All You Ever Wanted To Know About Homeschooling (in the UK)
As a homeschooling family in the UK we get asked about homeschooling a LOT. A lot a lot. Like, most days. If we go to Tesco the cashiers wonder aloud if the kids have an inset day; parents at parks or soft-plays ask why the girls aren’t in school and whenever we meet anyone new the subject inevitably comes up about where our kids go (or don’t, in our case) to school.
We really welcome genuine questions from open-minded people about our homeschooling and lifestyle decisions; they are very much thought through so we’re happy and confident to talk with people curious about alternative education, or those considering homeschooling their own kids.
I recently asked our readers to hit us with their burning questions about homeschooling and gave them free reign to ask us anything. We got a lot of the same questions, and from the pile we got about 10 specific areas that people were really curious about when it came to homeschooling- so here are the answers to the 10 most asked questions!
Why did you decide to home educate?
There are several reasons and inspirations that led us to the decision to home educate our children.
Prior to becoming a parent I worked in a unit for teenagers who had been expelled from a local Pupil Referral Unit (PRU). A PRU is where kids go if they are expelled from normal school, so as you can imagine these kids were pretty challenging and had quite severe emotional and behavioural difficulties. The leader of the unit in which I worked had a very alternative, gentle and holistic approach to the students’ education and the way she communicated with them. This is what first made me realise how effective and positive an alternative way of approaching education (and indeed mutually respectful adult-child relationships) could be. We started thinking about home educating our own kids before we actually had any of the girls.
After leaving the PRU I had Esmae and we decided not to send her to nursery, to see how she got on and developed without a school-like environment in her early years. Of course she thrived and we loved taking the role of educational leaders. We also knew that if we home educated it would make travelling extensively, which we always planned to do with our children, more accessible and easier for our kids as they would already be used to not attending school.
We did visit a small private school to see if this appealed to us more than home education and although it was a good school we decided it wasn’t for us. This was for a few reasons but in the end we decided that rather than have me work all hours to afford the fees, we would do it the other way around and I would be the primary lead in the kids’ education. (Even if we could have afforded to send Esmae to the private school without sacrifice we would still have chosen homeschooling, and still would choose homeschooling over private schooling for our family today).
Another big plus to home educating in those early years was that Esmae got to spend a good amount of quality time with Patrick, as he worked shifts and long hours which often meant he would be out during mornings and evenings. If we had sent her to nursery she would hardly have seen her daddy for 2-3 of her early years because of his schedule. Good parent-child relationships are fundamental to healthy development so along with the other reasons I mention above, homeschooling was a no-brainer.
With regards to homeschooling itself, there are many things that attracted us to it. We love the flexibility it allows us so we can take opportunities as they come up and enjoy a fairly open diary. We love being able to explore museums, historical properties, parks, libraries, farms and theme parks when they are practically empty.
One of the benefits of homeschooling is having groups of mixed-age children to socialise with, so that our girls learn from older kids and develop compassion and gentleness with younger children. We love being able to flow with the weather, to take advantage of long sunny days outside and then stay inside with books, crafts and cooking on freezing days, or to have the park to ourselves in the evening.
We also enjoy being able to prioritise some areas or activities that might be harder to pursue in a school environment- sports and the arts are unfortunately facing heavy cuts in some schools and although we prefer to talk about ‘why we homeschool’ as opposed to ‘why we don’t send our kids to school’, the way that schools and teachers (and therefore students) are treated in some ways, is another reason why we chose to do things differently.
Exploring our local area
Homeschooling allows us to also facilitate a lot of autonomy for the girls in terms of their own schedule. We like to give them opportunities to practise decision making and essentially being in charge of their own lives (with guidance, support and boundaries) and to personalise their lives and learning journey. It’s easier to do this with a 1:3 adult to child ratio which we are lucky to have in our homeschooling family.
We love being able to stay out late if there’s something worth staying up for, and not having to rush in the mornings. We love having the time to stop everything we’re doing to explore a new area of interest, and being able to have ongoing projects to dip in and out of.
What are the hours like?
In the UK the law states that home educating parents must provide a “full time, age appropriate” education for their child, but it does not outline exactly what full time or age appropriate means exactly. If a council has to provide a tutor for a school child who is unable to attend school due to chronic illness, they provide a tutor for up to 6 hours a week as that is, according to local authorities, the amount of tuition that school children receive.
