Moving to Indonesia while running a business is a life-changing adventure. Doing it all with family in tow is a unique and special kind of challenge. We spoke with three local expat parents about what makes running a business while raising a family in Indonesia worth it.
Steph is a Bali-based mom raising seven kids, five of them under the age of 6. Steph is the founder and owner of a Los Angeles based real estate development and holding business. Traveling often, Steph had plenty of international options to compare, and says that Bali connected with them in a special way: “From the moment we saw the Green School, we were enchanted with our kids growing up without walls, surrounded by nature.”
Marta’s vision is “to make this world a more compassionate, mindful and heart-connected place, one person at a time.” Marta is the parent of a 2-year old and running a business as a holistic advisor, meditation guide and retreat host. “I moved here for myself and then decided to stay, mostly thanks to amazing people who are in my community, the level of consciousness and freedom.”
Hannah runs an online travel business – a guide for foreigners in Bali – while raising a son of 7 and daughter of 11. Hannah has always felt that Bali chose her, not the other way around: “I came as a volunteer teacher in 2005 and ended up married and living here by the end of 2006”.
There is something visceral about the waves, the wind, and the sun; something welcoming about the smiling, easy-going locals that all together makes life here feel less complex, and more human. This spirit brings many to new perspectives on what matters in life. To examine how we balance our time with family and business.
Steph describes working remotely from Bali as a way of living in the moment. Living less focused on pushing projects forward and ticking items off her to-do list. “Knowing that everyone in my business world – on the other side of the planet – is asleep, makes going surfing, grabbing a long lunch at La Brisa, or hanging out with my kids on the Green School campus a guilt-free pleasure.” She dreams of shifting her role as an active investor and developer to a more relaxed, philanthropic approach.
Steph’s example of the lifestyle difference is compelling in it’s contrast. “Bali isn’t a geographic location as much as it is a lifestyle. For a parent of a large family and head of a medium-size private company based in LA, Bali is both a refuge and a chance to live our true values. By the time the kids are off to school, working hours in LA are over so I’m free to go for a surf at Batu Bolong or take a class at my favorite yoga studio. The time difference can make project management frustrating, but it’s also a gift.”
The opportunity to rebalance personal life with that of family and business is a Bali specialty. Steph is one of those finding a better personal and professional life balance to be within grasp as an expat parent.
A world of support
Hannah is crafting her life with considerably more family time by combining the two together directly. “I actually have a surprising amount of flexible time, because most of my work is online. It’s wonderful that my business involves my children because I couldn’t run a guide for families in Bali without them! We get to do lots of fun things and spend time together while I work – so it’s pretty much ideal.”
If a spirit of reinvention in a new country makes lifestyle changes possible, a good nanny can too. For more expats, it becomes a reasonable option in Indonesia. It can directly make the idea of more personal time alongside kids and business a reality. “While I can’t be too bothered to think about my own lifestyle activities while raising a 2-year old, I have put quite an effort into regaining time for myself... I think it is an amazing place to raise small kids in particular.”
Steph takes advantage of the various support services available in Bali, with multiple domestic workers, including a nanny and a butler. “We have a photographer on retainer to capture special moments as well as the simple, gorgeous moments in daily life, masseuse on regular rotation, private swim coach, dressage lessons for my 3-year-old who likes horses, and I’m free to explore classes like breath-work or pottery that I’d never been able to do in LA because of my workload and traffic.”
Creating new connections
Being far away from existing family and circles of friends can add another level of stress. Finding a sense of connection and belonging in a new country can be intimidating at first. It often just takes a little extra effort early on.
Marta recently started hosting mama & child retreats in addition to her existing healing & transformation classes. She chose this in order to build some greater sense of community and involvement.
Steph recalls that: “Finding my groove, disconnecting from my former professional life, and finding a tribe of parents that get us happened so quickly that I forgot it was my number one worry. The one thing for those that make the move seems to be that we have an open heart and interest in engaging in a real way. It’s been humbling and deeply human.”
In terms of business, it is equally critical to find that tribe. Finding inspiring entrepreneurial meetups, clubs, and organizations across the island is one more venue to connect with like-minded business people and in many cases parents at the same time.
It is also a truly revealing way to explore the local culture. As Steph puts it: “I’ve long said that you don’t really know a culture until you’ve had employees and run a business.”
It becomes an intimate opportunity to get to know a new culture, new people and a new environment. It is simultaneously a source of insights, ideas, and frustrations, from the new habits and expectations to local rules and regulations.
Marta describes: “Business-wise, the main struggle for me was to get legal, get a KITAS and a work permit… I’m a single mom in a co-parenting situation, so my other biggest struggle is finding balance and enough energy to combine early-childhood conscious parenting with being focused, present, productive and creative in my business.”
Living in Indonesia can be as transformational for our businesses as it can be for our lives. The change in culture and environment often gives us a new lens to see ourselves and the world around us.
Are you a founder and parent in Bali? Let us know about your experience raising kids and running a business on this paradise island!