Neill Kramer is the owner of Ohana Retreat Bali and lead developer of Samara Residences
When I was about 12 years old I went to a summer camp in upstate NY. I learned tennis before it was popular. Later I watched the pros with names like Rod Laver, Jimmy Connors and Bjorn Borg. That summer thunderous music rolled across the landscape from miles away. It was Woodstock. Maybe I heard Jimi Hendrix playing the Star Spangled Banner. At least 1/4 of the camp counselors quit their job and ran to the concert.
Free music. Free love.
About 6 years later a covered tennis “bubble” appeared in my neighborhood, in Brooklyn, NY. I was hired as a tennis pro for the vast sum of $10 an hour. I also convinced a few clients to take lessons from me on a public court for $25 an hour (the club was charging $60). I was a tennis hustler lol.
My friends were probably earning $2 an hour.
My first year of college was something of a disaster career-wise. I started out studying accounting because of the influence of my parents (practical and well-meaning but wrong). Then I switched to Eastern philosophy and abnormal psychology.
With no career focus in mind I quit college and bought a Eurail train ticket for 2 weeks. Europe grabbed my imagination like the explosive music that gripped the imagination of my camp counselors during the Summer of Love.
I met amazing people and promised myself that someday, yeah someday I will live abroad, at least for a couple of years.
Fast forward four decades.
I live in Bali, Indonesia. In 2015 I spent a month in Thailand. In 2016 I spent a month in Vietnam and Cambodia. In 2017 I spent a month in Bali. Then I went home and sold everything and moved with two suitcases and a daypack. I left a box of memories with my ex-wife (for my son).
I’ve been an expat for 4 years. It’s been, overall, a wonderful experience. I still struggle with the language but I have a companion from Indonesia and that helps. But English gets you far on this gentle island.
There’s a remarkable mix of ancient Balinese tradition and the flowering of expat entrepreneurial energy. Even during covid-19 construction continued and open-air restaurants catered to a mix of digital nomads and long-term expats, as international tourists have been off-limits for almost 2 years.
Is it worth it to pack up and leave who and what you know behind? I do miss my son a great deal, but he’s in college and it’s wise for him to get academic and real-world experience in his home country first.
And of course there are friends and relatives who are not available except virtually.
But I’d have to say yes, living in Bali is both practical and wondrous. Practical in that the cost of living is perhaps 1/4 of the USA. And wondrous because — it’s Bali!