Some homeschooling families set themselves “school hours”, which are usually much shorter (2 or 3 study hours) than school hours due to the much higher adult-child ratio. Most families don’t and we do not have set studying hours, preferring to see how each day goes and also taking into account that learning rarely looks like studying from a textbook for a 6 or 7 year old. It is much more likely to look like paper and glue and pipe cleaners all over the table (homeschoolers know allll about mess!), or a pile of conkers and pine cones being pored over, or a birdhouse being built, or a group of children running through the grounds or gazing in the halls of an historic property.
Or, y’know, rolling in the mud.
Questions about aerodynamics or spirituality or maths or chemistry or emotions or rhyming or social justice get asked with a flying-jump-to-the-kidneys at 6am, or over cookies and juice, or shouted down from a tree, or asked semi-conscious as they’re drifting off to sleep. We know that all of these moments are vital in their educational journey and that learning simply can’t be constrained by time limits, so we don’t try to. In simple terms, we don’t have set study hours because our method of education doesn’t involve a whole lot of traditional studying at this age.
We are always evaluating how we home educate and if we decide that a more structured approach becomes more appropriate for any of our kids, we are open to introducing more of a timetable.
How does it work with the UK’s schooling laws?
In the UK, home education is technically the default position for every child as school is an “opt in” service- this means that you have to apply for a school place, it is not automatically given to each child. Home education is 100% legal and the requirements of parents are to provide a full time, age appropriate education. There is no requirement to follow the national curriculum (although this may seem shocking at first, it may be less so when you learn that every single private school also has zero obligation to follow it either).
Home educating families do not receive any assistance, practical or financial, from the local authorities- we fund and facilitate it ourselves in the same way as private education. I believe that some councils may provide a list of potentially helpful resources for parents who request it, although it varies according to area.
A ‘school’ day visiting an elephant camp in Thailand… 100% legal in UK law! We feel extremely fortunate to live in a country with (currently) such good homeschooling laws.
The local authority has a duty to ensure that every child in their region receives an adequate education and can request evidence of this. This can be provided in a written Educational Philosophy or as samples of what a child has been doing, or photos of activities; there is no legal obligation to have a home visit or to be interviewed.
If you live in England or Wales and wish to de-register your child from school, you simply need to hand a letter stating that you wish to have your child deregistered from their school, to the school office or administrative team. The school has a legal obligation to immediately deregister the child and there are no obligations to have meetings or any further contact with the school whatsoever.
The exception to the above is if your child has a statement and attends a special school due to additional needs; local authority approval to home educate may be required in these circumstances.
How much patience do you need to homeschool?
One bushel, three cubits, ten hands (if you’re into horses) or four square metres. Approximately. Seriously though, I think that patience is like a muscle- the more you train it, the stronger it gets. I’ve been with my kids every day since they were born; if I let the little things get to me I’d always be stressed.
If I had to give advice to any parent, especially those who find the constant-ness of homeschooling challenging, I would say fake it ‘til you make it. If I feel myself losing my cool I will sometimes ask myself, “what would a patient person do in this situation?” and then do that, no matter how I feel.
I would also say that I believe that the academic standards set for children are often unhelpful and can stress both parents and kids. If there is a point of tension in your home surrounding a piece of “work”, scrap whatever work it is that you are doing and just do something fun with them.
Happiness is our main learning objective!
One of the joys of homeschooling is that you can design your children’s lives to meet their needs, so learning can always be fun- some parents considering homeschooling are put off by the idea of battles over worksheets at the kitchen table. There is no need for this to be the case at all; whatever your child’s personality and interests, you can tailor your days to suit them and you as a family.
Whether or not they can write in cursive or do quadratic equations really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things; having a happy, healthy child who has nurtured a love of learning that will stay with them for a lifetime is infinitely more valuable- they can always catch up on specific subjects if and when they need to.
I would also add that many, many parents have said to me that they could never homeschool their child because they’d find it too difficult to spend all their time with them. I completely understand this- however, if a child goes to school they have a lot of context-specific factors affecting their behaviour and character that may be completely different if they were home educated. It’s just something worth thinking about.
How do you motivate yourself to get up and do it every day?
