Build Diary – Ilse and Atiba

After experiencing Bali life in 2016 while on holiday, Ilse and Atiba decided to make a radical change. They moved to Bali and became the Digital Travel Couple! Now they have embarked of the challenge of building a dream home in Bali. They have chosen to build an off-plan home in Cepaka, a quiet and beautiful area just north of Canggu!



Who are you and where are you from? How do you know each other?

(Ilse) I’m Ilse


(Atiba) I’m Atiba. We’re both from The Netherlands. I’m 38 and we’ve been together for 10 years.



When did you first come to Bali?


(A) In 2016 we travelled to Bali for the first time. We’d decided to change our lives. We were both working full time jobs in The Netherlands. I was a commercial manager. Before that, I worked for General Motors in the commercial sector.


(I) I was a commercial assistant and besides that I was riding horses in the dressage category. Dressage was a huge passion of mine. I was competing on a national level. I had hoped to be a full-time professional but that wasn’t to be.


(A) It’s part of our story because I was doing competitions as well. I was racing Superbikes. We were both supporting each other during our competitions. But both sports cost a lot of time and money, so we were both working really hard and training really hard. Then on weekends, we were training or competing. We both had our successes, but eventually we had a realisation that we wanted to do something else.


(I) When you are working for someone else, you are making their dream. We wanted our own dream! Plus the risk of injury with our sports was significant.


(A) So then our process started. We began to think of how we can develop our lifestyle in a better way. We also wanted to spend more time together, not working or training! And we wanted to work towards our dreams!

Bali Interiors Build Diary Ilse and Atiba Drone

Did you plan to leave Holland?


(I)Holland is such a small country so we knew we would leave. We didn’t have a lot of time because of our sports. We had our own house, and a mortgage, and jobs. But we were asking ourselves “Is this it?” because we wanted more. I was 26/27, Atiba was 32 and we both knew there could be more, but we needed to grab it.



What led you to make the change in lifestyle?


(I) When we visited Bali in 2016, we saw all the digital nomads and we thought this was something we could do. We thought “This is really something!”. So when we got back to The Netherlands, we started researching. We wanted to find out what is necessary to create a life and a job that will allow us to do it. Being location independent was our goal.

We did a lot of research at home and we went to some workshops to meet other people. We knew that this is what we both wanted to do. So, we thought we could set up an online business and have the freedom to live where and how we want. Then we can be our own boss.


(A)So we started this new life in The Netherlands. We both quit our jobs in mid 2017 and then we had half a year to prepare everything. Of course, we made a detailed financial plan.


We were both interested in photography and one of the location independent jobs that we were thinking of was a travel blogger and photographer. That was really appealing to us!


(I)I always loved to write, in Dutch mostly. When we investigated how much money you can make if you have a successful blog, we thought that it was a great option, using advertising, affiliate links, sponsored posts etc.


(A)We also started learning photography. And we started to do little trips to see how it felt. We loved it! So then on 8th August 2018 we bought a one way trip to Bali.

Bali Interiors Build Diary Ilse and Atiba living room
Bali Interiors Build Diary Ilse and Atiba kitchen
Bali Interiors Build Diary Ilse and Atiba pool

Why did you move to Bali?


(A)We knew it was a hub for Digital Nomads. We had already visited and loved the island. Plus the cost was lower and we knew that at the beginning we needed to be really careful with our budget. Lots like-minded people are here, and there’s a great variety of locations for photography.


(I) We had had such a short time to explore Bali in 2016, so we really wanted to go back and base ourselves here. Then we could travel around South East Asia.


So we did that! We were based in Bali but we also travelled in South East Asia and learnt our skills. We made lots of content.



How did you feel as you entered this new digital nomad lifestyle?


(A)It was more than I expected because you are your own boss. You are fully responsible for what you do and you don’t have set hours. We were now also working and living together 24/7! We loved experiencing different cultures as we travelled and documents different landscapes too.



Did you continue to use Bali as your base?


(I)Yes, we used Canggu mostly as our base but we always loved to travel. We travelled all around Bali and even lived in Ubud for 6 months. That was a great experience because it allowed us to compare and realise the benefits of each place.

Bali Interiors Build Diary Ilse and Atiba pool

So why did you decide to build in Bali?


(A)After we registered our company here, we wanted to have a permanent base here! Plus after COVID, rents were going crazy so it seemed like a good time to invest. There were fewer good places that we liked.



I know that you decided to build off plan. Why did you choose to build this way?


(I)Well, we saw the pictures on a Facebook ad and we liked the look of it, so we decided to find out more. Fortunately, the developer had actually finished one of the complex’s villas already, so we could see what it looked like. We could walk in it and explore it and see what we liked or didn’t like. We didn’t just have to rely on renderings.


We saw the facebook ad in one of the housing community groups here in Bali. We had been living in Ubud and we loved the jungle and the nature vibes so we wanted something similar. We didn’t want to be in the middle of Canggu. We knew we needed a view.


And when we saw the view from our villa here, we were sold!


(A)Even the ad on facebook appealed to us. It said something like “an Ubud feeling in Canggu”. We ended up meting Denis the architect and it was meant to be. Ours was the last unit available so we had to decide quickly!



What is your villa?


(A)It’s a 2 bedroom villa, with an enclosed living with folding doors so it can be fully opened up if we want. It has a swimming pool. There is also a mezzanine level inside the villa. That will be our office.


The complex also has some 1 bedroom villas too and a 3 bedroom villa too. There are 10 villas in the complex. It comes fully furnished. It’s turn key!


(I) That was another reason to do off plan. We are not experienced with building and we did hear some horror stories, so we wanted it to be as easy as possible.



Was there anything that you wanted to change?


(I)There were some slight changes but basically it was perfect for us!


(A) We reversed the living room to change the position of the sofa.



What is the timeline of your build?


(A)We decided to do it at the end of April/early May 2022. Before we paid the deposit, we had done some due diligence with our notary. We were confident because all the other buyers had done due diligence too.


They started building our villa and they think it will be finished in December 2022.



How did you know you could trust the architect/developer?


(I)The architect/developer will live on site too. His own villa is the first one he built. We met with him and the builder many times and we always had a good feeling. Even though this is his first project, the builder Wayan has done this many times before and is very well-known.


We’d seen his work and we are very happy with how he has been working on the other villas in the complex. They were bought before us, so the builder started earlier on them, which means we can see our villa’s future by looking at what they are building now.


In fact, we’ve been walking through them with Dennis and showing him the little details that we want changed or fixed. He’s been very willing to doing that.



How has your experience been so far?


(A)So far, so good. The communication has been very open and direct, and we are happy. Until now, everything they have promised, they have delivered. We go there on a weekly basis.


(I) We are very satisfied so far!



Explore Ilse and Atiba’s work HERE

Words by Bali Interiors

Photos by Bali Interiors + Ilse and Atiba

If you are building in Bali (or have recently finished) and would like to be featured in the Build Diary, please contact us at

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