Build Diary 2 – The Search Begins

Where to live?


So, we’ve made our decision to design and build – choosing the area we wanted to live in was the next step. We already knew the area we were looking for and we didn’t want to move too far from where we had already set down our roots. We’ve always loved Canggu, even as it becomes overrun with the uber-cool kids.

Our friends and community are here plus it’s close to all of the amenities we already frequent such as schools, hospitals, markets, restaurants etc. That said, there is very limited land left in Canggu and what’s left is just too expensive!


Exploring on a scooter


That meant looking around for other areas that are close enough to allow us to take advantage of what Canggu has to offer, but are both more affordable and offer a more Balinese vibe, in terms of landscape and culture.  So, whenever my husband and I had some free time in the past few months, we’d jump on a scooter and ride around in the blazing hot sun looking at surrounding areas.

Sometimes with the kids and sometimes just us. Some areas we knew well, others we’d never been to.

Exploring was fun but it was a real relief when we finally chose the area we wanted – Babakan. It’s located only one village inland from Canggu and just 10 minutes by scooter. A few kilometres away from the daily buzz of the growing tourist hotspot feels like different world. In many ways, it still feels like old Bali – the Bali we want to live in.

Land hunting on our scooter!

Exploring was fun but it was a real relief when we chose the area we wanted – Babakan. Only 1 suburb inland from Canggu, it’s 10mins away on a scooter, but it feels like different world. In many ways, it still feels like old Bali.

Canggu = blue, Babakan = the red pin drop

Narrowing In


After deciding on the village, it was back on the scooter to look for that elusive perfect plot of land in Babakan. Riding around day after day, week after week, going up and down countless lanes (also known as ‘gangs’) looking for empty land whilst avoiding angry dogs and curious cows along the way (hashtag balilife)!

Sometimes there were small handmade signs stuck to telephone poles or gates advertising available land, but more often than not it was a matter of empty land we liked the look of and asking around in our best Bahasa for who owned it, and how we can get in touch.

Fortunately, the locals were very friendly and everyone was keen to take us to meet their friend/uncle/random person who had land for rent (not just out of the goodness of their heart: they also get a significant referral fee from the landowner for their trouble)!

My phone is full of snaps of random pieces of land that we visited just like this one!



Given Babakan is so underdeveloped, we saw a lot of land; different shaped plots, some with rice fields that need draining, some with rice farmers and water bull, others that have been cleared and some that look like a jungle. There were chickens, cows, kites and temporary shanty houses.

We soon found some land that we caught our attention. It was particularly appealing because it overlooked a “green belt”: an area that has been zoned only for agriculture. Our current home in Canggu has been surrounded by newly-built villas as the area exploded in popularity, so I really wanted to avoid this by having a view that can’t be built on.

Unfortunately, much to the landowner’s surprise (or so he claimed!), it turned out that his land was also green belt, so that was a no go. However, perhaps it was a blessing in disguise, as just down the road we found another piece of empty land overlooking the same green belt, but this land appeared to be in a residential zone. It didn’t take long to be introduced to the owner…




  1. K. H. September 6, 2019

    We went to Bali on our honeymoon this past June and we were seriously thinking we were going to buy a house or some land there to build on. We were very excited about it because we had only heard/read amazing things about Bali. But we were really disappointed by the amount of trash, pollution from garbage burning (plastic), the homeless animals, the disgusting public restrooms, the endless Muslim mosque chanting, and the roosters that woke us up constantly to even think about living there or going back to visit. The starving dog problem left us feeling very sad. The fact that they have little respect for the environment and throw trash everywhere, much like Mexico, was shocking to us. We had high dreams for Bali being the perfect place for us, but it left us very disappointed in the end. Hope they clean it up and start taking care of all the animals that are suffering there. The one thing we did love was the friendliness of the people and the amazing food. But there were far too many negatives for us to ever go back.

    1. baliinteriors September 8, 2019

      Hi K.H. yes I completely understand your reaction. Indonesia is a developing country with all the issues it entails. Bali’s popularity has grown enormously, and no doubt, there hasn’t been the required investment in infrastructure and education to care for the very reason why so many people come here. A generation ago, people didn’t use plastic here, they wrapped their takeaway in banana leaves, threw them away, and it decomposed. Sadly, that doesn’t occur with plastic – it clogs land, rivers and beaches. Fortunately, change is occurring. The Bali govt recently introduced laws banning single-use plastic and most expats didn’t think they would be respected. Amazingly, in many places they have been. School kids do projects that emphasise the importance of looking after their island. Perhaps it will take generational change, but change is in the air! I remain optimistic!
      It could be that I’m just used to it, but I simply adore the chanting and the prayers. The way their cultures and religions are incorporated into daily life is something to behold! My 4 year son enjoys praying along with both his Balinese Hindu and Javanese Muslim nannies!

  2. Karina silvester September 7, 2019

    Excited to read of your build.. we have noticed from only the last year how the beautiful rice fields in Canggu have disappeared .It is sad to see so much development going on there .I look forward to reading the process of your build.??

    1. baliinteriors September 8, 2019

      Thank you Karina. This is a pattern that occurs again and again in Bali: development follows the coast. Previously, people said the same thing about Kuta, then Legian, then Seminyak, and now Berawa/Canggu. Already, there is significant development in the next suburb along the coast, Pererenan. It’s one the reasons we chose to move inland a little! On the flip side, I don’t begrudge the local rice farmer who suddenly has the chance to rent out his land for many times what he could earn growing rice. Rice farming is back-breaking, never-ending work in the hot sun. I think many of us would make the same choice.

  3. Ange September 7, 2019

    Thank for the update! What an adventure!

    1. baliinteriors September 8, 2019

      Thanks Ange! We have everything crossed that it goes smoothly!


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