This answer will be different for every homeschooling parent you ask, but in one way it will be exactly the same- we motivate ourselves to do whatever it takes to keep our kids happy, healthy and thriving because we are parents- it’s what we do. (Also, caffeine, and lots of it).
Whether you get up at 5.30am to get all the kids ready for and dropped at school/the childminder/ nursery, or spend hours of your time ironing uniforms, or use evenings to scroll through education and craft websites or miss your yoga session to attend another Parents’ Evening, or discuss the nature of Black Holes at 10pm- we are all doing it because it is the best thing we can do for our kid, in our specific set of circumstances, at that time.
Seeing the direct effects of home education provides its own motivating effects- hearing the kids talk about our recent trip around Asia as if it were as everyday as popping to Tesco, is pretty cool. Knowing that the girls aren’t stressed by tests and that they are developing self motivation and their own interests, without worrying about grades or how they’re going to “use it” in the future is also good. They are learning because they love learning and this sets them up for a lifetime of continuing education and self development.
What will you do about exams?
Homeschooled kids can and do pursue further education in the same way as children who have gone to school. GCSEs and A-levels can be booked and paid for privately and children can learn the material either at home with parents’ or tutors’ support, or at groups run by teachers within the home education community, or at college, or online. Flexi-schooling, where children attend school for just the lessons they wish to sit exams for, is another option if the family can find a school to agree to this.
There are, increasingly, University courses for people who have no prior qualifications. The Open University degrees, for example, do not require any prior qualifications so technically home educated children (or anyone else) can enrol on these degrees without taking GCSEs or A-levels, as long as they can competently do the work. There are access courses that can be taken prior to enrolling on a degree for people who need some academic preparation.
I don’t know yet what our children will want to do in terms of future studying and work, but we will support them fully in whatever study or work route they decide to take.
Their Geography knowledge should be on point!
How do you homeschool full time and work / earn an income?
Prior to our year travelling around Asia, Patrick had a full time job in the sports industry and I worked from home ad hoc as a freelance writer and digital marketer.
Homeschooling does not have set hours so we don’t need to find jobs that allow us to be 100% available 9am-3pm, for example, but one of us needs to be at home full time as none of our kids are old enough to be home by themselves. I’m the full time at-home parent and I fit work in during the evenings and weekends while Patrick takes over with the girls, or during lulls in day when they are entertained and don’t need my involvement in whatever they’re doing.
When we went travelling our roles were reversed and I worked while Patrick and my Mum looked after the kids. Although it facilitated an amazing experience and I’m very glad they had that time with Patrick, we wouldn’t go back to that arrangement unless we had to- I really missed being with them and they missed me too, so our original set up works better for us.
So that’s how we homeschool and earn a living- it’s intense and hard work but we absolutely love it.
Sri Lanka: Work with terrible Wifi in the morning; climb a mountain in the afternoon!
What would you do if you lived in a country where homeschooling was not allowed?
This is a tough one as obviously there are legal issues within this question- in several countries, Germany for example, home education in any form is not allowed. I find it insane that it would be dictated to parents that the only approved method of education is school, but that’s how it is for many families across the world. I am very fortunate to have been born and raised in the UK, where home education is legal and so I have never had to seriously contemplate whether or not to send my kids to school or attempt to homeschool them without the support of the law.
I would certainly not, if I could help it, move to a country where I could not freely home educate my kids. If I already lived in one or if for example it became illegal in the UK, the importance of home education to us is such that we would move to a country supportive of homeschooling if we were able to.
However I recognise that this is not reality for most people who wish to home educate. I think it is important that we protest injust/ oppressive laws and a law that forces parents to send their children to school against their will/s is certainly both of these. This might mean that parents decide to defy the law and home educate, and face the consequences like the mother who went to prison in Ireland for refusing to pay a fine for homeschooling. I personally can’t really say what I’d do as it depends on how the law was enforced and other possible education options, but homeschooling is not something that we would give up lightly.
Homeschooling in Sri Lanka last year
Do you have to have a qualification to homeschool your own children?
No. There is a common misconception that you should be a qualified teacher in order to homeschool your own children. I am good friends with several qualified teachers who quit to homeschool their own children and who say that their qualifications does not help them in homeschooling.
