Living in Bali – Finding a Villa to Rent in Ubud

When Bali presented itself as being our home for four months, I was over the moon.

Four months, it would be the longest time in one place for three years.

There was never any question of location, we would be renting a Villa in Ubud somewhere. Finding a Villa to Rent in Ubud wasn’t as easy as I thought and proved a little challenging.

With a bit of research I was feeling like Ubud was going to be much more crowded, touristy than we had previously known. So we booked a cottage in a small village called Penestanan just outside the Ubud for a week, so we could search for a villa for our four month stay.

What do you Need and what is your Budget?

It’s worthwhile deciding first what you need as there are literally hundreds of villas to rent, a lot of competition but also a lot of sub standard places that won’t meet your requirements.

Our initial budget was 10-12 million IDR a month but we went over budget at Devi’s place as they had 100% of our requirements and excellent WIFI.

How’s that for a Ricefield View?

The pool and A/C increase the price, and the ricefield view was the hardest to find, we did not want a concrete wall with a jungle view.

We ended up paying 16.5 million IDR which is around $1200 USD per month.

Here’s our wish list:

  • 1 – 2 bedrooms – in case we had friends to stay.
  • Good air conditioning (one that works properly)
  • Good WiFi – We used the Speed Test app on our iPhone for places we were considering.
  • Quiet village atmosphere
  • Private Pool
  • Ricefield View
  • Kitchen with actual cooking facilities (preferably indoor)
  • Table big enough to work at.

We’ve seen nice places without pools and maybe no kitchen listed from 3-6 million IDR ($225-450) a month, and places with pools from 8 -10 million IDR ($600 – $750) a month.

For medium size villas like we were looking at 14 -17 million IDR. ($1000 – $1300) a month.

For large luxury villas, the sky’s the limit – 20 million IDR ($1500) or more…

Finding a Villa to Rent in Ubud – What to Look out For

We’d been advised by others to wait and get a villa once we arrived and this proved to be very good advice.

There are many factors to be mindful of when renting a villa in Bali that you can’t see or hear in an online listing.

Like barking dogs, crowing roosters, smelly pig farmers, mould and dampness issues, bug infestations, air flow, and the access road.

Yes, the access road is a huge thing that I had not given a lot of consideration to, but proved to be really important.  Imagine trying to walk 500m – yes half a kilometre in the heat with the weekly groceries – pretty tricky, especially carrying the heavy and important things like beer.  It wasn’t until I got there that I realised the importance of this to us.

This was a cute little kitchen with a fish pond to the right but too small for a long term stay.

Then, there’s the issue of the outdoor kitchen, which sounds all very romantic until the ants and bugs want to share your food!

The Balinese people are short so their kitchen benches and sinks are about 2 foot off the ground…no good when you are 6 foot like us.

And a couple more things to be mindful of…

Bali Rain

Bali storms and rain are initially fun and amazing but can turn scary quickly. Make sure your villa has ‘Bamboo Rain Curtains” if you are there in rainy season.

For some reason the fall in this place was into the house… it flooded regularly.

This will hopefully stop your house from flooding. But speaking of rain, if you get a torrential downpour it’s highly likely your villa will leak somewhere.

Bali Mood Lighting

Romantic Mood lighting… but no good for reading.

Then there’s the romantic mood lightning prevalent in most places which is lovely but if you want to find anything in your suitcase, read or do any work then it’s virtually impossible.

In a villa look for at least some decent lamps or at least some white lights.

Finding a Villa to Rent in Ubud – Where to Look?

If you want to book a villa in advance, Airbnb has many options. It’s cheaper than vacation villa websites but prices will be higher than if you find somewhere once you arrive.

I’ve written a guide to using Airbnb and if you sign up here you’ll get $25 off your first booking.

If you are staying in Ubud for a month or more, I recommend waiting until you arrive to look for a villa—there are many different options and prices are much lower than online.

Our first stop is usually Airbnb, however as expected most of these seemed more expensive than I thought it was going to cost.

Initially I thought we could get a villa for around $500 – $800 USD a month, but that proved impossible based on our wish list.

