Originally from Germany, Vivian has made Bali her home. After working mainly in the digital world, she decided to build some cabins in an off-the-beaten-path part of Bali. We sat down to discuss what led her to live and build in Bali.
What’s your name? Where do you come from and what do you do?
My name is Vivian. I’m from Germany and I’m a travel content creator. I’ve lived in Bali for roughly three years now and I’m happy to call this place my home. I’ve loved being a travel content creator but I got to a point where I just wanted to have something tangible. I missed having something real, something that grows from nothing to hundred! So I decided to build in Bali!
What originally brought you to Bali?
I had been here in the past, then COVID happened, and I didn’t have a home anymore. Friends went to Bali and I was like, “How can you go to Bali? Everything is locked down”. But I found out it was possible, so I just did it and found out that you could have an amazing life here, with such beautiful places, and almost no people. It was amazing! The longer I stayed, the more I fell in love with life here!
What do you love about living in Bali?
I love how life is here. Every day, in the morning, I sit at home at my desk and do my office work. But then, I sit on the terrace and I look over the rice fields and relax. For sunset, I go to the beach with the dogs, which is like three minutes away and there’s no one there. It’s a beautiful life here. After three years of non-stop travel, it was so nice to finally have a home again. A place where I could unpack and feel I was home.
I’m in a quiet place now. I feel like I’m really in Bali, with rice fields, quiet atmosphere, and a peaceful beach, There’s no traffic and nothing bothering me. But if I want, in 40 minutes, I’m in Canggu and I can go to whatever restaurant I want. There are hospitals and infrastructure. This combination of everything here in Bali that makes it very liveable.
Why did you decide to build in Bali?
This quality of building here is really amazing! It blew my mind. I was also surrounded by people investing and looking for opportunities. My friends Marco and Erika were building one of the first Mediterranean villas here and they did such an amazing job, so I started looking. Bali is probably one of the few places on a planet where you have such a good return on your investment.
The value you get for your money is excellent. In Germany, I wouldn’t be able to do this project that I’m doing now. In fact, I wouldn’t even be able to get the land, let alone build!
I’m building something not for myself, but as a rental business. I want to have something tangible and lasting, in addition to the content creation and traveling. I’m also enjoying the process of building. I really miss working with people, and having contact with other people.
How did you find your land?
Originally, I was looking around north of Canggu, near Pantai Lima and had the idea of building yet another Mediterranean villa that you can easily rent out somewhere in the area. But it never really felt like me. They’re super beautiful and picturesque and everything, but it didn’t feel like me.
I want to do this step from doing everything digital to doing something real, something proper, something tangible. I wanted to do something that actually feels like me.
It all changed when I did a trip with my boyfriend to Karangasem and, we were in a very nice hotel there. We were looking at the hill where Pura Lempuyang is and, on the other side, there was Mount Agung. It was stunning. And I was thinking “How do they build in this amazing place”.
I really connected with the cooler climate and mountain landscapes of Kintamani. It reminded me of Germany and the Alps. I decided to start looking around for land. I looked where Pura Lempuyang is and then we found out that it’s impossible to get any land there because most of the parts are sacred areas.
We went through Sideman and up to Kintamani to have a coffee. I was sitting there and drinking my cappuccino and looking at Mount Batur and I knew this is the area I want to build in.
So I was just going into every little street and asking the people about land. I was walking around and looking out for land for sale. And suddenly I ended up at this one piece of land and I just stood there and there was a little cow shed in front of me, but I stood there and framed by the trees. I saw all the mountains and it was just like, “This is it”.
How big is your land? And what are you building?
It’s 10 ara. Well, for now, I’m going to build four cabins. There will be space for two more, but…let’s earn some money from these four first!
Each of the 4 cabins is going to be very different. One is A frame, one is a square, one is like kind of like a greenhouse, another one is like two cubes. They’re all very different, but what they have in common is the materials of concrete and wood, and glass for facing the mountain.
How did you find your contractor?
Honestly, I was incredibly lucky! One day I was going back from Karangasem and I saw a construction site with steel, concrete, glass, something I had in mind for my build. In my mind, the easiest way would be to go with someone who built up there and knows the area.
I asked for the number of the contractor and I texted him. And by the time I sat down and had a coffee in one of the coffee shops there, he had already replied. And, amazingly, it seemed like he had already built something similar to what I wanted.
It was a bit more complicated because he’s from there and he doesn’t speak any English. Although my Indonesian level was good enough for everyday things, construction vocabulary is very specific, so I had to really adapt. I’m the only foreigner he’s ever worked with.
He has an in-house architect who is incredible with rendering, so I can easily see what they are designing.
What’s your build timeline?
We started in December 2022, but because of a permit delay we started again around May of this year. And it’s going to be finished by the end of the year.
How much have you built?
Overall, the project is around 45% done, but each cabin is at a different stage.
Have you had any issues during your build so far?
There have been some problems getting delivery of the building supplies to the site. It’s not a big problem, but we had to find a way! They bring in a lot of materials by wheelbarrow, then move them onto a metal slide. It’s an adventure!
The other issue was with the building permit. I was waiting for a permit but they had just changed the system and it was a little chaotic. The problem was they had a new system and even though we kept applying, the system kept rejecting it. Nobody understood why. Four months later, we found out that there was a problem in the system!
Also, the street that goes down to my land was supposed to be a public street, but it turned out that the last five meters are private. And now the neighbour who sees me building insists that I rent land from him for my parking area because otherwise he won’t grant me access to my land. But my contractor is amazing and he’s so patient with him so everything’s working very well.
I think if you treat people respectfully and nicely, there’s always a good way to find a solution for everything.
Follow Vivian’s project Batur Cabins Bali on IG HERE
Words by Bali Interiors
Photos by Vivian
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