This makes complete sense when you think about it: delivering the National Curriculum to a classroom of 30 children with hugely different backgrounds, abilities and needs, managing group behaviour and completing the related admin is vastly different to facilitating the educational needs of your own small handful of children.
People often worry they are not bright enough to homeschool their kids. I often remind them that teachers, especially in primary school, are not experts on a subject or subjects. They learn the curriculum material enough to be able to deliver it, in the same way that a parent only needs to be one step ahead of their child in order to facilitate their education (and often it is kids who will lead the way with their own discoveries and interests!)
Homeschooling can also be done with as much or as little support as you like,..
Edit: We have written several posts about the accident & Eira’s journey here, click > here < to see them all.
Hi everyone. First of all thank you for your continued prayers, thoughts and messages, they are deeply appreciated.
This morning we saw the neurologist again and he said that as long as Eira could walk a few steps without getting dizzy or feeling sick, she could go home and we could care for her there as all her medication can be given at home (Mum is a nurse which is incredibly handy).
Edit: if you don’t know what happened to Eira, click here.
She walked and said she felt ok so we started to prepare to take her home. This took a while as Patrick had to spend a lot of time in the hospital admin office sorting out insurance paperwork, scanning and sending reports etc so a couple of hours after the doctor said we could leave we still hadn’t, which turned out to be a good thing because Eira then vomited a lot at 2pm, and then again at 2.45pm. She then went pale and quiet and fell asleep and is now awake but sleepy and subdued. We are staying in hospital obviously- the nurses suggested we take her home and “come back to Emergency if she vomited again”, which we thought was a very stupid suggestion and got them to call the doctor who said we needed to stay in another night.
It is exceptionally difficult knowing what is the best call to make when you are in a hospital abroad with a language barrier- on one hand hospitals have medical equipment and doctors so it might seem like the safe option to stay in, but at the same time there are big differences in the care quality than back home and being in hospital here is very anxiety inducing as it’s hard to tell what the best thing is for her. We are just having to take one decision at a time.
Esmae has been on an emotional rollercoaster the last few days and was very upset when she realised Eira wasn’t coming home today. It is very hard to watch.
People have been asking “how are you guys holding up?” and I’m not quite sure how to answer that. We’re just here doing what we need to do and hating every single second, and we feel like complete shit. Patrick is an exceptionally calm person and has been a rock despite being distraught; he finds keeping busy is good for him. I want to punch a window and scream.
I hope I can update you tomorrow with better news. She is doing so well and is such a fighter and we cannot WAIT for her to be terrorising us with her usual cheeky tricks and rascal behaviour.
What a Typical Worldschooling Day Looks Like in Our Worldschooling Family
Hi friends! I’ve been really interested to see the recent increase in worldschooling families- those families who use travel as a primary method of education. Some of these families live in one place, homeschool and go on lots of individual trips, some are nomadic and some- like us, now- have moved from our original home (the UK) to another country (Bali), and travel from a different base.
What is world schooling?
World schooling is the term use for an education in which travel plays a major part. World schoolers are most often homeschoolers, so kids don’t go to school or have formal education as such. Education comes from experiences- converting currency, visiting temples and pyramids, swimming with ocean wildlife, social experiences with everyone from market stall holders to tour guides- and from 1-1 interaction with parents such as reading together, playing computer games, cooking, arts and crafts and any little projects we have going on.
Why do families world school?
Families world school for any number of reasons. We always wanted to homeschool our children simply because we think it provides a great life and education for children, one free from the stress of exams at a young age and one that allows them freedom to delve deep into subjects that interest them and not be rushed according to someone else’s schedule. We love travel, we think it is a fantastic educational resource and the best way to learn about history, geography, politics, culture, religion and countless other topics. It’s also fun, team-building as a family and provides memorable experiences for us all. Benefits for the parents include better weather (!) and in cheaper countries, a chance to spend more time with the family and working instead of doing housework and cooking, because these things are cheap to buy and save time on.
Families might also world school because of parents’ jobs- if a parent moves around a lot or gets placed in another country, it is a way of keeping the family together. Family gap years are also becoming more popular, and parents might choose to home/ world school for the year to enable them to go on a family gap year.
Worldschooling = Getting up with Daddy to see the sunrise.
Is world schooling legal?