We had joined many Facebook groups and these were a really good source of listings, the Balinese are very instant message savvy, so a quick message on messenger and you’d be on your way to look at something. Just google “Villa Rentals in Ubud Facebook Groups”

There’s many message boards in the local Bintang supermarket and just a walk down the streets will yield many ‘House to Rent’ signs.

And don’t forget to talk to the ‘man on the street’ – he’s bound to have an uncle, brother or cousin with a house to rent.

Finding a Villa to Rent in Ubud – Our Search…

The first place we looked at was in the centre of the Penestanan village 500 metres down a track that was “scooter only” access. It was raining cats and dogs and we were up to our ankles in water accessing it.

Seriously up to our ankles is no exaggeration.  Not a good start, neither or us were saying anything – just going with the flow literally and trying desperately not to fall into the channel beside the path.

On arrival the villa we’re looking at is completely private by a high block wall about 9 feet high, nice privacy but a massive heat trap, with no air flow.

And because it had rained so hard that day the ‘outdoor’ tiled living space was pretty wet and slippery. We pretty quickly discounted this one and many, many others like it.

We then looked at some in the area of Tirta Tawar… where some of our friends had stayed.  The first one was a massive 2 storied house plonked right in the middle of the rice fields all by itself, with an upstairs very HOT stuffy bedroom.

Downstairs was closed in with no air conditioning and very dark.  The kitchen was non existent and when I opened the cupboards – oh the dirt and grub. Next door was a construction site with many workers who all looked up taking great interested in us.

Ok moving on right now.

I have since read this area has been fraught with burglaries and break ins so really happy we didn’t locate here.

It was really cute this little bungalow…

So back to our lovely little Lotus Cottage in Penestanan where we were staying for a week. We talked to Jani here who showed us some options within her place.  Clearly most of these suited us much better, but we could not be accommodated for the entire 4 months in one place.

So after looking at our 20 odd places we locked in consecutive dates at various villas in the area of Penestanan and at Devi’s Place, which meant we were going to move around a bit.

Not ideal the best we could do to get what we needed.

Villa Number One – Living in Bali

Looks great… but looks are deceiving

Our first villa was an overpriced stop gap measure for 2 weeks but not actually at Devi’s.  Basically it was a bedroom with an outdoor kitchen living where we co habitated with loads of bugs. It was one of those ghastly high wall villas with a long scooter only access  and was super hot and stuffy.

I usually check the bed when we get to a new place.  This one was ghastly – the sheets were yellow and blood stained.  The pillows were damp and mouldy with a cocoon was growing on one of the pillowcases! – Yes unbelievable eh?

Plus there were bugs in the bed! – black jumping ones – SHOCK – HORROR

Thinking the worst I packed up my clothes and removed my suitcase from the room in rapid fashion.

Sitting outside in the stuffy heat, I got online and quickly ascertained they were not bed bugs (whew)  but bugs that drop from the bamboo ceilings, common in Bali.

This room didn’t have a mosquito net over the bed which is quite important here for this reason.

A net on the top of the bed catches all manner of bugs as well as gecko poop and piddle.

Villa Number Two – Living in Bali

A nice sitting area – but note the furniture is mostly ‘hard’ – soft squishy type furniture is hard to find in Bali.

After a couple of weeks we moved to Hibiscus Villa which we thought was going to be perfect, and it was certainly a lot better that where we had just been.

However there was non existent internet (1mbps) and very low water pressure that made showering and washing very tricky.  A few days after we moved in the neighbor decided to start building his ‘igloo’ type house.   So now we had dusty and noisy construction as well as bad internet and trickling water.

Magic Hour… with Jack and Jin… Jack Daniels and Coke for Des and Gin & Tonic for Jo…

To it’s credit we had a million dollar view of the rice fields, magic sunsets, a gorgeous pool and nice breeze off the rice fields.

Plus and it was a big plus –  we were being regularly visited by a beautiful Pomeranian dog called Lucky. (he became a big feature in our family in Bali going forward, more about him later – he will have his very own blog post one day) Lucky loved Hibisicus.Living in Bali

Villa Number Three – Living in Bali

After Hibiscus we finally moved back to Devi’s Place and into the gorgeous Intani Villa. To say we were in heaven would be an understatement.

We would have stayed the whole time had it been available.

Can’t you tell this was just gorgeous! and look closely there’s our very own private pool.

