is the textbook definition of gentrification," one user, Kaechi Lah said in a TikTok stitching Manuel's original video. He added that while digital nomads are up in arms about gentrification in cities like New York and Los Angeles, they believe "it's somehow good" in Bali.
Kaechi's claim has merit. Insider's Amanda Goh previously reported that since Bali reopened its borders in 2021, rental prices have surged and villas can go for up to 30 million Indonesian rupiah, or $2,014 a month. Previously, short-term rental could cost between $940 and $1,209.
"The overwhelming majority enjoy foreigners and tourists as long as they are respectful to Bali, its culture, traditions, and rules," Thomas told Insider in response to the criticism, adding that he shops and dines mostly at establishments owned by locals.
Manuel said he holds a tourism and social visa and that he doesn't work while living in Bali. Instead, he only works "when I am outside the country traveling and making content in different countries."
Indonesia has only encouraged more digital nomads to live and work remotely in the country by launching a "second-home" visa in October. This visa allows foreigners to stay in Indonesia for either five or 10 years.
"The goal is to attract foreign tourists to come to Bali and diverse other destinations," Widodo Ekatjahjana, an immigration official, said in a government press release.
Local authorities also announced that this month they will begin issuing a card detailing the "dos and don'ts" that tourists should follow. The card, which comprises 20 rules, comes after several foreigners were caught flouting rules at sacred places like temples.
It's worth noting that there are no rules regarding gentrification on the list, as it's mostly related to cultural guidelines and important laws in Bali.
"[I ask] all parties to seriously understand, implement and socialise this circular letter to all staff and foreign tourists visiting Bali," the island's governor Wayan Koster said in a report by the South China Morning Post.2023-06-08T08:56:23Z dg43tfdfdgfd