Worldschooling is entirely legal for home educating families from the UK. There is nothing to prevent or limit travel for home schooling children. For more information about the legalities of homeschooling, read this post on UK home education law.
A typical worldschooling day for our family
Every day is slightly different- that’s the beauty of world schooling- but if we are at home in our Bali town and I’m not working this is the general gist of our day. (It’s essentially what I imagine a typical ‘summer holiday’ day to be). If I am working it’s exactly the same except I leave for work at a local cafe at 8am and my Mum does the morning with the kids if Patrick has errands or shopping to do.
6.30am. People start to wake up. Usually the toddler flings herself onto my boobs for milk and I wake up. Sometimes I get lucky and she sleeps til 7.30am. There might be a dead frog in my bed like on this day, yay.
7am. We get up, have a cuddle, faff around with tea and juice. Whoever is up (Patrick or I) open the curtains because the sight of sunshine and the pool makes us all happy. We might read a couple of books, or the toddler might have nicked my phone and got onto YouTube. We tidy anything that wasn’t put away last night and look for dead lizards/bugs and sweep them out. Nice.
8am. Patrick goes to get bread from the nearby bakery. The kids have peanut butter and fresh bread or cereal, fruit if we’re feeling virtuous. I chug Diet Coke until I’m fully conscious. We talk about what we want to do today.
9am- 12. We eat, do arts and crafts, read and write, go on apps (examples include Love Balls, Minecraft, Teach My Monster to Read, some obnoxious tweenage makeup app, Roblox, etc) and go in the pool. We look after any animals that we currently have residing with us (since moving to Bali we’ve rescued a kitten, fostered two puppies and are now parents to three baby chickens) and play with them. We also look for bugs, make flower arrangements from the garden, go to the market or shops and play with toys and board games.
Our baby chicks! Rainbow, Buttercup and Flower. They might all be boys..
12 (ish). Lunch- usually pasta, veg and fruit, sometimes french toast or a local rice-and-something-unrecognisable from a nearby warung (Indonesian food stall) followed by oranges, mangos, bananas and apples. The girls like to cut up the fruit and veg.
1-3 ish. The toddler might have a nap. I work at home while Patrick does “reading lessons” (never has a term been used so loosely) with the girls if they want to- either playing Hangman or doing basic spelling tests (they actually like this) or activities from a workbook if we have them in the house. They also like “maths lessons” where he writes out sums or uses a workbook and they work on them together. Recently they’ve been making a World Cup wall chart and writing in the names of the teams, the scores etc and drawing the flags. Our oldest kid likes to make greetings cards to her boyfriend (every. single. day), signs for her room wall and calendars/ count down charts to events she is looking forward to.
3 ish. We go out. Our outings on chill days like this are usually to the beach or a beach club (a cafe with playground and swimming pool on the beachfront) to meet friends (yes, our homeschooled kids have friends. They are allowed three friends each*). Sometimes we go to a local softplay or a park, or a local cafe where we can easily spend an afternoon playing their huge selection of board games- favourites at the moment are Monopoly, Battleships, Cluedo, Bananagrams and Uno.
A recent workshop the kids did- Unicorn Freakshakes!
7ish. We get home, have dinner, watch TV and play on more apps. Patrick and/or I go to the gym. We read stories to the kids- our younger kids are still enjoying short stories while Esmae likes me to read longer ones like Enid Blyton’s creations.
8ish. The younger two go to bed- I give the toddler milk in bed and she drifts off, then I lie with Eira (the 5 year old) and we listen to music together while she falls asleep.
8-10ish. Esmae does more art- this is her time when she can do what she likes without the younger girls getting in the way. Sometimes Patrick or I will take her out for an ice cream date.
10ish. Esmae is asleep and we faff around on YouTube, finish up work and tidy the apartment.
So that’s a typical world schooling day “at home”. Our other kinds of worldschooling days are day trips- in England we would visit National Trust properties, soft plays, museums, the beach or friends and in Asia we have been to tea and coffee plantations, whale and dolphin watching, beaches, islands, turtle sanctuaries, cat rescue centres, waterfalls, art galleries, theme parks, rice paddies and waterparks. You can read more about our philosophy about education here, which will explain why we don’t follow a curriculum.