Intani Villa was indeed perfect in every way. The owners had thought of every single thing when putting this villa together. I opened the kitchen cupboard to find real wine glasses and more than 2, real china coffee mugs and again more than 2.

It was a home away from home.

It’s a pretty nice galley kitchen again with a view and double opening windows…

The kitchen came fully equipped with everything that worked.  That’s another thing – sometimes things in these places are there but don’t go or are broken.

Intani has 2 bedrooms both with fabulous outdoor ensuite bathrooms.  Outdoor bathrooms are so cool here in Bali – most come with outdoor showering and a lovely garden. I loved my shower every morning in nature!

It has lovely living spaces, a gorgeous pool and garden, comfortable beds and nice linen.  It’s open and airy and we were in heaven here, plus we had car and scooter access and great comings and goings to entertain us outside in the rice fields.  The local teenage girls love to came past and shout out to us.

It really doesn’t get much better than this..

We were sad to leave here after 5 weeks and hoped our next one for the last 6 weeks was going to be as good.

Villa Number Four – Living in Bali

A forever unobstructed ricefield view…

Our final 6 weeks we moved again, this time to a one bedroom villa still at Devi’s Place in Penestanan – the village which we have come to love.

Our next villa was completely exposed to the rice fields with no fences and no garden except for a lovely passionfruit vine full of passionfruit!

The perfect office desk… watching the rice stubble burnoff…

We have a 180 degree view and our computers sit beautifully at the window distracting us regularly with our million dollar view.

Bali – my home…

We have had total joy in watching sunsets and the activities of the rice and duck farmers.

The villa itself is comfortable, but there were initial issues with power and water. Luckily they were rectified promptly by the owner.

Lucky found us wherever we shifted to, I was glad about that!

It’s one thing to have hot water, but another to have ‘enough’ hot water for more than one shower! another little tip, always check the size of your water cylinder. Many are only 15 litres which is only good for one shower.  They are heated by electricity, and of course then the bigger the cylinder the more power it takes to heat.

Which brings us to the topic of power in Bali. It’s unstable at best with many spikes and surges. You definitely need a surge protector for your electronics.  Some devices, like computers and refrigerators, may not work or will be damaged after a while.

A nice kitchen with plenty of bench space.

Before renting accommodation, check the power supply ‘wattage’ to your villa.  For example, a villa with two air conditioning units, a refrigerator, water pumps and other common electrical devices will need a minimum of 4,400 Watts.  Always a good idea to ask the wattage and whether they have a voltage stabilizer. It is possible to request an upgrade of the power supply, however, there can be a long waiting list.

Forget using an oven, even if one is supplied,  it would be pretty much impossible to run.  Many have little bench ovens which are much better for baking, casseroles or baked potatoes.

In General – Living in a Villa in the Ricefields

It’s very easy to get a rose tinted and romantic view of living in a rice field villa in Bali.

Many ‘so called rice field villas’ here are just a standard cookie cutter type building slapped up cheaply, that looks a bit like this –  ‘small bedroom, plunge pool and kitchen tacked on the side’

When looking online and in the main for a short stay holiday the majority will be absolutely fine and fabulous.

But when you are staying a little longer you may want to look into some of the things we mention here, especially if you are wanting to work online here in paradise.

We were lucky to find Devi’s Place where the attention to detail in every way, and a blend of Balinese culture, and western comfort was pretty perfect for us.

We’ll be back Bali…

Have you stayed in Bali for a few months?

What was your experience?



7 Comments on “Living in Bali – Finding a Villa to Rent in Ubud

  1. Great post Jo! Very informative and it brought back so many memories from my short time spent in Bali last year. Makes me want to go live there! It’s such a beautiful and special place. 🙂

    • Thanks Jill, we fell in love with Bali on our first trip in 2006 and yearned to be there longer term for many years… we’ll be doing it again in the future that’s for sure.

    • Agness – there are so many highlights in Bali…it’s age old, but the people are a treasure and their dedication to culture is lovely to watch. There are many special places to visit but a highlight is always being part of a ceremony such as a cremation, wedding, tooth filing, or the hundreds of other things they give thanks for in the way of elaborate ceremonies.

  2. Really great post with all the relevant information required to make a decision on longer term villa rental. We really love your Intani Villa, every box ticked!

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