Hi friends! Wow, have we had a lot on recently. As well as having several visitors from the UK as well as the usual work and homeschooling, we somehow found ourselves in the role of Bali dogs volunteer as a foster family for two adorable puppies from the Act 4 Bali Dogs charity.
A couple of months ago we saw that Act 4 Bali Dogs, a Bali dog rescue charity set up by two amazing women, was having an ‘adopt a puppy’ day at the local pet shop. We thought it would be fun to go and play with the puppies, and we were totally right- the girls sat in the puppy pen for three beautiful, messy hours, cuddling and playing with the puppies who were waiting for their forever homes. We learned that the two women have turned their own small house into a Bali dog refuge- they live with over 30 (yes, THIRTY) dogs that they have saved from the streets, and spend their days caring for their charges and rescuing more dogs. They’re amazing.
Love at first sight.
Somewhere during the afternoon, probably during the first half a second of a cuddle with one of the puppies, I decided that it would be a GREAT idea to become a Bali dogs volunteer and provide foster care for some of the puppies- the Bali dog rescue charity was (and is) crying out for foster carers to look after puppies until their get adopted and I thought it would be a super educational, fun, rich experience for the whole family. Patrick thought that I might be being a tad optimistic and romantic about the reality of looking after two puppies in a two-bedroom apartment, which of course I vehemently denied.
Good luck saying ‘no’ to this face.
Fast forward a few weeks, back-to-back 4.30am wake up calls and goodness knows how many puddles and piles of puppy waste strewn around our apartment, and he got to hear those golden words that all spouses live for- “You were right.” The kids loved the puppies but by the end of the foster were begging us to take them back to their home so that they could get a decent night’s sleep without barking, crying, whining or having puppies burst into their room at 3am when they escaped from their pen (dogs can jump HIGH).
Star and Diamond, our terribly-named puppies
It was a super educational experience for the whole family- we learned that Bali dogs eat rice and eggs, cooked fresh twice a day, and that I really don’t like cooking for dogs (or anyone), and that kitchen roll is expensive, and that any tiny change in diet gives puppies uncontrollable diarrhoea. We learned that puppies are actually like toddlers, but toddlers on amphetamines who can run at the speed of light and don’t wear nappies, and have really sharp teeth that can chew through hardwood sofas. We learned that the only thing worse than stepping on Lego in the middle of the night is stepping in a warm puddle of puppy pee. All. The. Education.
Anyway, it was an experience and an adventure, and we helped out for a bit by giving two little pups a whole lot of love, attention and food, which is what life is all about, right? If anyone is in Bali for a month and fancies fostering puppies, get in touch with Act 4 Bali Dogs on Facebook and if you are able to care for one of their charges they will deliver fluff bundles straight to your door, like a magical library of rescued puppies.
Please Pin this!
On a serious note, these women are rescuing more puppies every day from the meat and sacrifice trade, and any donations of food, money or time is very much appreciated. The stray dog population among Bali dogs is booming (see our post about our run-ins with dog attacks here) and the more we can do to temper it, the better.
How our full time traveling family does Bali on a budget
In this post I’ll break down our typical costs of living in Bali and tell you exactly what we spend in a month. Although we’ve only been here a week on this trip we are living exactly how we did when we came last October (see our blog posts on that Bali trip here) so we can easily budget as we know how much everything costs. In the last few days we’ve also found extra food stores, markets and outlets to cut our costs even further- with six months here we wanted to make sure we were being as smart as possible with our cash and show that it was possible for a large-ish family to do Bali on a budget.
What’s our Bali lifestyle like?
Blissful, and cheap. We live pretty simply, we don’t go on lots of organised day tours (actually this time we probably won’t go on any, we’ll just hire a Grab driver for the day if we need to) or have many meals at western restaurants (when we do it’s usually just a treat for the kids and we eat at the local places later). Since leaving London we’ve cut down so much on things that we used to think of as essentials. In our Bali bathroom, for example, you’ll find one bottle of shampoo and one bar of soap. This week I bought moisturiser for the first time but you won’t find special lotions and potions or three kinds of shampoo- I can’t even remember the last time I used conditioner! We cook on a two-ring hob, simple meals like pasta with fresh tomato and garlic sauce, or wholegrain porridge with cinnamon, vanilla and cardamom topped with fresh fruits. Our relaxation time is spent at our pool (free), at the beach (free), or at the gym (£5 per month for 24/7 access!) Treats are fruit juices from cafes while I’m working (as I have to buy something in order to access the WiFI) Oreos, 10p ice lollies for the kids or very occasionally a square of raw organic chocolate from a vegan confectioners in Ubud. Patrick will have the *very* occasional beer (like one 330ml can a week, and often he won’t finish it, the bad-ass rock ’n’ roller) and we are both partial to Diet Coke but really trying to cut down. The kids get to choose between Pizza Hut (£9 for the pizza they share plus ice cream each) or McDonalds (£6 for 3 Happy Meals) once every couple of weeks and they usually choose McDonalds as it has a play area.
So, what do we spend our money on? Here’s what we spend in a month:
Bali on a budget: Our monthly expenditure
Apartment rent: £400
We have a ground-floor two bedroom apartment 5 minutes’ walk from the beach. There are around 6 apartments in the complex but at the moment only ours and Mum’s have people in, which is great. The communal pool is outside our patio doors and cleaned once a week, and weekly apartment cleaning is also included in the price. There is also a cafe on-site that has decent WiFi, which is ideal for nipping across to get an hour or two of work done without traipsing down the road. The apartment also comes with a little five-year old local girl who gets on with our kids and has figured out that if she sneaks in our patio doors I’ll give her Oreos and let her watch Peppa Pig on my phone, but I’ve been told this isn’t included with all Bali accommodation.
Food: £350 approx. This breaks down to:
Jam, peanut butter etc £10
Tea & coffee £10
Crisps & biscuits £10
Drinks out (smoothies & coffee) £20
Local meals ‘out’ £100
Western meals out £35
Vegan protein powder £30
We have recently discovered a health food store and cafe nearby, which we will be frequenting and will probably push up our food bill (in direct correlation with our health and taste-bud-satisfaction, so, win).
Our usual food routine is to eat breakfast and lunch (and the standard pre-breakfast, post-breakfast, mid-morning, pre-lunch, post-lunch, mid-afternoon and pre-dinner snacks ) at home and then get takeaway nasi campur (rice, tempeh & mixed veg) from a local warung (cheap eatery). Our usual place recently gave me a complimentary dog bite with my meal via their resident pet so we’ve gone elsewhere until things are a bit calmer. If I’m out working I’ll buy a fruit smoothie from whichever cafe I’m at but generally we make our own at home now.
It costs £1 for 1kg of clothes to be washed and dried. The laundry service we use (in an abandoned garage down the road) is kind enough to throw elements of novelty into the process by melting holes in our towels, losing at least one item per load and surprising us with other people’s clothes when they return ours to us. So far we’ve gained a large red sock and a Linkin Park t-shirt, which is more than we can say for any UK laundrette. We spend £10-15 a month on laundry. We hand-wash stuff whenever possible when the weather isn’t too humid (things can stay damp for days when it is).
Transport: £40. We use the Grab app and save up to 75% on the usual taxi fares this way (which aren’t expensive to begin with). When it’s boiling we get a Grab to go to the beach- a 5 minute walk as a couple in the cool turns into what feels like a Sahara ultra-marathon when you throw in mid-30 temperatures and three kids. A 5-minute journey costs around 60p, which is approximately 1% of what I would pay for my sanity when laden with beach towels, crying children and damp swimsuits.
Miscellaneous: Around £100. Stuff like a phone registered to call the UK from Bali, data SIMs, tips, replacing broken chargers, re-fills of paints and pencils and books for the kids.
In total that comes to £1000. This is based on us knowing the area and not being in ‘holiday mode’ where we go to beachside restaurants and all have dinner there. This isn’t a budget for people coming on holiday to Bali (I’ll do a post on that too) but if you want an idea of what you will need to make living in Bali possible, it’s a pretty good overview.
Are you surprised how much living in Bali on a budget costs? Did you think it would be less or more? Is there anything that you really want to know the cost of for our upcoming post ‘the cost of living in Bali’, where we will go through the prices of commonly bought items? Let us know in the comments!
To check out our other Bali posts click here. For all the goss on Thailand click here and to read about our Sri Lanka adventures click here.
Visiting Bali? Grab the Lonely Planet guide to plan your perfect trip here: